I've started using Transcribe! to figure out some of my favorite pieces that lack sheet music and get better at transcription by ear. I think it's a super helpful program.

However, it doesn't seem that Transcribe lets you actually write the sheet music, unless I can't find that feature - it only really focuses on the slowing, viewing, and manipulation of audio playback.

Am I missing something there, or would I have to use a midi capture program to be able to actually create sheet music from what I'm hearing?

EDIT: To be clear, I'm not looking for Transcribe! to actually generate me sheet music - I'm a computer engineer and I understand the technical limitations there and how hard of a problem that is. I was just looking for some kind of feature where it would let me write the sheet music aligned to a point in the waveform. I do not think that exists - so I will need to use a separate program to write out the sheet music for my transcriptions.

  • By 'actually write the sheet music` do you want the program to listen to a song and transcribe it for you or to be able to write on music sheet yourself? Dec 27, 2015 at 12:40
  • Write the sheet music myself.
    – tarun
    Dec 28, 2015 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, at the present state of the art there isn't a "MIDI capture program" worth using. The ones that claim to (like AudioScore, peddled with Sibelius) is as near to outright fraud as any program I've ever encountered. That's why we need Transcribe! Some say audio transcription will never come. "You can't unbake a cake". I'm not too sure. Analysis of complex material is just what computers are good at, and I imagine the military must be putting resources into the similar problem of extracting individual conversations from a babble. But we haven't got anything useful yet.

  • Thanks for the response! The spirit of my question (my fault for not making this completely clear) was just wondering if Transcribe! had some sheet music creation feature (not automatic creation, even manual creation) that I was missing. It doesn't seem it does - which is no problem. I'll have to use lilypond or something else to actually make a record of what I transcribe.
    – tarun
    Dec 30, 2015 at 14:58

Although there isn't a way to translate the sound into visible notes, Transcribe!'s spectrum is really one-of-a-kind. Check out their FAQ and search the page for "Spectrum" (Unfortunately they don't provide deep linking to individual questions...) to get a better look at how to use the spectrum analyzer to get a better understand of what notes are audible.

  • 1
    Thank you. I've definitely gotten used to using the spectrum analyzer and the note guessing features - I was just wondering if I just couldn't find a feature that let me say "At this point in the waveform, this is what the associated sheet music would look like." I wasn't looking for the sheet music to be autogenerated - just writing it myself for my own reference to be put in line with the waveform. Perhaps there's an opportunity here to integrate lilypond with transcribe some way!
    – tarun
    Dec 30, 2015 at 14:56
  • That would be convenient, however probably quite mess. The spectrum analysis will show you overtones occurring in the sample which would, without filtering, end up in the music too. Some of those are doubled by actual notes, some of those are not in the music at all, and most of those overtones would reek havoc on chord analysis and chord-scale relationships.
    – user6164
    Dec 30, 2015 at 15:11

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