14

[Note] This is a "compendium" question, intended to address a general concern that arises in a variety of contexts. Please add additional answers with any techniques not yet addressed.

I'm trying to use a YouTube video to

  • Figure out what notes/chords are being played
  • Figure out how (i.e., by what technique) the notes/chords are being played
  • Transcribe a (part of) a song

but the passage goes too fast, and I can't stop the video in time. Or I stop and restart, but I can't hit the spot I'm trying to see.

Is there some way to slow down the video, so I can see what's happening?


EDIT: Related question
Software that slows down music to help in transcribing

10
  • For slowing down and looping about sections of a YT video this might suffice already: agrahn.gitlab.io/ABLoopPlayer
    – AlexG
    Aug 5 '20 at 11:43
  • Do you really need to see something? That's not a good, or reliable, way to transcribe audio. Why not extract the audio track and play it in any decent tool, such as Audacity, where you can play back at any desired speed, and easily identify critical junctures via the sound-wave display. Aug 5 '20 at 17:22
  • 1
    @CarlWitthoft Audacity would make a good addition to the answers to this question; I don't see it mentioned yet. Regarding "seeing", it's helpful when questions of, say, piano fingering come up.
    – Aaron
    Aug 5 '20 at 18:27
  • 2
    ..playback speed? It's been a thing for years.
    – user91988
    Aug 5 '20 at 20:48
  • 1
    @Aaron I think the question as asked is fine as it's not asking for recommendations, but a general way to solve a problem musicians encounter. Talking about general methodologies using a specific software as an example is fine like in user66401's answer. Posting just a plugin or software alone is not. This question is currently on the Hot Network questions so there are uses from other site that may not be as familiar with our scope so I posed that comment as a reminder to them.
    – Dom
    Aug 6 '20 at 1:39
22

There are at least two options:

Option 1: You can slow down the video by changing the Playback Speed setting

Browser instructions (this link for further alternatives)

  1. Click on the Settings menu icon.

YouTube settings menu icon

  1. Select Playback speed

YouTube settings menu

  1. Select the speed you want
    YouTube playback speed manu

Option 2: Go frame by frame

You can progress frame by frame using the , (backward) and . (forward) keys. (See also here.)


EDIT: Other YouTube keyboard shortcuts include

  • < (Shift + ,) and > (Shift + ,) = adjust playback speed
    note: in some browsers (Shift + < and Shift + >)
  • j = rewind
  • k = pause
  • ? = view all keyboard shortcuts

Thanks to @user66401 and @flawr for pointing these out in the comments

5
  • 7
    While the comma and period do in fact control frame-by-frame, the < and > keys (while using shift) control the playback speed. j (rewind), k (pause), and l (fast forward) are probably also of interest. Also pressing ? will show you a list of all the keyboard shortcuts.
    – user66401
    Aug 4 '20 at 22:22
  • There is also [shift]+[,] and [shift]+[.] (or in some browsers [shift]+[>] and [shift]+[<]) to change the speed using the keyboard.
    – flawr
    Aug 5 '20 at 9:11
  • 3
    Frame by frame probably isn't going to help in this case since it doesn't play sound while doing that, and even it it did, 1 frame's worth of sound would be hard to catch for the purposes of transcription. Aug 5 '20 at 13:29
  • 2
    I use frame by frame sometimes to catch fingerings, not as in which note is being played (aural) but which finger is being used (visual). This is usually after I've figured out which note is being played so it's used in conjunction with and not in replace of playback speed.
    – user66401
    Aug 5 '20 at 14:34
  • Be a happier person and install the "Video Speed Controller" extension (for both Chrome and Firefox). I recommend setting the speed increment to 0.25 and the seeking speed to 2 or 3 seconds. That way you can quickly and easily go forwards and backwards with Z and X a sensible distance instead of 5 seconds, and can easily change the playback speed with S and D. Aug 5 '20 at 21:57
20

I'd probably recommend starting with the built-in YouTube controls. But for the sake of completeness here's another workflow that makes use of 3rd party software called a "phrase trainer" or "slow downer". Here's a list of them.

