Cecil Sharp House (Camden) is having an all day transcribathon in which participants get together with a laptop and headphones and listen and transcribe the words that people sang in some recently collected folk music songs. I asked my friend Alison what was involved and whether or not people need to be able to read music (or be able to listen to music and work out the intervals of notes). Apparently not, it's just the words... but, in her own words:
"We have a transcription guide to help our volunteers, but generally we put the English word, but if it's a dialect word we'd put that with a translation.Details in the link above or picture below, for ease of copying and pasting the address is email@example.com
We respect how they sang it when it comes to their variant of a song in terms of what words they use, e.g. there may be printed versions of a song that differ from what they actually sing, but we are capturing their version.
We can't always make out every single word, so have some guidance on educated guesses.
So it's not always as straightforward as you'd think. But lots of fun!"
More information on collecting songs, and working with different cultures: http://songcollectors.org/collecting/about-collecting/