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F(OS)S for Learning a Musical Instrument ? 120

Anonymous Musician asks: "Recently I took up learning to play the violin (at age 37) and it is great fun. I found two little software tools to be of good help: Wired Metronome (Windows binary, free to download) to keep a steady beat, and TS-AudioToMIDI (Windows binary, shareware, 30 days free trial), using a microphone and built-in sound-card to detect in real time the note I am playing (I admit, sometimes it is more like a noise) and have it displayed on a piano keyboard to check and train my tuning. What tools, freeware or FOSS, are you using to assist you with learning to play an instrument?"
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F(OS)S for Learning a Musical Instrument ?

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  • guitune (Score:4, Informative)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:13AM (#16022519) Homepage Journal
    The guitune [geocities.com] project seems to do everything your second program does. Linux only at the mo' (but in gtk or qt flavours)

    There's loads of metronome free software around [freshmeat.net] too.
  • OLGA (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by darnok ( 650458 )
    The OnLine Guitar Archive (OLGA) is a great resource for getting melodies and chord arrangements for zillions of songs. Although I play guitar, I find it very valuable for keyboard as well, and I suspect you would for violin.

    Also check out Audacity (audio editor) - runs on Windows, Linux and Mac
  • I am trying to learn how to play the drums, and I do great as long as I don't have to play with another instrument.

    I know I am supposed to be the timekeeper, but what I really need is something to help me keep time untill I can get the timing turned into muscle memory.

    I need something that I can load onto an mp3 player, because simply using a mechanical metronome doesn't work because I drown it out.

    Any suggestions?
    • I need something that I can load onto an mp3 player, because simply using a mechanical metronome doesn't work because I drown it out.

      Any suggestions?


      Download a metronome program, set it to the beat you want & redirect the sound output to a file, convert that file to mp3 & bob's your uncle!

      You could batch up a whole bunch of different BPMs too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by chiark ( 36404 )
      A lot of drummers use an earpiece with a simple click track to keep time... Complaints that it destroys a drummer's "groove" are fairly common, but on the other hand it does help pull you into a rigid tempo - use it as an aid, not a crutch.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IceCreamGuy ( 904648 )
      I use a Boss DB-12 electronic metronome, it's got tons of features and is still really easy to use. It has a line out that I plug my Vic Firth drummer isolation phones into and that works much better than any mp3 type of system you could cook up, since you can change tempo, time signature, and accents. It works great with the isolation phones; both the drums and the metronome are clearly audible. You could also easily do the same thing with the Wired Metronome that is mentioned in the post.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're not the (only) time keeper, just the most audible producer of timing queues. The latter is what makes your time keeping skill less of an issue than your ability to read other players timing since you stick out like a sore thumb if you flam with them. If you play in a group you feed off each other to keep the time, constantly adjusting to each other. If you are the only one sticking rigidly to the beat when the others drifted a bit, you will (quite rightly) get flack for it.

      That said, for time keeping
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        While it's true that the entire band must stay together, it's usually the drummer who's relied upon to keep a STEADY beat. After all, they're almost always playing a constant stream of eights or sixteenths, and when that's going on it's really easy to tell if the tempo is varying. When playing together, though, try to both keep a steady beat AND keep that same beat synchronized with everyone else. Otherwise you'll probably fall prey to russian dragon syndrome (rushing/dragging), and when that happens, it's
    • You can get electronic and portable programmable metronomes now with headphone sockets. Though watch out - a number of drummers actually get their deafness from using click tracks rather than the actual drumming!
    • by koa ( 95614 )
      Why not use your MP3 player? Most production music nowadays is recorded to a click-track. Simply get a nice pair of quality headphones (not entirely required but helps) and load some of your favorite music into it. Play along.

      You will accomplish 2 things:

      1) Your timing will improve.
      2) You will pick up technique from what you hear by tring to recreate it.

    • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
      Nah, you're not the time keeper. Or at least you shouldn't be. Everyone has the responsibility to play in time. You're more like the time enhancer, since its you're job to accent beats for the audience in a way that other intstruments can't. Of course, in practice its often up to the drummer and bassist to keep the guitars near tempo.

      If you need to put together click tracks, try Hydrogen, a free software drum sequencer. Its overkill, but it should work fine. (Don't get too loud though, and wear hearing prot
    • Check out Metronome Online [metronomeonline.com]. It's free, functional, and easy to use, if you don't mind being near your computer while you practice.
    • Go to a music store, and get one of the cheap 'credit card' mets. Wear a hat/visor/headband while you play, and use it to strap the met over your ear.

      Another good idea to start to internalize tempos is to find songs that match different tempos. For example, any Sousa march is at approx 120 BPM. They're easy to remember, and are good for kick-starting your internal timekeeping.
  • Hydrogen (Score:4, Interesting)

    by egjertse ( 197141 ) <slashdot@fut[ ]rg ['t.o' in gap]> on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:28AM (#16022562) Homepage
    I'm learning to play bass guitar at the moment, and I've found Hydrogen [hydrogen-music.org] (Free, Open Source) to be of great help. It's a drum machine, which lets me quickly setup simple or more advanced drum-loops, even layout the drum patterns for an entire song. Granted, this is probably not quite as important for a violin player - although it can be used as a simple metronome as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by legoburner ( 702695 )
      Using drum patterns from Hydrogen is indeed useful and I use them along with dubbed recordings using Ardour [ardour.org] which allows the usual multi-track recording, editing, etc. A requirement is the brilliant jackd [jackaudio.org] audio connection kit which allows a crazy level of audio processing and manipulation. All in all, I have no need for anything other than linux when recording/dubbing music.
    • by Aypok ( 988840 )
      I second this recommendation of Hydrogen - it really is great. I use it to play simple beats in the background whilst I play guitar/bass, when trying to write songs - then use it to do the entire drum track for the recording.

      Not only that, but I also find it useful when practising drums; create a beat to which I can play along, then slowly add in more complexity and try to keep up. :)
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:31AM (#16022567) Journal
    I've never played instruments like violins, trombones, or fretless basses that require you to find your own pitch (other than voice) - it's hard enough on guitars, dulcimers, ukes, and baritone horns that play the notes you tell them to :-)

    For stringed instruments, I've found it really really helpful to have a hardware tuner, and most of them run about $20-30, and they're pocket-sized and last forever on a battery and fit in the accessories pockets of instrument cases or music folders. You _can_ also use them to find your note on a continuous-pitch instrument. The Korg model that I use has a meter (well, an LCD simulation of one) that shows how far above or below the nearest note you are, as well as red and green LEDs that tell you if you're sharp or flat. There are other shapes of tuners that clamp onto instruments, and some of them have backlights which can be helpful.

    I've used PC software versions in the past, mostly with names like "Guitar Tuner" or whatever, but dragging a laptop around was more trouble than spending the $20 for the tuner - your mileage may vary. On the other hand, with a dulcimer you tune it once and it stays in tune for a whole session until you want retune to change modes, and with a uke you tune it once and it stays only slightly out of tune for at least a little while, so either way you're not trying to get the feedback while you're actually playing, so you may need something different.

    • yes, but such hardware tuners suck. a software strobe tuner is much cheaper than a strobe hardware tuner though.
    • If you are playing a continuous-pitch instrument, beware of becoming too obsessed with always being on the "right" pitch at all times. (This is true to a lesser extent of tempered instruments as well, as long as they allow some pitch flexibility.)

      The pitch indicated by a tuner is going to match the location of a note in 12-tone equal temperament [tonalsoft.com] (aka "12-TET"), and this is probably exactly what you want if you are playing bass, and it is almost certainly what you want if you are playing a fretted or keyboar
  • Firefox (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:32AM (#16022575) Homepage

    Who uses their computer to learn a musical instrument?

