Can someone please help me use Audacity or similar to slow down for transcribing

I am an older learner (68) and have been playing for about 9 months. I have found transcribing to be very difficult (perhaps because of very loud tinnitus I’ve been experiencing for the last 20 years?). Frequently mentioned in transcribing lessons are things such as ‘use software to slow down the music’, ‘isolate the note and loop it’, or ‘put the riff on repeat’. Maybe not exact quotes, but point is I don’t know what software to use. I heard Audacity mentioned and downloaded the app, but I can’t figure out how to use it to do the above mentioned things. BTW, I’ve been working with technology since the 1970’s so I’m not technologically illiterate. Any chance for a lesson from someone on the staff about what app to use and how to use it? Perhaps add in the best way to record playing so the sound doesn’t become tinny or muted or faded. The fact that we are learning to play from an online teacher rather than a live person is proof that we need this technology to properly learn so a class in it would be very helpful IMHO.

Hi Ed, transcribing is pretty hard.

I use Transcribe!, Justin recommended it in this lesson:

Also YouTube allows you to slow down.

Welcome to the forum Ed. There are loads of good tutorials on youtube for Audacity. It can do everything you need to help you learn to transcribe. JK is correct in saying transcribing is hard and takes years to get good at.

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A very quick Audacity How-To for anyone in a similar situation (based on One, by Metallica, and clearly the assumption that you have access to a digital version of the track you want to work on, in a copyright lawyer friendly-fashion):

Step 1: Load your music, you should then see a waveform in the interface:

Step 2: Use CTRL+Mouse wheel to zoom in to where you can more clearly see where individual peaks are as notes are being played, use the |< button (4th in) to skip to the start of the track, you should get to something like this (note that we can clearly see the ‘attack and fade’ of a number of notes):

Step 3:, Using the mouse, with a left-click and drag, select a portion of the track, then press shift while clicking the green ‘play’ button (or use shift-Space), to loop the selected region:

Hmmm… the start of the track has some weird ‘helicopter-like noise’, and another guitar comes in during the end of the 4th repeat of the riff, so let’s adjust our selection window:

Lovely, the riff is now on endless repeat… a little fast though, so let’s copy (CTRL-C) the section we’ve marked and paste it into a new project (make sure to stop replay first, with the obvious button), by doing File > New, CTRL-V:

You may want to close the original window and save your new project at this point…

So, now we have the riff isolated, and we can select any part of it to loop over.

What’s that? The notes don’t last long enough even with looping? OK… select all (CTRL-A), then do
“Effect” > “Change Tempo…”

Set the scale to e.g. -50% to make all the notes twice as long (note there is a new duration for the track shown):

Save a copy if you want to have a slowed down version, as well as one at original speed.


Iain @iainism
Bit of a coincidence this I used Audacity for the first time today, was trying to work out the number of bests between chord changes as it varies on a song I want to learn.
I agree with Ed @Ecronin2254 it is not obvious how to use it, but I guess like any new app it takes a bit of time and research to work out what is going on and where all the controls are and what they do.
As you say need you check out YouTube but what you have shown is very helpful, thanks.

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Found a really great resource for helping to transcribe -

Streamlines the whole process, you just plug in a URL, and isolate the parts of the song that you want to slow down or speed up. The section that you isolate repeats automatically as well.

thanks man - awesome - really appreciate this - cheerios