Transcribing & Ear Training

I’ve been really pushing transcribing and ear training lately. I’ve played guitar for years but I was always dependent on tabs or chord sheets that I found online, never really working anything out for myself. I really want to change that now, I want to be able to hear a song, work it out myself and play it.

I figured it might help someone out to talk about the approach I’m taking to do this. I’m using various bits of software, websites and just methods that I’ve picked up when hunting around.


At the moment I’m using 3 different pieces of software all that serve a different purpose. For ear training I’m using Justin Guitar’s Ear Trainer iPhone app which was £1.49. It plays 2 notes from a limited range and you have to select the interval between the notes. As you progress it gets more difficult. I’m trying to do a little on this every day, I find it difficult but I’m getting better – it really helps to associate a song with an interval.


To help with Transcribing I’m using Transcribe which costs $39. Transcribe has the ability to slow down tracks but retain the pitch which is pretty useful. There’s loads of other functionality that lets you block out various parts of the audio, make notes, put markers down, calculate tempo. It will also take an attempt at working out notes and chords but I’d rather be doing that myself. It doesn’t come set up for ukulele, but it’s easy enough to tweak so it works perfectly.

Guitar Pro

The final app that I’m using is Guitar Pro 6 which I bought for about €47 using a discount code from Justin Guitar. I debated over buying this for a while, did I really need to be creating tabs? I have a pen and paper (and I even created my own tab template) that work perfectly well but what I’m finding with Guitar Pro 6 is that it sort of forces me to create tabs. I’m not tabbing anything particularly complex at the moment but I’m publishing almost everything that I transcribe. What I really like about Guitar Pro is that you can play what you’ve tabbed in app. It sounds a bit crappy as it’s all midi files but you can easily hear if you’re wrong or right. It’s teaching me a lot about music in general.


Guido Heistek’s website has some great resources and is a really nice approach to learning an instrument, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Justin Guitar’s site also has a great section on ear training, yes it’s generally heavily guitar related but a note is a note and a chord is a chord. Justin is also a huge advocate of transcribing. There’s no reason why you can’t use it to learn. I do.


One step at a time is the approach I’m taking. I’m new to this, I’m not going to be transcribing ridiculously complex songs for a while so I’m focusing on basic riffs and 3-4 chord songs. I take it really slow. For chords I try and locate the first chord and then refer to the circle of fifths to help me out which is a massive help. Sometimes I find it really difficult to hear the chord behind the rest of the instruments, I’ll get better with time I guess. Aside from this the only other tip I find really useful is to write anything down that you work out. Get it down on paper and move on. It really helps.


Here’s a couple of videos that I found really useful, both with a slight focus on guitar but it doesn’t matter…

Hopefully this will prove useful to someone out there!


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