38

Using only your ears, it's impossible to determine the exact time signature the composer would have used when writing the score. This is because there are many ways to write the same thing, all of which sound the same when played. For example, a piece written in 3/4 time can easily be re-written in 3/8 time by halving all the note values and playing it half ...


28

Start by finding the beat. Tap your finger for every beat, like a human metronome. Resist any urge to tap uneven rhythms; just the underlying constant pulse. Once you've got that, listen for the start of bars. There are various indicators that a bar is starting; an emphasis, a chord change, etc. Now count. "One" for the first beat, then counting upward, ...


26

I wasn't there, but I would not find it completely out of the question. In every field of expertise, experts are capable of chunking information in ways that amateurs are not. An expert listener will not just hear a few hundred notes performed by several voices, they will hear harmonies, their relationships to each other, and rhythmical patterns. More ...


22

Neuroscience still can't explain some of the amazing things human brains can do. A person alive in our time has interesting and similar ability to mentally manage music in a way that suggests that some people might be wired for this sort of thing. The study detailed at http://www.radiolab.org/story/148670-4-track-mind/ showed that Bob Milne has the ability ...


20

Great question! I just happen to have the Prelude on my desk at the moment - you've got a really interesting project on your hands there, but quite a lot of work - good luck! Hopefully I can add to jjmusicnotes really useful advice with some ideas that will make this a far simpler project for you. Firstly, from your question, it seems like you are "half-...


20

It's worth noting that the Miserere is extremely repetitive. For example, this version is roughly 15 minutes long, but you get all the melodic and harmonic content in the first 2:45 except for the final cadence; everything after that is more verses set to the same music. Mozart still would have had to remember the varying text overlay as well as any ...


19

There are a few different ways to approach transcription and depending on how good your ear is and how much detail you want to put into your transcription. It also should be noted that like practicing an instrument, you get better at transcribing by doing it. In general, you would need the following: A recording of the song to be transcribed Manuscript ...


16

Transcribing music is EXCELLENT ear training practice. I like to tell students that transcribing one song to completion is like an entire semester of ear training. Don’t just listen for intervals and notes, but form, where tension is created and released, see if you can name all the instruments, sounds, or stereo techniques (panning, phasing, etc). ...


15

All documented resources I can find agree with the story. The Pope, instead of excommunicating Mozart, conferred on him the Order of the Golden Spur, a papal knighthood, for "contributing to the glory of the Church" through his transcription of the Miserere. The record of that award, as well as the minutes of that audience, are part of the archives of the ...


12

How about 2/2 (alla breve)? This also goes in two, but the pulse is a half-note so you can write your 32nds as 16ths, which should be readable. Nowadays alla breve is also usually associated with a quick tempo so to an experienced musician it should look right.


12

All transcribed notation is an approximation. The classic dots and stems are simply not adequate for many types of music. But before we even talk about transcription, consider that many composers have conceived of sounds that are far beyond the status quo -- often called the avant garde, but not necessarily so. Many of these composers have then invented ...


10

First of all, learning just basic music theory is a must. I don't know what your background is but if you're unable to read a piece of music it's likely you're going to have difficulty writing it. Learning how chords work is a must. Not only recognizing what they look like but if someone plays one on a piano or something you can recognize that its a major ...


10

Transcribing in its simplest form could be construed as listening to a piece and writing it down for others to play. It may be as simple as making a note of the chord changes and writing them; doing the same, but putting them into a different key; doing it as you listen to a piece for the first time. At a deeper level, it's changing a piece of music. It may ...


9

Unfortunately, the answer to your question is one that you can only ultimately provide. Orchestration is an art form unto itself, and your choices are personal and unique to your sense of nuance and knowledge of the music. For example, a particular melody or line given to a cornet will sound differently if given to the flugelhorn instead; though the same ...


9

Transcribing music is an incredibly educational process and is wonderful ear-training for aural development. Especially as a beginner, it is important to begin with a wide scope, and gradually narrow the focus to eliminate otherwise distracting information. Often, beginning musicians are overwhelmed with all of the aural information, and so the model I ...


