See bottom of this page for the complete list of works.

The page grew too verbose, so the previous contents were moved.

A single PDF with all the free transcriptions is prepared:

Free Transcriptions Volume
  2020-09-23  PDF, 1.1 MB
  • Schumann Kinderszenen Op.15, No.1
  • Schubert B-flat Sonata D.960, 2nd mvt. (first section)
  • Liszt Eglogue, No.7 from the Année Suisse

Disclaimer: The Schubert is something of a study in re-tuning en passant; though it works well in that case, I generally try to minimise retunings, and all other transcriptions have way fewer tuning changes. (Retunings en passant are hard to fit in, look awkward, are easy to misjudge, the string pitch drifts after, it knocks out the pitch of all the other strings...) Even so, this project has convinced me how useful would be a programmable robotic machine head on even just the sixth string...

You should be able to view or print this directly in your web browser. Beware that at least some versions of Adobe's Acrobat/Reader application stupidly fail to display this validated PDF.

Any other reader I've ever tried has worked without problems. My PDF passes third-party validation, and Adobe offers no useful diagnostics, so all I can do is try to get away from Adobe in future and advise others to do the same... Stupidity?—Adobe invented PDF!—more likely it's a corporate ploy to make people use commercial PDF authoring tools. I wrote this typesetter and there is no adequate commercial substitute. The time I've wasted over this, and the pain of learning that the documents aren't visible for some visitors... grrr.

If you already downloaded it before, do please check the date, since this volume will be updated with any new free offerings, as well as any corrections or improvements to the typesetting.

The Transcriptions project is mainly intended for persons who have already become familiar with the original piano pieces, whether by listening or playing. Thus the scores could be printed separately from the tablature, avoiding arduous re-engraving of all the music to make room for aligned tablature. If you “remember how it goes” rhythmically, you'll only want the scordatura tablature even if you read music (which isn't a requirement). Tunings are mostly unique to each piece, and occasionally tuning even changes en passant, favouring tablature over the musical score for sane reading.

The era of the ubiquitous piano is fast drawing to an end, and there is a danger that the great music written for piano will be forgotten. These pieces can have a vastly wider circulation in the form of guitar transcriptions. In our day, the guitar evidently has a more universal appeal than the piano, being prominent in most popular genres of music. Other advantages of guitar include availability, portability, affordability, and a unique and versatile tone. And there is a special and intimate satisfaction in touching the strings directly to make music.

The usual caveat applies: guitar is a strenuous instrument. If you are a beginner, don't play too much each day, and listen to your body for signs of tension or pain. These are (mostly) quite difficult guitar pieces; enthusiasm at hearing the beloved music coming out could tempt you to push yourself too far and cause harm. Of course each player should feel free to alter my fingerings, omit notes, collapse octaves, etc.

The tablature font size is a bit small (for my eyes at least) for reading from a music stand, if printed at the letter (8.5x11) paper size. (Looks good on-screen, heh.) Hopefully larger fonts can be used without messing up all my layouts... For now I'm scaling to fill enough of 11x17 (widely available in my area) to make it legible on a stand, trimming the excess, not a bad trick since eyesight varies. I've been working on a reader app suitable for tablets (or even phones) placed at such a distance, but that won't be ready for quite a while.

For a limited time: PDF of scans of the 2016 sketch (transcription of Janáček's On an Overgrown Path, Series II, 1. Andante) I'm currently working from (which may get rewritten), notated directly onto the musical score, might be of interest. (Notation and workflow have changed a lot since then; and, oh! my poor aging eyes, you should see how tiny and dense the Eglogue was!...)

Please send email to enquire about the available works, or to expedite the completion of particular works. All transcriptions are literal to the greatest possible extent, including adherence to the original keys. The following table summarises the current status of the Transcriptions. There are no recordings yet; there were YouTube links to piano renditions, but I am done with Google, so I've removed them. Google seems to promote certain performers, and you'll need to search for specific artists in case you want a more balanced selection. My favourite pianist is Vladimir Sofronitsky.

 Last Updated:  December 19, 2020, 11pm
 KEY:  A ≋   - available; typeset PDF tablature with "all" fingering
       F ≋   - as per A ≋, but as a free sampler (included in the Free Volume)
        ≋   - next to become A ≋; currently being typeset and refined
         ≋   - more or less done; "in the bag"
         +   - good progress has been made
         ·   - in progress (or "under consideration" incl. a tentative tuning)
 [1-4][xhme] - fidelity and facility codes

