Week 1: Let there be Music! 🎶

Welcome to the Main Thread for the first week of "The Transcriptions" practice challenge! 


  1. Pick a transcription that was originally composed for another instrument, like piano or violin. Don't be afraid to choose a challenging piece or explore works from composers you haven't played before. 

  2. Commit to practicing daily and share your progress with the community. Aim to practice every day and post at least two videos per week showcasing your progress. This will help you stay motivated and accountable, and also allow you to share your transcription journey with others. Whether you're tackling a complex piece, refining your skills with a piece you already play, or experimenting with new playing techniques, the community is here to support you and celebrate your achievements.

  3. Share your favorite piece that you would like to see transcribed or your favorite recording of a transcription. This will not only inspire others in the community but also provide a rich resource of ideas for everyone to explore. Plus, it's a great way to celebrate the creativity and artistry involved in adapting music from one instrument to another.

↓ Happy Sharing! ↓

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  • So here is my first recording of practice of my transcription of Chopin Waltz op. 69 no. 2. This is a work in progress since I have spent about 4 hours on the practicing of this piece in total. There are a lot of shifts and maintaning the legato is challenging. Beside that, I am not very fluent with sight reading yet. I will invest more time on the practice of course and reupload soon. Please feel free to give me criticism. I re-attach the score for your easier reference. The video is mirroed but I don't have a quick fix for it yet. Thank you!

    • Khiem Nguyen You're right about transcribing from piano being a challenge. I do it sometimes just because I like learning about music theory and transcribing forces me to analyze the music and figure out what is essential. This sounds convincing on the guitar and I really like what you've done here.

      Like 1
      • David
      • David.39
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Steve Price Do you have any recommendations on how to begin learning how to transcribe from a piano score to the guitar? Does ToneBase have any livestream or intensive on the principles of transcription for guitar? I’m interested in adding this skill, and, though a novice player, though it would be an interesting thing to start experimenting with early on. 

      Like 1
    • David Koen Claeys has an excellent workshop with Martin on the topic with the link below. For me, I just kept it simple and looked for easier works. Everyone from Schumann to Bartok to Stravinsky wrote sets for children/beginners that have fantastic melodies and harmonies, they're just in a simpler setting. The IMSLP is a massive online library of public domain works you can download from. It may be considered cheating, but the biggest help I've had is using music notation software (I use Finale) so I can recreate the score and then transpose it and experiment to find out what works for the guitar. Only about 1 out of 5 seems to work, but I learn a lot with each one. I may reload the Grieg piece I did a while back for this challenge with the score since it turned out pretty well I thought.

      Khiem Nguyen has been doing this longer than I have so he probably has some ideas how to get started too. 

      https://app.tonebase.co/guitar/live/player/koen-claeys-transcribing-arranging

      Like 2
      • David
      • David.39
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Steve Price thank you very much for the link and advice! I’ll try the transpose feature on Musescore. I was experimenting with transposing to find the easiest key for a Purcell piece for piano , but using the software “cheat” will make it a lot easier for me. 

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      • Moyses Lopes
      • Classical Guitarist and Electroacoustic Interpreter
      • Moses
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Khiem Nguyen Beautiful performance, Khiem! You did a great job with the transcription, it's sounding amazing. Thank you for sharing!

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    • Steve Price thank you very much Steve, I am glad to hear my transcription is sounding fine to you! 

      Like
    • David I agree with Steve and your approach on using software. I myself use that technique to. It helps tremendously and makes it much easier to transpose. You can find free notation file in Musescore in musescore website or the like, and start the edit already to transcribe it into a guitar piece. Using the software can make it very fast within a few clicks to transpose a piece to different keys or a section to an octave up or down. For that we can see which guitar key is more suitable for the original piece. Sometimes for better effect we need to transpose the melody up an octave or down an octave, especially with regards to the climax. For example, down an octave when the notes fall out of the reach of the guitar "B" or "C" note on the 19th and 20th fret. Some pianos and violin pieces will be very difficult to transcribe into a guitar piece due to many reasons: it could be the bass notes of the original is too wide and out of reach of the guitar, or we need an aggressively large detune of the last two bass strings, etc. 

      Like 1
    • Moyses Lopes 

      thank you very much Moyses, I am glad to hear my transcription is working fine to you! 

      Like
    • Jack Stewart
    • Retired
    • Jack_Stewart
    • 11 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Rameau 2nd Allemande 1706  Part A

    This is my first draft  (not my first take) of this Allemande. I have only recorded the first part. It has taken me all this time to get to this point but I fell there is progress.

    I am trying this without nails, which is a real challenge for me. I have made some progress on that but I still have trouble controlling my fingers. I have to dig into the strings to get a reasonable volume and sometimes it is a little out of control.

    I'll start working on the 2nd half now. 

    I'll repost the transcription as I finish with the revisions.

    Like 7
    • Jack Stewart Excellent, Jack! You have such a feel for baroque music, and as always, your ornaments are superb. That's quite a bit of material you have gotten through. I know how difficult it is to play with no nails. I gave that a shot for a little while, but quickly gave up. Are you planning to go no nails for good now?

