I have started to begin to transcribe and can transcribe the right note flawlessly, but not the right octave. I have been doing a transcribing course that uses an electric guitar and have been transcribing notes through an accousitc. How much is the harmonic character of the notes I hear on the electric influencing my transcribing, and how much do I need to be patient to develop this skill ;)?

  • 4
    Are you familiar with the concept of "transposing instruments" and that the guitar will sound an octave lower than notated?
    – Richard
    Jun 19 '21 at 16:27
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    also, with very strong harmonics, "the right octave" can be ambiguous, octave equivalence is one hell of a drug. when it comes to finding the right register to play something in on a different instrument, it's probably better to do what sounds right than worry too much about the register the notes were originally played in.
    – Esther
    Jun 19 '21 at 16:33
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    Absolutely normal. Different instruments have very different characters, and it can be very hard to figure stuff like this out. What you have to do is listen to music of different instruments with score in hand, so that you can LEARN what this-or-that instrument sounds like in this-or-that octave. Jun 19 '21 at 20:52
  • Not sure what it is you are transcribing but if the music is processed, e.g. electric guitar through some effects, then you may not "hear" the note being played at all but a non-linear mixture. As Richard said, the guitar is NOT written in the octave played. That can a surprise the first time one learns that.
    – user50691
    Jun 20 '21 at 12:06

Use a little less 'dead reckoning' and a little more experience! What instrument is playing that note? What's the range of that instrument? Is it in its 'easy middle' range?

What instrument are you transcribing FOR? Maybe the original octave is less important than putting it in the 'sweet range' for THAT instrument.

I agree, the further a sound gets from a natural instrumental sound, the harder it can be to discern its octave.

  • Also, learning the artist you are listening to - what do they typically do? Which octaves do they choose?
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jun 20 '21 at 10:24

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