In this lesson, we’ll be looking at some basic tips on getting started with transcription and specifically transcribing bass lines from a recording.

Beginner Transcription Tips

One of the best ways to practice ear training is by transcribing – putting what you hear into notation. Listen to recorded bass lines, put away the TAB, sheet music and chord charts and work them out by ear. The more diverse the music you transcribe, the quicker and more developed your ear will get.

Things You Can Transcribe:

  • Songs you like
  • Songs from genres you don’t normally listen to
  • Chord progressions
  • Melodies
  • Vocal lines

Melodies are great to transcribe as they are often louder in the mix than bass lines and are therefore easier to hear. Once you have a melody under your fingers, work out the chords to support it to improve your knowledge of harmony.

Note: If you are transcribing bass parts, be sure to listen through headphones or decent speakers as bass frequencies can often get lost when played through small devices such as on a laptop or phone.

Tips For Learning/Transcribing A Song

  • Listen to the whole thing… Carefully!

You’ll be surprised at how many little details you’ll miss when you dive headfirst into a song without giving it a proper listen first. This is probably the most important part of learning a song as being familiar with the sound of a song will make it easier for you to anticipate chord and section changes.

  • Focus your ear on different instruments at a time

When you look at something with your eyes, the rest of the picture normally blurs slightly to give you a better chance of concentration on what you’re seeing. Your ears can also do this when listening to music – allowing you to focus in on different parts as you need them.

Try listening to a song and focus on one instrument at a time – see what you notice. After a while, you will probably pick up a lot of tiny things that you didn’t notice the first time.

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