Know your Enemy - Rage Against the Machine (1st attempt at transcribing)

I recently completed Grade 3, Module 15 and really enjoyed learning about transcribing, which I had never tried before.

As it so happened a couple of days later I heard this song on my playlist and thought it would be a fun one to learn but then found there were no tabs available (they’re blocked for some reason) so it was the ideal chance to try transcribing it myself.

I found it fairly tricky, lots of trial and error, but eventually made some good progress, especially with the main verse and chorus riffs, however there were parts I just couldn’t figure out so I checked out a couple of live performances and filled in the gaps from the glimpses I could get of Tom Morello (why do they always focus on the singer so much! :joy:). (If interested, this is the main live recording I used, given the higher res made it a bit easier: Rage Against The Machine - Know Your Enemy Clip (Live At Finsbury Park)

Also, I couldn’t figure out the solo so just played the chorus riff during that and decided to palm mute the opening riff instead of using hammer ons and the pickup selector as a killswitch like he does (my new guitar didn’t really offer that option given it has only one volume control, and I didn’t want to destroy the switch on one of my other guitars, plus it was pretty hard lol! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:). Essentially I decided I could be like a second rhythm guitar to Morello’s rhythm and lead.

Finally I played this over the original album recording rather than a backing track so it would be easier to determine if I got it right or not, I feel like I at least got close-ish :crossed_fingers::slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks for checking it out! Any advice very much welcomed. Cheers! :metal:

Bonus section! Here are my notes from transcribing. Believe it or not, this was when I wrote it out more clearly! :joy: Obviously I need to work on a better system but hey as long as I understand it right?! :rofl:


Excellent work… I’m afraid I’m avoiding the transcribing at the moment, I just can’t get into it, even though I know its important long term…

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Hello Jeff,
that was very impressive :star_struck:. Way above my playing level, so I cannot offer any qualified feedback besides saying, that it sounds great :+1::clap::smiley:.
And I do like your notes. They look similar to mine :sweat_smile:.

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Thanks @dessa and @NicoleKKB! Really appreciate you checking this out and your very kind words :hugs::hugs::hugs:

Glad I’m not alone! :joy:

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Sounds good to me, Jeff. Applaud both your ability to play over the original as well as transcribing. Beyond me to give you any feedback on what you may not have got right.

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Thanks David! :smiley::+1: It took me a while to get it up to speed, but very enjoyable process. I’ll definitely be giving it a go on more tracks. Hope Santa has treated you well this year :guitar::gift::santa::wink::hugs:

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Sounded awesome Jeff. I love RATM. Is that your new guitar too?

Well done on the transcription, I still find transcribing pretty hard but am starting to get the hang of it.

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Wow… given that I don’t know much about this genre itself, it was quite impressive to me :star_struck: I enjoyed the listening, sounded super cool :guitar::guitar::guitar:

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Thanks JK! :smiley:

Yep! I have this one set up for E standard tuning and my other Solar (the LP style with the amber flame burst) set to drop D, so depending on the song I switch between the two, but mostly playing my new one at the moment of course :wink: :sweat_smile:

Great stuff! Yeah, took me ages to figure this one out but I learned a lot which will hopefully make the next one a bit easier. I have a few tracks in mind to try, although they might be a bit too much of a stretch for now but I’ll see how it goes.

Thanks again for checking this one out! Hope your festive season is going well :metal: :sunglasses:

Thanks Silvia! Really appreciate you taking a listen! :hugs: :hugs: :hugs:
Glad that it sounded okay and you enjoyed it :smiley: :+1:
Hope all’s well with you and you had a great Christmas :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :santa:

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Sounds amazing Jeff!

LOLd at the transcription - that was what mine used to look like till bought a tab book. Maybe you can ask for one for next Xmas :slight_smile:

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Not a metal guy really. That said, you had some great tones here and the play was outstanding. Good job!

All the best in 23’,

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Thanks Phil!! :smiley:

Great idea! I definitely need one! I’ll add it to the wish list now :wink: :joy:

Thanks LB! Really appreciate your kind words and for checking it out! :sunglasses: :+1:
Wishing you all the best for the New Year too! :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi nzmetal! my .02:

  • About your transcript attempt, and my perceived accuracy of it (though I’m not that familiar with that song), I say, pretty good note-wise! Yes, figuring out by ear is great exercise, sometimes I don’t have patience for, but is one that I believe “leaves you more” than tabs. I sometimes just google for a Justin guitar rendition first :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
  • RATM is very groovy. I thought some parts of your first half need a bit more work on the topic. For example, the single-note intro riff, I would’ve approached with alternate picking. Towards the end, I thought you did better and more relaxed, using some upstrokes. I thought I saw some Justin videos recently about rhythm…you know, keeping the motion of the hand. That stuff, for sure, would up your rhythm game.

Cool guitars and setup!

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Hi Mauricio, thanks so much for checking this out and for your super helpful suggestions!

100% agree, I took so much away from this song by transcribing it and it’s given me the confidence to tackle more. Soooo tempting to just check a tab :joy: but the extra work pays off in many other ways than just learning the song, I feel.

Great point! I think I have been a bit focused on just hitting the right notes/chords and forgetting about the groove. I’ll definitely take that on board and work on improving it.

Alternate picking that intro riff is a great idea, thanks, I’ll give it a whirl!

Thanks again, really appreciate your feedback! :metal::sunglasses:

Wow Jeff,
Nice playing :sunglasses: :clap: :clap:,… wonderful to listen to :sunglasses: … and what a horrible notes on paper :joy:
Thanks, Rogier

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Thanks Rogier! Glad you liked it! :smiley:

LOL! Love this! :joy::rofl::joy: They so are! Totally going to up my game with the next one… maybe :wink::sweat_smile:

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That was awesome Jeff. Well done on the transcribing as well, it sounded pretty spot on to me.

Yes, your notes may look nasty but like you said, as long as you can understand them. Mind of a genius and all that. :wink:

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Thanks so much, Stefan! Really appreciate you taking a look! :smiley::+1:
LOL! Yeah those notes are bad! :see_no_evil::rofl: However I’m definitely upping my game at the moment, started using Guitar Pro 8 whilst working on another song and that software is killer! Wish I’d used it with this one :roll_eyes::sweat_smile: I’ll hopefully be sharing more about that project soon :crossed_fingers::wink:

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