An attempt to explain my transcribing procedure (Sankarea OP – Esoragoto)

Hello everyone! Today I’ll explain how I transcribe anime music. And in order to do this, I’ll show you an example of my transcribing process.

(if you only want the Sankarea OP – Esoragoto sheets: just jump to the bottom of this page)

How to transcribe (anime) music – a guide by Animenz

Requirements:

  1. an absolute pitch or at least a relative pitch
  2. a notation software (there are some free notation software you can download, but the really good ones are commercial, so you have to buy it. Or pirate it…)
  3. a piano or keyboard
  4. and last but not least an ounce of inspiration and creativity

To start with the transcription, you naturally have to listen to the music piece you want to transcribe. Most TV-size openings/endings are short (roughly 1-2 minutes), so listen to it at least five times to grasp the basics of the music.

The first thing I notate is the melody. But before I start with this, I have to name my sheet and provide some information about the piece like key signature, time signature, and tempo. Just make use of your ears if you want to determine key signature etc. To determine the tempo, use a metronom. For the rest: google.

It should look like this:

Then I’ll proceed with writing down the melody. Most j-pop music have a typical Cross-rhythm with lots of dotted notes.

Notice that the first note is a upbeat. So you have to add an upbeat-bar.

As soon as I have finished the basic melody, I add the chords. Simply listen to the piece and figure out which tone is the bass. In this case, it has only basic chords like D-major, G-major, b-minor, A-major and e-minor. I usually notate triads.

Proceed like that with the whole sheet and – congratulations! You have finished a basic sheet of your piece. But of course I am far from being satisfied yet with this sheet.

Therefore, I have a  four sacred principles I always comply with. They are called variation, details, transitions and original ending.

1. Variation

I always use many different accompaniments for the left hand in order to make the sheet more interesting. Usually, my accompaniments adapts original rhythm of the music piece.

For example, here are my six different accompaniments of the d-major chord (in order of appearance)

It’s only six of countless possibilities

I also vary the melody in the right hand. Usually I make use of additional octaves or thirds. Or simply paraphrase the melody.

2. Details

My transcriptions always include some “details”, or in other words –  melodies which is played in the background.

For example, the very beginning of the piece Esoragoto starts with the voice, a d-major chord played by a guitar… and a very high pitched melody in the background played by a synthesizer. In order to play this “second voice” I have to relocate the right-hand melody into left hand but one problem remains, however:

The red framed chord is impossible to play and if you use an arpeggio it sounds strange. So my only option is to modify the second voice a little bit. The goal is to create an alternative which should be both playble and similar to the original.

3. Transitions

I often add some transitions between passages. Usually I write transitions if a musical theme is changing. (for example if the chorus begins) Or if there’s a change in the key signature (for example, d-major changes to c-sharp major).

I also tend to write short transitions between very long notes to fill in the gap (usually a whole note).

In Esogaroto, I wrote a short transition before the the first verse repeats…

… and a short transition before the chorus begins:

In my opinion, transitions makes the music flow better, but that’s probably a matter of taste.

4. Original Ending

 This is the only principle that does not always have to be present. Since I mainly transcribe TV-sized OP/ED, the music sometimes ends abruptly or it don’t end on a tonic chord. There are different ways to handle this: Either you add a entirely “new” ending or you just “reuse” some parts of your sheet. For example, here is the original ending (TV-size opening)

It’s not a big problem though if you would leave it like that, but I prefer to end it in tonic in order to give the impression the music has finished.

In this case, I simply reused the beginning of Esogaroto and made only minimal changes  to create a alternate ending.

Alright everyone, that’s enough for today (I have spend four hours captioning and writing this post and I am really tired now).

Thank you for your attention, and I hope after reading this post, you get a better insight in the working methods of me.

Animenz

-= Download the sheet and the midi file here =-

[Esoragoto]       (difficulty: average)

Finally…. I….. can… rest… now……. zzzzZZZZZ…

40 thoughts on “An attempt to explain my transcribing procedure (Sankarea OP – Esoragoto)

  1. I was so excited when I saw you were explaining your transcribing process, because while I consider myself a proficient pianist, I am definitely an amateur transcriber. Then I read your first requirement, about having perfect or relative pitch, and I am definitely lacking in that area. Any tips on how to develop it?

  2. Very intresting! Thank you very much! 😀
    The result is very amazing! I can’t wait for trying to use use these tips. I’m trying to transcribe Filament (Mirai Nikki ED2), so this advice will helpful!

    I hope I’ll succeed in creating something 🙂

    Thank you again!

  3. Very nice post!

    You mentioned that “Most j-pop music have a typical Cross-rhythm with lots of dotted notes.” I’ve read the Wikipedia article but am not very sure how that applies to anime music. Could you elaborate a little bit?

