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Software for Your Musical Instruments? 138

Posted by Cliff
from the programs-for-your-garage-band dept.
kko asks: "After looking for tuning software for my newly-acquired violin, I stumbled upon Tutor, which is an nifty violin tuner that also helps in developing your intonation and quick reading skills. What software have you used to aid your instrument practice, and how has it helped (or hindered) you? If you are an instructor, what do you think of instrument software in your student's learning process?"
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Software for Your Musical Instruments?

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  • by zaguar (881743) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @09:57PM (#15093263)
    One Instrument - My fingers. And secondarily, my time. I haven't played violin, but I play electric guitar, and I have never used any software. Seriously, you can just pick up guitar and teach it to yourself. Just print some tabs off the internet, put aside an hour of your time, and just enjoy yourself.

    There is no need for software if you practice, and practice well.

    • From another guitar player, actually bass: Guitar Pro has been quite possibly the most essential tool to learn not only songs by tabs, but also teaches you to read the corresponding music notation. It features a tuner for an instrument plugged in by way of Line-in or mic. The Guitar Pro files can be manipulated in many ways, annotated extensively, and stretched out and timed slower for one to learn the piece. Each file also contains usually multiple tracks (guitar, bass, keys, drums). It is possible to
      • As a guitar player myself I second the vote for guitarpro. I would also add though that DGuitar [sourceforge.net] is a multiplatform guitarpro implementation that can read up to guitarpro 4 files. If you want to use linux or os x and guitarpro this is an easy solution.
      • I agree. Guitar Pro 4 (and now 5, I believe) is the way to go for musicians. I play bass in a band, and guitar pro has helped me to learn all the songs I needed to practise. It also helps while writing out your own songs.

        It's easy to use, and it supports both guitar tabulare (VERY handy for budding guitarists) and standard notation, which increases its appeal to other musicians. There is a chord builder and scales shown on a guitar fretboard and on a keyboard diagram. I teach myself, so things like that ha

    • Ignoring the major issues between Guitar and Violin (already pointed out), remember, some people learn different ways. Some learn by just doing, and others need some formal instructions. IMHO, this piece of software really looks interesting, and if I could pick up a cheap violin, it might make me want to get back into playing.

      RonB
      • Agreed. This is especially the case for those of us who are musically challenged. At the age of maybe 14, I took an interest in learning to play the guitar. I started just trying to learn from books and online. Then, I began taking lessons. By the age of 22, I gave up. I could play a few major and minor chords decently, a few licks from some songs (never, however, a whole song).

        Somewhere in there, I tried learning bass. I figured that it appears to have simplicity and fault tolerance. No better.

        End result?
    • And it is precisely what you said which makes guitarists to be considered so poorly by classical/jazz musicians. Violin, like most other instruments common in conventional musical circles, are a lot more difficult to simply pick up and teach yourself. Whilst a guitar has frets (so it's impossible to be out of tune) and such things as tabs (not proper musical notation at all - no suggestion of rhythm (most often), and they don't tell you what note to play but (get this!) where to put your fingers! ^_^), so i
      • When just anybody can pick up a guitar and make something reasonably listenable, it means there is a whole lot of really shit, musically uninteresting crap produced

        I beg to disagree. It means that you get a lively culture where people can express themselves quickly, and by this virtue the music has often more to do with life today. Yes, there is much crap, but there is also much crap if you listen to the lay classical orchestra staffed by the local music school.

        But there is also stuff like, dunno, let's tak
      • it is not quite that simple.
        you can actually completely reverse the approach (for example: violins are for those people who are too stupid to cope with 6 strings).

        tabbing on a guitar is sometimes quite important because sometimes the finger position IS essential, especially when you have a bit more strings to chose from (think easier playing when the tones are near each other or thinner sounding vs thicker sounding). you won't get that information from the standard notation.

        and while recognizing pitch is im
        • Are you saying that finger position is unimportant on a violin? Keep in mind that the Violin (and the Viola, Cello, String Bass) are all fretless instruments. Deviating by the merest fraction of an inch from the proper location on the string can mean the difference between a perfectly in-tune note and something sounding horribly wretched when played against someone else.

          As for recognizing pitch, it's one thing to say "Yeah, that's a C. Fifth string, third fret." and "Oh crap, that C is pitched about ten Her
          • no, you got it wrong.

            it is a difference between e on the 6th string, open or e on the 5th string, 5th fret.
            it sounds different and there is a difference of the frets you can reach easily from that position.

            this is what tabs are for.

            anyway, as i also mentioned you need recognizing pitch for guitar playing.
            think of "bend the tone 3 semitones up and then two semitones down" on two different stringed guitars.

            guitar playing is not 5 basic chords you know.
            • Whe growing up the someoen down the street played the guitar in a local band. It never amounted to anythign but a funn time for them. I asked him to teach me and he replied learn the piano first.

