Transcribing music – the simple way

Want to write some music down just for yourself, so you can play it confidently…and not forget half of it… But have no idea how to figure out the rhythm?
Here’s a quick way I use often during my students’ classes.

1) Convert the video to MP3, so you can do this offline. There are many good online converters, just Google them. (I don’t do this during class of course – this is when I transcribe at home)

2) Play the MP3 through a music app that allows you to set play speed. My Samsung music player can do that. It’s very useful!

3) Using earphones, sit at your piano/keyboard; listen to a short section of music, pause, find the melody notes on the piano. Just write down the note names on a piece of paper first. Use lower case alphabets (don’t put them too close together). Put a little dash/dot at the top of the letter to denote a higher octave.

4) Repeat until you’ve got one section written out, check for accuracy, then go on until the piece is finished. Label your sections Intro, Verse 1, Pre-chorus, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus, Bridge, Verse 3, Chorus, Outro (where appropriate)

5) For the left hand, try to identify what the lowest note of the chords are in the music. Write that note in upper case alphabets above the melody note at which the chord enters. Very often, chords change in between melody notes, that’s why I suggested you don’t write the melody notes too close together.

6) Now play the parts together in single notes – just the melody notes and the bass line note. See how it sounds, make any corrections.

7) Lastly, if you know how to play block chords, broken chords or arpeggios, figure out the rest of the chord notes and play them in left hand. This is usually the hardest part of transcribing music – identifying the chords and arranging the accompaniment to suit the music. Your skill in this will develop as you play more and learn from other musicians. There are also tons of vids on YouTube you can learn from πŸ™‚

8) When you’re good at this and want to make a nice score, download Musescore (it’s free and good), click Help and learn how to use it πŸ™‚

All the best! And have fun!

Guide to pedaling

Some viewers have asked me to put pedaling marks into my scores. I would prefer not to for these reasons:

1. Different pianos/keyboard require different amounts of pedaling depending on their sonority (how loud they naturally are) and even depending on where they are played (a soundproof padded studio needs more pedaling than a hall that sends echoes bouncing around)
2. It’ll take even longer for me to produce a transcription/cover than it already takes!

So here are some guides to pedaling. Change pedal:
1. When the chord changes
2. When there are many right hand notes within the same chord and it sounds messy if you pedal the whole lot;
3. At rests (you want to hear a break in sound, so change pedal to cut off the notes before it);
4. At staccato notes, either leave out the pedal or pump the pedal (change at every note.

Hope this helps!

Music Transcription Service

Is there a particular song or instrumental piece that you’d like to sing/ play, but just can’t find a good score for it? Or you have composed a song/piece, but only have a mobile phone recording of it (or hand-written notes) and would like to have a properly engraved, printed score?

You’ve come to the right place!Β :)Β I have been playing the piano since I was 5 and as a fully qualified teacher, have taught piano, theory and music appreciation to students of all ages for more than 30 years. I play classical, pop and jazz music and have a passion for enabling others to play music that they love, hence my YouTube covers and free sheets of popular music. My scores are all correctly notated theoretically (the perfectionist teacher) and definitely playable (the experienced and sympathetic teacher).image

For details on rates and procedure and to fill in the contact form (for a free quote) clickΒ Transcription Service

Online piano lessons – links

Found a lovely article about online piano lessons, for those of you who are trying to learn piano on your own or who are taking lessons and would like to improve your skills more quickly πŸ™‚

THEORY TIPS – Part 2- What chord is this??

I just received an email from a fan asking me for tips on how to identify the chords for the accompaniment, WHEN TRANSCRIBING A SONG. Here’s my reply. Please feel free to comment – more questions, suggestions, your tips etc πŸ™‚

First thing about figuring out chords is getting the lowest note. The lowest note is usually (though not always) the ROOT of the chord, which could be major, minor, diminished or (rarely) augmented. Try those out and see if they sound correct. Don’t forget the sevenths too.

If they don’t, then listen for more clues in the harmony and even in the melody, above the lowest note. I add those notes into my “possible chord” and see what they make πŸ™‚

For example, with a bass note C, you’d think of:

1) the basic chords, which should be quite easy to spot:
C (C E G), Cm (C Eb G), Cdim (C Eb Gb), Caug (C E G#)

2) the seventh chords, which sound lovely but are harder to spot:
C7 (C E G Bb), CMaj7 (C E G B), Cm7 (C Eb G Bb), Cm Maj7 (C Eb G B), Cdim7 (C Eb Gb Bbb), and an unexpectedly popular chord in pop music – the half diminished seventh Cm7-5 or Cm7b5 (C Eb Gb Bb)

3) the chords that contain other added notes:
C6 (C E G A), C2 (C D E G), Csus (C F G) C7sus (C F G Bb), C9 (C E G Bb D), C Maj9 (C E G B D)

4) chords in which C is found, but NOT as the root:
Am (A C E), Ab (Ab C Eb), F (F A C), Fm (F Ab C), D7 (D F# A C), Dm7 (D F A C) and so on!

So you can see that you can kinda get by with basic chords, but if you want it to sound authentic and interesting and full, you’ll need to learn all these other chords. In jazz and pretty much any music that sounds really nice, I’ve found all these chords that I’ve listed above πŸ˜›

Hope this helps and doesn’t scare you off! It may take you time to absorb, but it isn’t all that difficult. Play those chords that I’ve named above, figure out the intervals (in semitones) between the notes, and try them in different keys. Learn to recognise them by sound and to create them. It’s very interesting and rewarding πŸ™‚