The Transcribe! application is an assistant for people who sometimes want to work out a piece of music from a recording, in order to write it out, or play it themselves, or both. It doesn’t do the transcribing for you, but it is essentially a specialised player program which is optimised for the purpose of transcription. It has many transcription-specific features not found on conventional music players.
Depending on version, Transcribe! reads audio from many different types of audio file and audio CD. It also has a “Record” facility for recording from analog sources such as cassette or vinyl. It displays the audio waveform and allows you to scroll around, place markers for sections, measures and beats, and easily play or loop from any point.
Transcribe! can also display the video synchronised to the audio for many video files.
Loops and positions can be stored and recalled. There are many keyboard shortcuts and you can configure these as you like. You can configure Transcribe! to respond to pedals of various types so as to keep your hands free : start and stop playback with your feet!
There is extensive and readable help accessible from within the program.
The “spectrum” feature displays the strength of the various pitches in any chord or note you select, in the form of a graph – a wavy line over a piano keyboard graphic. The height of the various peaks in the graph indicate the strength of the note above which the peak appears. This is not a magic bullet for analysing chords but it can be a very useful source of information.
Transcribe! will perform “note guessing” and “chord guessing” – that is, it will attempt to interpret the spectrum information for you, marking the notes being played on the piano keyboard, and attempting to name the chords (in standard form such as “Am”, “E7#9”, etc). Note guesses can be displayed in “piano roll” form, showing the guesses over time, aligned to the waveform view.
Transcribe! supports Automation (or Scripting). You can run Transcribe! automatically from commands in a file, perhaps to process a number of sound files, saving them at different altered speeds, or to instruct Transcribe! to play various sound files with various effects.
Transcribe! offers various audio processing effects (Slowdown, Pitch Change, EQ filtering etc) intended to help with transcribing. These effects all run in “real time” unless your machine is old & slow. This means there is no pre-processing or other waiting, the processing is performed on-the-fly while playing and you can instantly hear the effect of changes to EQ etc. For instance if you press the half-speed button while playing then playback simply continues, at half speed.