fidelity: 4 = very literal, say 98% pitches and minimal register collapse 3 = quite literal, perhaps 96% and some register collapse 2 = fairly literal, say 93% (e.g. drops an inner voice in spots) 1 = mere arrangement, or duo (however concert-worthy) facility: e = relatively easy (as, say, Villa-Lobos Prélude No.1) m = marginally more difficult than e h = truly difficult! x = very difficult by any human standard Neither fidelity nor facility necessarily impacts the performance worth of any of the works, which are all fantastic pieces of music if only you can pull them off technically. Even at fidelity 2, the sacrifices are carefully calculated, and the effect to the listener should still be something like unmarred literal fidelity. For me, an m facility is around Villa-Lobos Chôros No.1 (to keep picking on him), an h facility means I'll need to give all I've got to play the piece well, and an x facility means I'll need to somehow give even more, and (while having great fun) will probably never achieve fluency... Fortunately, there are only two x so far. The frequent, faint 3m classification is merely “default”, and some of those will be changing categories as they get more work.
====================================== Janáček   3m + In the Mist - No.1   3m + - No.3   3h ≋ - No.4   3m ≋ On an Overgrown Path - Ser. I - No.2   3m + - No.5   3m ≋ On an Overgrown Path - Ser. II - No.1 finished m.1-10   4h A ≋ A Recollection martellato in both hands simultaneously!    Sonata 1.X.1905 ("From the Street")   4h A ≋ Con moto (Foreboding)   4h A ≋ Adagio (Death) Scriabin   1m + Impromptu, Op.14, No.2 but not for solo guitar; wants vocalist   3m ≋ Mazurka, Op.25, No.3    Préludes, Op.11 (complete)   3m ≋ No.1   3m + No.2   3m ≋ No.3   3m · No.4   3m + No.5   3m · No.6 hammer etude!   3m · No.7   3m + No.8   3m · No.9   3m + No.10   3m + No.11   3m ≋ No.12   4m A ≋ No.13 standard tuning; or flatted standard for the original key   3m · No.14   3m · No.15   3m · No.16   3m · No.17   3m · No.18   3m · No.19 umm ... good luck with that   3m · No.20   3m · No.21   3m · No.22   3m · No.23 "barely" but can't omit just one!   3m + No.24   4m ≋ Prélude, Op.22, No.1   4h ≋ Poème, Op.32, No.1   3m · Prélude, Op.15, No.1 ...possibly not working out   3m · Prélude, Op.16, No.1   3m · Prélude, Op.16, No.3   1h · Sonata No.3 arrangement? — that would be fun!...   4e ≋ Mazurka, Op.40, No.2   3h A ≋ Étude, Op.8, No.2 particularly fine, even with fidelity barely 3   3m ≋ Étude, Op.42, No.4 Liszt   4e ≋ Nuages Gris   3h F Eglogue flatted drop-D; or standard drop-D to play in A major Debussy   3h + Les collines d'Anacapri almost ≋; one more session   4m ≋ Des pas sur la neige   4m ≋ La fille aux cheveux de lin   2x A ≋ Jardins sous la pluie difficult but possible, and quite literal Ravel   4h A ≋ Sonatine, 1st mvt. two fixed tuning options, one being standard   3m Sonatine, 2nd mvt. not yet attempted   3m + Sonatine, 3rd mvt.   3m + Le Tombeau de Couperin - Prélude   3m + - Fugue   3e ≋ À la manière de Borodine   3m · À la manière de Chabrier   3h + Menuet sur le nom d'Haydn   3x + Menuet Antique Poulenc   3h + Napoli, Caprice Italien ... with some cuts   4e ≋ Suite Française: Carillon   3m + Nocturne No.1   4m A ≋ Nocturne No.3 ("Les cloches de Malines") Fauré   3h + 13th Nocturne, Op.119 ... with some cuts Beethoven   3h + Sonata, Op.111, 2nd mvt. Schumann    Kinderszenen, Op.15 (selections in one tuning)   3e F No.1 Von fremden Ländern und Menschen   3m + No.5 Glückes genug   3h + No.9 Ritter von Stekenpferd an absolute must, hook or crook   4m ≋ No.12 Kind im Einschlummern   4m ≋ No.13 Der Dichter spricht   3m + Kinderszenen, Op.15, No.7 Träumerei (different tuning)   3h ≋ Fantasiestücke, Op.111, No.1 Borodin    Petite Suite (selections)   4m A ≋ Mazurka No.1 quite possibly the cheerfulest music ever penned!   3e ≋ Serenade   4e A ≋ meta-Intermezzo easy, quaint loop; tab supports standard tuning   3m · whole Intermezzo also still feasible Schubert   4h A ≋ Impromptu D.899 (Op.90), No.3 11 pages; single fixed tuning!   4m F Sonata D.960, 2nd mvt. first section (42 measures) only ======================================

The given order roughly reflects the order they were started, new entries made one by one, but skipping between composers. I had three transcriptions finished before Janáček (namely Borodin Petite Suite: Serenade, Scriabin Mazurka Op.25, No.3, and Liszt Nuages Gris), but several of Janáček's were the most recent when I created the list... The later transcriptions would be noticeably more mature and settled, since my experience went from "none" to "plenty", but I tend to heavily revise the earlier efforts before publishing them. So, many of these pieces were at least partially transcribed in 2016, but they're being heavily reworked for publication.

The tablature notation guide, included as an appendix in all Transcriptions PDFs, is (while hopefully adequate) still evolving.

Published order:
schumann kinderszenen op15 no1
poulenc nocturne no3
schubertimpromptu op90 no3
schubertsonata d960 andante incipit
debussyjardins sous la pluie
ravelsonatine 1st mvt
scriabinprelude op11 no13
borodinpetite suite meta intermezzo
borodinpetite suite mazurka no1
janaceksonata 1.X.1905 (complete)
scriabinetude op8 no2

The typesetting still has some glitches, but I believe SHA512 of
the PDFs will suffice for copyright on these transcriptions.

all-transcriptions-so-far-typeset-20201125.pdf : 642b8e3b6e1aadc0958fbde67051e79395fc8097f4237cb7a4e5885110d3b64456bc18976c5cfb3223dea3670b5ca2d0d5533bc6e2e93f5e1c0db1e2acd50eaa

This includes all Transcriptions marked A or F in the list (, to date Nov. 25, 2020:

janacek-sonata-1.X.1905 (complete)

seniuk-scriabin-op8-no2-20201205.pdf : 0e8cc13a58dc3f6892bf523aece4d872fb2367932904728ab7337e1ac104df6049755609edbe17c1f96ea5f46e913161097a29d5db581c4ba7b1574600ab0760