Finale and Transcription Work

Link to Frozen Clip

I have always assumed that top movies were translated into a handful of the most widely spoken languages.

I was surprised to learn that Frozen was translated into 41 different languages, 25 of which can be heard – in one song – in the video above.

Last month we met Danita Ng-Poss and Jason Poss, who are making music with Finale in Los Angeles, under a wide variety of job titles. When talking of music notation in L.A., most of us think first of composing, arranging, and music preparation, but these are just a few of the tasks in which Danita and Jason – and Finale – take part.

Today we’ll talk a little with Jason about his transcription work.

How does your freelance work with “Disney Character Voices International” differ from what goes on at the Disney Music Library?

JASON: DCVI is the part of Disney that oversees dubbing of all their products into foreign languages. That includes the many songs that are in their films, TV, shows, and even theme park attractions. Disney sends me songs, mostly from films and TV shows, and it’s my job to transcribe all the vocals: lead lines, backgrounds, everything, so there is a guide for foreign dubbing.

Why can’t they just use the original sheet music?

Often there isn’t complete, accurate sheet music from the production. Changes are often made in the recording session. Sometimes they’re ad-libbing in the studio. Then there can be edits to the picture which require chopping up the music, or at the final film mix they may decide that they don’t want the backgrounds, or the scene is too long so they chop a verse or shorten the chorus or even go back and rewrite and re-record sections.

After all that, if there was sheet music to begin with, it may be of no use at all to reference what’s actually happening on screen.

From my transcriptions I create vocal charts which match exactly what’s in the final edit of the film or TV show. Those charts are then sent to studios all over the world. Local translators translate the lyrics and local singers or character actors re-record the songs in the local language.

DCVI made a spectacular demonstration video of “Let It Go” from Frozen to illustrate what it is that we do. Each phrase of the song is dubbed in a different language, so there are 25 different languages in one song. The video shows how accurate the transcriptions must be because they are performed to match the same picture as the original English version. It also shows the great lengths to which Disney goes to find proper voice matching. The vocal performances are quite astounding.

I agree that the voice matching – across 25 languages – is extremely impressive: I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did.

Are you using Finale in ways that most people don’t immediately think about? We’d love to hear about it. Please share by clicking on “Comments” below.

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