Listening to the song 10 times before transcribing

Hey, justin strongly recommends to listen to the song 10 times before i start transcribing.
So if i allocate 60 minutes a week to transcribing it means im gonna spend half that time listening to the song, isn’t it too much?

Hello and welcome to the community

No not too much, sometimes not enough. For the first time when you listen again and again and I mean really listen it will start to become ingrained in your mind. This is not a step that will need repeating for the same song at such a level on each transcribing session because you will have done most of the preparatory work, tapping along to the rhythm, recognising the changes, maybe making notes as you go.

Once you know it the real work starts to work out the chords but you will already know in your head that a chord change is about to happen at a particular point, it’s just which chord?? With experience your ear will lead you to what is probably in the right ball park at least.

Is it easy? No. It’s a real challenge but the rewards are great. Remember your ear is just as important if not more than your finger dexterity.

It’s meant to be fun not a chore, so enjoy the challenge.


Hello @yosi231 and welcome to the community.
When I was learning songs to play in a covers band, really learnung to listen and get inside the sings, I put them on an mp3 player playlust and listened through earbuds in bed.
You can listen away from your practice session.

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Hey! thanks for the answers guys!
I’m very very busy almost every minute of the day is calculated :smiley:
so if i wanna really listen intently to a song i have to allocate specific time for it which has to be inside the bounds of transcribing practice time.

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Once I had a masterclass session with a great jazz pianist and he always stood by the fact that you have to listen to the song (or multiple performances of the song) so many times that you can think of it and instantly “hear it in your head without listening to it”.

That might seem a bit too extreme because most of the people have a lot of other commitments but the principle still applies. And there are also other benefits of focused/active listening a.k.a. removing distractions, clearing your mind and just enjoying the music.

But divide the time as it suits you. A bit of transcribing/ear training is always better than none.


Really, listen to the song in question as many times as you can to get really familiar and intimate with it. I’m not talking about memorizing it, but a level of knowing when to expect certain phrases or chord changes. And the time necessary to this also varies song by song and by your mood/energy as well.

I’ve recently transcribed a Chet Baker trumpet solo and I needed some 15-16 hours for it (not in one sitting). I listened to it quite a few times before that, but as I don’t have perfect pitch, it took some trial and error to get the notes. Then I transcribed the first minute of Lee Morgan’s Search for the New Land in an hour or so. Last week I figured out the bass ostinato in Procol Harum’s Cerdes (Outside the Gates Of) in about 20 minutes (it’s the F minor pentatonic scale) but I’ve known the song for years.

So don’t rush it, take as much time as you need to get it right. You may need to listen to one song 10 times, another one maybe 50 times.

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