Techniques

Transcribing music with Soundslice

There are many ways to transcribe music using Soundslice. Here are our recommended techniques.

Measure-based technique

Here’s the easiest way to transcribe using Soundslice, assuming you’re transcribing music that has a regular rhythm (i.e., most music). First, tap out the measures. Then use the measure positions to quickly add chords and notes according to fractions of measures.

1. Click the “Tap measures” button on the song’s page. If you don’t see this and see “Time” and “Measures” buttons instead, that means this song already has measure lines and you can skip to Step 7.
2. You’ll see a popup window with some instructions. Click “OK, start tapping” and wait for the countdown.
3. The song will start playing. Press R, T, Y or U whenever you hear a new measure (i.e., on the “one” of each measure). If you make a mistake, don’t worry — you can fix it later.
4. At any time, you can click the Pause button or press Spacebar to pause play. Move the playhead back or forward by dragging the diamond at its top.
5. Fixing errors and making fine-grained tweaks is easy. While the song is paused, click and drag the box at the top of a measure to move it. To delete a measure, click the X next to it, or select it and hit the Delete key.
6. When you’re done entering measures, hit Escape to exit measure-editing mode. From then on, you’ll see “Time” and “Measures” buttons above the track names. Click “Time” to display seconds and “Measures” to display measure lines. Click the pencil next to “Measures” to edit measure lines at any time later.
7. Now that measures are entered, it’s easy to mark chords. Click “Add track” and select “Chord track.”
8. Then, making sure you’re viewing measures (as opposed to time), double click within a measure in that track to create an annotation that exactly spans the entire measure.
9. If a chord spans more than one measure, drag its edge to widen it. The interface will automatically snap to measure lines for precision.
10. If a chord spans less than a full measure, first annotate the entire measure. Then, making sure the annotation is selected, hit Alt and a number key (2 through 9) to split it into equal pieces. For example, if a chord lasts a half measure, hit Alt 2 to split it into two equal parts.
11. If a chord spans parts of multiple measure, annotate both measures separately and use splitting/joining. For example, if a chord lasts a measure and a half, first annotate the first measure. Then annotate the second and split it using Alt 2. Then join the first and second annotations by selecting them both (with Shift click) and hitting j to join them.
12. To transcribe individual notes, use these same techniques from steps 7-11, but do it on a tab track instead of a chords track. Here’s a YouTube video demonstrating the technique.

Tapping-based technique

If you have some familiarity with the rhythm and phrasing of the tune you’re transcribing, annotation tapping might be a faster technique for you. With this technique, you tap the chord or note locations while you listen to the song.

1. If you’re transcribing a particularly fast bit of music, change the speed setting to half speed to make things easier.
2. Click “Add track” and create a tab or chords track, depending on what you want to transcribe.
3. Click the gear icon in the new track, then select “Tap to annotate.”
4. You’ll see a popup window with some instructions. Click “OK, start tapping” and wait for the countdown.
5. The song will start playing. Press R, T, Y or U whenever you hear a new chord or note. If you make a mistake, don’t worry — you can fix it later.
6. When you’re done annotating, click the Pause button or press Spacebar to pause play. You’ll exit “tap to annotate” mode. At this point, you can move, resize, and delete those new annotations as needed. See the Help page for lots of details on editing annotations.

Manual annotation

If you’re transcribing a recording that is “out of time” or can’t be represented with measures, or if you want fine-grained control over your transcription, use manual annotation.

1. If you’re transcribing a particularly fast bit of music, change the speed setting to half speed to make things easier.
2. Click “Add track” and create a tab or chords track, depending on what you want to transcribe.
3. Navigate in the recording to the chord or note you want to transcribe, and drag on the timeline to make a selection that spans the exact duration of the chord or note. Press Play to loop the selection and hear real-time feedback on the portion of the song you’ve selected. Resize the edges of the selection as needed.
4. Hover over the selection, in your new track, and click “Annotate.” (You can also hit A on the keyboard to annotate the selection on the currently selected track.)
5. If the next chord or note is the same length, hit F to flip the selection to the right. Then hit A to annotate again (or click “Annotate”).

Transcribing repetitive music

Use Soundslice’s copy/paste feature to quickly transcribe repetitive music such as chord progressions, bass lines or guitar riffs.

1. Tap out the measures, as described in Measure-based technique. This is necessary because the copy/paste feature relies on measure locations to anchor copied/pasted annotations.
2. Annotate a bunch of chords and/or notes, using one of the techniques explained above.
3. When you’ve annotated a series of chords or notes that you’d like to copy, select all of them (using Shift-click) and hit Ctrl C to copy them. Make sure you’re viewing measures, not time.
4. Move the playhead to a measure into which you’d like to paste the annotations. It doesn’t matter exactly where the playhead lies within the measure, as long as it’s somewhere in the measure.
5. Hit Ctrl V to paste the annotations starting in the measure containing the playhead. The annotations will be pasted relative to their position within their original measures. For example, say you copy an annotation that starts halfway through a measure and lasts until the end of the measure. If you paste it in another measure, it will be pasted such that it starts halfway through the measure and lasts until the end of the measure — even if the length of the measure (in seconds) is slightly longer or shorter than the copied-from measure.

For more help, see the main Help page.