    Get Firefox, and use it to order scores and a real metronome---and to find yourself a real music instructor---online.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Well, OLGA is/was great for learning guitar, it's many tutorials and tabs help quite a bit.
      Of course there is also educational software for instruments as well, though I've never used any.
      Audio editors are GREAT for learning to play, cut the tempo in half and retain the pitch to get those fast licks nailed and refine your technique. Record your playing and listen to what you thought were tiny mistakes become glaring errors.
    • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
      Maybe more people would learn with their computers if there was more software available.
  • Tuxguitar (Score:4, Informative)

    by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:40AM (#16022595)
    Tuxguitar...

    ignore the name...

    it's a crossplatform java program that funtions almost as Guitar Pro. It can read and write several available formats so there's plenty of stuff out there to load up and examine/play back. I use it to examine the Bass score for pieces. It does Tab input and conventional music notation (conveniently on the same window) and there a fretboard display as well which shows you where to stick your finger (unfortunately it don't show you which one is best though)

  • by Cryptnotic ( 154382 ) * on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:46AM (#16022609) Homepage
    Can't you just buy a six string and play it 'til your fingers bleed?

  • by fatrat ( 324232 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @04:21AM (#16022722) Homepage
    As a violinist, I'd not use either of these programs. The metronome one is handy, but why fire up a PC when a cheap bit of hardware is just as good and a lot more portable?

    Tuning software/gadets I'm against. I've known lots of people that learnt with them and I think they harm not help. You need to get used to *really* listening to what you are doing. Looking at notes on a screen actively hinders this IMO.
    • It's true, I rather dislike trying to teach or play with people who learned the rudiments of their instrument while being horribly addicted to a tuner. They rarely have any concept what-so-ever of how to fit into a chord, how to tune themselves on the fly, or to even know when they are wrong.

      There are too many "Moosik 4 Dummies" approaches and beginners books these days that do nothing but cradle you and never teach how to actually PLAY. This may, perhaps, be seen as a positive thing as to get people active
      • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Friday September 01, 2006 @06:05AM (#16022963) Homepage Journal
        Anybody over about 30 and many people over 20 who are learning their first instrument have to learn some pretty darn fundamental things. They aren't going to be able to get a groove or jam when they can't even keep a basic 4/4 beat. I've known plenty of people who couldn't separate out a Beatles bassline or find and keep the beat on a folk song. People who learned when they were kids or in their 20s have no problem whatsoever and can't understand that others just can't hear the fundamental basics of music. I grew up with a guitar playing father and learned the circle of fifths with my ABCs, but I recognize that many people who didn't have an interest in music early in their lives simply can't pick out individual instruments or the basic beat from even simple songs, or even tell a single note from harmony or a chord from a note.

        We're not talking about a teenager learning guitar... this is a older person learning to play, quite possibly for the first time in their lives. If so, they've been ignoring the basic things about music since Lyndon B. Johnson was president and Woodstock was just a bird in a comic strip. There's no problem with that, but things that "cradle you" are often needed just to relearn and slowly internalize what a teenager or child can pick up very quickly right from music.

        --
        Evan

        • by Bozzio ( 183974 )
          That's not the point. He wasn't saying these books taught the basics, and that using them was a waste of time. He was saying the books skipped the basics, and cradled the reader through the hardest part of picking up an instrument. Learning the basics of an instrument, and music, is crucial and incredibly hard. These books generally skip a lot of basic steps in favor of getting the student to make some sound, but in doing so robs the student of a deeper understanding of his/her instrument.

          If a violinist
          • have you actually read Guitar for Dummies or Bass Guitar for Dummies??? they're solid on theory and practical... they intend you to play it right and to know why you're doing it that way as well. They're a heck of a lot better than the other "non-dummies" beginners books out there.
            • by Bozzio ( 183974 )
              Some of the dummy books may be good, some may be bad, but you said it yourself, there are a lot of bad beginner books out there.