              His reasoning is much like yours. Learning hand placement based on notes yet to be played (and learning pitch). Tabs help with this. Taking too long to get from one note to another or having it an octive out can really screw the song up. If a violin (yes i played that and a bass in gradeschool) had the note range a
            • it is a difference between e on the 6th string, open or e on the 5th string, 5th fret. it sounds different and there is a difference of the frets you can reach easily from that position.

              Are you pretending orchestral strings don't have to deal with this? Just because it isn't explicitly spelled out in our music?
              That "4th string open e" could also be played "3rd string" in any of 4 hand positions, or 2nd string, 5th position depending on the coloring of the tone the musician is looking for.
              And vibrato?

      • In related news, games enthusiasts all laugh at chess players because the rules can be taught to anyone and even a young kid can learn how to play in a day. Chess obviously isn't a *real* game because the barrier to entry is so low, and there's clearly no real skill involved. Oh wait...

        If what you say is even remotely true, then it says more about the classical musicians you hang out with being stuck-up snobs than it does about guitar players. I won't even say those assholes are elitist - "elitist" means
      • And it is precisely what you said which makes guitarists to be considered so poorly by classical/jazz musicians.

        And it is precisely what YOU said which makes classical/jazz musicians to be elitist dinosaurs by many other musicians.

        a guitar has frets (so it's impossible to be out of tune)

        Not impossible, just more difficult. There's still plenty of ways to play out of tune on a guitar, intentionally or not. For example, lateral pressure on the string -- "bending" -- will increase string tension between the
      • Although it's easy to play a guitar, it's extremely hard to play it well. (I speak as someone who's been playing for about 40 years - I still don't play all that well.)
    • With guitar you are so right. You can get started very quickly and easily. And then I can't say it enough: PRACTICE. It isn't too hard to learn a few chords and strum chords with a prescribed rythm, but to really get going it takes some practice. I remember reading a Steve Vai interview a long time ago where he talked about his structured practice in his early days. There were three three hour blocks. It was one hour each of scales, I think arppegios, and something else that escapes me. He repeated t
    • Learning the violin is completely different from learning the guitar.

      You need a teacher to learn the violin. I know this isn't a direct answer to the question about software, but since nobody else has mentioned it, I hope you know that you need a teacher to learn the violin. before i can talk about software, this must be said.

      anyway, i don't know about specific software packages, but i use a midi sequencer to make some things that i practice along with... simple stuff like a 3-octave scale that i play

    • Now, if we got software for our instruments, it's wouldn't be long till we had GUItars.

      But seriously, I'd just use a book.
    • Amazing Slow Downer, for Windows and Mac OSX.

      Windows: http://www.ronimusic.com/amsldowin.htm [ronimusic.com]
      Mac OSX: http://www.ronimusic.com/amsldox.htm [ronimusic.com]

      Dorky name, but GREAT software! I'd call it "indespensible" when it comes to learning, practicing and transcribing music.

      I transcribe complex guitar music, occasionally from live concert recordings. Being able to slow down a passage to tiny fraction of orignial speed (20%!) while preserving pitch is essential to hearing the phrase and understanding the component notes. ASD
  • zynaddsubfx (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Perdo (151843) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @09:57PM (#15093264) Homepage Journal
    Open source, GPL, Sourceforge.

    Use it to for banjo tuning, along with finger position charts, basicly as a universal pitch pipe.
    • From the zynaddsubfx homepage: "Please don't use this program to make music that is against God and Jesus Christ. Realize that the only way to the Salvation is Jesus Christ. Please don't lose this chance and don't make others to lose it!"

      ROFLCHRIST to that!
    • Wow.

      "zynaddsubfx" may be the worst product name I've ever heard of. No surprise that it's found on SourceForge...
  • Cubase! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spinwards (468378) <(ude.anozira.liame) (ta) (eroomc)> on Saturday April 08, 2006 @10:01PM (#15093271)
    I have never improved faster than when I recorded myself.

    It is much easier to identify your mistakes when you can just listen to yourself play.

