Guided Transcriptions

Transcription is both a fun and fundamental skill for all musicians, but it can be hard to get started!

It is important to start with pieces you know well – ones with instant recall, so that you can get into figuring out how it all goes. Trial and error is the main strategy here.

As you get better, you can hear for keys, scales, arpeggios and patterns.

  • Step 1 – Listen carefully, sing back what you hear
  • Step 2 – Use the speed settings to slow down the track
  • Step 3 – Loop small sections, sing again
  • Step 4 – Find the notes on clarinet
  • Step 5 – Use the hints and tips given to help write it out

Snarky Puppy – Thing Of Gold (2012)

Here, all notes are given and spaced appropriately in the bar. Your job is to play along and fill in the rhythm. It includes some ties. Be sure to use correct beaming. Two bars of keys solo are included.

Difficulty: 3/10

Joe Hisaishi – My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

The classic melody from My Neighbour Totoro is written using both rhythm only and notes only guides. Close attention to the key and thinking about whether the notes move by step or leap will be very helpful

Difficulty: 3/10

* Theres a version on YouTube, but it’s significantly slower than the original recording, and of poor audio quality

The Beatles – And Your Bird Can Sing (1966)

This transcription, in F# major for clarinet, contains empty bars where it’s all up to you to put in pitch and rhythm. In most bars either pitches or rhythms are given to make things a bit easier.

Difficulty: 4/10

Stevie Wonder – Contusion (1976)

In this example, the full rhythm is given as well as some tricky key notes.

Difficulty: 6/10

Vulfpeck – Dean Town (2016)

Tricky rhythms and tricky keys make this a real challenge, not to mention the fast tempo. Use the built in custom speed adjustments in the YouTube player – start at 0.5x or 0.6x

Difficulty: 7/10