Zplane has released deCoda, a new application designed to help you transcribe songs and learn to play them. With features like a piano roll editor, MIDI export, automatic chord detection and a focus mode for highlighting specific instruments or voices in the mix, deCoda goes beyond what traditional transcribing software offers.
Transcribing software has come a long way since the days of the venerable Amazing SlowDowner (which is still available, by the way). In addition to slowing down the audio so you can listen to all the details, modern programs like Seventhstring Transcribe! and MusicTrans can detect frequencies and display notes to help you figure out the melody. Still, zplane’s new deCoda application offers features that go beyond any other transcribing software I’ve seen.
Load a song in deCoda, and the software automatically maps sections like verses and choruses, detects the chords, and finds out the tempo. You can then slow down or speed up the audio, loop sections, or transpose the piece to a different key. That’s really useful for practicing.
Focus mode and piano roll
DeCoda also offers a focus mode, and this is where it gets interesting. It’s a specialized EQ / filter that lets you “zoom in” on a specific instrument in the mix. Need to find out what the guitar is playing, but it’s obscured by other instruments? Zplane claims that deCoda’s focus mode can “highlight the instrument in the stereo mix that you want to hear”. You can also invert the focus to remove an instrument from the mix, so you can play along. If this works as seamlessly as the developers say, deCoda has the potential to become the new weapon of choice for music students trying to transcribe their favourite solos.
The software also has a piano roll editor, which lays out the entire arrangement visually. You can click on individual notes, and deCoda freezes the audio at that point, so you can find the note on your instrument. The piano roll can also export MIDI files, which you can then import in your DAW. DeCoda projects can also be exported to share with bandmates or put a slowed-down version on an audio player, for example. If you’re into transcribing music or figuring out songs by ear, I think deCoda is definitely worth checking out.
Price and compatibility
Zplane deCoda runs on macOS 10.7 and up and Windows 7 and up. The software is now available for an introductory price of EUR 29. You can download a restricted trial version from the developer’s site. The trial version is restricted to two minutes of audio playback per start and doesn’t export.