Tips for transcribing music

Transcribing music – some tips —
(1) write the notes on a staff as circles, in order, with more or less equal spacing. Write the words/syllables under the notes.
(2) Go to your text, set a slower, steady beat (tap, beat with hand in air, or use metronome) sing or speak in rhythm.
(3) Mark in the text where the beats lie. Does a beat line up with a word or a syllable? If so, mark it. (I like using straight vertical lines for this — it creates a visualization of the beat.) If a beat falls where there is no word, draw lines between the words to indicate the beat.
(4) Once you have this, sing/speak in rhythm to find the stressed beats — the goal is to determine the time signature, measure locations, and to see if the text starts on beat 1 or some other beat of the measure. Mark the stressed beats and/or measures in the text.
(5) Transfer the measure information to the written music with the whole notes, writing in bar lines and the time signature. For now, write in quarter rests for beats that occur where there is no text. If a word/syllable clearly lasts less than two beats, color in the notehead and add a stem. If the note is two beats or longer but less than four beats, add a stem.
(6) sing the song to the written music, refining your notation to fit usual written musical conventions. If your song does not subdivide the beats beyond eighth notes, this is usually pretty easy. If the song includes sixteenth notes or triplets, it can be more complex — expect to need some practice with simpler songs before doing this easily with more complex songs.

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