    It is also fun to take a break and record some origonal song ideas.
    • Re:Cubase! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Poppler (822173)
      I couldn't agree more. In case he's running Linux, I'd like to point out some software he could use.
      Audacity [sourceforge.net] - simple audio recording
      Rosegarden [rosegardenmusic.com] - audio editor/sequencer
      Ardour [ardour.org] - digital audio workstation (think pro tools)
      • and because audacity looks nice but runs terribly on windows...
        wavepad [nch.com.au] is a perfect alternative (free edition). More stable and easier to use.
        .
    • It is also fun to take a break and record some origonal song ideas.

      What original song ideas? Didn't you know that the industry already owns every possible melody [slashdot.org]?

    • I have never improved faster than when I recorded myself.

      Seconded! It can be very embarrassing listening to yourself (trust me, it's worse when singing than playing an instrument), but if you grit your teeth and do it, it can really help. Once you've persevered enough to be able to listen to yourself without cringing, you'll probably find other people like listening to you as well!

      You don't need any high technology to do it, of course; when I was learning piano an old handheld tape recorder was plen

  • by KidSock (150684) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @10:05PM (#15093279)
    I used to play guitar a lot when I was ~15. Sometimes I would play for 10 hours straight until I was bleary eyed. It was only deep in a jam session that I thought my skills really progressed. Now, 15 years later, I started tooling around with Garage Band on my Mac. I got an M-AUDIO FastTrack USB to see if I could do some simple overbubbing. Sure it was fun but I've come to the conclusion that software assisted authoring is and always will be inferior to just playing your heart out. The spontanaiety of humans so much more interesting. Computers don't imitate art very well (unless maybe you're mixing techno or something mechanical like that).
    • A tool is a tool I say. If you can wield it you can put your heart into it. Banging on the desk in tribal fashion or taking pen to paper and waving a wand in front of an orchestra - it's all expression. Electronic music is just a new tool for expression and it'll take awhile before more people embrace it as such.
    • The spontanaiety of humans so much more interesting. Computers don't imitate art very well

      They don't need to though. I mostly use the computer as an always-available backing band when I have an idea I want to try. I use Harmony Assistant [myriad-online.com] to set up a backing track, and record my own performance to overlay with the Harmony sounds.

      It's not the same as the real thing, but it's helpful. I think of it as a prototype, the way a sketch is step on the way to a portrait.

    • Of course there is nothing spirtiual about software. Obviously computers don't imitate art very well. However, that's not the topic here.

      With that in mind, I can't figure out what your point is here. Sounds to me like you're upset because you spent some money on some gear and it didn't make you amazing.

      I used to think that when I was 'deep in the jam' that I was getting better. Participating in live improvisation (with yourself or with a group) is a great way to extend your abilities, but this will only
    • I've come to the conclusion that software assisted authoring is and always will be inferior to just playing your heart out.

      Spoken like a true Musician. However, just as you are a true Musician, there are people who are "true producers", "true arrangers", "true composers" etc. whose talents only display themselves not when playing your heart out, but during careful deliberation and consideration.

      For me, cubase provides such an environment :)

  • I've found software that allows me to slow down a recording to be very helpful when I'm trying to learn music by ear. Audacity is the one I usually use, but there are many others.
  • Possibly... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mozk (844858) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @10:22PM (#15093334)
    Auralia [sibelius.com] can help with ear training (intervals and such), and Musition [sibelius.com] can help with learning music theory. I have used them both once to try them but never fully used them. Their normal use is for teachers to have students use to record their progress, but you can use it solo. When I took a music theory class we used a program called Finale to compose music, however it won't very much help with learning how to play an instrument.

    I play guitar and for the most part I do not use software to aid in practice. I have tuner software (Enable Encore) that I can plug into which I occasionally use, and music composing software (Guitar Pro 5, G7, and Finale).

    When beginning with an instrument it's best just to practice reading music manually. In the case of guitars, that would mainly be tabs. Guitarists much prefer tabs (finger positions on six lines for the six strings) when learning music as chords can contain many double notes and would look messy on a staff.

    Anyway, with violin, you'll be reading staves. I'm not sure how much you know so I'll to to help a little: violins use the G clef, so the lines on the staff from bottom up are E, G, B, D, and F; and the spaces are F, A, C, and E. The strings on the violin from biggest to smallest are G, D, A, and E. Practice by saying a note and playing it, then move onto reading simple songs and playing them. I'm not used to fretless instruments so I have no idea how hard that is. :P

    I doubt my advice there helped, but as for the software part: There isn't much that will help you learn how to play an instrument. It's best just to read music and practice playing it until you get the muscle memory that will assist you in both playing faster and playing with less thought.
    • I got Finale's little brother Print Music for my wife to play around with. She loves it. Since then she has arranged three or four songs for our church choir to sing. She doesn't have a great understanding of music theory, but she can write music that sounds good. If you have a decent keyboard (we don't, but our neighbors do this), you can plug that into your box and it will transcribe what you play into sheet music. It's a pretty handy program and it has been well worth the money we spent. Their webs
    • oh yes, guitar pro is great for rehearsing!
    • Better yet, there's GNU Solfege [solfege.org], which is a free ear training program.

