Hi! I’m Adrian, a guitarist and Internet programmer in Chicago.
For years, I’ve spent a lot of time transcribing music — figuring out how to play stuff, from small licks to chord changes to entire solos / arrangements.
This is a hugely painful process.
Why is it painful?
- It’s hard to preserve your learning. I can’t read sheet music (only guitar tab), so whenever I transcribe something, I either create a lame text-file tab on my computer or write it out on paper. Coming back to that even a few days later, I have to relisten to the original recording to get a sense of the timing and phrasing, even though I’d already transcribed it! Tab just isn’t good at describing subtleties of music.
- Existing tools don’t respect the original audio. Software like Guitar Pro lets you create and read tabs that can be “played back” — but the playback is in lousy MIDI format. I strongly believe the best way to learn music is to listen to actual instruments, not MIDI approximations.
- It’s incredibly manual and labor-intensive. Right? Ask any musician who’s ever transcribed anything. It’s the 21st Century, and computers ought to be helping us here.
- Existing tools don’t take advantage of the Internet. The world of transcription software is mostly limited to old-school desktop applications, not Web applications. There’s so much unmet potential for online collaboration rather than solitary work.
Meanwhile, I’ve been posting guitar videos to YouTube since 2007, and I constantly get requests for tabs of my arrangements. I see this as a huge honor, having people be interested in my silly videos enough to want to play them — but I’ve always resisted transcribing, because (1) it’s a lot of work and (2) I’m not happy with text guitar tab as a format. I’ve always felt bad about not giving people the tabs they want. Argh!
A few years ago, I decided to build something for myself to address these problems. It’s been years in the making, my friend PJ has done awesome design work on it, and Soundslice is the result. Welcome! We are so glad you’re here.
You know what, let’s even type out a manifesto.
The Soundslice manifesto
- Sheet music/tablature on its own can only get you so far. The best way to learn music is to listen to the original recording.
- “Kids these days” look to YouTube videos to learn all sorts of stuff. Let’s take advantage of that.
- Once somebody transcribes a song, nobody should ever have to do that work again.
- “Transcribing” has the connotation of being a geeky, intense, isolated activity. Let’s change that.
How Soundslice works
Search for any YouTube video, and you’ll get an interface that lets you slow it down and make fine-grained loops. No need to log in for this basic usage.
Then, if you log in with an account, you can annotate the video with tabs, chord charts, locations of your favorite licks or any other stuff you want. It’s a matter of creating “tracks” and “annotations.”
- Make sure you’re logged in.
- Go to the Soundslice page for the video you want to learn from, using the search.
- Add a track using the “+” button in the lower left of the page.
- Select a part of the video using the timeline and click the “Annotate” button that shows up when you hover (or hit “a” on the keyboard).
- Rinse and repeat until you have an amazing synced collection of annotations!
Click “Help” in the upper right of any video page for more interface details. Also take note of the keyboard shortcuts — they’re very handy.
Do it now!
Get started here. We’ll walk you through a quick tutorial and you can start transcribing YouTube videos immediately, for free.
Down the road, we’re planning a pay-for version with extra features, such as the ability to upload any song (as opposed to being limited to YouTube) and automated transcriptions. Stay tuned! And keep an eye on our “What’s new” page — we improve Soundslice every day.
About the team
Social Media Fun™
Thanks for checking us out, and please drop us a line if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you.
Most importantly, learn a ton and KEEP PRACTICING! :-)
Adrian and PJ
Chicago, USA, November 2012