Transcription Software

I’ve been receiving a lot of request for transcriptions of my various drum loops. While I’d love to include this extra tidbit of info on my blog, it can be a rather time consuming process (especially for any of the beats filed under “wanking”).


Is anyone aware of some amazing software (freeware?) on the market that can handle this task? Something that can spit out drum transcriptions in a matter of seconds just by supplying the tempo, time signature and an audio track.

Audio to text conversion has been available for a few years. What about something for us musicians (and drummers)? Ronnie? Peter?? Oliver??? Beuller????

12 thoughts on “Transcription Software

  1. Hmm, taking audio and creating a transcription seems like a tough task. I would think you would need to bus every thing separately (like have a separate input for each instrument, since some instruments cross sample rate bounds in the audio spectrum). That is unless someone much smarter than me were figure this out…

    If you don’t find anything, I’ll look in to writing something, this is right up my alley.

  2. Hey Grant,

    Just checked out your blog. You’re doing some amazing stuff over there. Nice work.

    Yeah, I figured the bleed of audio frequencies from the various instruments might muck up the results, unless you were able to make the program “learn” what was what… ie, that spike at 40hz is the kick drum etc.

    My brain hurts just thinking about it. Some sort of plugin in Logic might be yield the cleanest results… since my tracks are separated with gating for the most part (minus the overheads). I dunno.

    Drinks are on me if you can figure it out


  3. Hey Ryan,

    If you can output the gating information as midi, or something similar, then you could record it to a different channel, and then use existing transcription software to convert that.


  4. Well, I think actually it can be pulled off (though it would be offline and not a logic plugin). Sounds like you could feed a program a wav or aiff file and scan through the samples, if you know which samples represent the attack of a particular instrument, (should be easy with a drum), you could just build up an array representing on or off states for each instrument (to the tune of 24 on or off states per quarter note).

    Then, you just look back over your arrays and see “where” (or when) the on and off states are, and just write them out to any type of file (MIDI, MusicXML, or in this case a picture score).

    For instance, you’re looking for snares around 750kHz, and you saw an attack at pulses 24 and 72, so you know there needs to be a hit on the 2 and 4 of the measure (assuming 4/4 time). In order to make the prettiest drum score, you probably wouldn’t use half notes, so with that much space between notes the application would draw a quarter-note rest at 1 and 3, and a quarter-note for the snare. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the instruments you have arrays for.

    I think I could pull that off…of course if you find some other/better way of doing let me know 🙂

    Love your site by the way, visit daily mostly for the lunch lessons.

  5. Thanks Grant,

    You’re blowing my mind. Sounds like you’re on to something. As far as I know, this is uncharted (sic and pun intended) territory. I’d love to see you come up with something. I can see this being a highly valuable tool… and I’m not just saying that because I’m lazy.


  6. There is software that can do this type of thing, Intelliscore, PitchScope, AutoScore, and many more.

    Unfortunately I have no experience with any of these so I have no idea if they actually work well. Seems like it will still be a lot of work even if these programs are able to put some audio to MIDI.

  7. Ryan, looks like Graham is right, though it takes some tweaking to get it working properly, here is a link I found related to using it:

    I don’t have logic so I couldn’t begin to give any advice on this.

    In other news, I whipped up something that will take the drum loop and do some basic analysis on it to figure out what’s what and put it into a midi score format…problem is the amount of time it takes to tweak it for each loop is WAY longer than it would take to input it on something manually (in other words you’d find yourself twiddling with the frequencies of the snare, kick, hat, crash, etc for the better part of an hour). I tried it on today’s track (the Grohl groove) and it nailed the kick and hats, but the snare, especially in the fills, took forever to get right. I turned around and tried it on the “Tom on Tom” action loop, and found I had to completely start over with the frequency analysis portion. Ugh.

    I’ve used this service before:

    Its pretty straightforward and you can link directly to the notation and leave it there. It’s also free (BONUS!).

    Anyway, I’ll give this a little more thought and see if I come up with some better idea, but for now I’d like to hear how the Logic embedded function works out for you.

  8. cool. thanks to everyone for their input. I’ll give the Logic ‘audio to score’ option a whirl and post the results in the next day or two.

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