Some help with transcribing music

So, I've been trying to get into transcribing drum parts, to better my playing and all that, and I had a couple questions.

First, is there any free program, be it audio editor or media player, that you would recommend that I could use to slow down the music some to make the transcribing easier?

Second, do you have any general tips about how to go about transcribing? How do you guys do it?

Thanks in advance for the help.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Most audio programs will allow you to slow or stretch a file.

Tips: listen closey, then listen very closely. Listen more, then listen some more.

Listen again. And yet again.

Until you think you've got it.

Then repeat the process until you stop discovering something new each time.

Bermuda
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
Audacity (which is a downloadable freeware program) allows you to slow down a song without changing the pitch.

Slow but still allowing you to focus on the different parts of the kit.
 

mcbike

Silver Member
I transcribe alot, I don't use a program to slow things down. I just keep repeating sections over and over again. play a bar, write it down, next bar, write it down.

If there is a complex beat that you can't figure out try to break it down in to sections, transcribe the hi-hats first, then the snare, then the kick.

Sometimes if your having trouble with a song try to read about it online. This happened to me with the beatles song "RAIN" which has some 6/4 measures mixed in with 4/4 and it was ruining my transcription. I went to wikipedia and read about the song and it explains the overall structure, and I was able to rewrite my notes.

You run into tricky things like that sometime like that new pearl jam song "the fixer" starts in 5/4 and then goes into 6/4. You wouldn't really notice things in 6/4 except that fills are in the middle of measures, but if you also listen to the harmonic rhythms (the chords) you will discover it is in 6/4.

I use alot of shorthand and repeat signs in my transcriptions, but I'm the only one that is going to be reading them.

I use another trick to to check my transcriptions for tricky measures, sometimes I will program them into a drum machine program and see if they sound like what I transcribed it as.

I guess another tip for tricky measures is to figure out the highest value of note in the measure like say a fill is 16th note based, then you can lay out 16 notes and break it down into which ones are being played and which ones are not being played.

I also usually re-write my transcriptions once I'm finished just to clean up the layout make it easier to read. I try to keep sections clean and divided.

another tip is to not bother to draw dots, they take too long. I just put little slashes or hash marks instead of note heads.
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
I use the program Transcribe. It is about $50 while Audacity is free. But Transcribe will allow for immediate loops and tempo changes. Audacity will get similar results but it is more time consuming. Transcribe will also slow down video.

Here's the link.

http://www.seventhstring.com

Jeff
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
I use Sibelius for transcribing. It makes for neat, clean drum parts.

MCBike covered most of it. All I would add is to make sure that you base the time signatures on the melody of the song, not what the drummer is playing.

Also, break the phrases up based on the chord changes.
For example, if a song has a verse that is 9 bars long, break the phrase into 8-1, or 7-2 bar sections, depending on the what the melody and chord changes are. This is helpful especially when the two section have different music in them.

So, instead of a 17 bar section, you might have 8 / 7/ 2
This is easier to keep track of than trying to count up to 17. You can think of as two normal 8 bar phrases, but the second one changes a bar early and adds one ore bar.
The fewer steps you have to remember, the more content you an remember.
 

Polymetrix1618

Senior Member
So, I've been trying to get into transcribing drum parts, to better my playing and all that, and I had a couple questions.

First, is there any free program, be it audio editor or media player, that you would recommend that I could use to slow down the music some to make the transcribing easier?

Second, do you have any general tips about how to go about transcribing? How do you guys do it?

Thanks in advance for the help.
Listen with headphones. That really brings the drums out. You can write it out by hand, but it's a lot easier and looks a lot better if you use Finale.
 
Audacity (which is a downloadable freeware program) allows you to slow down a song without changing the pitch.

Slow but still allowing you to focus on the different parts of the kit.
Wow, shows you how much I pay attention...I did not know Audacity could do this! Great! Because I use this program all the time for vinyl rips and I was wonder what software to use to slow down a song without changing pitch!
 
I have started to try transcribing songs and I am finding this process difficult, especially hearing the bass drum. I tried to compare my first transcription with drum tabs I found online. Unfortunately, multiple tabs of the same song all seemed to differ and did not always match mine. Is there anyway to hear the bass drum better? I have tried following the bass line but still do not always hear the drum clearly.

I have to write music down and practice it before playing along to a recording. I have to play it slow first and build up the tempo with the metronome.
 
Now I have 4 versions of Blitzkrieg Bop at different speeds...the original at 175 bpm, then 160, 150 and 140. From my transcription (without playing along to the recording) and to a metronome, I could play 140 comfortably, 150 with a few crash cymbal misses and at 160 with arm muscle burn and a lot of eff-ups...oh well, keep on practising, I guess!
 

ccsimms

Senior Member
For me, I don't find it necessary to learn the parts first by ear on kit and then transcribe them, I usually just sit down at the computer or with manuscript and listen to it over and over and take it beat by beat, measure by measure, etc. As far as a free program, if you have a mac, there's a good demo for a software called djay that accurately slows down the music and keeps all the tones the exact same. If you get money, it's a great investment but the demo is fine too (it says it only lasts for 10 days but you can open it unlimitedly).
 
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