    I’ve always been trying to figure out why I find j-pop much more interesting than mainstream western pop. I guess “cross-rhythm” may be one of the reasons.

  4. I like how you put your variation’s tutorial there… I really need to learn how to do some variation on my left hand
    thanks!

  5. This is certainly a good tutorial, but only as good as it can get as general transcription skills are concerned 😦

    Therefore, would you mind to offer advice for fellow transcribers? It would be a great help, and might as well improve your skills even further. So is there some chance I could send you a transcription made by me and you would take a quick glance and share some of your insight?

    Greetings from Germany btw 😀

  6. Yes! This will help me so much. I always adored people who could transcribe music due to my heavy reliance on sheet music (I couldn’t play half the songs I wanted to play ;_;) Thank you so much for this, it is absolutely amazing ❤

  7. Great as always! Just popping in to say that since Bios (and maybe a few before, not sure), the sheet music has been 8.5 x 11.69 inches, so the bottom is cut off when printing without adjusting some settings. Not sure if this is just me, but just saying. Thanks for the transcriptions as always!

  8. Your most recent post compels a reply from me. It provides illuminating insight into a process which is both fascinating to observe and frustrating (for me) to attempt. I still can’t arrange a walk around the block but your efforts are always worth the listening and trying to play.

    I’ve been following your site for about six months and have accumulated at least two dozen other sites on my ‘favorites’ list that I look in on once a week. I’m sure most, if not all, of your followers are half my age or less (I’m fifty-six), but I stumbled across some good music on your site and others so I took up the piano again after thirty-some years of neglect. So a ‘Thank You’ is long overdue; not just for the music but also the observations and introductions to some wonderful anime shows. Playing this stuff is a tonic for a too-often flagging spirit, and it just makes me happy…

    Await your next post…

    P.S. Wish you’d take another run at ‘Brave Song’. Taught me a lot about playing counter-melodies but having trouble figuring out some of the peculiar harmonies in the bridge – which you stopped short of! Ah well…

  9. You should have done Above your hands by Annabel instead, it have a smooth sound and so ever lovely.
    Its from the same anime but just the ending instead.

    Still great as always, i enjoy hearing your playing.

  10. thank you so much for this tutorial, helps me lol.
    now it makes sense…
    beautiful transcription here too, but it’s really hard for me to listen to the lower but not bass of the accompaniment (eg viola). it’s really great to see how effort was given to give such details =)

  11. Hey, I’m a big fan of you Animenzzz !!!
    I like ya piano plays! It’s cool very skillfull, by the way can you transcrip this song, the song name Ai Kotoba, it’s Vocaloid music, but I like hear this song from ShounenT, here you can check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NJfz-e_bdw
    I like this piano song, so can you make a sheet ? I need this Ai Kotoba – Piano ShounenT
    Thanks you very much and… very please to meet you !!!!

  12. hey im a big fan of your’e work by just watching one of your’e video that’s saying allot keep up the good no great work I’ve been watching ( Mysterious Girlfriend X – “Dream” theme [piano] ) at least a 100 by now its just so good ^^

  13. Hi, I have a request for a music sheet of a song in Sankarea. On the soundtrack CD it’s called Toumei na Namida. It’s the song when Sankarea drink the potion at the end of episod 2 or when she comeback as a Zombie at the end of episod 3.
    It’s start near 3:30 in the link. Either a music sheet or a midi files would be great!

  14. “Requirements:
    1) an absolute pitch or at least a relative pitch”
    OTL
    I have no pitch. (No, really, I have a terrible ear. For 12 years of piano lessons, I failed the majority of play-back tests. I will forever be reliant on sheet music…)

    • Hm, do you know there are ways to train relative pitch? I can speak for myself, since I am not gifted with absolute pitch, too. There are various methods you could try. For starters, I recommend you trying out the trial version of ear master. (http://www.earmaster.com/) Try to get intervals correct (for melody) first, then try to get simple chords correct (for left hand bass). Yet, best training is still live covering of songs – difficult for beginners, though.

      • Intervals? I have difficulty even with a single note =/
        (And yes, I really did take piano lessons for 12 years. I could pass everything they threw at me except for play-back tests. My piano teacher honestly tried her best to get me to pass them, but I still couldn’t get them consistently.)

  15. Pingback: IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT | Animenz Piano sheets

  16. Arigatou gozaimashita :3
    And just like hunterx2210-chan, I like Ai Kotoba – ShounenT very much :b can you please transcrip this song? It’s near Valentine Day and I wanna play it for my friend ❤
    Thank you very much and Nice to meet you!

  17. animenz is it easy to learn piano? if my position now is a guitarist …..i want to know further for piano …..when i saw your videos(anime cover piano) …cause most of all pianist know how relative pitch .per fect pitch and sight reading.. … i know recognize chords (relative pitch)
    but in individual notes is a given scale of music .is what i lack of experience and sight reading

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