I want to try something a little different today. It was just the holiday season, and my brother usually gets me a graphic T-shirt. Some of them have pretty funny designs. I put this one on today.
It’s a music score with a cat swiping at the staff, knocking the notes down. It reminds me of my cat during the holidays hitting at decorations. When I looked at myself in the mirror, the first thing I thought was “What does this sound like?”. I have a little bit of a sense of the melody, but today I want to transcribe it, hear what it sounds like, and see if it’s possible to play on the guitar!
So in the studio now, I have my program of choice open for guitar transcription, Guitar Pro. And the first thing we are going to do is transcribe the music. There is no tempo marking, so I’m going to leave it at the default of 120bpm, and the time signature is 2/4. I also noticed the key signature is the key of D Major, because there is an F# and C#. I transcribe all the rhythms and pitches, and here we go, job complete!
Oh no, I actually transcribed it wrong. At first glance, I didn’t realize the staffs are connected on the left hand side. I thought it was just 3 lines of melody. With a second pass at it, the transcription is now complete! Now I’m going to listen to it for the first time.
After listening to it, is sounds like a classical piece. It looks like it’s a piece more fit for piano, with a melody line on top. This is going to be a lot more difficult than I initially imagined to play this on guitar. Now I have to transcribe 3 staffs worth of music and chords onto 1 guitar!!
So it’s time to iron out the guitar voicing and see if it’s even possible. Since we are trying to play 3 staffs of music, it very well could be impossible, but I’m going to try to keep the score the same.
One chord at a time, I figure out each voicing. We’re going to have to fingerpick it obviously, in order to ring out all these notes. Sometimes up to 5 notes in different ranges at the same time. The beginning was a breeze, we start with a typical D major Barre Chord followed by some other familiar chords. We also have to make sure we play the melody at the same time as we pass through these chords.
It wasn’t until later in the song where I encountered an impossible part. We have to voice this chord, Lowest to Highest, F#, G, B, D, and a high B. If you try playing this on guitar in standard tuning, you’ll see the insane amount of stretching and lack of fingers. What I decided to do, is use one of my favorite tricks. And no, it’s not growing another finger. I can tap that high B with my right hand, and strum the chord with my thumb so we can get all 5 notes to ring out!
By utilizing our open strings, we can make the rest of the voicings. Good thing we have those open strings. The last chord, we get one more opportunity to use that trick again! It’s a D major chord, but with an F# in the melody, so it would sound best if we can tap and strum again.
We did it! Wow, I can’t believe. Now it’s time to play it! First I gotta practice.
I’m going to slow it down to 90bpm. I’ll also throw in a rallentando (slowing down) towards the end and some parts to create more of a relaxed performance of it. And I can’t forget the best part, I have to interpret the cat knocking off all the notes on the staff!
Mission complete! We made the impossible possible, and successfully transcribed the shirt and played it on guitar! What a fun time. If you’d like to try it for yourself, there is a link to my official transcription on this page. Enjoy, and if you spot a piece of a music in the wild that you don’t know what it sounds like, give it a shot. You never know what kind of musical adventure you’ll throw yourself into.
Take care. Chris