              It could also be that the guitar is an instrument suited to be taught by book. Violin, on the other hand, is NOT.
      • I see your point, but I still like TuxGuitar - it lets me not only listen to the music and play along, but also look at the guitar tabs at the same time. It's handy for beginners.
    • I have to second this. It seems that every few months there's another Ask Slashdot asking "How can my computer teach me to play an instrument." And every time the actual musicians in the crowd chime in with "It can't!" Like fatrat said, get a portable metronome for time-keeping. As for the tuner, get some tuning forks or a pitch pipe or maybe an electronic tuner that spits out various tones. And then use your EAR to match those notes (not your eyes). That's the only way you will really learn how to play in
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Friday September 01, 2006 @06:05AM (#16022962)
      Tuning software/gadets I'm against. I've known lots of people that learnt with them and I think they harm not help.

      Tuners are going to be the death of string playing, particularly with regards to traditional and baroque music.

      I've started to see electric fiddles with frets on them. People, there's a bloody damned good reason that violins don't have frets on them in the first place; and it isn't just to annoy you.

      It's so you can play the right pitch, whatever that pitch is; and it often isn't the one that the tuner tells you it is.

      Learn to hear intervals, not notes; and learn to tune by fifths. Then go out and get yourself a shitload of the oldest recordings of solo Irish and Old Time fiddle music you can find and learn to hear the microtones.

      This may rankle at first, but that's only because your ear has already been corrupted by the tuner/equal tempered piano. There's a whole lot more, even in western music, than the over rigidly defined 12 notes of the equal tempered chromatic scale.

      Like consonant intervals that are actually consonant and not merely almost consonant. When I've been playing solo violin for a few hours and then move to piano the piano actally hurts my musical ear. It takes some time to be able to not hear it as slightly out of tune.

      This doesn't, of course, mean that you shouldn't learn to play along with a piano and match its musical tones, but you should be aware of the fact that when you do so you are making a compromise with the music.

      And the best way to learn to play along with a piano is to play along with a piano, not using a tuner. In fact you should learn to play along with several different pianos, as in practice they'll actually all be in slightly different states of tune and you should be able to hear that and adjust for it.

      Music is sound and thus about hearing.

      KFG
      • So maybe you don't like the 12 tone scale, but if you play more than one scale in one song you are in BIG trouble if you don't use the system that J.S. Bach introduced.....how do you deal with that?
        BTW, most fiddles _had_ frets on them before the days of old Johan Sebastian, if I'm not mistaken. (i might be, I may play fretless bass & upright but I'm no expert)
        All that medieval stuff that never leaves the one key drives me barking mad after half an hour, mind you, and the same goes for Irish music ev
        • So maybe you don't like the 12 tone scale, but if you play more than one scale in one song you are in BIG trouble if you don't use the system that J.S. Bach introduced.....how do you deal with that?

          That's only an issue for instruments with fixed intonations: pianos, harps, fretted guitars. Other instrumentalists--wind players, brass, fretless strings--are easily able to change intonation by adjusting embrouchure or finger position.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by supertsaar ( 540181 )
            That's only an issue for instruments with fixed intonations
            No it's not. (?)...I remember that if you keep playing perfect fifths you end up half a note sharp when you get back to your starting note.
            The trick is to spread that difference out without it becoming too annoying (granted: this way you are always playing slightly out of key).
            Does it matter if you do this by ear on your fretless or leave it to mr. piano tuner? (BTW, on a bass it ain't all that critical, but on the high notes you'll notice imme
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by quisph ( 746257 )

              That's only an issue for instruments with fixed intonations

              No it's not. (?)

              Yes it is. Two good trumpeters (or violinists, or flutists, or singers, etc.) can play a major third in perfect tune if they listen to each other and adjust their intonation. But a pianist *cannot* play play a major third in perfect tune on an equal-tempered piano, period.

              I remember that if you keep playing perfect fifths you end up half a note sharp when you get back to your starting note.

