Learning songs by ear is the 'real way' to learn. Music is about hearing right, so doesn't it make sense to learn it by doing the same thing? It's how all the great mastered learned to play and I strongly suggest that you work on this too!
The lost art of transcribing...
Transcribing is the art of working out songs by ear. Much better than using TAB because it develops far more skills, makes you use your ears and knowledge! If you think about it, music is all about listening, right? Doesn't it make sense that the best way to learn it is by listening too?
The actual term transcribe means to write it down (the scribe part of the word), and although this also has many benefits, the main thing you should aim to get down here is the working out the songs by ear, the writing down bit is just useful if you forget it later!
If there was one skill that I think many people miss it is this. And it's such an important skill.
Learning to transcribe WILL transform your playing and get you more in touch with the guitar and help you tap into the music that lives inside you!
Start with this...
TR-001 • Why Transcribing Is So Important
Wonder why I go on about this topic so much? It's explained here...
The Transcribing Course
I have a lot of plans for this course but when I started I kinda hoped that people would be getting into it, but not many people were doing the course and even fewer parted with the £1 for the extra, and I struggle to make time for to make these lessons, they are a huge amount of work, so it's 'on hold' for a bit, I will get back it to at some point. There will be some video lessons but mostly audio, it is after all a transcribing course and it's going to be better if you are working with your ears and not your eyes!
TR-100 • Transcribing Course Introduction
A video and text about this course, who it is aimed out, how the course will run and how to make the most of it! You probably want to check this out before you begin!
TR-101 • The Process of Transcribing
This first lesson describes the various stages of the transcribing process and gives you specific advice to follow as you start on your transcribing journey!
TR-102 • Writing Down Melody in TAB
TAB is a very common way to notate guitar music so in this lesson I am going to give you some hints on writing down your own TABS, either when you are transcribing or wanting to write down your own ideas.
TR-103 • Software Advantages
I did my early transcribing from vinyl records, then cassette, then CD, but now I'm using transcribing software pretty much all the time, the advantages are huge and there are options for most platforms, some free and some not. I'd HIGHLY recommend using software right from the start, it will make your journey far more comfortable.
TR-104 • The Pause
Being able to pause a track you are transcribing at just the right time is a very important skill that will help you transcribe faster and more accurately, so this lesson goes into that in detail. The last thing you hear, stays in your ear!
TR-105 • Pentatonic Beginnings
We're ready to start transcribing for real now with some easy solos using just the A minor pentatonic scale. Keepin it real simple. Listen. Stop. Test. Then just fill in the notes in the tab and off you go!
TR-106 • Trust Your Ears
Hopefully you have discovered that you can transcribe now! So now you have to learn to trust your ears a little - so in this exercise we'll have a few notes that are not in the pentatonic scale. You must learn to trust your ears and not "think the note" but listen to it :)
TR-107 • More Pentatonics
So if you are transcribing blues, a vast majority of the notes are likely to be Pentatonic. So now we're leaving the key of A and looking at other keys, and your goal is to transcribe it AND work out which Pentatonic scale I am using AND work it out in another position!! Also introduce swing and triplets...
TR-108 • Major Step Forward
So now we're going to be doing some transcribing from the G Major Scale, Pattern 1. We're exploring more now, out of most people's comfortable pentatonic slippers ;) more notes to choose from and more ways of playing them, plus we're gong to introduce some slides and some 16th note rhythms too!
Transcribing Rhythm Guitar
Most people seems to find starting transcribing with lead guitar a little easier, but learning the chords and rhythm is as, if not more important and if you approach it a bit at a time you should find the journey fun and pretty easy.
TR-301 • Creating Lyric and Chord Sheets
A very useful, important and fun skill to learn is how to make your own lyric and chord sheets. In this lesson I am going to give you a whole heap of tips and a template to work from.
TR-302 • Basic Chord Chart Writing
In this lesson we are just going to look at basic chord chart layout, so you can write up your own chart for easy songs and know how many times to strum on each chord. Useful skill this.
I'll come back to this area once the lead one (above) is completed.
Transcribing Practical Examples - LEARN COOL SONGS ALL BY YOURSELF HERE!!
You won't get anywhere without actually doing it. No amount of reading or thinking is going to help. A great guitar player friend of mine back in Tasmania (John Farsarakis, thanks mate!) told me something one day that changed my life...
"You can play your way to a new way of thinking.
But you can't think your way to a new way of playing"
So what we're going to get into now is some real life songs, practical exercises that will help you with some of the problems you will encounter. The idea here is that if I give you some tips then you will learn them and be able to work out tunes when you get to them yourself!
TR-201 • Listening To The Bass Note
The best way of developing this skill is to do some songs that use Power Chords. In this lesson you will transcribe some classic rock tunes that use power chords and try and make your own charts for them.
TR-202 • 12 Bar Blues In Every Key
Once you know how to play a blues in lots of keys you should get in there and work out a bunch - that way you will learn the blues properly - by listening. Here are some hints and tips to get you going.
In this area I will put some tips on working out songs, just clues, so you don't have to start from scratch but can still learn to transcribe!
I'm slowly going to get rid of this lesson as I replace them with better lessons above, this was just a starting point.
TR-501 • Song Tips 1 (Pop and Rock)
There are 25 songs here that are good to get started on - with some helpful tips on things like tuning, the chords used in the song and any tip for hard bit. These songs are a great place to start transcribing.
TR-601 • Transcribing Moonlight Shadow
In this video you'll see me transcribe the solos so you get an idea of the process and help you with doing the song :)