(My last meta question wasn't well received so I will try to be really clear.)

This question How to transcribe Indian classical music using Western music notation? ...is clearly a request for a transcription and should be closed according to the site guidelines.

I don't want to close the question, because simply saying "no transcription requests allowed" seems unhelpful.

One reason I can see for not allowing any transcription request is concern over a copyright violation. Are there other reasons?

To me it would seem friendlier to point the questioner to some explanation of why transcription requests are not allowed.


3 Answers 3


This answer is not about the question in question (which is open and unanswered at this time), but instead about the larger question of considering transcription questions off-topic.

You probably don't get to see this, but there is an answer in the close vote text (emphasis mine):

Questions about transcribing or finding a particular song, including identifying chords, notes, key and time signatures, or similar elements, are off-topic since they are rarely useful to future readers.

What's going on here is transcriptions and identification of basic elements (what instrument is that?) do not fit well with the overall goal(s) of Stack Exchange (emphasis in original text):

We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers


Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

From the tour.

The idea is that the answers to the questions on Stack Exchange will help future readers with what they are trying to do or want to know. Yes, it's possible that some other Music.SE user next year will want to know the chords for Taylor Swift's Shake It Off, but it's not generally useful knowledge. Understanding how to quickly switch from one chord to the other while playing Shake It Off would help anyone trying to quickly switch chords. So, "What technique helps me play this song?" is a good question and "What are the chords for this song?" is not.

There are also many resources for sheet music, chords, tab, lyrics, etc., and some on-topic questions and answers have appeared directing people to some of the best examples of those resources.

Finally, not really stated or implied anywhere I can find on SE or Music.SE, but surely not only in my thoughts: It's important to keep awareness of what kind of community we are building and serving. If we answered any and all transcription questions, they would quickly become the majority of the questions and answers here. That would encourage people to come to Music.SE for transcriptions and at least that would heavily dilute the other content and users, more likely it would drive it and them out entirely. That would make Music.SE just another resource for guitar tabs - something the internet does not need.

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    thanks for the details about close voting. I'm curious what you think of a case where the person can't figure out a short passage. Preferably the asker would include their own partial transcription. The question might be along the lines of "what's this one note?" or "what is this bar?" The dilemma I see is the answer would not have much future value, but is an actual problem and the asker did the initial work. My other point, is none of this nuance is in the basic guidelines which leaves on non-moderator like me feeling up/down voting questions appears a bit arbitrary. Feb 10, 2016 at 15:46
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    @MichaelCurtis I agree that the language in the close vote text is clearer than anything available to users who do not have the privilege yet. My impression/understanding of the off-topic guidelines is that what is better for the site and community trumps what is better for the individual, so I don't see a question about a single chord being any better, and I'm pretty sure I've seen more than one such question closed as off-topic in the past. Feb 10, 2016 at 17:40

Generally, the questions that get closed are the ones that say 'I need the notes/transcription for this song'.

The question you mentioned has trouble understanding the way the music is written. The question itself is Can some one explain how to transcribe this song into Western music notation? and not Please transcribe this song for me; there's a difference between the two. The first one is looking for a way to help OP understand and transcribe it himself and the second is asking us to do it for him.

The problem OP had is that he couldn't understand the rhythm of the song, the way it was written, and I don't blame him:

enter image description here

I think this question should remain open. But the community might disagree, so kudos for bringing it to meta.

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    I was thinking something along these lines. Maybe answering with a short example to show how to get started, but not necessarily a complete transcription. A link to a basic meter/rhythm overview would probably be appropriate in this case too. Feb 8, 2016 at 19:20
  • @MichaelCurtis exactly. Feb 9, 2016 at 18:27
  • what concerns the question transcription of indian music to western music: don't forget that there are 100 of millions indian people that might oneday be interested in this matter. on the otherhand: there will be in short time - or already now - exist an app for transcribing this (like there is for the gregorian chant) Jan 8, 2019 at 20:43

I've been here in stack exchange for a few days, and I am still learning a lot about the rules in and about the meta. now I see a bit more clearly and I would agree that simple questions for chords or transcriptions of easy music that could be answered by looking at a site with information about elementary music - should not be compared with difficult problems of chord progressions in romantic music or music of bartok which could be discussed by just showing a simple pattern. but there must be some links or standard answers for good willing tutors who give a hint like: you'll find an answer to your question if you read this chapter xy of elementary music theory, search for chords and tabs of this song or watch the youtube video xy. otherwise there will be actually a stack overflow!

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