      There are also a lot of other Free Software projects that deal with music practice and education [linux-sound.org].

    • I'd definitely encourage getting comfortable with at least basic music theory and sight-reading as part of learning any instrument. Not because you'll need it right at the beginning... but it's the sort of thing that's simple to learn gradually, but pretty painful when you hit the wall later and want to absorb it all at once.

      Musition and Aurelia are okay, though aging a bit and not cheap. There are similar resources available online for free.

      And now, a bit of shameless self-promotion:
      I run a website with
    • I'm just reading the original question again.
      I'd never recommend the software, videos, books, etc. that purport to let you "teach yourself" whatever instrument. They simply can't compete with a decent human teacher, who can notice that your arm is way too stiff, that your thumb in your bow grip is wrong, etc. etc. when you first do it -- not after you've done it that way for months so that it's ingrained.

      There's also software for helping you out with your pitch while playing, etc.. I wouldn't bother (you
    • If you want to learn to read music off a staff, you have to get to the stage where it's like reading words on a page - you don't want to have to look at a note and think 'FACE', erm, therefore that's a C. You want to just see the note and immediately play the note without having to think what it is - just like you're reading this text without having to think about it.

      There are some good 'flash card' trainers to help learn to read music like you can read letters on a page. http://www.musictheory.net/ [musictheory.net] is a go
  • low tech approach (Score:3, Informative)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @10:24PM (#15093338)
    If you are just beginning to learn an instrument, take the low tech approach and don't mix the computer into it at all. It will only distract you and waste your time when you could actually be learning the instrument. Or if you feel that you must use software to help develop your tuning and intonation skills, then break it up into "with computer" and "without computer" sessions. Honestly, the way to learn an instrument is to become intimately familiar with it, and you won't get that by fiddling with a computer.
    • Oh yeah, and get a pitchpipe, a tuning fork, or possibly a chromatic electric tuner to tune your instrument. It's a lot easier than having to boot up your computer and launch a program to tune your instrument. Not to mention, if you're just playing by yourself, you often only need to tune the instrument to itself, which in itself is very good practice for your ear.
  • How do you get to Carnagie Hall?

    Practice, practice, practice.

    Seriously. I'm an amature musician, I've played piano and percussion (all percussion, mallets, tympani, drumset, all of it) for the better part of 14 years, and I've found that just playing as much as possible is the best way to improve yourself. You know if you're playing well or not, you don't need a computer to tell you that. Quantity gets quality, and there's no shortcut to just sitting down and practicing for hours and hours.
    • Heh. I am not looking to avoid practice, as some of the posters might think. I know the violin requires a lot of practice. I am just wondering if there is any particular software you have found useful in the long, hard road to mastering your chosen instrument, and wether you've felt like you've made more progress with it or not.

      But I am quite clear on the "requiring practice" bit, since I also play the guitar and the piano.
      • As a violinist, I've never found any software that was particularly helpful as far as assisting practice goes. For tuning, you're far better off buying a dedicated tuner - you can buy combo tuner/metronome gadgets for $30 or less in most places. Other than that, your best resources are a good teacher, good exercise books, and a lot of persistance.

        Depending on your goals as a musician, you may find notation software (like Sibelius) or ear training software (like the free Flash trainers at musictheory.net [musictheory.net]) to

  • All I would use software for is tuning (not even a proper tuner, just a MIDI sequencer and a file that plays an A, and only because I don't have a metronome), Recording (rarely) and some music typesetting or printing. As for recommendations for software I would look into Lilypond ( http://lilypond.org/web/ [lilypond.org]) for typesetting, and Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]) for recording and tuning (if you don't have a metronome). And as a previous poster said, you will not be using this stuff during a "norma
  • For actually practicing, I suggest getting Audacity. Though while it is a piece of shite for serious recording purposes, if you open up an MP3 with a difficult guitar passage, you can slow it down, figure it out, then practice along with the music making it faster and faster until you get up to full speed. SlowCD works good for this too.

