Transcribing Music Without Developing Bad Habits

Transcribing Music Without Developing Bad Habits

Transcribing Music Without Developing Bad Habits

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Transcribing Music Without Developing Bad Habits

Q: Thanks for your help. I definitely don't want to develop bad habits so I appreciate you keeping me on the right track. I play in a band and often have to listen to recordings to learn guitar parts. Unfortunately these aren't one chord vamps but they are always diatonic. How should I approach transcribing these parts so that I won't develop any bad habits?

A: There are a couple of things you could do to help you improve your aural understanding of music that you have transcribed but didn't use your ears in the proper way to finish the transcription. There are two sets of ear training programs you can use to help you with these exercises.

For use with the MetroDrone. I would put on a drone preferable at a tempo that you can sing through the notes in time. In general make the MetroDrone happen only on the 1st beat of every measure. The following are assuming you transcribed a chord progression that is diatonic to one key

  • 1. Use the MetroDrone and sing through the bass line
  • 2. Use the MetroDrone and sing through the arpeggios for each chord.

You can also do various inversions of the chords and different melodic combinations i.e.

if the notes of the first chord where


you could sing through each chord in 24 ways:

  • A,B,C,D
  • A,B,D,C
  • A,C,B,D
  • A,C,D,B
  • A,D,B,C
  • A,D,C,B
  • B,A,C,D
  • B,A,D,C
  • B,C,A,D
  • B,C,D,A
  • B,D,C,A
  • B,D,A,C
  • C,A,B,D
  • C,A,D,B
  • C,B,A,D
  • C,B,D,A
  • C,D,A,B
  • C,D,B,A
  • D,A,B,C
  • D,A,C,B
  • D,B,A,C
  • D,B,C,A
  • D,C,A,B
  • D,C,B,A

I done this with many songs to help me hear the chords all in one key.

You could also use the Key Retention Builder audio files with these types of exercises to slowly wean yourself away from a drone and get so you just hear all the notes in a key center without the drone reference.

Hope that helps,


It is also recommended that you read Bruce Arnold's Blog at his artist site. It contains more discussion of the musical topics found in these FAQs as well as other subjects of interest. You will also find the "Music Education Genealogy Chart" located here which shows you the historic significance of the music education products found on the Muse Eek Publishing Company Website.

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