"For many musicians the idea of “transcribing” something can be intimidating. When I first started studying jazz seriously in college, I found the idea of writing something out that you learned off a recording a seemingly impossible task."
You might wonder why you should bother learning to transcribe, after all there's a lot of tab out there in songbooks, tutorials and on the Internet. In my experience though there are always pieces I'd love to play that don't seem to have been tabbed, and the only way to learn to play those is to transcribe them (or find someone who will transcribe them for you).
So, I've had a go at transcribing a few of these pieces, and I really know what Jason means by impossible task. There are just so many different things to take care of. Getting the notes right is hard enough in itself, but that's only part of the battle, you have to figure out rhythm and timing, note durations, and playing effects, as well as where to play all this on the guitar neck. So far almost all my attempts have ended in frustration and failure.
The Impossible Becomes Possible
Luckily for me, Jason's article has outlined a logical process that breaks down transcription into distinct steps that help to deal with all this complexity.
The magic thing about it is that it actually makes the seemingly impossible task seem possible. I've had a go at applying it to a few short pieces as a test. Now, while I'm not saying I'm up to transcribing complete jazz solos yet, I have found that the process has helped me get further and feel more confident than my previous attempts.
If transcribing music for your guitar is one of your goals, and if you currently think it seems almost impossible, I recommend you read the entire article Getting Started Transcribing to turn your impossible goal into something that just might seem possible...
Looking for an easy way to create manuscript paper to try this process out? Try Staffnotes.
Looking for free music slow-down software? Try Audacity.
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Photo by matsuyuki.