Transcribing music (by ear) is one of the many challenges that a musician must face in order to progress in the instrument and artistically. In this process are acquired the influences that develop and polish the style that each one pursues, as well as directly and indirectly develop skills and qualities super necessary that can be put to use infinite amount of times, many of them without knowing where they come from .
In this post I will expose 5 steps to take into account for this activity to have the best performance possible.
1- LISTENING: The first thing is to listen, repeatedly until we can begin to perceive rhythms, melodies and all kinds of details that we are looking to transcribe.
2- SING: after having heard it is important to start singing all those details. If we wish to transcribe a harmony begin by singing the root and then thirds of each chord helps in the process. In case of melodies, if it is a complex passage, first deciphering the rhythm makes it easier. It is also of great help in transcribing melodies to know the harmony, since from the harmonic analysis we can obtain a guide of possible scales in use. When passing information to the instrument we play, working on small fragments (measures) helps not to frustrate.
3- WRITE AND ANALYZE: it is very helpful to be able to write our transcription on paper (or digital) in order to have the visual image of what is happening. A later analysis of what occurs will allow us to “borrow” what we want for our own use.
4- REPEAT AND IMITATE: after writing, continuous repetition helps us to solve technical issues and absorb and imitate inflections, slurs, dynamics and all the extra details to the notes themselves.
5- USE: once done and analyzed, the transcriptions become part of our vocabulary and allows us to have a repertoire of phrases to use on cadences such as 2-5-1, among many others, as well as absorb the style of the artist that interest us and its selection of melodies, harmonies and rhythms.
In the process of transcribing are very useful softwares/ apps like “transcribe“, “audio strech“, among others, as they allow us to select specific fragments of a song, loop them and even reduce/ increase the speed without changing the pitch.
Until the next post.