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      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Phillips Thanks Eric. The cc ornaments are just now starting to return without nails. I am still all thumbs with no nails (perhaps I should take up the thumb piano). There are parts that are really clunk but less than before. I also feel my tone has gotten better, not good or consistent, but better.

      I'm not sure how many options I have. My nails are so bad and don't seem to hold fakes for any length of time, sometimes only a few minutes. If I can make nailless work, that would be great, even though I much prefer using nails.

      Like 1
      • Steve Pederson
      • The Journey is My Destination!
      • Steve_Pederson
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Jack Stewart Fantastic start Jack! I could barely tell that you're working without nails. You don't show it. I supposed if you're going to go without nails you'll have to go all in and play on cat-gut strings, you know, to truly be authentic! 

      I'm not sure how bad your nail situation is, but (I can't remember if I've mentioned before) what was worked wonders for me is massaging my nails every night with cuticle oil. I take that very seriously and haven't missed a night in over a year. Fake nails really do a number on my real nails, so I will only use a press-on kind (no glue) for a gig if it's absolutely necessary. 

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    • Jack Stewart Well, there certainly are plenty of great players who make it work. I’ve heard it can be easier at first if you lower your string tension by tuning down a half step or even a while step. I never tried it myself though.

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    • Jack Stewart I really enjoyed that!  I might not have noticed that you didn't have nails.  I enjoyed the cross-string trills as well as the other ornaments.  Looking forward to hearing your progress.

      Like
      • David Krupka
      • Amateur guitarist/lutenist
      • David_Krupka
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Jack Stewart This is sounding good, Jack. I think your nail-less tone has indeed improved since your last video post. One thing I do that you might find helpful is apply plenty of hand cream before playing, especially in winter. If my fingertips are too dry, my tone deteriorates markedly.

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    • Jack Stewart this sounds very good Jack. There are a lof of trills and I think the trills with left hand pinky are quite challenging for most people, and you are executing them very well and with good clarity and articulation. The left hand shape of this piece is quite challenging. It seems to require very much finger independance. The sound created by your right hand sounds already quite good, although without nails. It seems you are still adapting to playing without nails but it sounds already very good - I can't figure out if you were playing without nails if you did not state so. 

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    • Jack Stewart I really like how this is coming along. And like others have said I like the ornaments. I've always thought of ornaments as being more of an afterthought, but I really like how you make those cross-string ornaments very much a part of the piece. I need to rethink some of my phrasings on some pieces. 

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      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Steve Pederson  Thanks, Steve. well, I can certainly tell I am playing without nails!🙁 I actually have a little bit of nail on my i finger but it doesn't extend above the flesh, I can access it occasionally, like on apoyando.  

      Cat-gut? Hmmm -  are those PETA approved?

      I actually stopped using glue on nails quite awhile ago and only use adhesive tabs. I also have been using Isdin Si nail treatment which is frequently mentioned online. To no avail unfortunately. What is the the cuticle oil you use?

      Like 1
      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Randy Morris Thanks, Randy. Hopefully my next post will not take as long as the first.

      Like
      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Khiem Nguyen Thanks Khiem. I included RH and LH trill exercises in my daily practice and adjust them to pieces I'm working on. There are some tricky fingerings (certainly for me). 

      It is interesting that most people comment that they didn't notice that I am playing without nails. It seems painfully obvious to me. Maybe because I worked to try and get it to work before recording. It still makes a difference in certain situations, but it is getting better.

      Like
      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Steve Price Thanks, Steve. I have really come around on the importance of trills, at least in some pieces and styles. French Baroque seems to use them quite extensively. I tend to use them in Bach in the French style (ie; BWV 996) and in Rameau, probably in deVisee (I'm not currently playing any of his music). 

      I also like using cross string trills because they more closely emulates the keyboard and it allows more variation - being able to choose between RH and LH trills.

      Like 1
      • Steve Pederson
      • The Journey is My Destination!
      • Steve_Pederson
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Jack Stewart I've been using an oil that I bought as part of a nail care kit by SEACRET at a shopping mall kiosk several years ago. I've tried to find it online since and haven't been able to. I'm not so sure the type or brand of oil matters so much, though, as the consistency. It's gotta be every day. I apply it right before bed so that it can work its magic overnight and not get washed off right away. I also work it in very vigorously and then apply hand lotion so my hands don't dry out either. I've definitely seen dramatic results since doing it, but it did take a while to take effect. 

      Like
    • Jack Stewart Coming along nicely.  I agree with Eric, that you always have excellent ornamentations and use them well.  Looking forward to hearing more and nail less is sounding pretty good.

      Like
      • Jack Stewart
      • Retired
      • Jack_Stewart
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Dale Needles Thanks Dale. Some of my cs trills are working nailless but longer and more involved trills still need a lot of work. The second part of this Allemande is going to be more challenging because of the really high register.

      My tone is gradually getting better. New strings will help.

      Like
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