Music software for musicians
music students & music educators.
Connecting your Transcribe files to your sound recordings
There's usually an unpleasant bump when you first try to use a Transcribe file created by a friend or a music instructor. (I'll refer to such files as "shared files.")
If you've already hit the "shared file" snag, and you've seen the error message that states "can't find soundfile", then you probably just want to get beyond that hurdle. If so, jump ahead to the section on file pairing. This will help you fix the problem and get back to using Transcribe ... without delving into the underlying reasons. However, if you want to understand the matter more thoroughly, please read the following sections.
The initial bump with shared files
Whenever you initially use a shared Transcribe file (i.e. a Transcribe file created, edited or saved on another computer) Transcribe may be temporarily unable to locate the companion soundfile on your computer. This is normal fare with shared files ... and there's no way to side step it. You haven't done anything wrong!
When Transcribe posts the "can't find soundfile" alert window, it is trying to explain that it can't proceed until you locate the companion sound file. Read more about locating a soundfile for Transcribe.
Fortunately you can easily resolve in the matter in seconds without fully understand the underlying issue. But before you try, please note, when working with a specific Transcribe file, you DO need to have the companion audio recording on your computer before proceeding, because Transcribe needs to access it. (NOTE: In lieu of having the soundfile on your computers, you can instruct Transcribe to play a recording from a CD but I've found that playback performance suffers considerably, and you may hear some drastic stuttering, so I recommend importing the CD tracks to your computer.)
Transcribe may post the "can't find soundfile" alert message under any of the following circumstances:
- you've opened a Transcribe file created on a computer other than your own
- you do not have a copy of the soundfile on your computer
- you've renamed the companion soundfile
- you've moved the companion soundfile
- you've moved or renamed a folder that contains a companion soundfile
- you've deleted the soundfile
Whatever the case, the remedy is essentially the same. And that's what this page is about. You'll learn to easily resolve this problem when it arises. (To fully understand the cause of the problem, continue reading, and learn about 'companion files.')
Transcribe always works with a pair of files: a Transcribe file, and a specific companion soundfile. The two are loosely paired with each other as companion files; the pairing is established by a line in the Transcribe file which stores a reference to the sound file.
We can accurately refer to this reference as the Transcribe file's SoundFileName property. The SoundFileName property contains:
- the name of the companion sound file
- a description of the location of the sound file (the directory path) on the current computer.
Before continuing, let's distinguish between a soundfile and a Transcribe file.
A soundfile is an audio recording, such as an mp3. Soundfiles are quite large, usually weighing in at 3 to 40 MB for a three minute recording.
A Transcribe file is a very tiny text file that holds information such as marker points, loops, speed and pitch, and as mentioned, a reference to the sound file. Transcribe files are usually about 4 to 8K in size, in other words, literally they are some of the the smallest possible files! It's important to understand taht the transcribe file contains no audio data; it merely contains information about a particular soundfile, such as its location, and information about marker, speed and pitch settings created by a Transcribe user.
Whenever you open a Transcribe file Transcribe runs through a series of steps:
- it examines the SoundFileName property of the opened Transcribe file and notes the soundfile name specified therein
- it examines the folder that contains the just-opened Transcribe file
- it determines if this folder contains a soundfile with a name that matches the SoundFileName property
- if Transcribe finds a match it loads the soundfile and Transcribe opens normally
- If Transcribe fails to find a match it posts an alert to let you know it cannot find the soundfile.
For instance, if the SoundFileName property equals 'Beautiful Dreamer.mp3 then Transcribe scans the folder to see if it can find a soundfile named 'Beautiful Dreamer.mp3' If so, it chooses that file and the 'automatic pairing' is complete. If not, it posts the alert.
The arrangement is simple, but not always foolproof. What if you move the soundfile out of that folder, or if you rename the soundfile?
- Automatic pairing will break if you alter the name of the soundfile or if you move the file. Then Transcribe will be unable to make an automatic connection.
- Music players like iTunes or Windows Media Player hold your music in special folders. They expect the soundfiles to remain in these locations. If you move them into the folder with your transcribe file, you may cause your audio player to loose track of them, and trust me, it's not fun straightening out these sorts of problems. So it's best to leave those sound files in their original location. If you get other soundfiles, such as recordings I make, you can place in any logical location on your computer, inside your user folder.
File management is always important when one file references another. My recommendation is this.
Leave your soundfiles where your music utilities automatically download, in their respective libraries. iTunes, Windows Media Player maintain their own soundfile libraries. They may get confused if you move the soundfiles.
Keep your Transcribe files in a separate location. You can move your folder of Transcribe files anywhere; you reorganize them in new subfolders, and you can freely rename the Transcribe files. None of these actions will interfere with Transcribe finding the associated soundfile.
Regarding recordings that I make, you can keep them anywhere, but I recommend you get them into the sound library that you usually use, such as iTunes. You can drop them in the folder that contains your Transcribe files, but then when backing up your collection of Transcribe files you may needlessly backup lots of large sound files.
***To create a Transcribe file, you must select a soundfile using File/Open. At the moment you save a Transcribe file, Transcribe writes soundfile information about that specific soundfile into the Transcribe file. The soundfile information is a simple line of text that includes the name of the soundfile and it's location on the computer's hard drive.
