"Music Analysis & Guitar Notation in the Digital Era" Presentation by Mark Grover, July 15, 2015


Screenshot from Transcribe!

Have you ever heard a song for which you wished you had a copy of the music so you could learn it? Learning a song strictly by ear can be very challenging and downright intimidating in some cases, especially where no video is available to see how an artist performs a song. Mark Grover showed us how he uses computer software to generate score and tablature for songs by other artists as well as for his own arrangements of songs.

Mark uses a program called “Transcribe!” to analyze a song, element by element. The software converts any mp3 or audio file into a digital waveform that can be manipulated in a variety of ways. The program can slow down an audio track all the way down to 25% of original speed while maintaining correct pitch. It can also be used to “tweak” the pitch of a track that is not recorded at concert pitch or to match the pitch of a recorded track to whatever pitch the guitar is tuned to. Slowing a track down can make it easier for the transcriber to hear precisely what notes the performer is playing, especially in fast passages.

The software manufacturer’s web site seventhstring.com provides additional information: “Transcribe! displays the track as a scrollable waveform from left to right. You can place markers for sections, measures and beats, and you can label them with descriptive names and add textual annotations if you want. The markers identify the various points in the track and you can click on any point to play instantly from that point. There is a rich collection of keyboard shortcuts for controlling playback, and you can also use pedals for hands-free playback control. You will soon find that this allows you to concentrate on the music instead of concentrating on fiddling with the playback controls and wondering where you are.”


Screenshot from Guitar Pro 6

The second piece of software Mark demonstrated
is “Guitar Pro 6.” See the company’s website guitar-pro.com for details. This software can print out notes on a staff or in tablature. Digital files in various formats such as MIDI, ASCII, WAV, PNG, PDF and several proprietary formats can be imported and exported to allow a user to edit, listen to, and print scores. Additionally, a score can be created from scratch by using tools built into the software. The user can insert notes as well as other elements like dynamics, grace notes, left-hand and right-hand fingering, pick strokes, harmonics, tapping, slap, hammer-on/pull-off, bend, tremolo bar, slides, vibrato, texts, lyrics, chord diagrams, and many other symbols. A score can be played back at different speeds, sections can be looped, and pitch can be adjusted to assist a player in learning a song.

What started out as a hobby has now developed into a serious commercial endeavor for making transcriptions available for artists, publishers, and players who just want to expand their playing skills. Mark’s web site guitar-transcriptions.com provides additional information for anyone interested in having transcriptions done for them by Mark.

Mark’s captivating presentation was followed by a brief round robin. Here is the Play List:

John Williamson, “Witchcraft” (Leigh/Coleman)
Kinloch Nelson, “Georgia On My Mind” (Carmichael/Gorrell)
Joe Palumbos, “Fly Me To The Moon  (Howard)
David Tamarin, A flamenco siguiriya (Tamarin)
Norman Tibbils, “Alice In Wonderland” (Fain/Hilliard)
Norman, “Angelina” (Klugh)
Jeremy Carter, “The Entertainer”,* (Joplin)
Mark Grover, “Isn’t She Lovely”, (Wonder)
Mark, “For Higher Ground” (Wonder – Roche, arr.)

~John Williamson

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