    When you write songs, it helps a lot to have a multitrack recorder with you. For the love of god, do not use Audacity for this purpose. Use Ardour, which is about a million
    • wavepad [nch.com.au] (free edition) is a more stable and friendly piece of software than audacity.
      I found it after running into problems getting audacity to record streaming radio (audacity kept putting in pops and silences that werent there..)
  • Lots of things (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ericdano (113424) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @11:15PM (#15093483) Homepage
    There are a lot of great programs to aid you in your musical quest. Programs such as Practica Musica [ars-nova.com] for ear training. There are a number of other shareware and freeware programs to help you.

    For Piano, there are a lot of great programs. And they are ruthless. They hook up to your MIDI keyboard, and will evaluate every little detail of your performance.

    For other instruments, it's really valuable to actually get together with a teacher. They can point you in the right direction. It's well worth the time and money. You can learn theory, and get your ear to hear things with software. But, to learn how to move the bow, or blow into an instrument, you really ought to get some REAL lessons. You can hear, and see how it is done, and ask questions, and if you are doing it wrong, the teacher will tell you.
    • For Piano, there are a lot of great programs. And they are ruthless. They hook up to your MIDI keyboard, and will evaluate every little detail of your performance. Could you name-drop a few of them so I can get a good google search? Right now 'midi piano evaluation analysis' does not return anything useful. Particularly the ones that respond to 'real' digital piano key velocity.
      • The one I own and use every now and then (as Piano is NOT my main instrument) is Teach Me Piano Deluxe [voyetra.com]. It's Windows only, and hooks up via midi. The movie demos are good, and the exercises are good as well. I noticed a lot of improvement after using it a while (my piano teacher in college would be so proud).
  • Oh, I forget to say something about Smartmusic [smartmusic.com]. They are really trying to get into the computer learning with instruments. The latest version has Wynton promoing the "Jazz" selections. Whatever.

    There are lots of problems with Smartmusic. First, the interface. It's terrible. It is my biggest complaint with the program. Second, the "Jazz" section does not let you print out anything. Third, when you play with it, say if you are a drummer, it lags behind on the screen. On my Mac Mini it couldn't refresh at the
    • I'm a drummer, and I practice while looking at my screen quite often. I find it much easier to sit here looking at my monitor and slamming out notes on my practice pad than bothering to print out the music and practice elsewhere.
  • I've always used audio and midi sequencers, and more recently something called Broomstick Bass ( http://www.bornemark.se/bb/ [bornemark.se]) which takes the hassle away from making different styles of bass track.

    Anyway the general idea is that if you're playing in a band, you lay down a track in Ableton (or another midi sequencer) which matches what the band is playing, and practice along to that.

    The difference between 8 hours of actually practicing the whole song, and practicing your little part is astonishing. It helps y
  • The poster wrote, "newly-acquired violin". New in what sense? Completely new? Or just a replacement or something?

    I ask because I have a (possibly) related question: at what age is it too late to try to learn a musical instrument? About 20 years ago my parents forced me through a few years of piano lessons. To this day the best piano performance I've seen involved a baby grand piano, a trebuchet, and a couple hundred pounds of pyrotechnics.

    That said, now at age 30, I really wish I'd had some kind o
    • It is never too late to start. I played percussion for years and years before I started my daughters in Violin lessons. After a few months of watching everyone at the music store come in and take lessons, I decided it was time to start learning the guitar (still love drums, but wanted to get my own creations out!)

      The secret, I think, is:
      Get an instructor who is use to non-traditional students (i.e. doesn't just start you in book one of Suzuki). Then, focus on what is important to you. I wanted to cre

    • Speaking as a violinist who started when I was three, I would hesitate to recommend starting as an adult. It's never too late to start violin, but be aware that it has a huge learning curve for adults. There's something about the fine motor control that you need for good tone and intonation that seems to be developed much easier in children. I don't think most people have the patience to handle several years of hard practice before gaining any real facility - I know I wouldn't if I were starting now.

      To be h

      • ecause it's impossible to play out of tune on either of them

        Not listening to many bad e-guitar players, huh? ;) While of course much harder than on the violin, it certainly isn't impossible to be out of tune on an e-guitar:
        * Many modern guitars have "fast" necks, with frets that are so high that your fingers don't touch the fretboard unless you press hard, kinda like a sitar. Makes it easier to bend and supposedly faster. If you press hard, you'll be out of tune, and it's really easy to do that if you're pl
    • I am just a couple year older than you. I just took up the violin a couple months ago, and am having a blast. I played clarinet in high school, but wasn't really into it. I was never considered talented at any sort of music.

