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How to Make Piano Transcription Work Easy

Piano Transcription Work Easy

As with all things musical, transcription requires consistent practice over a period of time to see real results. If you’re a beginner it might seem overwhelming at first, but you can make the process more manageable by breaking down a complex piece into smaller sections or concentrating on specific rhythms. Even if you don’t end up transcribing the whole song, your sight reading and ear training will improve with every session.

It’s best to use a digital audio workstation (DAW) as your playback device while transcribing. Using a CD, tape or vinyl can lead to clumsy transport controls that can distract you from your task. Using a DAW with efficient keyboard shortcuts will help you move through the music quickly and efficiently.

Start with the easier parts of the piece and slowly work your way up to the harder bits. Transcribe a few short songs or jazz solos at a time, then progress to transcribing entire pieces. Taking it slow also helps you build your confidence and enjoyment of the process. A good place to begin is with a single chord progression or bass line. Practice this on your piano, then try it on the recording of the song. This can give you a good feel for the structure of the music and will allow you to identify the notes that you need to write down.

How to Make Piano Transcription Work Easy

Listen to recordings of the piece by established professionals. These are often the most accurate performances of a particular genre, so they’ll be a great source of inspiration. Try to compare the tempos taken by different performers and use this to determine a target for your own performance.

Once you’ve got the chord progression down it’s usually possible to work out the rest of the melody by ear. This is especially helpful if you have an easy-to-read notation system to reference, such as standard music staff with the note names in the center and the beat numbers on either side. Alternatively, you can use a digital metronome to help you keep track of the tempo and rhythm.

When writing out the melody, be sure to count the beats for each note – this is essential to getting the rhythm and timing of the notes right. You can even practice “conducting” the song by listening to the music and counting beats as you play it on your piano, or by playing it back with a metronome and marking down each measure.

Then you can work out the duration of each note – the eighth and sixteenth notes have flags that are filled in, while half notes do not. Then you can construct the rest of the melodic line by counting the flags on each quarter note and figuring out what the rest of the notes should be. If you find yourself getting tired or frustrated with your transcriptions it’s important to take a break. Come back to it in 10 minutes, 1 day or a week and you’ll see and hear your progress in a new light.

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