Are you planning to transcribe a song and don’t know how to go about it? Perhaps you have the idea, but want to know how to get the best quality from music transcription services!
Either way, this post will guide you. Here, we will discuss music transcription at length, show you how to get started, and where to get quality music transcription services in the UK.
What Is Music Transcription?
Music transcription services involve transcribing music, be it live or recorded, into a written document. The document, in turn, could be in form of guitar tablature, informal shorthand, piano roll, or a simple notation.
We understand that the definition of transcription makes transcribing music seem easy, but it is not. Unlike general transcription where you only listen to conversations, music requires specific skills and patience.
About skills, you need to fine-tune your chord, listening, pitch, and rhythm knowledge before you can transcribe any song. Those asides, how good is your hearing? Do you even understand sheet music?
What Is Sheet Music?
Sheet music, though in printed form, doesn’t use the typical English transcripts. Instead, you will find musical notations and symbols that represent the different elements within a song or musical piece.
In essence, sheet music is a specific form of music transcription that involves transcribing musical pieces to their bare minimum using notations. With one, any musically inclined person can recreate a song.
As such, the processes of creating sheet music can be expensive and rigorous, so much so, that only experts can produce them for your songs or others’.
Others? Is it legal to transcribe another person’s song?
Is Music Transcription Legal?
Transcribing music is legal across the UK – and even beyond. However, it could be an infringement if you don’t obtain the rights from the owner of the transcribed song.
Under the law, it is illegal and even punishable to transcribe or rearrange another’s song or sell the transcripts without approval. When you commit such infringement, you violate the copyright of the original owner and even the public distribution.
So, what should you do?
Popular songs often have already made sheet music that you can buy. Say the song of your interest doesn’t have a transcript; you can get a license from the owner before transcribing it.
Now that you know music transcription is legal, let’s discuss the steps involved.
What Does Professional Music Transcription Services Entail? What Can You Expect?
Like other forms of transcription services, music also happens in stages, and it starts with you. Depending on your preferred notation and how soon you want the transcript, your sheet music could be ready within hours to a few days.
The fastest route to getting accurate transcripts remains to hire a music transcriptionist. Such a specialist has enhanced aural abilities and has been in the business for a while.
Nevertheless, you can also do a DIY if you have worked on your listening skills or would like to start. But if what you seek is a professional sheet, engage a music transcriptionist. When you do, these are some of the things you can expect:
You Send The Music (Live Or Recorded File)
With music transcription services, the transcriptionist needs a file to work on. Now, the file you will be sending could be your performance, a song you are writing, a recorded piece, or someone else’s masterpiece.
For a live performance, it might even be best if you invite the transcriptionist to the event to listen. Else, the recordings will suffice but might take more time because of noise.
Furthermore, if you’re sending someone else’s song, do well to get copyright. Perhaps you don’t want the stress; you can engage a music transcription service company to help.
Decide The Notation You Want
After sending the audio file to your transcriptionist, he will ask for preferred notation, style, and even delivery format. You can as well prepare ahead to reduce the back and forth.
In some cases, your preferred notation might not be the best for the transcript you want. When that happens, a transcription company will guide you on the right note to use.
Your Hired Transcriptionist Starts Transcribing
Once the requirements are set, your aid proceeds to transcribe the music sent. However, note that the accuracy and turnaround time depends on whom you hired.
It is best to engage a professional who specializes in music transcription. However, to have more edge over style and quality, you should hire a full-range, one-stop company like Espresso Translations that has experts across all niches of transcription and translation services.
You Receive The Sheets
Once you receive the musical notations, check through to confirm the accuracy. If you’re not an expert in such affairs, engage someone who understands it. That way, you can rest assured that what you received was what you ordered.
Else, you can send the sheets back for review. Note that companies have time frames for editing finish work, so, you might want to request your revision as soon as possible.
