from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek
-How to learn a song from a recording
Transcription is notating (writing down in music or tab) a piece of recorded music that you don’t have the printed music for. It is one common way that musicians learn new material. They “lift” solos, riffs and melodies off of recordings. Transcribing is easier when you are transcribing from a recording of the same instrument that you play. The thinking goes like this, “That’s a guitar being played. I have a guitar here. The note I hear that guitar playing must be on this guitar somewhere. All I have to do is hear the notes then hunt for them!”
Before the internet and the proliferation of tabs available it was up to musicians to transcribe parts from songs they wanted to learn.
Ever learn a song by reading the tab or music and then realize that you don’t really know it? That you can’t play it without your music in front of you? If you learn the song by transcribing it, this problem is much less likely to occur. It may seem like the long way to learn a song, but overall I think it’s the quicker way to really knowing the song. Especially, if you would like to play the song by heart.
Also, the process of transcribing is like doing musical push ups for you ears. It’s a workout!
But I don’t know how to write down music! How can I transcribe?
First of all, you don’t have to write it down you can just learn it off the recording. Many people do find it helps them stay focused if they write down the song bit by bit. If you can’t write tablature or standard notation don’t worry. Make up your own form of notation. I did this when I was a kid transcribing Jimi Hendrix solos. I made little drawings of the fretboard and which frets I was pushing down to help me remember the parts.
OK! Let’s transcribe a song:
Here is a recording of the melody of Sakura Sakura, a traditional Japanese song. See if you can figure out how to play the melody on your uke and write it down any way you like.
(Note: Sorry for the artificial sound of the uke, it’s the ukulele sound that my software created.)
HINTS and POINTERS:
1. The melody is played on the E and A strings of the uke.
It starts like this:
(The numbers tell you which frets to play on which string)
2. Go slow and take the song in small chunks reviewing what you’ve transcribed and moving on to the next bit. Transcribe it a little bit at a time.
3. If you don’t find you need to write the melody down don’t bother. Just learn it off the recording.
4. Figure out as much as you can of the song. The music sheet is below so you will have an answer key. The chords have been included so once you can play the tune you can play along with a friend. One person playing the melody, the other, chords.
All for now…
See you next week.
P.S. I am regularly adding new lessons to Ukulele in the Dark. Please subscribe to my mailing list below to receive every lesson right when it comes out. Be sure not to miss a thing!