• Here's an example (for Judy Collins landmark recording of Sons Of written by Jacques Brel and Gerard Jouannest):
SoundFileName,Sons Of (LP Version).mp3,MacOSX,/Users/John/Music/Amazon MP3/Judy Collins/Whales & Nightingales/02 - Sons Of (LP Version).mp3
At a glance it's kinda of crazy looking. But upon careful examination you'll see it contains two essential items of information.
• Here I've highlighted the soundfile name in bold:
SoundFileName,Sons Of (LP Version).mp3,MacOSX,/Users/John/Music/Amazon MP3/Judy Collins/Whales & Nightingales/02-Sons Of (LP Version).mp3
• Here's the soundfile's location in bold (aka a hard drive directory path or absolute URL) :
SoundFileName,Sons Of (LP Version).mp3,MacOSX,/Users/John/Music/Amazon MP3/Judy Collins/Whales & Nightingales/02-Sons Of (LP Version).mp3
Transcribe uses the 'soundfile name' to create automatic pairing (that's all it needs to do so.) It uses the 'soundfile's location' to create specific pairing.
Sometimes Transcribe will be temporarily unable find a soundfile on your computer, but it can learn ... and you can easily teach it. Just make sure you've purchased the companion recording before proceeding. The file does need to exist on your computer.
By now I think the reason why pairings break is clear. The reason is simple. Each Transcribe file contains a record of the location of the companion soundfile at the time the Transcribe was created or altered. So, if you get a Transcribe file from me, the soundfile location information in that file describes a location on my computer! This information is no longer pertinent, it's certainly of no use to you, and Transcribe instantly realizes this when you open such a file. (This sort of problem will also occur when you first use a Transcribe file that's has been altered and saved on someone else's computer. )
Once a Transcribe file and soundfile pairing is broken or irrelevant like this, Transcribe knows it's clueless. (Granted Transcribe could be smarter, and search for the file itself; or on the Mac it could use the operating system's alias feature which allows applications to keep track of files, even when they are renamed or moved. But Transcribe provides neither of these services. So you have do reestablish the connection.)
The next section explains how you can easily fix broken pairing, and save that information.
Common issues with USB Flash drives and CDs
USB Flash drives have become very popular in recent years, and people often transport their documents and soundfile with a Flash drive. This is fine, as long as you're simply moving soundfiles that you've purchased for your personal use. But once common mistake frequently occurs.
Transcribe can get confused when looking for a CD that’s not in the computer, or when looking for a sound file that’s on a removable drive like a USB flash drive. If you transfer recordings via a flash drive and copy them onto your computer, everything will be fine. Just make sure you remove the Flash drive before opening the soundfile. Sometime people open the copy that's on the Flash drive. This works fine, until you remove the Flash drive. Then Transcribe won't be able to find the soundfile, unless you plug that Flash drive in again—probably not a scenario you want to adopt! The same confusion can occur with CDs. So I recommend you import CD tracks to your music library before opening them.
Using shared files / Updating the pairing
Why the initial confusion and rigormarole? In addition to markers, speed, and other setting, each Transcribe file contains as description of the exact location of the companion sound file. Here's were pairings get messed up.
When I create a Transcribe file on my computer Transcribe embeds a description of the location of the companion file. This is a location on my computer.
When you open the Transcribe file on your computer, Transcribe retrieves this location from the file and quickly realizes that no such location exists on your computer. (For a match to occur we’d have to have the same hard drive name, the same user name, and the exact same hierarchy of folders ... which is an entirely unlikely scenario.)
Because it is unable to find the companion file without your help Transcribe posts an error message. That’s your cue to tell Transcribe where the companion file is located on your computer.
To tell Transcribe the location of the soundfile, you select the soundfile via File/Import Sound File. This command launches an “open file” dialog which provides two ways of locating the file:
1) use the search tool inside the dialog. Just type in the name of companion recording and let the computer find it. Then select it from the list and click OK. After you do this, Transcribe should successfully open the companion recording, and you see the waveform and markers.
2) inside the dialog click through you file folders until to locate the file. method 1 is easier, unless you know where your sound files are located and you can easily click to get there. (You’ll probably find them in your iTunes or Amazon music library, but they could be elsewhere.)
Once you've connected your Transcribe file with the companion recording, you've repaired the association ... until you close the Transcribe file. If you close without saving Transcribe won't record the new locations, and you'll have to reestablish the pairing the next time you use the Transcribe file. If you save the Transcriber file, Transcribe will permanently remember the location and everything will work automatically in the future.
Please note, when repairing associations it is possible to select the wrong soundfile. Transcribe will glibly open any soundfile you select. If you have several soundfiles with the same name or with similar names, make sure you choose the correct one. Unfortunately Transcribe does not have a feature for previewing soundfiles. Hopefully that will be added soon.
As mentioned previously, if your Transcribe file and the companion file reside in the same folder, despite all that's been said, Transcribe will always find the recording, as long as the file names 'match.'
As described above, when Transcribe tells you it can’t find the sound file, you simply need escort it to the correct location on your computer ... and all is good for the current practice session. If you save the file before quitting, Transcribe will write the new location to the Transcribe file and it will always know the location, and it will always find the companion recording. This will remain true unless you move the companion recording or change folder names in its directory path. However, if you quit Transcribe without saving the file, the Transcribe file will still contain the ‘old location’ and you'll have to show it the proper location again.
In most cases you shouldn't move sound files around. So just leave the be or your various audio players may loose track of them. Conversely, you can move your Transcribe files anywhere on your computer; doing so will not cause Transcribe to loose track of your sound files.
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Internal links: Automatic pairings