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Questions

 

   

 

   
1.

How quickly will my order be done?                       

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Standard Service
Your order is normally sent to you within 2 - 3 weeks of when your order is confirmed.  "Confirmed" means that your recording had been received and we have finished any necessary discussion to determine exactly what work you want done, so work can begin.

Rush Service
Your tablature is sent to you within 1 week of confirmation of your order - *guaranteed. (*If it takes more than 1 week, you will only pay regular price.)

2. How do I send music to be transcribed? back to top
The easiest way to send music is as an attachment to an email. The music should be in MP3, WMA, or other format.  
Here are some helpful notes about this:
A. If your music is already in one of these formats, simply attach it to your email and send it along with your order details .

B. If your music is in the WAV format:
  1. WAV files are most often created when recording live music or other sound on a computer or digital recorder.
  2. Music files in this "wave file" format (filename extension = .wav), are normally too large to download in a reasonable amount of time. 
  3. WAV files should be converted to another format. (MP3, WMA, or iTunes)  Storing music in one of these formats "compresses" the file into a package requiring far less memory than conventional "wave files" and is more easily sent over the internet net and downloaded.
  4. Inexpensive, or even free software for converting audio file formats is easily found on the internet.

C. If your music is on a CD, follow these procedures:
  1. Insert an audio CD into the CD drive,
  2. Open "Windows Media Player" program.  This music playing program comes with Windows, so it should be on your computer if you are running a PC  with most any version of Windows.  (I'm sorry, but I am not familiar with the procedure for Apple computers, but I'm sure it can be done.)  
  3. Click the "RIP" tab in Windows Media Player. With ripping, tracks on your audio CDs are copied onto your computer as files.
  4. Within the RIP area, select the appropriate drive where your CD is located.
  5. A list of  the songs on your CD will appear.
  6. You can then select the song(s) you want copied onto your computer. 
  7. Click "Start Rip" to start ripping.
  8. If the ripping begins automatically, clear the check boxes next to any songs that you don't want to rip. Or, click Stop Rip, make your selections, and click "Start Rip" to restart ripping.  (Partially ripped songs are not saved.)
  9. Ripped files are automatically added to your Player library. On your computer, the files are located in the folder that is specified on the Rip Music tab of the Options dialog box. You can change the folder at any time.
  10. Other options in Windows Media Player
        - To select a different format or bit rate for the files that are created during ripping, click the arrow below the Rip tab, and then make your selections from the Format and Bit Rate commands.
        - You can also change the default settings later on the Rip Music tab of the Options dialog box.
        - By default, the Player begins ripping the CD automatically when you are in the Rip tab or switch to it after the CD was inserted. You can also choose to have ripping begin immediately upon inserting the CD, or you can turn off automatic ripping. For information about changing these settings, see Change settings for ripping music.

3. Will I be charged for duplicate sections in the music I order? back to top
Most transcribing time is spent listening and deciphering rather than actual writing out the notes. So by the time it is determine that a given measure is an exact repeat of a previous one, time has already been spent. So once a passage is examined, it is normally written out, unless it is a "significant section."

A. Significant Sections
It is often not difficult to identify "significantly large sections" that are very similar to another section that has already been written out. This refers to a 16 measure section, or some other sizable section of a song that is easy to separate and listen to. (examples: verse or chorus) As sections are examined, the ones that seem similar to one already written can be skipped. Even though it might not be exact down to the last note, this can be determined in a relatively short period of time.
No matter how many times a given section repeats, this section is written out (and charged for) only once. For example, if a song contained the same 16 M section twice, it would contribute 32 M to the song, but would only contribute 16M to the TMC ("total measure count") that the cost is based on.
In other words, it would take too long to check every measure and see if there has been another identical measure somewhere else. But often, quickly listening through an entire section to compare it to a previous one is easily done.

B. When comparing sections is not an option
Most songs are arranged and played in a way that consist mainly of distinct, standard length sections that are easily recognized. This makes the TMC relatively easy to obtain by quickly listening through the song once. And the cost estimate is based upon this TMC. However, some music is arranged and played in a less structured way, with sections much less easily distinguished. This makes a definitive TMC impossible to obtain without spending undue amounts of time.
Due to this uncertainty of repeating sections in the music, a definitive TMC is not obtainable until the actual transcribing work is begun. In such a case, the TMC will consist of the number of measures in the entire recording (or section requested). The cost estimate is therefore presented as the entire recording (or section requested) as well.  In this case, along with the estimate, there will be a note to you explaining this.

4. What if my order does not meet the minimum price? back to top
The minimum charge per order is $50 for all services (except tabs from the ACT TabList).
If the order that you send does not meet the minimum order price, here are some options you may consider:
  1. simply pay the $50 minimum for this order.
  2. expand your order by requesting a larger section of your song
  3. send another song to add to this order.
  4. choose one or more "upgrade options" to add to the order.
5. Which instruments/playing styles are orders accepted for? back to top

     Instrument               Playing style                    Music Style

1.  5-string banjo        3 finger                              any
2.  Acoustic guitar      FLATpicking                     bluegrass & country
3.  Mandolin               FLATpicking                     bluegrass & country
5.  Bass (upright or electric)     ---                         bluegrass & country

  *NOTE: If you have a song that you think might not be acceptable as per above, you are welcome to send it and I will let you know if I will accept it.    
   Exceptions can be made at times.