              This is true, but it's a non-issue

              • But a pianist *cannot* play play a major third in perfect tune on an equal-tempered piano, period.
                Yup, you re absolutely right. But my line of thinking is that we may be so used to the equal tempered tuning that we will intonate the same way on our 'fretless' anyway.
                And the sense of 'perfect' seems to vary with culture as well....

                the performers aren't stuck with whatever frequency the instrument gives them
                Like I said: you have to leave it to Mr. Piano Tuner to pre-intonate your instrument for you. Th
                • Yup, you re absolutely right. But my line of thinking is that we may be so used to the equal tempered tuning that we will intonate the same way on our 'fretless' anyway.

                  Not if you have a decent ear. You should hear the intonation problems and correct it. You can only tune an instrument so well, and the rest of it is on the fly adjustments.

                  And the sense of 'perfect' seems to vary with culture as well....

                  Yes and No. Yes, the traditional tonality set down by Bach that western culture is based on is ve

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by quisph ( 746257 )
                  But my line of thinking is that we may be so used to the equal tempered tuning that we will intonate the same way on our 'fretless' anyway.

                  It doesn't quite work like that. Musicians adjust intonation to slow down and/or eliminate the audible "beats" that occur when an interval is out of tune. All equal-tempered intervals, apart from the octave, create audible beats. We tend to resist playing them.

        • it takes a sh*tload of carefull adjusting to get it right, and on some of the cheaper makes you just never get it right. Normally you don't notice it unless you go way up to the 12th fret though....

          pages 248 to 251 of Bass Guitar For Dummies... it's an easy job once you see how and can play harmonics. Set the action up correctly first, then go for the intonation.

        • by gymell ( 668626 )
          There are many different temperaments which use a 12-note scale. And you're confusing well temperament with equal temperament. Bach did not introduce or use equal temperament. In fact Bach wrote the Well-Tempered Clavier to exploit the different sonorities of the 24 major and minor keys as demonstrated by a well-tempered instrument. In well temperament, each key is playable but has its own unique quality, as opposed to the concept of equal temperament, where every key sounds exactly the same (and inherently
          • Second, I think your statement shows that you haven't listened to much medieval music.
            You're right. I cant find the mp3's anywhere. I was referring to the stuff that i _did_ hear (the typical stuff with the draailier [slashdot.org] (sorry, can't think of the english word)
            But don't take it personal man, lots of music drives me barking mad after 30 minutes. Charlie Parker, Frank Zappa, Phillip Glass, Milt Jackson, the Ramones, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Scott Joplin, Barry Manilow, Jimi Hendrix. Guess I have a short attent
            • Draailier: something went upf*cked with that link. I probably made a mistake.
              I meant this instrument : http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draailier [wikipedia.org]
              I meant _that_ sort of medieval music...
            • by gymell ( 668626 )
              Don't worry, I'm not taking it personally.

              The English word you were looking for is "hurdy gurdy." Don't judge all medieval music based on that one instrument. Very little instrumental music was notated before the Renaissance and what has survived isn't typically solo material. Certainly not with the hurdy gurdy, which was (and still is) used more as an accompaniment drone. For something more interesting, check out ensembles like Anonymous 4, Sequentia, or David Munrow's Early Music Consort.

              Lots of musi

              • Ha, thanks for the tips. I'll see...
                And tell you what: when I wrote 'man' I was thinking : what if this is one the 2 non-male users of slashdot? Ain't that something....
        • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
          So maybe you don't like the 12 tone scale, but if you play more than one scale in one song you are in BIG trouble if you don't use the system that J.S. Bach introduced.....

          Not if I'm not playing an acoustic piano I'm not.

          how do you deal with that?

          Through the simple expediant of varying my pitch so that it sounds right. Most instruments other than pianos can do this (and most modern digital pianos can as well). Go listen to a "fixed pitch" harmonica player wailing the blues. Go listen to Hendrix, Stevie Ray,
          • It never ends - I always learn something new here (and long may it continue).

            The learning process you describe is exactly that of martial arts as well. First you go through the moves, and especially in Tai Chi are you very quickly introduced to the idea that it's not the move that matters, it's what your mind does with it (I mention Tai Chi because it's one of the most potent forms using the mind).