If the transcripts don’t have any error, you can proceed to utilize them, either for creating or recreating more awesome music or for documentation purposes.
Despite the streamlined process that assures quality transcripts, we understand you might yet want to get hands-on about transcribing your songs. In that case, below are few tips to help you get started:
Tips On How To Transcribe A Song
The tips here will work for you regardless of your expertise in music. That said, let’s get into the details!
What Do You Need To Start Music Transcription?
Above all else, you need focused listening ears. Else, you might as well stop before the process begins and hire a transcription service provider.
Furthermore, prioritize the quality of the audio file you’re using. From our experience, we found that CD songs are the best quality for music transcripts.
Nevertheless, you can use the MP3 format. But we will advise that you find the best quality of such. In other words, get the highest bit-size of the MP3 song of your choice. Why?
MP3 reduces the quality of sound as the size decreases!
Furthermore, invest in a media player that can jump to any point on the song it plays. If you can’t get such, find music transcription software such as:
● Audacity – is more a bookmarking software than a transcription tool. It is best for bookmarking a point on a song, editing, or recording. And it’s free!
● Transcribe! – is a specialized tool for transcribing songs. It comes at a price, but it remains an affordable software.
Don’t Go Overboard
If you have never done a music transcription, then stick to a simple song. We are saying you should limit your abilities, but be realistic. Can you handle an 8-instrument piece?
Unlikely for a beginner!
So, find a simple song that uses only a piano and just a melody line; start with that.
Take Your Time, And Listen To The Song As Many Times As Possible
Before you delve into transcription, we will advise that you listen to the “simple’ song at least twice. That way, your ear can adjust and assimilate to the tunes of the music.
Also, ensure you stay away from distractions while listening to the said music. Try a quiet room!
Find The Key
While listening to the song you want to transcribe, ensure you find the key. Doing so will make transcription and note convenient for you.
But, how do you find the key?
Play all the notes on your instrument and look for the best match for the song you want to transcribe.
Identify The Time Signature
Like the keys, you also need to find the time signature on the song you want to transcribe. Doing so will help you partition how you go about transcribing your file.
So, how do you find the time signature?
Mark the bar lines on a song and tag them by “bridge,” “chorus,” and “verse.”
Still can’t find the keys and time signatures? Try the next top!
Half The Pace Of The Song
Don’t worry about the quality or pitch of your song; halving the pace won’t change those elements. Instead, the act will further help you listen to notes or keys that you might have missed.
If the half-speed doesn’t work, you can reduce the pace even lower until you can fully understand the elements in a song.
Transcribe In Order
Don’t rush into transcription, instead, do it orderly in a way that makes the job easy for you. What way?
Transcribe your music according to the sequence below:
1. Drum/bassline – they are the easiest that your ear will pick. So start with them!
2. Rhythm instruments – are often guitar and piano. You should note the bars, then start with the chorus and verse as they are to grab.
3. Lead instruments – are the most time-consuming part of music transcription because of the melodies. So, handle them last.
Split Longer Songs Into Sections
As you progress as a music transcriptionist, you will take on more long songs. When you come across those, split them into sections, and follow the earlier tips we listed.
Do you feel the DIY approach is hectic and time-consuming? Perhaps you need to transcribe numerous songs, and to standards, where would you have the time?
Well, you can always engage a transcription service provider like Espresso Translations. That’s even the best approach!
Why Should You Trust The Music Transcription Service Of Espresso Translations?
At Espresso Translations, we are a full-time transcription and translation company. We have over 150 experts across the music, legal, and medical niche.
More importantly, we understand quality and professionalism, and that shines through all of our offerings. So, if that’s what you seek, we are your best bet in the UK.
To get a quote for our music transcription service, get in touch with our professional team today. Whether you are a song writer, a composer, a vocal artist or other, we can help with your transcriptions. We have experience in lead sheets, music notation, recordings and more. Send us your files today and we will get back to you within the hour.