6. What does does A.C.T. tab look like? back to top

A. A.C.T. Tablature comes in four different formats:
  1. TablEdit file (.TEF file format)
- created with TablEdit software 
- can be opened in TEFview (free) software to hear and/or print
- can be opened and edited in TablEdit full version
  2. Printed or "Engraved" - (PDF file format)
- created with TablEdit software
- three options: tab only, tab & notation, notation only
  3. Neat Handwritten - (PDF file format)
     (tabs from A.C.T. TabList only)
  - neat, organized, and clearly readable handwritten
  - written on professional looking printed tablature paper (.PDF file format)
  4. Rough Handwritten - (PDF file format)
      (tabs from A.C.T. TabList only)
  - readable, but less organized with less detailed notes
  - written on handmade tablature paper (.PDF file format)

B. Here are the formats available for different types of orders:
  1. Transcribed or custom composed tablature formats:
      a. TablEdit file
      b. Printed or " Engraved" - (PDF file format)
  2.  A.C.T. TabList Tablature formats:
      1. TablEdit file - used with tablature created since about 2007
     
2. Printed or Engraved - used with tablature created since about 2007
      3. Neat Handwritten - used with tablature created between about 1999 and 2007
      4. Rough Handwritten - used with tablature created between 1994 and 1999

C. Use the links below to download samples of the four formats.
  1. TablEdit file (.tef)
  2. Printed or Engraved (.pdf)
  3. Neat Handwritten (.pdf)
  4. Rough Handwritten (.pdf)

see "Tablature Formats" page for more info and options

7. Why are all tablature notes written as 1/8 notes? back to top
A. In most A.C.T. tablature, all notes are written as 1/8 notes so that there will always be 8 "stem stubs" at the bottom of each measure. (There will be more than 8 only when 16th notes are present.) This allows tab readers to visually see the timing of when to play each note without having to read standard notation stems for timing of 1/4, 1/2, and whole notes.

B. For example, if a note is followed by an empty space above a stem stub, that shows that that note gets twice as much time because its gets the time of the single empty space along with its own time. Followed by two spaces, it will last three times as long. The main advantage of this is not so much how long the note will ring, but it will tell you how much time to let go by before playing the next note.

C. NOTE: If your order includes standard notation along with tablature, you may notice some unexpected rests in the notation along with all the 1/8th notes. A rest indicates silence in between notes. These rests are shown even though notes may ring longer than an 1/8 note and there may not be any silence at all between notes as you play them. These rests may be ignored.

D. Here is why these rests are shown in the notation:
The rests are only there because the notation is generated directly from the tablature by the software. Although the tablature can be manipulated to display all notes as 1/8 notes and still not display any rests, the standard notation does not have this flexibility since it is highly standardized anywhere you see it and it is virtually never changed to suit the individual music writer's preferences the way tablature is.
So, for tab or notation, "when" to play each note is shown, but "how long" they ring is up to you and your instrument.

see "Tablature Formats" page for more info and options

8. Do you work with clawhammer and similar styles (banjo)? back to top
A. Not being experienced with clawhammer (frailing, drop thumb, etc.) style of banjo playing, I am not confident that I would be able to transcribe such pieces with accuracy.  However, here is what I can offer:
I would be comfortable writing the melody notes and 5th string strokes, but the quick strums that occur immediately before the 5th string strokes would simply be noted in the tablature as "strums" rather than writing the actual notes. Usually, the result is a reasonably accurate and playable and sounds close to the recording.

B. I have done some frailing/clawhammer for customers under these circumstances:
  1. Customer only wanted a simple facsimile and didn't care if it was not note-for-note.
  2. Customer provided the tuning configuration, or else they wanted the tab in a standard tuning.
  3. Customer only wanted the primary left-hand melody notes and they would take care of the right hand.

9. Why do you charge by the measure instead of by the hour? back to top
Charges for A. C. T. services are actually based somewhat on time spent on each order, but not directly. The charge per measure has been formulated based on an "average" amount of transcribing time spent per measure of music. The advantage of charging per measure is that I can give a very close estimate of the total cost of an order simply by listening quickly through the music and counting the number of measures.  Customers who are familiar with how music is divided into measures can also estimate costs for services.  (see no. 10 and no. 11 below)
10. How are measures counted? back to top
A. Definition of a Measure
A measure is a relatively small unit of time in which the smallest repeatable unit of the rhythmic structure of the song occurs. In other words, a measure is the basic building block of time throughout a song.  The size, or length, of a measure is defined by how many beats it contains. A given song will normally be composed of measures all consistently containing the same number of beats, although small exceptions do occur.
Therefore, if you know how many beats are in each measure of a song, you can estimate the number of measures by counting the beats in the song.

