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Computer programs for transcription

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by jaxlaw, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. jaxlaw


    Oct 5, 2002
    Winter Garden
    Moderators if this thread is in the wrong place please feel free to move it. Ok here we go suddenly I am compelled to transcribe a great deal of music, since no one including myself can read my writing clearly on staff paper I was looking for a computer program that would assist me.

    I need to be able to write out the notation and have the chord symbols above the melody line. I am familiar with finale and have used it for simple stuff but I just spent an hour working on a portion of music but for some reason when I try to add text (ie: the chord symbols) above the line they do not stay in snych with the measure that I initially write them over and I have ended up with a mess and a major waste of my time.

    I would prefer freeware and something intuitively simple as I am not a computer expert, however I am willing to purchase a program that is reasonably priced < $50.00 U.S. as I am not wealthy. Any help would be appreciated. :hyper:
  2. Ben_Bassist


    Sep 8, 2006
  3. joel kelsey

    joel kelsey

    Aug 1, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    I have heard transcribe! is a good program. I have no idea how much it costs, though.
  4. dodgy_ian


    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    transcribe is very good and about 50dollars. well worth it!
  5. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Eugene, Oregon
    Hi, jax

    In Finale, you don't write the chord symbols over the measures with the Text tool; you use the Chord tool to place the symbols over the notes. The symbols will stay with their notes, wherever they go (and if the chord symbols are big, you can stretch the measure to make them fit). It also is pretty quick to do: type the chord and press tab to move to the next note that gets a symbol. The only tricky bit about chord symbols in Finale is that you have to attach them to notes, so if you have a whole note and you want more than one chord in that measure, you have to go to a different layer and add notes and then hide those notes (not hard to do). Try the Finale Forum for additional help; they're very responsive there.

    Also, to figure out which notes to write down, Transcribe is a great tool, as mentioned previously. You can slow down the music without changing pitch, which is helpful with a very fast line. I'm using it to transcribe Benny Goodman's "Air Mail Special," which clips along at about 240 bpm. You can also loop a section until you figure it out.

    For that piece, I loop 8 or 16 measures and write the notes down on staff paper. When I finish an evening's work, I enter it into Finale. I'm about 3 minutes into a 3½-minute piece (many hours of work, this one).

    Don't give up on Finale, and try Transcribe. (I'm just a customer, BTW.)

    I hope this helps.

  6. jlilley


    Aug 28, 2005
    Mill Creek, WA
    I've been using www.noteflight.com a lot lately. Very easy to use and great for sharing tunes with others as everything is hosted online. Might be worth checking out.
    Good Luck,
  7. I'm a Mac person and I use Audiolobe. It slows down or speeds up to extremes without changing pitch, and it lets you practice a tune in all 12 keys at whatever tempo you want. It loops, also, and the interface is easy. $20.

    I've been in contact with the developer, who is not a musician, and he indicates he will be adding features to Audiolobe, like the ability to save with all the tempo and pitch changes you make, the ability to record sound on sound so you can record your own play over a play-along, and access to Audiolobe directly though iTunes. No ETA on these additions, however.

    [Edit 2009-09-22 JHC]: Actually, Audiolobe already can record you playing your instrument on top of a play-along or other CD or music file. It does it over the air using your Mac's built-in speakers and microphone, so it's not commercial CD quality by any means, but this does allow you to play back the combined recording and check your timing, intonation, and articulation with the pre-recorded music.

    Audiolobe also works well for "manual"-type transcription, i.e., where you just want to slow down a piece so you can hear what's going on and write it down. It does not have the visual wave form and precision of Transcribe!, which lets you set pitch in cents, not just semitones like Audiolobe. (If that's important to you.) But Audilobe is certainly easier to use than either Transcribe! or Audacity.
  8. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I looked, and it wasn't obvious where to find an installer for Ubuntu.
  9. relacey


    Sep 18, 2004
    fdeck, search using your package installer (Synaptic in Ubuntu) or type >sudo apt-get install lilypond in a terminal window.

    Also, ya'll are talking about two different types of software. Programs like lilypond or finale to make pretty music notation and programs like transcribe that can slow down and filter music files to make the particular line you're trying to transcrbe easier to hear. The OP was looking for the former.
  10. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicagodoubler pointed it out in another thread but Audacity is great and free! You can slow down and change eq and stuff. Also a pretty dandy audio editor.
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I just tried Lilypond for the first time. As a programmer, it's pretty easy and fun and song entry was kinda quick. Much faster than using a mouse dependent GUI. Once I got used to formatting it cleanly, note entry was a breeze. I need to try a GUI version that inteprets the ly script upon input as compiling it to PDF gets annoying after a while. Besides that, I like it and transposition for horn instruments is easy for lead lines.

    Worth giving it a try if you have the time.
  12. WRBass


    Dec 10, 2006
    Houston, Tx.
    Try GuitarPro. With GP, you input the notes as you see them on the fretboard (like tab). But, you can print or view the result in standard notation.
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    sudo apt-got it. Thanks!

    I also installed a program called GNU Denemo, which is a GUI based notation editor front end for Lilypond, but I think that I will learn the text language instead. All of the mouse based programs I have tried were utterly debilitating in terms of wrist pain and eyestrain.
  14. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    Do these software transrcribe bass lines from sogns?
  15. WRBass


    Dec 10, 2006
    Houston, Tx.
    No, you have to do the hard work with your ears. The software just makes it a little easier.
  16. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    You don't need to attach them to notes, you can use rests which is what I do when I'm just doing chord charts with no standard notation. Whole rests when the chord symbol is for the whole measure, half rest, quarter rest when appropriate. After that you select staff attributes and select blank notation, couldn't be easier.
  17. Michael Eisenman

    Michael Eisenman Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    Eugene, Oregon
    Thanks, I'll try it. Blank notation, huh? Learn something every day.
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Some of the programs seem to offer audio input via some kind of tone recognition. I doubt it would not pick out a bass line in a group recording, but sitting there with my electric bass plugged into my sound card might be a pretty convenient way to enter data into a notation program.
  19. Reaper Man

    Reaper Man

    Jan 15, 2010
    Found this and going to bump it. A friend/co-worker/bandmate asked me to join a project band with him for songs he has written. He's given me complete license to make up the basslines, only problem is- he doesn't know what chords he's using :scowl:

    I've been searching around and looked through this post- so far the possible winners are transcribe and a program I found called chord pickout.

    Anyone have any others to suggest or suggestions between those 2?

    Chord pickout is $10 cheaper, but doesn't have some of the features as transcribe (mainly the slow down option)
  20. wdnewman


    Apr 13, 2009
    I use MuseScore in Ubuntu. Kind of a steep learning curve, but pretty fast once figured out. It has a great on-line how-to manual that helped me through the head scratching parts.

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