Transcribe is a software package that is designed to help you analyze music audio tracks, in particular for assisting with working out and transcribing the notes (chords & melody) from these tracks.
If you've ever struggled to try and figure out what your favourite guitarist is playing as they rip through their latest solo at breakneck speed, armed only with your CD player and the rewind button, then Transcribe is definitely worth a look. It can help you slow the solo section right down, but without changing the pitch, so that you can start at a more manageable speed, as well as constantly looping over the same section of the audio track while you play along to get it right.
PublisherTranscribe is developed and produced by Seventh String Software.
Software Description - What You Get
After downloading and installing the Transcribe application, running it brings up the main Transcribe window, shown below. To get started, you need to load in a particular audio track to analyse (this file can be in any one of a number of different formats, e.g. mp3, wav, or wmv formats).
Here's a screenshot of the main application window, showing an audio track that's been loaded, having a small section being played repeatedly, in a loop:
The top section of the window shows the timeline and waveform of the audio track that's loaded in. The lower section shows a piano keyboard, which you can use to play reference notes as the audio is played, and it also shows the 'spectrum' of the sound at the current point in time (this highlights certain notes that are playing at that moment, which can help you work out what chords are being played).
In the waveform pane, it's very easy to choose a section of the track to play and loop over continuously, just by choosing 'loop on', and clicking & dragging the selection to include the desired portion of the track.
Just above the waveform pane, a text area can be shown, where you can put notes on that section of track, lyrics or other appropriate text, which is a good way of helping you navigate through the track timeline.
In addition to this main application window, there is an 'FX Audio' sub-window. This is shown below, indicating the content of some of the main tabs from this screen:
There are many useful effects available from this screen, a couple of the main ones are:
Other features of Transcribe include the ability to set up any of Transcribe's comprehensive set of commands as particular keyboard shortcuts. It can even take input (MIDI or otherwise) from external devices (e.g. keyboards, foot switches), so that you can control Transcribe in a 'hands free' mode, which can be handy if your hands are full playing the guitar.
As well as using the piano keyboard on the Transcribe window to play reference notes while listening to the audio, there's a useful feature for guitarists, where right-clicking on a key shows where that note is on the guitar (see the image on the left here). This is extremely useful for learning the names and locations of all the notes on the guitar fretboard.
An example of using this might be a script to play a particular section several times, then increase the speed, and repeat again. This might help with learning to increase the speed at which you can play a particular track's solo.
Transcribe is supported through the Seventh String website, there is a comprehensive FAQ there, as well as a support email address for getting a response to other questions or issues. Transcribe also comes with a comprehensive help file, with plenty of 'how to' & 'getting started' sections.
Overall - Our Verdict
Transcribe is a very straightforward, practical and extremely feature rich software package, which provides a lot of assistance to musicians in the area of audio transcribing - i.e. getting down 'the dots' for a music track.
It doesn't do the transcribing for you (and doesn't claim to!), but certainly gives you plenty of tools to make the job of working out a guitar solo or the chords on a track a lot easier, and it certainly beats trying to rewind a section with your CD or MP3 player over & over again.
The main screen is laid out effectively, and navigation around the audio track is straightforward. I liked the text notes feature, which you can use to place arbitrary text notes along the timeline. These could be lyrics, or practice notes say (e.g. recording details of where you got to when last playing learning the part from this particular track).
For me, one of the most useful features is the ability to easily select sections of the track, and loop over them. For example, say you had a track which had two different guitar solos, both of which you wanted to learn. You could locate the first solo, then select and store that section, then do the same for the second. Using the FX 'Misc' tab, it's easy to flick back & forth between the two solo sections, as you practice them.
Other really useful Transcribe features are the speed & pitch controls. It's great to take a fast solo that you'd really like to learn, slow it right down so you can find out exactly what's being played, then start increasing the speed as you improve, until you can play it at full speed. The good thing about these is that a change of speed/pitch for a selection is applied instantly - there's no waiting for it to be processed.
The pitch or 'Tuning' control is also good for creating several different versions of a jam track say, one for each key.
I also found the audio export ability very useful, as you can control just which part of the track is exported as a new audio file & repeat this any number of times. This makes it easy to create your own jam tracks, from instrumental parts of your own audio tracks.
On the main window, it would have been good to see some extra switches, for example a slider control for changing the track speed. However, this can be done pretty easily with keyboard shortcuts, so is not too much of a problem.
Learning to play a guitar solo or part by listening to a track and working out by ear what's being played is a great way to improve your playing. Transcribe is a powerful tool that can really help you do this effectively, and make the most of this part of your practice time.
Price and Guarantees
Transcribe is priced at US$50 for a single license copy. You can try out Transcribe for 30 days for free, by downloading from the website link below.
For more detailed information on the Transcribe product, visit the Seventh String website.
Alternatively, to download a 30-day FREE trial version from their site click here.