            It then takes years to make your mind and the moves "one" - but at least you know early what you're aiming for
          • n/t = no text. Duh.
      • Tuners are going to be the death of string playing, particularly with regards to traditional and baroque music.

        I've started to see electric fiddles with frets on them.


        I'd be as shocked and outraged over that as you seem to be, except I can see that an "electric fiddle" is not the same instrument as "a violin". You're not going to see Jean-Luc Ponty playing Vivaldi with the London Philharmonic.

        Learn to hear intervals, not notes; and learn to tune by fifths. Then go out and get yourself a shitload of the old
        • Learn to hear intervals, not notes; and learn to tune by fifths.


          That's great advice, but I'm not sure it's all that applicable to a n00b musician who hasn't yet mastered the difference between B flat and B natural.
          The difference is an interval of a half step. :P
        • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
          Twelve-tone equal temperament may not be the last system of intonation a musician should learn, but it should be the first.

          My experience is that it is generally best to start noobs with "Do Re Mi."

          If, in the process, you can impart to them what Do, Re and Mi are they have knowledge that they can build on for the rest of their lives. Otherwise all they learn is some particular fingering by rote.

          In my previous round on this topic I was criticised for claiming that anyone can learn to play a musical instrument
      • by dbc001 ( 541033 )
        can you point us to some particular recordings?
      • You string snobs love to complain about equal temperment. Those of us who play woodwind instruments are very thankful western music evolved beyond just temperment years ago. Without it we would either be constrained to play in fewer keys or require ~20 more fingers to cover the exploding number of toneholes just temperment would require.
        • by quisph ( 746257 )
          I've got news for you... Woodwind players don't play in equal temperament any more than string players do. String players make adjustments with their fingers, you make adjustments with your embouchure and breathing.
          • The point was that woodwinds are designed to replicate equal temperment, not just temperment. Earlier woodwinds from this millenium did try and replicate just temperment. These of course had way too many tone holes and were impossible to master. This, along with similar complications on piano predecessors, is of course why western music adopted equal temperment in the first place. Of course the limits of physics and human engineering mean that woodwinds are inexact in their replication of equal temperme
            • by quisph ( 746257 )
              No, you missed the point. A good woodwind player will naturally resist playing in equal temperament, even if his/her instrument is designed for it, because equal temperament is audibly out of tune.
        • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
          You string snobs love to complain about equal temperment.

          Actually, I'd have to claim guitar as my primary instrument with my classical training almost entirely focused on piano (I had a handful of violin and flute lessons as a child). I do love my fiddle though, perhaps because I'd have to claim my primary musical "talent" is as a singer, not as an instrumentalist, and fiddle is the most "vocal" of the instruments.

          Those of us who play woodwind instruments are very thankful western music evolved beyond just
          • Unfortunately I haven't found many composers and arrangers calling for penny whistles. If brass, piano, and woodwind players of former centuries complained about it being too hard, you can certainly bet the majority of today's players would as well. This is of course the reason why equal temperment was adopted in the first place.
            • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
              Unfortunately I haven't found many composers and arrangers calling for penny whistles.

              Play what you want on what you want. I play the Mozart horn concertos on keyless flute. Of course if you are playing at the behest of someone the piper plays what the piper is paid to play.

              That has nothing to do with my suggestion, which was about learning, not performing.

              If you don't mind the expense try getting a hornpipe. There's actually a fair amount of late baroque early classical music that was orginally scored for
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jafac ( 1449 )
        Learn to hear intervals, not notes; and learn to tune by fifths.

        You're asking too much from most people, who may or may not be moderately musically inclined, but frankly, just plain can't hear that shit. (hell, at my age, I'm lucky I hear anything higher than 10,000 Hz anymore).

        Ironic that you cite "folk music". What you call "folk music" plainly has it's origins and style in actual folk music, taken over by virtuosos.

        Nothing wrong with virtuosos, mind you.

