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Transcribing problems

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bass87, May 30, 2003.

  1. I find that when transcribe things, be it walking lines, solos, or just a rock/pop tune, I can hear the intervals pretty well between notes, mostly first or second time hearing.

    BUT One major problem I have is actually hearing the notes. I know that sounds dumb and newbie like, but after numerous listening I can never seem to get the exact note. I can get it somewhere near, but never exact.

    Does anyone else have this problem? Any ways I can try and solve it?

    Thanks for any help :cool:
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    If you can really hear the intervals but not the notes, pick the most obvious note and work everything out in terms of intervals from there ;)

    Actually, that probably does contain part of what you need to do. Start off by sketching out the overall structure of the song and then come back and fill in the notes and rhythms you can hear clearly. Now you can go back to the tricky bits and listen more closely... but what you've already done will give a context to make it easier.

    I find Transcribe! a really handy piece of software as it lets you put section, measure and beat markers on the song and loop round any portion you want. With a bunch of other tools available as well, I'd say this software has helped me write much more accurate transcriptions... although it's been time consuming as I keep on getting tempted to seek perfection rather than just 'good enough'. :cool:

    Also, sometimes the notes are hard to pick out due to everything else going on... but as long as you play something that's not glaringly wrong, you'll get away with it (unless of course you're auditioning for a note for note tribute band...).

  3. Ziggy


    May 9, 2001
    Orange County, CA

    I have found with some music, and their inherent recording anomalies, this situation will occur. And, without extended patience, can easily become a lesson in controlled frustration.

    Any one or more reasons may be the culprit;

    - as Wulf suggests; the bass line / note is buried too deep under everything else

    - the chord is an 'F6', but the bass note is a 'C' (although the 'F' fits the bill, but it's not the 'bassnote')
    - on some CD's; I find this especially happening with older tunes from Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin to name a few, the recording is slightly off from a 'correct' standard tuning?? (even more often if you've downloaded and / or burned your own CD)

    - speakers, their placement in relation to objects or a nearby wall and / or room acoustics effecting the 'sound' (personally, I've found an investment in a good set of headphones and transcribing through the same works much better)

    Hope this helps you out, michael s.
  4. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yup, that'll be varispeed. I don't think it's done so much anymore (but I could be wrong), but sometimes they'll speed it up a little (they could slow it down, though I'm not sure if that's done in practice) - which has the effect of speeding up the song slightly, and raising the pitch slightly, and giving a tiny bit of that "chipmunk" effect to the vocals. It can make it sound... lighter? For want of a better word, and it can give seem to it a little more energy.

    Consequently, the pitch of the track ends up a little sharp.

    If you only want this effect on the vocals, you can slow down the tape while you record the vocals, then play it back at normal speed.

    The Beatles did a lot of this. Particularly Sgt Pepper era, they fiddled with tape speeds a lot, at any time during the recording of a song. Consequently some Beatles songs come out between keys, and some just in different keys. For example Strawberry Fields Forever - before the edit (1 minute in), it's a little sharp, and after the edit, it's a little flat, IIRC :D

    Also, When I'm 64. It comes out in Db, but it was actually played & sung in C, and then the tape was speeded up. You can hear the effect of the varispeed on the vocals.
  5. I heard about this happenning on a lot of older Kind of Blue issues, but I think the latest reissue I have had the right keys and pitches.

    Thanks for all your helps guys:cool:
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Well yes, but that's different - it's accidental. Kind Of Blue wasn't intentionally varispeeded.

    With the Beatles et al, it was done intentionally, as an effect.
  7. Oh rite thanks Moley, my mistake. :)

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