9

Yes, this seems to have been Bach's (and his family's) practice in the early part of his career. Schweitzer mentions it in his book 'Bach' (1911). I don't think anyone's come up with a plausible reason for the inconsistency. From the two examples given I might hazard that there was one rule for structural harmony notes, another for decorative ones in ...


8

To build on NReilingh's great answer, anything* is transcribable. Transcription is just making music so that it can be communicated visually to another musician. Most conventional music makes a trade off between detail and legibility, with things like tempo, phrasing, and articulation rendered by general, fairly ambiguous symbols. Transcription focuses on ...


7

I'm not a Drummer, but I would highly recommend investing in a copy of Guitar Pro. Most of the songs I've downloaded for guitar pro have the transcribers really putting a ton of effort into transcriptions of songs. It allows you to follow along, speed up, slow down, loop etc, and the Real Sound Engine means that the drums actually sound realistic. A ...


7

I always use Audacity for transcribing music. It's a free audio editor (for Mac and Windows). If necessary you can change the tempo, and you have a lot of other useful options. However, I've been transcribing music for many years and I've come to the conclusion that in most cases you just need to be able to select the difficult bit and be able to loop it ...


6

Both of the answers above are correct and informative. However, I do believe that it is possible to obtain the time signature of a song by simply listening. Equivalents are almost irrelevant because they're equivalent! Unless you're trying to write out an accurate reproduction score of the piece, an equivalent time signature will suffice. Songs in 4/4 and 3/...


6

For odd time signatures it's often beneficial to break them down into a series of more common signatures. E.g. a 7/4 part can be thought of as 4/4 + 3/4. By starting out counting in 4/4, usually one get a feel for where the "bump" is and adjust accordingly.


6

This is a good question as transpositions notoriously trip people up. First off, Wagner's not playing any tricks, and you've got the right octave, so rest easy. :) The "normal" Bb clarinet's lowest written note is E2 which will sound as you described one whole-step lower than written pitch (D2.) The A clarinet has the same written range as the Bb clarinet,...


6

If there were no specific techniques for beginning a composition, composition would likely not be a field of study. Often within composition study, the teacher will provide a set of guidelines that essentially tell you how to start. I am assuming that you are not working with a teacher here, which of course is the "real-world" case, and give you the ...


6

I think you'd get different answers depending on who you ask, so this may yet be closed as being too subjective. Even the same composer may start at a different 'point' depending on the ideas they have at that moment in time. For example, if they heard someone whistling an interesting melody in the street that day, then they may develop that melody first ...


6

For popular music, you can determine the time signature by listening to the rhythm section, especially the drum kit and bass. These two instruments typically carry the musical pulse. You can figure out the time signature’s note value (lower number) by listening to the subdivisions of the pulse, and you can figure out the time signature’s note count (upper ...


6

Time signatures can be written in many ways and are largely contextual, so the short answer is no. However, I think it is absolutely possible to come up with synonymous time signatures, based on the phrasing, pulse and beat emphasis. This means you can tell the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 usually. The problem with being accurate here is ...


6

One thing transcribing will teach is an excellent musical ear - identifying intervals, chords, rhythm, etc. As well as the converse - being able to hear written music in your head better. This will aid you in many areas of music.


6

Someone with a deeper history/musicology background may be able to answer more definitively, but I have a few thoughts: IMSLP hosts scores that are in the public domain. A score is NOT public domain simply because the composer has been dead for x decades! Instead, this has to do with the copyright date of the score edition. That is, if I decide to typeset ...


6

These are definitely triplet subdivisions, not duple 32nds. With experience, you can tell the difference even at fast tempos like this. If I was doing this transcription, however, I would take a very different approach. I would either write in swing 8ths, 4/4 at q=206, or I would keep the meter the same and make a note up at the top indicating "swing 16ths",...


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