B. Rhythms
Some rhythms sound more complicated than others (for example, bosa nova compared to bluegrass), but they are all based on a foundation of simple, primary beats. If you tap your foot along with a song, you'll usually be tapping along with these primary beats and this is the simplest way to identify them. It is the combination of secondary (less emphasized) beats in between the primary beats that give different rhythms their unique "flavors."
In a given song in almost any of the common popular styles, a measure will usually contain 2, 3, or 4 of these primary beats. These songs are referred to as being in 2/4, 3/4, or 4/4 time, with the top number of each "fraction" referring to the number of beats per measure. Don't worry about the bottom number, we're only interested in the top numbers (2, 3, and 4) for our purposes here.
These three types basically fall into 2 categories:
  - those with 3 beats per measure (3/4 time) and
  - those with 2 or 4 beats per measure (2/4 time and 4/4 time.)
3/4 Time
Songs in 3/4 time tend to be fairly easy to identify since this is the common "waltz" rhythm. Also, such a large majority of rhythms are based on multiples of 2 or 4 beats per measure that songs in 3/4 time really tend to stand out due to having an odd number of beats per measure, especially once you get used to identifying them
2/4 And 4/4 Time
The other 95% (guess) of the musical world goes here - 2/4 and 4/4 time For most of the songs you're likely to send, your biggest challenge will be deciding whether to call 2 foot taps or 4 foot taps "one measure." Here's where we're going to take it one step beyond the foot taps. We're going to single out the one element in most musical styles that is most capable of telling us how many beats in a measure - the bass. The bass and drums are responsible more than any other part of a band for keeping time. Since some styles don't use drums, we're going to focus in on the bass.
In styles such as traditional country, bluegrass, and folk, you'll usually hear 2 bass notes per measure. These will typically alternate back and forth between just two notes as long as the song remains in the same chord. When the chord changes, it alternates within a new pair. Often, this one bit of knowledge is enough to help you get an accurate measure count by counting pairs of bass notes. If need be, turn the bass up and the treble down on your music player to hear the bass instrument better.

C. Cautions
Caution 1! - If you hear the bass begin to suddenly playing twice as fast, it is now putting 4 notes per measure. Each measure is still the same length of time as before, it's just that there are now twice as many bass notes in each measure. In other words, the bass is playing faster, but the measures are still going by at the same rate. Sometimes this is called a "walking bass." Again, the timing designation for the song is normally based on the parts of the song with smaller number of bass notes, in this case, 2 bass notes per measure.
Caution 2! - Normally, you won't hear the bass walk all the way through the song except for some very old country recordings or swing music. In this situation, the bass will often be playing a particular group of 4 notes per measure (rather than 2) and repeating that same group for each measure and so on until the chord changes. At other times, the notes will be in lines going in one direction (up or down in pitch) and following measures will not repeat these same exact notes.
Other styles may have more complicated rhythms and bass patterns, but just tap your foot and you'll have a shot at finding those primary beats. With a little practice you'll be able to tell if a measure in a song of this type has 2 or 4 beats in the measure.
Caution 3! - Take a deep breath here . . . After having claimed that most of the styles of music we're likely to deal with will have 2 primary beats per measure, accompanied by 2 bass notes, it must be pointed out that this music will most often be referred to as being in 4/4 time! This is because the 2 "secondary" beast in between the 2 primary beats are included in the beat count for each measure, resulting in a total of 4 beats per measure.
Caution 4! - (Another deep breath) All the above describes the way country, bluegrass, and folk music is divided into measure by those who deal with it regularly. This also applies to many publications that cater to these types of music. However, in other publications geared to the general public, you will find many of these same songs written with twice as much music per measure still noted as 4/4 time. In this case, only primary beats are counted, so it takes two of our "country, bluegrass, or folk measures" to make one of their "general public" measures.
This all shows that determining the timing designation of a song can depend on how a person interprets the meaning of a "beat."

D. Note for Beginners
It's impossible to teach someone who is new at it to listen to timing this way and expect them to be an expert overnight. But, as a beginner, if you can just put in some practice now, you'll soon get a better understanding of how to apply the above principles for good results. And it is highly recommend that you find someone with experience to help you get started.

11. Is there a quicker way to estimate for myself how many measures are in my order? back to top
A. Here is a kind of general way to estimate measure counts for different types of songs:
   
(Beware! - songs often vary in many ways from the "rules" below  - use this info wisely and loosely!
 
1. A typical vocal song with "normal" length verse and chorus most commonly have 16 measure verses and 16 measure choruses. I'm referring to the singing here.
  2. Instrumental solos usually are played over either the verse or the chorus. This means same length, same chords and same tune as the vocal verse or chorus.
  3. Kick-offs (or "intros") are most often some segment of the verse or chorus, but usually not the whole thing. Half or quarter of the verse or chorus is common.
  4. Same thing applies to endings, although they are even more likely to be very short.
  5. Songs that are completely instrumental sort of follow the same pattern, except that the instruments take the place of singers so each instrument will probably play through the verse and chorus for each solo.

B.  Summary (remember, these are very rough estimates of common songs - many variations exist!)
        - verse or chorus = 16 measures
        - intro or ending   = average of 8 measures
        - instrumental = 32 measures per solo

C. Again - these are common examples, but many variations exist!

 

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