Typically, you'd download or otherwise record the audio from the video so that you have it locally. There are a lot of services that will let you download the audio from a YouTube video, but personally I like the command-line youtube-dl package because it works well for most popular video sites and can do audio or video.

Once you have the audio file, then the phrase trainer software will let you slow down the audio without changing the pitch, loop sections, transpose/tune, and other features that are useful for transcribing.

If you absolutely need the video as well, I know Transcribe! at least works with videos as well. So you could download the video file and it will provide the same transcribing tools for the audio but also show the video at the same time:

I find youtube-dl, Transcribe!, and MuseScore (if I need to actually write it down) to be a pretty good workflow. But it depends on your needs. For instance Transcribe! doesn't offer any kind notation feature so you'll either have to remember it or write it down somewhere else.

Some software, for instance Capo, provides built-in guitar tabbing by letting you click on the spectrogram view to add a note to the tab view. So you can then later look at what you tabbed to refresh your memory. Again, it depends on your instrument and the features that you need.

1
  • Having a local copy of the video also lets you view it with a local video player like mpv.io (Linux / Mac / Windows) with responsive seeks, better than youtube's sometimes-sluggish seeking. And fine-graned speed controls, a/v sync in case a vid is out of sync, aspect ratio control if you need it. And pretty importantly for this, configurable keybinds for seeking fast or accurately, e.g. back by 5 seconds precisely, even if that means decoding many frames after a keyframe. Also it can loop a timespan of a video. Aug 6 '20 at 3:52
4

I have been using this extension called "Youtube Playback Speed Control" for a long time to speed up YouTube videos, but it can be used to slow them down too.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/youtube-playback-speed-co/hdannnflhlmdablckfkjpleikpphncik

From the description:

Youtube playback speed increase or decrease is just a mouse click or keyboard button away. Get more out of Youtube and control speed of youtube video easily either by clicking the speed overlay button on the top right hand corner or just keyboard button '+' and '-'. Keyboard button are configurable and if you want to use different key, you can change this default keys from settings tab.

It is quite flexible. You can set the speed increment to as low as 0.001 (Might be lower, haven't tested it).

Screenshot of extension

There is a similar extension for FireFox as well:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/videospeed/

4
  • Youtube's standard UI already has speed controls. So this addon just makes the control more fine-grained, instead of additive increments of 0.25? Aug 6 '20 at 3:55
  • @PeterCordes Yes, this allows for finer control than increments of 0.25 of the playback speed, and it does not cap your speed. You can play the video at 0.05xor 4x if you want. This extension simply changes the playbackRate property on the video. You can open up the devloper console and change it yourself too, but this just makes it more convenient. Aug 6 '20 at 12:39
  • When the speed is lower than 0.25x the usual, do you still get audio? (YouTube's 0.25x speed setting didn't have audio for years, which was annoying for me as a transcriber.)
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 6 '20 at 13:54
  • 2
    @Dekkadeci Yes! Once upon a time, the only way to play a video at a different rate was to skip or extend frames with JavaScript, which was quiet tricky to get right. Now, the HTML 5 standard supports a playbackRate property on the video that is handled by the browser itself, so it is much smoother. To answer your question, yes, you should get audio at any speed you choose. Aug 6 '20 at 13:59
4

A small web-app that may be useful when analyzing or practicing with YouTube videos and offline media files (I am its author):

https://agrahn.gitlab.io/ABLoopPlayer

It has A-B repeat, fast/slow motion and loop bookmarking facilities.

Some more features:

  • The A-B loop window can be adjusted using a double-handled slider, & on the keyboard, or, more accurately, via two time input fields.
  • The entire A-B loop window can be moved pressing Ctrl and moving one of the slider handles.
  • A-B loops can be saved as bookmarks for the current or for later sessions on the same computer and in the same browser.
  • Bookmarked A-B loops can be annotated individually with short description texts.
  • playback rates from slow to fast motion
  • resizable video display
  • search videos on YouTube

If the player widget has the focus (after clicking on it) it can be controlled with the same keyboard keys as the player on the main YT web site, e. g. ,, . for seeking frame-wise

0

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.