        But not everyone can be one.
        Most people don't eve
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by kfg ( 145172 ) *
          frankly, just plain can't hear that shit.

          Because they haven't learned. You learn things by doing.

          I'm lucky I hear anything higher than 10,000 Hz anymore

          You are speaking here of range, not pitch sense. The two are unrelated.

          Ironic that you cite "folk music". What you call "folk music" plainly has it's origins and style in actual folk music, taken over by virtuosos.

          I did not cite "folk music." I cited field recordings of actual traditional muscians who learned to play music before the advent of such recording
          • by jafac ( 1449 )

            It's probably true for a significant portion of people that a lot more hard work and dedication is required to master a skill.
            However, there's probably another significant group for whom no amount of "practice and work hard" will produce skill mastery, let alone virtuosity.

            I had an illustration teacher who thought that way too.
            He figured that it was all just a matter of having a good protestant work ethic, and drawing 10 hours a day for 5-10 years.
            (the lazy were punished by failure, of course).

            Didn't work f
  • some exemples (Score:3, Informative)

    by tonigonenstein ( 912347 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @05:57AM (#16022948)
    DansTuner [sourceforge.net] - Tells you if you are playing a pitch in tune
    GNU Solfege [solfege.org] - Eartraining program for GNOME
    Gtick [antcom.de] - Digital metronome
  • MusicTheory.net (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Satri ( 609291 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .xuorelerdnaxela.> on Friday September 01, 2006 @06:25AM (#16023023) Homepage Journal
    Nice, the comments provide tools I didn't know before :-) Here's another one:
    http://www.musictheory.net/ [musictheory.net]
    It's a free bunch of good flash-based music trainers (downloadable for offline use).
    • Nice link! Learning the theory behind music is one of the most important things that amateur musicians often skip. I'll have to go through it and check out the actual lessons, but it looks like it covers what a music student would get in their first semester of theory.
  • I'd say the fastest way would be to get a teacher, although I came to music late and never felt comfortable with that (although I did try it).

    If you're not going to get a teacher then get a mic and some recording software (there's loads of free stuff out there - audacity for example). It really hard to hear what you're doing wrong while you're doing it.

    On the tuner front, I'd go with a hardware one - the best ones IMO are the clip on ones that sense vibration. I have an Intellitouch one but there are o

  • Well, next to none. As a professional violinist, and long-time teacher as well, I've been devestatingly disappointed with nearly every FOSS app for music. Audacity is good for recording yourself, so you can gauge your progress over months, and hydrogen is great for a metronome/drum machine. Other than that I've found NOTHING.

    Sibelius is simply devestating all the other notation programs in particular, and even Finale and some of the others are eons and light years ahead of any of the FOSS alternatives.

    He
    • You need to try out Miller Puckette's Pure Data [puredata.org]. It's an open source dataflow language for audio and video processing, capable of such goodies as pitch and event detection, phase vocoding, granular synthesis, and interactive composition. Miller was the person who invented the popular Max software, which is expensive but widely recieved in academic circles. Pd is capable of anything you can imaging. See more on the Pd Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org].
    • by bkeeler ( 29897 )
      As far as notation software goes, there's Lilypond. It's a pain to learn and takes a while to set a piece of music (it took me about 40-50 hours to do Chopin's 4th Ballade), but the results look really nice.
      • there are several programs that can frontend for lilypond... take most of the hard work out of it.

        Here's one...

        Denemo [sourceforge.net]

        and another... noteedit [berlios.de]

        • Denomo looks pretty hot, but is there a windows port somewhere? I can't give up San Andreas yet, which means I can't give up windows.

          rhY
      • I picked up Lilypond very quickly, but I'm used to TeX and RTTTL so it was kind of natural. I like Lilypond in that it's the 'TeX of music' and I couldn't stand using some graphical abomination, much like I despise Word-like programs for writing text.