      I've long wanted to take up a new instrument that really interested me, and finally decided that I wasn't getting any younger, so I may as well just do it. Go for it!
    • I'm 34. I just got a guitar for the first time since I was 16. It's great. I play it for my kids, 5 and 3. they love it and don't care that I suck (so far).

      As for the violin, it's probably too hard. But maybe you could play a fiddle.
    • I'm just two years younger than you, but found myself asking the same question more than 10 years ago. While in high school, in order to fulfill the arts requirements, I found myself picking up the violin for the first time with classmates who all started much earlier than I did. My music teacher had a lot to do, more or less running the school's entire music program by himself, so I didn't really blame him for not giving me too much time or attention. It was for the most part "monkey see, monkey do" for
    • Look for folk music stuff.

      Active folk musicians will be any age (from 8 to 80!). Many/most folk musicians play several instruments, so they'll usually be actively learning one. This means that if you can find yourself a group of people learning to play folk tunes, there are always going to be people in the group who are a bit more advanced and people who are beginners. Similarly, if you can find a teacher who plays folk then he/she will be used to teaching adults.

      There's a good range of tunes too. Studi
  • The only software I use is TuneLab Pro and TuneLab Pocket (for Pocket PC) available at http://www.tunelab-world.com/ [tunelab-world.com]. Trial versions are available, and may work for you. I have heard that some professional piano tuners use this on a laptop. The program lets you calibrate to the tones produced by NIST on WWV or WWVH and their telephone line (303) 499-7111. See http://tf.nist.gov/stations/iform.html [nist.gov] for more info.
  • Do you understand tempered tuning? Put simplistically, it's a system where every note is equally out of tune (except out at the ends of a keyboard where there's even more "fudging").

    On a piano or fretted string instrument notes like C sharp and D flat are the same frequency. On a violin you may well find that a C sharp is a few cycles per second higher than a D flat. Unless you're trying to play along with a piano or a fretted instrument, in which case you may need to "cheat" on your fingering.

    Even if yo

    • I have a (fairly dreadful) old piano which simply isn't worth spending money on, so I got my own tuning kit (tuning lever, mutes, fork etc). I also got a book with it. The most interesting thing about the book is the discussion of all the tempers used in the past and how we ended up with the current 'equal tempered' tuning.

      It's actually very hard (I suppose for a piano tuner who does it every day, it's instinctive) to tune a piano by ear - the beats are quite subtle. Since I'm never going to tune it frequen
  • For Windows:
    • Sound editing: Started w/ CoolEdit Pro, moved to SonicFoundry SoundForge, now I use Audacity/Win32.
    • MIDI/composing: Cakewalk! It came w/ my sound card.
    • Track editing: SonicFoundry Acid.

    For Linux:

    • Sound editing: Audacity!
    • MIDI/composing: Rosegarden
    • Track editing: (haven't tried/looked into it)

    [sort of offtopic]
    If you play the electric guitar, you should try to find a recording of Paganini [wikipedia.org]'s 5th Caprice. It's kind of an etude for violin; I used Audacity to slow it down (it's all 16th no

    • I disagree with the sound quality of digital fx pedals.
      They are cheap and incredibly versatile but dont sound anything like an actual amp. I often use the same setup as you and its pretty good for laying down demo tracks and stuff but you just can't beat having a real amp, the guitar becomes so much more responsive and that not even touching on the warmth of a tube amp.
      Recently Ive ditched all my digital gear completely and now record using a sansamp preamp using VST for f/x and it gets me a much more "l
    • Jason Becker playing Paganini's 5th Caprice.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRtxz6mwbPc&search= becker [youtube.com]

      Impressive.
  • Now, normally as a self-respecting computer geek, I would advocate putting a computer into any situation you could possibly jam it into. However, in this case, avoid it. You are playing a violin; this is a classical, traditional instrument, best learned from experienced, qualified and capable tutors. You are not playing with some kind of synthesiser, or an electric guitar. Introducing computers into the equation is only going to complicate things and distract you from the long hard work of becoming technica
  • Line 6's Guitarport [line6.com] made me pick up the e-guitar again after many years of not playing. (It unfortunately also made me boot into Windows again).

