Advice please: software to help in transcribing

Pibroch

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CONTEXT

My self-education project: to transcribe the entire rhythmic structure of the piece New Monastery from the Andrew Hill “Point of Departure“ album.

Purpose: to gain understanding as to what makes the music, especially the drumming, so exciting, with a focus on how Williams’ performance meshes with the other players and vice versa.


REQUEST

What are you able to suggest in the way of software, please?

Thinking mainly in terms of:

a) Software options for looping small sections of the recording, and

b) notation software so I don’t have to hand write everything.


Almost total newbie to transcribing music so any other general ideas welcome.
 

dcrigger

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A - I would think any digital audio editing program - DAWS (Logic, Cubase, Reaper, etc) or Audacity would let you loop - even slow down chunk of audio.

B - I would strongly advise not going in that direction at all. Notation software is a marvelous tool for many things - transcribing absolutely not being one of them.

Notation software is at heart - stupid as stone. You absolutely must know exactly how you want a snippet of music to look like before you dance around with the notation software trying to accomplish that.

So basically notation software offers nothing to the notational newbie - particularly for transcribing something like a complex drum part. If you know what the drum part should look like (which you won't until to manually sketch it out on paper anyway) it is then very difficult to get the software to recreate a complex drum part - it is one of the most difficult things to do with notation software. And after all of that - all it accomplishes - will be looking better. Trust me, it's not worth it. I am quite versed in all of this - and can say without question that using notation software for this will simply not help - but instead will make the task overwhelmingly harder.

So how to go about it -

1. If you really are new to notation - then start with something easier - a lot easier. Even if New Monastery is the only thing you want to ever transcribe, you simply can't get there by starting there.

2. Beyond that it is all about putting pencil to manuscript paper. Start from the general and fill in the details as you get to them. But first, the broad strokes... the lay of the land.... then the big accents.... then the things you can fill in easily... don't try and get it lal at once.... work general to specific... sketch in approximations and then zoom in when you get to it... using that eraser and filling it in.... fine tuning... relistening.... correcting mistakes... until you finally have it....

Then if you want to spend as many hours mastering a notation program in order to make it look all pretty - then this would be the time.... if you have a need for it to look pretty.... which you probably won't. But you will have learned everything about it... which is usually the point.

Best of luck - and again... pencil... paper... and start simpler :)
 

Hop

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^^^ Well put!!! I found transcription software pretty frustrating as well and have abandoned it shortly after trying it.
 

Pibroch

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A - I would think any digital audio editing program - DAWS (Logic, Cubase, Reaper, etc) or Audacity would let you loop - even slow down chunk of audio.

B - I would strongly advise not going in that direction at all. Notation software is a marvelous tool for many things - transcribing absolutely not being one of them.

Notation software is at heart - stupid as stone. You absolutely must know exactly how you want a snippet of music to look like before you dance around with the notation software trying to accomplish that.

So basically notation software offers nothing to the notational newbie - particularly for transcribing something like a complex drum part. If you know what the drum part should look like (which you won't until to manually sketch it out on paper anyway) it is then very difficult to get the software to recreate a complex drum part - it is one of the most difficult things to do with notation software. And after all of that - all it accomplishes - will be looking better. Trust me, it's not worth it. I am quite versed in all of this - and can say without question that using notation software for this will simply not help - but instead will make the task overwhelmingly harder.

So how to go about it -

1. If you really are new to notation - then start with something easier - a lot easier. Even if New Monastery is the only thing you want to ever transcribe, you simply can't get there by starting there.

2. Beyond that it is all about putting pencil to manuscript paper. Start from the general and fill in the details as you get to them. But first, the broad strokes... the lay of the land.... then the big accents.... then the things you can fill in easily... don't try and get it lal at once.... work general to specific... sketch in approximations and then zoom in when you get to it... using that eraser and filling it in.... fine tuning... relistening.... correcting mistakes... until you finally have it....

Then if you want to spend as many hours mastering a notation program in order to make it look all pretty - then this would be the time.... if you have a need for it to look pretty.... which you probably won't. But you will have learned everything about it... which is usually the point.

Best of luck - and again... pencil... paper... and start simpler :)
dcrigger, thanks so much for your extremely useful reply!

Your Point 1.
Will now work through the graded exercises in Roberta Radley's book Reading, Writing, and Rhythmetic: the ABC of musical transcription, then transcribe more complex pieces for a while, and THEN try tackling New Monastery.

Your Point 2.
Makes sense - without your input I probably would have tried to transcribe every measure in full before going on to the next!

Anyway, thanks again. It's generous, experienced people such as yourself that have made Drumforum such a wonderfully supportive and effective educational space for me in the relatively short time I've been here.
 
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Seb77

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There is a program especially designed for structruring and looping audio called "Transcribe".
You can change tempo independent from pitch. It can also analyze pitches and chords, which might not help a lot with drums. You can use any DAW, but this program makes things a lot easier if you're looking at longer pieces. Haven't used it in a while, but only because I haven't transcribed anything. It doesn't do any notation.
I agree with dcrigger: with paper and pencil, you can start with just the note heads, no bar lines, note values etc., something no notation software I know does.
 

Seb77

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Almost total newbie to transcribing music so any other general ideas welcome.
I don't know that particular TW solo, but if you're just starting out, I would also recommend something simpler than TW. His clearest solo might be from Seven Steps, or just take the short intro from Four on Four'n'More if you like TW.
Other than that, Max Roach with Clifford Brown is a good intro to transcribing drum solos, very clear.
Frankie Dunlop or Ben RIley with Monk is also a treasure trove. Live at the "It" Club has a lot of drum solos.
Man, talking about this stuff takes me right back to my conservatory days stuying with Keith Copeland. He didn't advocate transcribing himself that much, but it was mandatory for the exams.
 

