Sunday 2 November 2014

Software for practicing music

I have been looking for suitable software to help with practising on musical instruments. My intention was to connect up my electronic drum-kit and electronic piano to the studio computer and use software on the PC for this. I found it difficult to identify any suitable programs but did manage to find Synthesia for the piano and Drum Tutor, from Roland, for the drums. Both programs allow for a game based interface whereby notes are played visually (as they drop down the screen, similar to Rock Band on gaming consoles) or by using sheet music. The songs are based on MIDI files, a format which is used to communicate with electronic instruments. The MIDI files contain all the relevant notes and timing details required for the software to play the songs and keep track of your performance. Your performance is rated by how accurately you play the notes and keep in time. You can also extend the built in songs by downloading midi files from sources on the internet. There are a lot of free files available, especially for classical music on the piano.

To get the system working you will need a PC that can run the software, any current Windows version will do, Macs are also supported but you may find limited choices for software. You will also need an electronic instrument that supports MIDI (it will need MIDI in and out ports) and a MIDI to USB cable. The cable will connect the instrument to the PC. Finally, you will need software that can interpret the MIDI files and play them on your PC. I found Synthesia to meet my requirements for the piano. It cost just over $35 but is well worth it. It has various play modes to suit your level of development and the ability to add music through downloaded MIDI files is very useful. For the electronic drums there are probably fewer choices for software, generally the vendor will make something for practising with. Roland have the DT-1 V-Drums Tutor and Yamaha have DTX software. Although I have not tried it, it may be possible to hook up the instruments to console games like Rock Band.

All that aside there is no replacement for an experienced music teacher. These programs will help with day to day practice but to learn basic techniques one should always start with an experienced teacher so no bad habits creep in. For more information check the following links:

No comments:

Post a Comment