So my students know that I almost always create my own charts and tabs for songs. Primarily because almost everything I find online is… well, wrong. I know. I have said it so many times that I too am tired of hearing it. But its true. Sometimes I am wrong. For sure. But very often tabs, charts, even published music you pay for is just plain wrong. And it doesn’t take a musical genius to figure it out. If a 12 yr old guitar student sitting next to me can agree that the recording sounds one way, and that the written music sounds wrong, then, well, I don’t know what to say.
I mean, I feel for the transcriber. I really do. I imagine it’s some poor slob in a warehouse of cubicles, sitting there with headphones and a ridiculous quota of tunes to transcribe in a day. He is probably really busy. Maybe he has indigestion. He might just be deaf. I don’t know.
Anyway, every now and again I will go looking for a published transcription either to speed the process, or facilitate what I think might be tricky. So this week I had one of those days. I’m working on In The City by Joe Walsh. Very interestingly it was apparently written and originally released in the soundtrack for the movie The Warriors, if you remember that cult classic! It was then subesquently released on the Eagles album The Long Run. Also very cool.
Anywhoo, so I found two different tabs on two different sites. SheetMusicDirect.com (SMD) is my usual go to for published music. But many of my students and colleagues use MusicNotes.com (MN) so I decided to check that one out too. Well, unfortunately, they only let you see the first page of the score, right? So I am looking at these two scores online, comparing them, and boy, I really don’t want to spend $10 to buy them both but I figured, “what the heck. It’ll be a good test”. Indeed it was.
First off, the SheetMusicDirect version had two different guitar lines notated, though they both appeared to be the same. But that is often a good sign. But the MusicNotes version “appeared” to be more “professional” with the chord symbols and such at the top. SheetMusicDirect on the left and MusicNotes on the right.
But it was really when I started to dig that things became clear. One of the specific things I was looking for was the exact voicing of the chords in the chorus. At first I thought I was just hearing major triads, and essentially an A Form major chord being moved up to D at V and E at VII. Well thats apparently what the dude in the cube at MusicNotes thought too. But when I saw the SheetMusicDirect chords, I knew they were right. And a close investigative listen to the recording agreed. Look at these two different versions, again SMD on the left and MN on the right.
Not even close. I knew I was hearing notes that didn’t fit that straight major triad. And I also knew that the 4th chord was not the same as the 2nd chord, though they are similar. The MusicNotes guy phoned it in.
But it gets worse when we look at the solo. The solo played on a slide guitar. You know, slide guitar, where they very often use Alternate Tunings to accommodate the linear nature of the slide itself. Well, look at the front page for both the scores. Again, SMD on the left and MN on the right.
Well, the guy at SMD got it right. He noted the Alternate, Open Tuning for the slide guitar. At MN? Not so much…. So then we get to look at what these guys thought was being played in said solo….
First off, the SheetMusicDirect score includes all the fancy giant slidey things before what I would call the actual solo (First giant circle on the left). The MusicNotes version conveniently omits that part. Im sure because the guy who was tabbing for standard tuning had no way of notating it. But then look at the solo part. Ok, they both get the 17-17 moves right. But if you know the song at ALL you don’t even have to touch a guitar to see that the MusicNotes version isn’t even close to what Joe was playing. I mean really? Who thinks the solo sounds like an E Major triad descending? The MusicNotes score is OBVIOUSLY WRONG. Whereas it also takes about 2 seconds to look at the SheetMusicDirect score to know it is EXACTLY CORRECT!
Finally, I will return to that cool little arpeggio that slides from D to E in every verse. Again, SheetMusicDirect on the left and completely CORRECT. MusicNotes on the right and sadly once again wrong and lamely notated with no indication of the legato slide.
Ok, so in conclusion, this is only one score. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of every score on SheetMusicDirect.com, nor can I imply the inaccuracy of all the scores at MusicNotes.com. And of course, neither one of these places commissioned the transcription. This stuff comes from the publisher. Though I am very confused as to how the publisher would have released one awesome copy of the score and one completely crappy version as well. But clearly in this case, SheetMusicDirect wins hands down and at only $2.99 for the score is a WAY BETTER option than MusicNotes which is very wrong and very expensive at over $8 for the online version, the PDF and tax.
There you have it. SheetMusicDirect.com vs. MusicNotes.com. SheetMusicDirect wins!