        What also helped is that I started off with a MIDI file from a sequencer, and polished the details in Lilypond format later. To be exact, I used my Korg Triton Le's builtin sequencer and turned it into a Lilypond file using Rosegarden. There are probably ot

    • I agree. I have not found any decent alternative to Sibelius (the program, that is). At the music conservatory I went to, we were all required to learn the Sibelius basics, and I, dying to get something that worked in Linux (I didn't try WINE or the like), tried hard to find something that could write the complex notation required for my classes. There were no alternatives as of about a year ago. Any ideas would be interesting.
      • Somebody here mentioned denomo if you didn't see that listed. It looks interesting, but I'm still on the Redmond needle.

        rhY
  • Technical skills... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Analog Penguin ( 550933 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:20AM (#16023788)
    There have been some decent suggestions for metronome and tuning programs, but really, nothing can beat just dropping $30 or so on a combination tuner/metronome. Most have plugs for earpieces, so you can easily overcome the "drowning it out" problem, and should be available at your local music store.

    Also, as a clarinetist, I can tell you that it's easy to develop bad habits early on, which will be difficult to overcome later. With any musical instrument, bad habits can lead from poor technique at best to debilitating injury, but violin (and viola) are particularly prone to this. While I've never played a string instrument for any length of time, many of my friends who are string players have told me that the first two or three lessons for beginners can be devoted to just _learning to hold the instrument_. Sometimes, the bow doesn't even come into play for weeks after that.

    For this reason, I would say that the most important thing you can do as a beginning violinist is to find yourself a teacher who can show you the basic technical aspects of playing. Even if money is tight, it's worth taking just a few lessons to save yourself a lot of mental (and likely physical) anguish down the road. And of course, if money isn't really an issue, then you'll benefit from continuing lessons. There's no substitute for having a master standing over you and helping with individual issues. Many teachers love to take on adult students, so it shouldn't be hard to find someone in your area willing to teach you.

    That all being said, welcome to the music world! The violin is one of the most challenging instruments to learn, but it's also one of the most versatile and widely used throughout the world. The rewards you'll reap from the experience will be well worth the investment of time and energy.
  • I'm all for technology (I mean, I hang out here, so) but no software in the world is a substitute for a living, breathing music teacher. Software can't teach you how to make music expressive; otherwise you're just stringing note together.

    Go to your local music store or the music department of a local college; both of which are excellent places to get in touch with someone who'll be eager to teach you how music works.
  • A long time back in the Amiga A500 days, there was a MIDI adapter which
    came with a keyboard and various software 'games' to teach children/interested
    folk to play the piano. can't recall its name.....anyhow, the musical
    equivalent of mavis beacon touch typing (or tux-typing, or typing of the dead
    if you will.... ;-) )

    so...are their OSS equivalents of THAT type of tool?
    • I believe you're referring to the MIRACLE piano system. IIRC, it had cartridges for the Nintendo, and software for Win and Mac systems, too.

      Your description of it as "the musical equivalent of Mavis Beacon touch typing" is excellent!
  • http://www.solfege.org/ [solfege.org]

    It's ear-training software, it's OSS, it works when you don't have someone else to train with. Ear-training is the musical equivalent of kung-fu training, regardless of instrument. Sing the intervals while you play them; it's not so important that you know it's a fifth or a fourth or a b-flat etc as that you can sing the note/interval/line AND play it. And if you want to be a music ninja, do the ear-training WHILE you're doing your kung-fu forms.

    Here's how it works: your goal is to be
  • Try my program RPitch [sourceforge.net], to develop a sense of relative pitch [sourceforge.net] (the ability to recognize and name intervals just by hearing them.)

    http://rpitch.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

  • Well, I'm a wee-bit passed learning a music instrument, but there are some really great OSS apps/projects for keyboardists and (music) programmers. PD (kinda like Csound, which is also pretty cool) is fairly exceptional as a programmable virtual instrument platform (it's not intuitive _AT_ALL_, but with a basic knowledge of how to use a VCO and the concept of ADSR (Attack, Delay, Sustain, Release), you can create some pretty phat noise.

    And as far as seqencing and arrangement goes, I've been using Rosegarden

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