Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Power Of User Transcriptions and the Death Of Sheet Music

I can honestly say that with the rise of the internet, the need to use my ear and figure out a song has more or less gone out the window. All I need to do is go to UltimateGuitar.com or to an iPhone app and search for the song.

There is a 100% chance that it is there, especially the popular ones. The beauty of it all is that the transcriptions are free and made by musicians who are fans of the band. Some of the more complex progressive stuff is also out there and massive kudos to the guys and gals who sit down to transcribe Dream Theater, Periphery, Sikth, Animals As Leaders and Protest The Hero because they love it, not because they get paid to do it.

However, it wasn’t always UltimateGuitar for me. My fascination with other people transcribing tabs started off with “Harmony Central” back in 1999 which had basic and crude text tabs. However that interest went up a large notch with this website:

THE POWER TAB DUNGEON

The website is littered with PowerTabs from bands in the Eighties and Nineties. In some cases it has the whole album from a band or in some rare cases it has the whole discography for a band, even going into the Nineties and Two Thousands. It is simply as well. Click on the song and it downloads straight away. Nice and easy, just the way that I love it where as UlitmateGutiar.com has way too many clicks involved in order to get the song transcription.

If you are in the business that sells sheet music, your business model is challenged. Not because of piracy, but because of users wanting to show the world that they can transcribe music that they love. If you are in the business that sells magazines with transcriptions like Guitar World or Total Guitar, your business model is also challenged. I am a Guitar World subscriber and the last 16 months worth of issues are still sitting on my shelf with the plastic wrapping still on them.

When my subscription expires I will be letting it lapse. There is no need for it in the current world and their fascination with ass-kissing the classic rockers is getting too much. For example, i can honestly say that i have over 15 transcriptions of the same song from either Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, Ozzy/RR era, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.

I digress. You will notice that I mentioned PowerTab earlier. It’s a piece of software which I still use today to capture riffs and turn them into songs. It is not the best piece of software out there on the market right now, however I was a very early adopter of PowerTab (circa 2003 or 2004) and it served my purpose well when my kids came into my life between the years of 2005 and 2011. Instead of plugging in and playing riffs, I opened up the lap top and fired up the PowerTab software. It more or less became my guitar.

And this brings me back to the the Power Tab Dungeon website. It is pure Eighties heaven. Even the hard to find stuff. Back then, when this site came out, a lot of the other tab sites didn’t have this collection of material. Now if you go onto UltimateGuitar.com you will more or less see it all there. However the original leader in Eighties tab was the Dungeon.

If you wanted to know how to play songs from “Shotgun Messiah” they are there. Or “Babylon A.D”. Or “Steelheart”. Or “Jackyl”. Or “XYZ”. Or “Ugly Kid Joe”. Even “Vince Neil’s” solo albums.

Also on the flip side you still have Hal Leonard selling Note For Note books for between $50 to $70 plus dollars in Australia. And they wonder why no one is buying. Let’s blame piracy. Why not, everyone else does.

Of course, there was a time when the Music Publishers Association freaked out about PowerTab and went all nuclear on the software.

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One thought on “The Power Of User Transcriptions and the Death Of Sheet Music

  1. rustingxrose says:

    Sorry, but I just have to say this:
    SHEET MUSIC IS NOT DEAD.
    Maybe it is in the “popular” society. Maybe we don’t need it anymore. However, for those of us who love classical music (I would say real music, but that might be too offensive…), it’s alive and well. It’s like a paper book versus an electronic book. I prefer paper, and I’m not 70–I’m in high school. It has a more genuine feel as well as being more tangible. The same goes for electronically played music versus music played by a musician. And real pianos are better than electronic ones: there’s a difference in touch and sound (not to mention proper use of pedals).
    And besides all of that, how can you obsess over music without wanting to play it and transcribe it and learn what you can do with it in real, true life yourself? That, for me, is the purpose of music.

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