Transcribing Blues - missing or extra beats?

I debated if this should be in transcribing or possibly a couple other categories. I’m not even sure I can articulate my question well.

I am resting my picking arm after a silly mistake and strained it. I have been going through a lot of the transcribing classes and decided to jump into something fairly tough. My trouble is fitting a song into consistent length bars - I am often an eighth note too long or short.

I want to figure out M&O Blues by Willie Brown. I can play a great deal of it, but I am having trouble picking out some of the changes made throughout the song and thought that transcribing would help me figure these out.

You can hear it on Spotify if you need:
M & O Blues - song and lyrics by Willie Brown | Spotify

I am using Guitar Pro. It took some fiddling to get where I am. It sounds reasonably close but timing is not consistent on the recording like it is in GP. Slides in GP are too fast, but bends are controllable to get really close. the problem is that GP complains I am missing a beat in the 4th bar - and I see it is missing 1/8th note, but it isn’t in the recording.

  • Is it common for missing notes to happen in this style of blues?
  • How do I deal with that in notation? (I could got to 7/8 timing for a bar, but is that correct?)
  • Can GP slide speed be changed? It is currently a long dwell on the initial note then a jerk to the end note far faster than a person would perform.
  • I have a Stefan Grossman book with this tabbed out. It is an odd format. He wrote his tab more in playable/learnable sections, not bars. Maybe this is the way to think of this?

Here is what my GP tab looks like (I hope this doesn’t violate copyright):

Thanks for the guidance!

I don’t know this particular song, but it’s unlikely there’s an extra, or missing, 8th note in there.

The mst likely is you haven’t quite got the timing right.

In blues, it’s not uncommon for there to be triplet runs which would change the total length of the notes in the bar. If I were you I would listen out for triplets and experiment with them in GP.

By the way, it is possible to load the audio file you are transcribing into GP and, with some effort, align the tempo with the bars. Then you can loop the problem bar to see if the notes you entered actually audibly line up with the track.




Thanks @Majik . I do have it loaded in and they kind of align. I’ll go listen with better attention and see if I can align more ideally and hear what I am missing.

Also, I found a modern recording that feels pretty close to the one I linked. It seems to have the same changes in the places I recognize them. I was able to pull apart STEMs to remove the voice and that new recording is a lot cleaner, but also has more extreme pops and such. I’ll use this version to build my tab.

Thanks for the confirmation about it being unlikely to have a missing or extra note in one bar. It seemed unlikely.

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I’ll try to have a listen. If it’s occurring frequently, it’s possible it’s an odd time signature.



thanks. here is a link to the modern cover:
M&O Blues - song and lyrics by John Heneghan & His Henpecked Husbands | Spotify

I knew this one would be a bit rough on my untrained ear :slight_smile: but nothing like jumping into the deep end of the pool before you can dog-paddle.

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Yes, that guitar riff is pretty difficult.

I just listened all the way through steadily tapping my foot to a 4:4 beat with no surprises, so I would say it’s regular time. It’s “just” a complex riff.

If I get a chance (and, with work the way it is these days I’m not sure I will get a chance) I’ll have a crack at transcribing a bit to compare with yours.



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that would be fun - and useful! I have found a surprise between what I have been playing (generally from the Grossman book) and what the cover plays. Guess where…

I have to head to work in a bit myself. I will try to correlate the differences.

I have had this song on my dreamer list for over a year. It is a lot of fun to now get working.

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I’ve revised it and see a way out. places the open E pop where it “should be” and keeps 4:4 time.
I will compare now to the original recording and see what I get.

However this work thing is getting in the way of proper fun, so I’ll do have to do it later and send a screenshot.

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OK, I did a bit of transcribing based on the Youtube version and I realised it’s a semitone up:

Never mind, GP Transpose tool to the rescue!

This is what I have. Note, that I used multivoice with the bass notes on voice 1 and the others on voice 2:



I’m hearing it as a 4/4 time signature with a shuffle groove and some triplets in the riff.

I thought the same but, in practice, it’s not really that “shuffly” although it has a lot of natural variation. And in the bars I transcribed I felt it was pretty aligned with 8th notes.

I only transcribed the first 8 bars so, later on, there may be triplets.

I actually suspect the problem @sequences was having was between the bass notes and treble notes which are difficult to transcribe into GP with a single voice.



Thanks @Majik!

I haven’t listened much in the last couple of days. I did notice that there are timing differences between the recorded Willie Brown version and the John Heneghan cover. I also found some notes that seemed to feel off tune a bit, but discarded it, so maybe having the whole be a semitone off is what I should think about.

Can you detail what you mean by multi-voice? Is it just two tracks or something different than that? All notes are played on one instrument I believe.

Those 8 bars are the bulk of the song, so I don’t see much opportunity for timing surprises. I have a lot of that under my fingers with minor timing booboos between the runs I used while learning. My goal now is to put the runs together reliably and get the small changes in place. Changes seem to generally be in the turn-around.


To me like the accents are giving it a shuffle feel, but keeping time when I listen, it does seem to be 8th notes. Maybe the hammer-ons are the triplet you hear?

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Multivoice is a capability of GP which lets you treat different parts of the same track independently.

It works well for cases where there’s multiple things going on on the same instrument. This is common with fingerstyle where the thumb is playing bass notes independently of the fingers on the other strings.

Multivoice lets you score this whilst allowing the bass notes to continue sounding whilst the treble notes are played.

I’ve shared my GP file with you via DM, so you can check it out