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I recently came across a song with a synth riff that I want to learn to play on the piano. It's the riff played throughout this video (from 0:17)

I can roughly follow the overall melody but what I'm playing on the piano doesn't sound nearly as nice as the synth in the video. I can see most of the keys he's hitting, but it's all happening so fast I can't follow along 100%.

I'm not asking for someone else here to transcribe the exact riff for me but I'm looking for general tips:

  • Is he playing the exact same melody in both hands? Or is it two different lines running against each other?
  • Is he always playing just one note per hand or are there some chords mixed in?
  • How can I practice my transcribing/listening skills? If I couldn't see his hands how would I ever figure out what he's playing?
  • You can play the audio in a program like Transcribe! that lets ou slow down the temp while maintaining the pitch. – Duston Aug 28 at 13:07
  • Look into "parallel chords": that's what the guitar is doing. And most of time keys is unison. – Owain Evans Aug 28 at 15:39
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Ultimately you want to be able to transcribe using your ears and not eyes, so you will want to train your listening skills (visual guidance is always good for confirmation, but try to not depend on it!). For beginners or if the piece is too complicated for your skills, it is always helpful to find covers of the song in youtube with the specific instrument isolated (if the song is popular this will be easy to find)

Training your listening skills takes time but will be most important in your musical development, so transcribing things like this should become a regular practice for you. Start by getting used to finding a note in your instrument and being confident in your ability to do so. Transcribing a line means you should be able to hear the line, sing the line, and find the notes in your instrument.

Something that will facilitate this a lot is interval training. Learn to hear and recognize all intervals. This doesn't take as long as you might think at the beginning and will drastically improve your listening and transcribing.

Finally, don't worry too much about "not sounding as good as the original". Usually what you listen to is a product of professional musicians and a professional studio recording with a lot of production involved, with carefully chosen sounds and mix. Just aim for replicating the main idea, in a way that you feel comfortable playing.

To answer your points: It sounds like he is doubling the melody with both hands, adding sometimes supporting notes. This is not super easy to hear, as the guitar is also playing unisono, and both instruments are playing in a similar range.

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I know you didn't ask but I've done four bars to get you started. BUT there are a couple of mistakes in the note-lengths. I'm pretending they were deliberate! Also, the last chord in bar 3 may or may not be the same as that in bar 2. It's hard to decide.

They sound like parallel chords but they're not quite, or not often.

enter image description here

The guitar plays the 'right hand' (which is at sounding pitch). The synth plays the left. You should recognize the sound and shape of the guitarist's last chord.

Later in the song it sounds as if they're simply repeating these four bars, but there are often small but important changes.

It's very good practice to sing stuff. As this piece is mostly in four parts, you could loop these four bars and then practise singing each part in turn.

hirschme is right about intervals.

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