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Thread: Learning to Tab Out Music (transcribe) help

  1. #1
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    Learning to Tab Out Music (transcribe) help

    Hi there, This is my first post/topic on this ibreath forum, and i want to thank in advance those of you that will generously offer help, and also thank those of you I will slowly but surely bug into helping me :P


    On to the question then... I am 9-10 months into guitar, i can play some songs, mostly nirvana/smashing pumpkins/elliott smith/jim croce/jack johnson/sublime/clapton(easier ones) etc... Ive learned maybe 20-30 songs, easyish stuff, and while this post is not about improving my guitar playing per se, I do want to become a better musician.

    A friend of mine on another site has given me a list of i think 6 or 7 songs, to start learing to "tab out" by ear. I at first thought i was doing well, I always "think" im doing well... till I actually check the tablature lol. So i guess my question is how often(in the beginning) am i supposed to get one right... I have used the things as trainear, where you associate intervals with common tunes, and i basically get 9/10 for the ascending ones, maybe 60% for descending(for now!), and I recently got the DLB relativepitch course(Though i dont like it much, its alot less fun) Anyway, before i ramble on anymore im going to get to the point..

    so im tabbing out Lithium ( i was dead wrong because of the tuning )

    then im tabbing out Island In The Sun, and the song starts, i immediatly "think" i identified a C chord, so im running thru it and i get to like C->Dm->G->C "hip hip" and I was almost certain i was right, and I check the chords, and its something entirely different. Is this part of the process, or am i just that bad? In my defense, im sure some of the notes were in both chords :P but i identify the cmajor chord and the real chord is more of a minor chord, and its just difficult to believe i make that kidn of mistake, or that i set the first note at C, and the real first note was at B an octave up..

    thanks for any help you may offer

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunderwonder View Post
    Hi there, This is my first post/topic on this ibreath forum, and i want to thank in advance those of you that will generously offer help, and also thank those of you I will slowly but surely bug into helping me :P


    On to the question then... I am 9-10 months into guitar, i can play some songs, mostly nirvana/smashing pumpkins/elliott smith/jim croce/jack johnson/sublime/clapton(easier ones) etc... Ive learned maybe 20-30 songs, easyish stuff, and while this post is not about improving my guitar playing per se, I do want to become a better musician.

    A friend of mine on another site has given me a list of i think 6 or 7 songs, to start learing to "tab out" by ear. I at first thought i was doing well, I always "think" im doing well... till I actually check the tablature lol. So i guess my question is how often(in the beginning) am i supposed to get one right... I have used the things as trainear, where you associate intervals with common tunes, and i basically get 9/10 for the ascending ones, maybe 60% for descending(for now!), and I recently got the DLB relativepitch course(Though i dont like it much, its alot less fun) Anyway, before i ramble on anymore im going to get to the point..

    so im tabbing out Lithium ( i was dead wrong because of the tuning )

    then im tabbing out Island In The Sun, and the song starts, i immediatly "think" i identified a C chord, so im running thru it and i get to like C->Dm->G->C "hip hip" and I was almost certain i was right, and I check the chords, and its something entirely different. Is this part of the process, or am i just that bad? In my defense, im sure some of the notes were in both chords :P but i identify the cmajor chord and the real chord is more of a minor chord, and its just difficult to believe i make that kidn of mistake, or that i set the first note at C, and the real first note was at B an octave up..

    thanks for any help you may offer
    Mistakes are common when you start, and it does get easier and quicker the more you do it.

    I strongly recommend using some kind of slowdowner, and IMO Transcribe is the best:
    http://www.seventhstring.com/xscribe/screenshots.html
    It not only slows down (without changing pitch), you can mark up the waveform with beats and other labels, you can select short sections and loop them (and the window will then display the separate pitch frequencies it hears).
    It's not about giving you the answers (although it does try with chords), it's about helping you listen, to focus on details much more easily.
    (It's free for a month, and cheap to register after that. Works with normal audio files.)

    Go for any individual notes you hear - not chords to begin with. Listen to vocal or riffs, try to copy (slow and loop to check if you need to), and try and get a sense of key from them (what scale(s) do the notes belong to?).

    To help get chords, listen for the bass (if there is a bass). Transcribe will raise the octave to help you hear the bass, which - 99% of the time - plays the chord root on beat 1 of the bar. (Then you only need to decide if the chord is major or minor - various extensions or alterations are less important.)
    Normally the first (and last) chord is the key chord - which (with a little theory knowledge) will help you guess what else might be coming up - although there are exceptions. And songs don't always stick to one key!

    Always trust your ears. Online tab is not always accurate, and (even when it is) might forget to tell you about use of a capo, or an unorthodox tuning. (Those are the things that really make guitar transcription difficult.)
    Or the tab might just be from another version, in a different key from the one you're listening to.

    I do sometimes check my results against online tab (if I need a second opinion, eg about fingering position), but always confirm by listening again.

    There are a few songs called "Island in the Sun" (and versions in different keys of some of them), so let me know which one if you want help with that specifically.
    Last edited by JonR; 03-30-2012 at 09:45 AM.

  3. #3
    What I did when I first started trying to tab out songs, is to look at online tabs to find the guitar tuning that was used. After doing a few songs that way, I was able to just use my ears. Even now I will check online tabs, if I'm not sure or need to check myself.
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  4. #4
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    is to look at online tabs to find the guitar tuning that was used. After doing a few songs that way, I was able to just use my ears. Even now I will check online tabs, if I'm not sure or need to check myself.
    Last edited by Crossroads; 09-03-2012 at 06:57 AM.

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