    The problem with the e-guitar is that to get the sound you want for many rock styles, you need to crank up your amp. Effect boxes help, and may be fine for practice, but you never get that sound of a Marshall at 10.
    Guitarport is a cheap little box with a DSP that is plugged into the USB port. The software lets you choose from a wide variety of preset digital models
    • Ive tried the guitarport out briefly but I think amplitube is the best amp modelling software out there. You'll need to buy some kind of preamp or DI box to get it to sound its sweetest but its leagues ahead of line6 and guitar rig.
      • Well, I compared it to my little Marshall restraining itself at home, and an assortment of distortion and other pedals trying to sound mean, but in vain :) Thanks for the tip
  • Throw away your tuning software and learn to use a tuning fork. Once you get good at that THEN you can use an electronic tuner. Electronic tuners should be used for convenience (e.g trying to tune an instument in a noisy environment), not because you can't tune your instrument without them.

    As for learning to play an instrument like the violin, forget software. Find a violin teacher and get some lessons. It will be a much better use of your money because:
    a) they know what they are doing and will adjust their
    • Ok, many of you seem to not understand me. I have a teacher, and he is not going away any time soon, nor am I looking to replace him.
      I am not looking to escape practicing a lot, either. I just wanted to know if there was other software out there to help you make even more out of your regular practice.
  • From a teacher... (Score:2, Informative)

    by clarinetn (967153)

    I give individual clarinet lessons to a large number of students and i am continually looking for new material and methods in order to give them the best and most interesting experiences.
    If you go into a music store, you'll notice that there are a great deal of 'playalong' cds included with books at the moment - although playing with a cd isn't what i would call learning to be a musician.

    Why?
    I come across a lot of students who can't *read* music. When it comes down to it, learning to read music notati

    • Well, first let me agree with you on the music reading thing then disagree :-)

      Being able to read music notation is very useful - but (depending on what your goals are) I think too many people are taught to be human player pianos (s/piano/instrument-of-your-choice/). If your goal is to be able to make music, I think learning theory (i.e. what makes music sound like it sounds) is much more important than being able to sight read. I can only speak for the piano - but I found the emphasis on sight reading and s
  • It's called gtkguitune, I play bass and acoustic guitar, and I can tune way more accurately with my computer and guitune than with any of my tuners.
    • Plus you cant leave tuning software lying around somewhere. Im thinking of investing in a rackmount tuner just because Ive lost about £80 in tuners over the last few years leaving them in the practice studio or at gigs.
      Im damn sure I wouldnt be able to lose a rackmount :)
  • As a professional multi-instrumentalist with 17 years experience and having completed a masters in a topic relating to computer music (intelligent music performance systems), here are a few basic things I've found helpful on the computer side:

    • Play along with recordings of the music you wish to learn... reading and playing music is one thing, but being able to emulate an expressive performance with its articulation, instumental tone and feel is real music. Imitate until you can freely express yourself and
  • I bought it because it's all that was available where I was shopping, and this thing is worthless. It basically plays a MIDI file that YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE, and determines how accurately you can play it. That's it.
  • I use APTuner 3, and that includes tuning Pianos. For guitars specifically, I usually use Guitar Pro's built-in midi playback where you set note and octave, and it plays the tone back pure so you can tune up/down directly to it.
  • by bender647 (705126) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @12:21PM (#15095068)

    I've been a amateur drummer for 25 years, and have tried a few software packages, but here are the ones I actually find useful.

    Under Windows, for overdubbing wav and midi I mostly use Cakewalk [cakewalk.com] (warning: link contains annoying self-playing music). I use the cheaper Home Studio. They have a real product differentiation problem as Sonar is the expensive product, and then they market or bundle cheaper versions that may cover your needs just fine (its hard to tell from the product descriptions which features are grayed out). I use Cakewalk because the Windows drivers can be used in a very low-latency mode, and I always have a Windows laptop kicking around. I have not liked the scoring side of Cakewalk.

    Also under Windows, I have used Sibelius [sibelius.com] (version 3 and 4). It is a phenominal scoring program that produces great looking sheet music. This is the only thing I do with a PC that I think is really better than without the PC. If you score with a program that plays back what you've written via midi, you can correct many mistakes on the fly. Sibelius is unfortuately still phenominally expensive for my uses, and I've never purchased it (nor has anyone I know).

    Under linux, the equivalent of Cakewalk is Rosegarden [rosegardenmusic.com]. It is very impressive at the moment. Building it is a royal pain for me. It doesn't use your standard autotools driven make, it uses Scons [scons.org] (not in my distribution). Scons requires a Python module that's not available in the stable version of Python. Hey, people writing free software can use whatever they want, its just a shame some people won't try their product because of the barrier to entry. I've had latency issues with Rosegarden + JACK [sourceforge.net] which I think can be sorted out but I have to decide if I want to run the tools as root or pull in the whole SELinux overhead + realtime module (no different than Cakewalk in Windows -- it does not work well as non-admin). Rosegarden's scoring is coming along but not quite there for me.

