Transcribing Beatles

How long does it take to ready a transcription folio for publication?

For my Beatle arrangements, at least a decade, if I include the time taken to cultivate a healthy relationship with the publishers….. A few tunes from my ‘LJ Plays The Beatles’ and ‘One Wing’ CDs made it into a Popular Songs fingerstyle folio I did a few years ago, which helped smooth the way for an all-Beatle book.

Ironically the ‘hit’ from that particular collection was not a Beatle tune, but my arrangement of the Lieber-Stoller-Ben E. King tune  ‘Stand By Me’, which was featured in a diamond commercial on TV.

A significant criteria in my tune selection for ‘LJ Plays The Beatles Vol. 2’, was that keeping the repertoire to Lennon-McCartney tunes would allow a folio to match the recording. Apparently, George’s tunes are governed by some different agreements and would complicate the issue.

The challenges of creating solo arrangements of these tunes are a subject for way more discussion than is appropriate to a brief blog post. Catch me at one of my clinics or extended workshops for some in-depth study – see my schedule.

I finished recording the CD in May of 2010. I had already prepared most of the arrangements in Sibelius, my preferred notation program. Then everything was revised to match the recordings, plus transcriptions were done of the more improvised tunes – with some help from Dr. Dave. The files were sent to my excellent editor Jeff at Hal Leonard Publishing, who did a total revision and emailed me pdfs of his pencil amendments to the print-outs. After I approved the changes, and added a few of my own, the music then went to the engraver to incorporate all the alterations into the original Sibelius files. That took us to into December.

Last week, appropriately enough while I was a guest on the ‘Beatles Tribute Cruise’, I received pdfs of the engraver’s proofs, with some pencil annotations. They were final enough for me to sit in my studio for 4 days and record brief lessons on all 15 tunes for the CD that accompanies the book. I made a few corrections as I read through the tunes, but my part of the process is essentially done. I’m expecting that the book will be out in May 2011.

So, in answer to my original question, essentially a year, excluding the arranging time prior to recording the album itself. That’s with the benefits of digital technology (and some well-sharpened red pencils). I can’t imagine doing it with woodblocks…….


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  1. #1 by elvis01 on March 20, 2011 - 7:25 pm

    Have you ever thought of similar song themes?

    Maybe I’ll follow the sun followed by Warmth of the Sun?

    Here comes the Sun might be out for the reasons detailed above.

  2. #2 by laurencejuber on March 20, 2011 - 7:54 pm

    I make choices based on musical and guitaristic values, so titles aren’t typically a factor.
    I did an arrangement of ‘God Only Knows’ a few years ago, but I haven’t tackled any other Beach Boys tunes.

  3. #3 by Steve G on March 21, 2011 - 8:50 am

    Does Sibelius produce a tab transcription ? If not how are the tab transciptions done and have you ever used TablEdit to do this?

    My experience of your transciptions is that they are the more accurate than most folios I’ve come across so … time well spent!

    Look forward to getting a copy in May. Hopefully planning to be at the London April gig.

  4. #4 by laurencejuber on March 21, 2011 - 9:07 am

    Sibelius has a very powerful tab function that is fully integrated with the notation stave.
    I have no experience with TablEdit. Publishers typically have very specific delivery formats, so it’s better for me to stick with the familiar.

  5. #5 by Steve G on December 1, 2014 - 7:40 am

    Got my copy of your transcription book and as usual very impressed with the quality and accuracy of the transcriptions. I was very interested to read elsewhere your choice of tunings and keys for the songs i.e.Yesterday in F (DADGAD) . I have been inspired by your playing to try an arrangement of “And I Love Her” (I know Pat Metheny does a version in F in standard tuning). The original Key I believe to be E/C#m modulating to F? and ending on a D chord. It got me wondering what tuning and Key(s) you would have chosen for an arrangement.

    • #6 by laurencejuber on December 9, 2014 - 4:52 pm

      I’d probably do ‘And I Love Her’ in standard tuning in E/F and stay quite close to the original.

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