Hop

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dcrigger, thanks so much for your extremely useful reply!

Your Point 1.
Will now work through the graded exercises in Roberta Radley's book Reading, Writing, and Rhythmetic: the ABC of musical transcription, then transcribe more complex pieces for a while, and THEN try tackling New Monastery.

Your Point 2.
Makes sense - without your input I probably would have tried to transcribe every measure in full before going on to the next!

Anyway, thanks again. It's generous, experienced people such as yourself that have made Drumforum such a wonderfully supportive and effective educational space for me in the relatively short time I've been here.
Sounds like you've got a good plan going forward. I took a musical notation course at my local community college years ago (before the days of computers) and it was really beneficial to me.
Before taking the class I was barely able to scribble notes and I certainly couldn't appreciate their values. The instructor had us writing line after line of individual notes and groups of notes to get them to look consistent & uniform. Another big challenge for us was to write with clarity in mind, which was a real eye-opener... There's always more than one way to write something, but understanding why one way is better or added clarity, visually removed clutter, presented content more intuitively is so important... I guess I'm saying the instructor feedback was extremely important to get a different perspective (my instructor was not a drummer, so he didn't care what the instrument was, only what the quality was). So I would add that to the list as your learning, to see if you can feedback on your notation/transcription process to speed your growth.

I'd also like to recommend a YouTube channel. I found this guy through the YT "recommend" pop-up list a few years back and subscribed. One of his video series is called "Study the Masters" and he is presenting a portion of what I think you want to accomplish. The part you'll find interesting is his transcriptions and he does offer a fee-based course on Logic Pro X in "advanced notation." I think in his early days he just used the piano roll style, ran into some barriers/obstacles, overcame them and now shares some of his insights. However, I would still follow David's words of wisdom and put pencil to paper. Link to Austin Burcham aka ABBDRUMS: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHf-VVmaLtXPb0-DjVxdSIg
 

hardbat

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Transcribing is an enormously valuable skill. It takes a lot of practice to get good and quick about it. I'm so glad my teacher worked it into every week's assignments. Now I can pretty much transcribe drum parts and rhythms as quickly as my hand can write. Later when I gave lessons, I required all my students to transcribe stuff.

In the past 5 years I've gotten pretty good at MuseScore (an open-source alternative to Finale or Sibelius), having used it to write out lots of lead sheets, drum parts, and even a couple of original big band charts. So, I'd say I'm pretty good at both notation software and transcribing. Having said that, I'd NEVER use notation software when transcribing. That is really the cart before the horse and would slow things down terribly. Pencil and paper all the way!
 

Pibroch

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Sounds like you've got a good plan going forward. I took a musical notation course at my local community college years ago (before the days of computers) and it was really beneficial to me.
Before taking the class I was barely able to scribble notes and I certainly couldn't appreciate their values. The instructor had us writing line after line of individual notes and groups of notes to get them to look consistent & uniform. Another big challenge for us was to write with clarity in mind, which was a real eye-opener... There's always more than one way to write something, but understanding why one way is better or added clarity, visually removed clutter, presented content more intuitively is so important... I guess I'm saying the instructor feedback was extremely important to get a different perspective (my instructor was not a drummer, so he didn't care what the instrument was, only what the quality was). So I would add that to the list as your learning, to see if you can feedback on your notation/transcription process to speed your growth.

I'd also like to recommend a YouTube channel. I found this guy through the YT "recommend" pop-up list a few years back and subscribed. One of his video series is called "Study the Masters" and he is presenting a portion of what I think you want to accomplish. The part you'll find interesting is his transcriptions and he does offer a fee-based course on Logic Pro X in "advanced notation." I think in his early days he just used the piano roll style, ran into some barriers/obstacles, overcame them and now shares some of his insights. However, I would still follow David's words of wisdom and put pencil to paper. Link to Austin Burcham aka ABBDRUMS: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHf-VVmaLtXPb0-DjVxdSIg
Thanks Hop - "Study the Masters", which was new to me, definitely covers a significant portion of the way I want to break down modes of playing/ improvising in music I'm turned on by.

In terms of your suggestion of getting feedback on my notation/transcription I think that's a great idea. Since your reply I've made a plan: to engage a teacher I know, who studies recordings of drumming masters for his own development, to do this for me.

Thanks again for these excellent suggestions of yours.
 

Hop

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I'm glad that had some value for you. Don't forgot to check back on this after you start making progress and hit some milestone... We love success stories around here!
 

multijd

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CONTEXT

My self-education project: to transcribe the entire rhythmic structure of the piece New Monastery from the Andrew Hill “Point of Departure“ album.

Purpose: to gain understanding as to what makes the music, especially the drumming, so exciting, with a focus on how Williams’ performance meshes with the other players and vice versa.


REQUEST

What are you able to suggest in the way of software, please?

Thinking mainly in terms of:

a) Software options for looping small sections of the recording, and

b) notation software so I don’t have to hand write everything.


Almost total newbie to transcribing music so any other general ideas welcome.
Anytune pro is another great transcribing program/app. I like having it on my phone or ipad so i can be more mobile. I can sit at the piano or drums or pad. I second (or third?) the difficulty of notation software. They all have a steep learning curve. And as stated, determining how to notate a phrase takes quite a bit of savvy. These musical ideas often fall in the cracks between specific rhythms. You often have to use your judgement and what one person hears will be different from another. BTW “Point of Departure“ is some very interesting music and drumming! Great choice!
 

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