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While reading some of the questions about transcribing music here. I have come across these software tools that allow to slow down music and manipulate it freely. I think this is very interesting stuff and would like to dedicate this thread to make a kind of listing of the existing software with a description of what they can do.

It would probably be best to limit the answers to one program per answer and make the thread a community wiki. I think this can be a useful reference for when similar questions about transcriptions will come up again.

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14 Answers 14

up vote 26 down vote accepted

A free alternative to Transcribe, which allows you to do tons of other things too like removing vocals, is Audacity.

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Transcribe helps you slow down the tempo whilst retaining the pitch. It also has other useful features for transcribing, such as placing bookmarks for sections, measures, and beats, and an equalizer for isolating instruments.

It can also show which tones are being played, which works OK with some tweaking of the filters.

Another important feature is that it's easy to loop sections.

Free for 30 days.

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1  
One of the great features of Transcribe: you can select a section of audio and it will display a keyboard with a graph of how much each pitch is present in the sound. This is especially helpful for working out complex jazz chord voicings if you're trying to transcribe a big band piece. –  andyvn22 Apr 28 '11 at 0:30
    
Huge +1 for Transcribe. I have tried them all and Transcribe is the winner. It is built to do one thing, so if you seriously want to get into transcribing, get it. Used it for all the transcriptions on my blog. Some of the others mentioned will work, sure, but they don't offer some of the same ease-of-use and dedicated features that Transcribe has. And it is actively developed by a musician. –  Basso Ridiculoso Aug 7 '11 at 21:30

For another fully featured commercial option for OS-X and for iPhone and iPad, check out Anytune.

Anytune (on the Mac) is in the Mac App Store, and has a 30 day free trial available for download from the vendor's site.

Anytune (for iOS) is available in a free version (with IAP) as well as a more fully featured version called Anytune Pro+.

It's a terrific app for transcription as well as for playing along with your songs. Lots of features - almost too many which can sometimes make the UI a bit overwhelming. Still it's impressive how much functionality can be squeezed into an iPhone app and it isn't too difficult to learn how it works.

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You can use http://www.tunetranscriber.com to do this from your web browser without installing anything. Even works with some youtube videos.

Screenshot

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Look at Phrase Trainer it has all that and is an awesome all around player:

enter image description here

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Why is this downvoted? It seems to fit the criteria. –  Nathanael Farley Jul 13 at 20:46

On my iphone, I use "TempoSlow" which works very nicely.

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The Windows Media Player that comes with Windows can do this, at least for some media types like MP3's.

While a MP3 is playing, right click on the window, select "Enhancements"; one of the enhancements dialogs is play speed which can be varied between 0.5 and above 2.0.

There are also shortcut keys for slow, normal and fast speed: Ctrl-S, Ctrl-N and Ctrl-F.

So, there is no need to install additional software if you have a Windows PC; control over playback speed is "right under your nose".

That being said, it does not use a great algorithm for slowing down, but it will get the job done for deciphering a fast passage of notes.

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There are a few apps for iPhone/iPad on the Apple App Store. Sound quality and ease-of-use varies. This one is good: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speed-o-sound-slow-down-music/id669219687?mt=8

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On Linux, you can use PlayItSlowly, which works with videos too.

Here is how it looks:

playitslowly running on Ubuntu 12.04

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Vox is a great, lightweight media player for OS X (0.3. beta just released with Lion support!), which also offers effects to your music output, like slowing down/speeding up without distorting pitch. Oh yeah, and it's free.

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If you have an Android Phone, a nice app is AudioSpeedChanger, you can speed up or slow down any song in your library.

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VLAN VLC media player is a very powerful and free software for playing music. You can slow down the playing speed by decreasing the speed value at the button of the VLC media player's interface.

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useful shortcuts: [ and ] to slow down and speed up; = for normal speed. –  Mechanical snail Aug 19 '12 at 23:01

Capo (only for Mac) is visually appealing and wonderfully easy to use. In addition to slowing music down without affecting pitch, it also uses frequency analysis to make educated guesses at the notes being played, which can speed up the transcription process tremendously.

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I found it to be totally useless for its stated purpose. Transcribe is far better. –  Rein Henrichs Apr 29 '11 at 5:15

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