Transcription of Popular Music

transcription, music, popular music, pop music, pop, sheet music, notes, rap, jazz, hip-hop

In music-historical epochs the notes for great works were always written down first. It was only after it had been notated that it was performed. This approach changed with the advent of popular music styles and new recording and storage possibilities. It became less important to write down the music in order to play it. The approach to creating new music became more diverse.

New composition techniques were created by electronic music. Especially in blues and jazz, improvisation became the characteristic feature. If, however, this music is to be written down in writing, then this can quickly reach the limits of exact representation in the tried and tested system of notation. Especially at a time when the production of music is no longer notated while composing, the need for transcription techniques increases to make this music accessible and playable for fans.

The basis for the composition of popular music is often not musical notes, but virtual instruments and samples. In other words, popular music is literally produced, not composed. However, the production, editing and manipulation of the audio material on the computer, often leads to completely new sound patterns. The challenge for the engraving is therefore to find an appropriate representation for these new sound patterns.

Transcription of classical music vs. transcription of popular music

Due to their great acceptance and anchoring in society, traditional music notation is also used to write popular music. However, in this case, the music notation must be partially extended with certain signs and symbols to meet the tonal particularities of popular music. Widely used in the field of popular music is the transcription as a lead sheet, in which the melody is noted in bars and harmonies. However, lead sheets itself often prove to be insufficiently able to adequately represent the sometimes-enormous complexity of popular music. The limitless variety of this genre often results in transcription for different objectives and groups of people, which leads to further diverse degrees of accuracy and derivation from the original.

Diverse ways to transcript popular music

One can distinguish the simple notations, which are often made for archival purposes by the JRN transcriptions, and are richer in details, i.e. aspects such as different intonations, timing in the (speech) Vocal range and phonation.

To portray this enormous acoustic diversity, appropriate music notation techniques are required. For example, for rap you can do without the representation of the exact pitch and instead choose a pure rhythm notation based on an x-shaped note head. Alternatively, pure noises could also be identified with an x-shaped note head, in this case without a stem:

Hip-Hop & Rap Sheet Music

Unclean tones, or pitch of Portamento, could be indicated by suggestion notes. Here, too, the individual production characteristics of a song can be shown, for example by setting them with or without a stem or by displaying the note in brackets to indicate a barely audible tone:

Pitch of Portamento

In jazz, for example, the slash notation can be used for inaccurate rhythm notation or to give the player freedom to choose the rhythm. This is done by a simple slash, which is written down at each beat of the rhythm:

Slash Sheet Music

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