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David's Tip of the Day: Transcribing Defined - TAB

David Barrett Admin's picture

I realized that I just jumped into transcribing tips and that it would be a good idea to define what transcribing is in detail for everyone. Transcribing is simply listening to what someone else has played on recording and writing down what they did. In its most basic form you write down the hole numbers that they played (blows, draws and bends) and any treatments such as tongue blocking techniques or articulations they used. This is known as TAB (Tablature) and exists to help those that don’t know how to read music to find where on their instrument the actual actions happen (go to this hole and draw and you get the intended note, apposed to reading that it’s a given note on the music staff and then translating where on your instrument that note is obtained). Sometimes what is played is extremely subtle, and in those cases you'll have to decide how detailed you want your transcription to be (and of course the more detailed you wish it to be, the more time it will take for you to decipher what’s going on). I personally write down exactly what the player was doing, and then let the student decide how much time they wish to devote in their practice to play the song in its full original detail. You won’t be able to decipher everything at first. If you haven’t learned a technique yet in your lessons with me, you won’t recognize it when played by someone and thus won’t know how to notate it. This is fine, and is part of the learning process. Just do your best to approximate what they did and as time goes on you’ll eventually know what those techniques are and will be able to recognize what was going on much quicker.