    For scoring under Linux, I'm using Lilypond [lilypond.org]. Lilypond is phenominal, but many won't like it because its markup-based (like writing Latex). You have to go through the compile cycle to view what you've written, and dump midi to hear it. Fortunately for me, rythym section music is very repetitive. The quality of printed music it can produce is unmatched. I'm sure more programs will start using Lilypond as a processing back-end.

  • I use digital guitar tuner [guitar.sk], for doing nasty tunings quickly and easily, and Jesusonic [jesusonic.com]. Jesusonic doesn't exactly help with learning to play, but it can add a bit of motivation when you can get your crappy guitar sounding really good for free.
  • Check out n-Track Studio [fasoft.com] for recording (Windows only, but a great shareware program with a great maintainer) and Noteworthy Composer [noteworthysoftware.com] for composition.

    n-Track is a great alternative to the home recording software big boys (Cubase, Sonar, etc.)--much cheaper than the full versions and much more powerful than the "lite" versions. You'll be doing some pretty fancy stuff before you run into limitations with n-Track.

    I haven't really kept up with the world of composition software, but back when I was interested in
  • Like I say in the title, I've played for 13 years. The best tools to learn are 1: your ear, you've got to be able to tell if you're on or off tune. Not everyone can do it. It's discriminatory, but not everyone has an ear sensitive enough. And I never listen to music from a portable player to keep mine intact.
    2: a metronome. It's cheap (somewhere around $5 or $10) and lets you adjust the tempo as you need it.
    3: time. You've gotta practice over and over and over and over again. There's no two ways around it.
  • Get a pitch pipe for tuning. Never needs batteries or re-booting. Costs less than $10 even with shipping (I'd be happy to sell you one [blujay.com]). Once you become able to tune in fifths by ear, get a tuning fork tuned to A440.

    If you don't have a teacher, get one. Take a portable cassette recorder with you to your lessons, and record them for playback during the week. Develop good practice habits: 30 minutes/day consistently is better than 8 hours on Saturdays.

    For computer stuff, the only thing I use is a collection o

  • Anyone know of software that plays a pitch and shows where it is on a staff (or sliding scale), then you try to match that pitch and it shows where you are in relation to the source? I saw some software like that at a music teaching school about a year ago. I'd love to get my hands on something like that so I could hone my vocal pitch better.
  • If your issues are less related to the specific instrument and more to sight-reading and general theory, I'd recommend notation software. Coda's Finale Notepad [finalemusic.com] is a free, someone limited version of the Finale notation package. I prefer Noteworthy Composer [noteworthysoftware.com] which is very accessible for people less versed in theory, while Brahms [sourceforge.net] is a good Linux package. I've found that writing music is one of the best ways to learn how it works, and being able to play it back quickly, either through ALSA, a MIDI keyboard or
  • 1. Take a tuning fork, pitch pipe, or metronome with an A440 setting. Remember that note in your mind. If you are playing in a group with another instrument, tune to the same source. If that other instrument is something that cannot be easily tuned (piano, organ, etc.), tune to that instrument rather than another source.
    2. Tune your A string to that note.
    3. Bow across the A and D strings. Tune the D string until it is a perfect 4th.
    4. Do the same across the D and G string, then the A and E string.

    No softwar
    • With a guitar (or other fretted instrument) it's actually much simpler - you tune the lowest fret, go up to the fret that will make it sound the same note as the next string up (which will depend on which tuning you are using), and then tune the next string so its pitch matches the string you just tuned and are holding on a fret. If you listen carefully you can listen for the beat frequency when you get close, and make small adjustments until the beat frequency goes away. Then repeat with the next string an
  • Seriously, unless you have a very small computer, you're not going to sit it on your stand. If it can't sit on your stand, it's pretty much useless. Get a small chromatic tuner and a metronome. Korg makes a decent all-in-one box. [zzounds.com].

    All of the posts pushing you toward a tuning fork are fine as far as they go, but the visual feedback you receive while working on the bridge end of the fingerboard is valuable.

    Also, I play in a couple of ensembles, one of which tunes to A=442 instead of A=440, so when working thos
  • I play the violin. I used to use a metronon/tuner to tune the violin, but now I use the accompanist's piano. I also use a tape recorder. And a teacher is a must for beginners.

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