Song lyrics: music and transcription

Song lyrics: music and transcription


Transcription whether automatic or not apply in many different fields and cases. Today, we are interested in a very particular and interesting case that mixes audio and texts: song lyrics. After a recent spotlight on the boom of podcasts and audio, here is a focus on music transcription. The musical composition of notes, the strength of audio in music. Indeed, in music, transcription is very important to respect the composition of the notes. The notes and by extension the lyrics must be faithfully « translated ».

Music and transcription

Music and transcription

To begin with, according to Cosmovisions, a transcription is an « arrangement of a piece of music for other voices or instruments than the one for which it was written”. Moreover, when the « transcription aims only at reproducing more closely the original work, by other means, it can be of the greatest service to the music”.

In addition, according to Le Parisien, transcription is in fact necessary when « the instrument on which one wishes to play a musical work does not have the same musical and/or technical characteristics as the original instrument ».

The musical and technical characteristics are varied:

  • Range or tessitura
  • Possibility or not to make chords
  • Stamp…

It is thus necessary to be careful because the transcription into music can lead to several modifications: transposition, adaptation of the melody, quality and richness of the harmony etc. In contrast to arrangement and fantasy, transcription should normally involve as few melodic and harmonic modifications as possible.

The transcription may be made by the composer of the original work himself or by a third party.

Piano reduction and orchestration: specific forms of transcription

The piano reduction is a frequent form of music transcription. It is a transcription for the piano of a work originally composed for an orchestra or a group of instruments. This type of transcription facilitates the musical work of choirs or soloists because it allows them to work with orchestral accompaniment, but without the orchestra!

Orchestration is another specific form in music transcription and is the reverse movement of the piano reduction. Most of the time, therefore, it involves transcribing for orchestra a work written for piano.

Transcription of the scores

To go further, in addition to specific forms of musical transcription, we can also discuss the importance of transcribing scores.

For example, Mysheetmusictranscriptions, is an online transcription service for music scoresWhich underlines again the interest of this theme in particular! As with Authôt, the user sends the audio, and has it transcribed. Then, all you have to do is print the score and play it!

In addition, there are also music transcription software such as Twelvekeys. This is a music program designed to help musicians transcribe their music recordings. It is ideal for musicians who are learning a piece of music without a score. Also, to help them grade compositions and improvisations. However, these tools are in English only.

The challenges of transcribing song lyrics

The challenges of transcribing song lyrics

After the musical part, let’s move on to the automatic transcription of the song lyrics and its issues. According to a thesis on the subject by Andrea Vaglio, « Automatic transcription of song lyrics is similar to automatic speech recognition. However, it presents particular difficulties and challenges. Indeed, the sung voice has greater phonetic variability. For example with regard to the duration of phonemes or the range of possible variations for the fundamental frequency. But also a more important variation in the style of voice used considering the different musical genres « .

This illustration presents two major issues: to faithfully translate the richness and range of a voice, as well as the variations in styles.

Furthermore, the « presence of music at a high sound level is often strongly correlated with the sung voice. This makes the problem of transcription particularly difficult ». The idea is therefore to « draw heavily on the modern deep learning techniques used in automatic speech recognition. Then, to adapt them to the particular context of the sung voice in songs. »

The volume of the voice that audibly unfolds the song lyrics should be carefully monitored. In the same way, Artificial Intelligence (AI) must be taught to deal with a voice that varies especially when it is sung.

The song lyrics at the heart of the transcription

The song lyrics at the heart of the transcription

Song lyrics are at the heart of music transcription for today’s high-tech companies.

For instance, Apple has a dedicated team to manually transcribe song lyrics for Apple Music. Indeed, since the iOS13 operating system, Apple Music offers an interesting feature: song lyrics scroll in real time during the playback of a song.

« At Apple, we have a team of people who listen to music and transcribe the lyrics to make everything perfect. With the real-time sync feature, the lyrics have to be perfect and we can’t afford mistakes. For this reason, we prefer not to take lyrics from the usual third-party sites. » Oliver Schusser.

Finally, we at Authôt also keep a close eye on developments and applications of automatic transcription. As specialists in « Speech to Text » technology the transformation of speech into text we offer you our own online platform for automatic transcription and subtitling.

How Authôt transcription works

It’s simple: just upload your audio or video file to app.authô You then access the transcript in the text editor. You can then easily navigate through the text. The third step is to make your modifications and corrections if you wish, thanks to the « karaoke » tracking system. When you are satisfied with the production, you can then export the transcription. This transcription is made in the desired format (.doc, .txt, timecode, html or even .srt for subtitles).

And if you don’t have the time or desire to check or proofread the automatic transcription, you can also opt for our professional proofreading service!

As you may have noticed, it is difficult to get an accurate transcription. Indeed, it is not only the voice that is present on the audio. There is also the soundtrack of the musicwhich makes the transcription a little more complex for the machine!

All in all, it is therefore important to be familiar with the audio and transcription issues. Every detail has its importance in the transcription of music and lyrics.

We hope you enjoyed this musical and technical article on music transcription and song lyrics! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more information on this subject.

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