Transcribing By Ear video series

I put together a few videos about developing the skill of hearing a song and figuring out how the chords go, so that you can transcribe the chords into Strum Machine… or simply play along with an unfamiliar song in a jam. It’s my first attempt at making videos on this topic, so I would love to hear your feedback if you end up watching them!

If the editor looks different than you’re used to, it’s because it was filmed with the new beta version. I plan to update the editor for everyone in a week or two.

The Videos

Total length comes in at around 45 minutes, but no need to watch it all at once.

After clicking :arrow_forward: Play on a video, you can click on the icon in the bottom-right corner of the video to go full-screen.

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Introducing the Number System

(If you’re already familiar with numbered chords and can find the 1, 4, 5 chords in a variety of keys, you can skip this.)

Part 3: Recognizing Chords By Ear

Resources mentioned in the video:

Part 4: Transcription By Ear Walkthrough

The recording being transcribed in the video:

Resources mentioned in the video:

Part 5: What’s Next?

Behind the scenes

For over three years now, the “how to add a new song” video in the Help docs had this footnote:

Adding songs by ear or with notation
In the video above, I mention supplemental videos on figuring out chords by ear and using sheet music or tablature as a reference. These have yet to be made. Sorry! I hope to have them up here by January or February of 2022.

As February 2022 shrank further into the rear-view mirror, my failure to follow up on this promise only became more embarrassing! Part of the problem was that I wanted to make some changes to the editor (specifically, adding support for 1-4-5 chords in edit mode) so that I could incorporate them into my new videos.

But now, with those changes to the editor complete (currently in beta, with a full release expected in a week or so), it was finally a good time to make these videos!

I do intend to go back and film more song examples at some point, but I will not repeat my mistake of giving an estimated time of delivery for those. :wink:

Oh, and I realize I still need to make the transcribing-sheet-music video as well. Hoping to have that done in the next month or two as well.


Excellent Job Luke!..


The cleanest and quickest take I’ve ever seen on playing by ear. I want to show it to all the beginners in my local bluegrass/acoustic jam! Guess I’ll have to get them to sign up for SM. I play bass and this gives me a way I never thought of to check my ear with chords. Thank you.


Great videos, Luke. Please do more like this. Your musical insights are much appreciated.

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Luke, you did an outstanding job on the videos about hearing the chord changes! Well done, well done, WELL DONE! :slight_smile:

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