In-depth Demonstration Video Part 1
In-depth Demonstration Video Part 2
Who's it for?
Maybe you've messed around with that old guitar or dusty piano a few times over the years, but you were never quite patient enough to put in the time needed to master it, or maybe the whole "reading music" part, with all those intimidating little symbols on the staff, was more than you'd bargained for?
Perhaps you've learned to play a few songs by watching someone else, which is insanely admirable, but you'd like to dig a little deeper and maybe write your own songs eventually?
It could be that you have no idea what you're doing--you don't know the first thing about playing music, let alone reading it, and you'd like an easy way to get in on all of those sound-making shenanigans that musicians rave about.
Whatever your level, or whatever the instrument, the Music Guru's got something to offer you!
What is it?
The Music Guru is software that teaches you musical concepts. You can pick a specific lesson covering general music theory, take ear-training lessons, take instrument-specific lessons, modify and play a virtual instrument, or play along with semi-randomly generated staff notes to hone your music-reading skills. The specific breakdown of features is as follows...
(Lists aren't necessarily final)
General Music Knowledge Lesson Series:
-Intro to sounds, the 12TET system, and scientific notation
-Intro to the musical staff
-Everything about scales and modes
-Things to think about when writing a song
Musical Staff Lesson Series:
-Note identification for three commonly used clefs
-Key signature identification (Circle of fifths)
Instrument Specific Lesson Series:
-Guitar, Piano, Bass, Ukelele, Flute, Banjo
-Instrument overview (Anatomy, how it's played, etc.)
Ear Training Lesson Series:
Instrument Explorer Mode:
-Guitar, Piano, Bass, Ukelele, Flute, Banjo
-Overlay and play scales
-Overlay and play chords
-Dynamically modify instrument tunings
Play Along Mode:
-Semi-random generated on the staff
-Adjustable beats per minute
-Customize time/key signatures
Why'd I do it?
I've been messing around with the Guitar off and on for years, (more off than on) but I was never quite satisfied with the teaching methods out there. I found it to be frustrating that I was learning the physical dexterity required to play the instrument at the same time that I was learning the underlying fundamentals, like reading the music. I'd also developed a fascination for chords and scales--what makes them sounds so different from one another? Why would I use a particular scale or chord in place of another? These questions ate away at me, and I lost many hours... no, DAYS of sleep!
I began to casually scour the Interwebs to satisfy those curiosities, and now, I've got a pretty decent understanding of the fundamentals--I know my C-sharp from my D-flat... and I know C#. (Maybe there's a programmer out there who picked up on that joke) Because I hate paper, and creating, organizing, and constantly shuffling flash-cards doesn't appeal to me, I thought to write a computer program to do all of the heavy-lifting, and there's the added benefit that I could easily share it with other people!
How it's evolved...
The Music Guru computer program began as a simple exercise to help me learn where all of the notes are on a guitar fretboard. I was utterly amazed when I wrote it, used it, and I actually learned all of the notes. Since then, my idea has expanded to the laundry-list you saw in the "What is it?" section to include the finer things like ear-training for those of you who want to learn to play songs by ear so that you can either become a Susan Glenn, or pick one up.
In addition to the guitar, I'm also going to support other instruments to include, at a minimum, the guitar, piano, bass, ukelele, flute, banjo. There will also be an extensive set of instrument-agnostic modules aimed at teaching the fundamentals: what does 12TET mean, and why do you care? What are those funny symbols written at the beginning of the staff, and what do they have to do with my covering Metallica on the piano? Why did the people who came up with all of this notation make it so confusing, and why is it that the Music Guru makes it all so crystal-clear?
Where's it at, and where's it going?
I've completed the hardest parts of the project as you can see in the extended demonstration video. At this point, I'm polishing the user interface and adding features. Most of the work involved developing the framework, learning about music theory to the point that I could explain it to other people, and figuring out the lessons and features I wanted to include. Keep in mind that the demo is a rough approximation of the final product; I have tons of improvements, tweaks, UI enhancements to make in the next few months.
Your contributions will go towards a few things:
-Hiring help and consulting others in the areas where I'm weak to make a better, more-polished end product.
-Establishing a web presence to include a website where folks can eventually download the Music Guru.
-License fees for third party software libraries.
-Miscellaneous audio and computer hardware to augment what I have lying around.
I'll be posting video updates on the projects status once every two weeks from the time this post goes live until completion. You can also follow me on twitter @SonicAudacity. The initial release will be targeted at the windows platform. (Windows XP or higher running the .Net Framework) If the fundraising goal is exceeded, and if there seems to be sufficient interest, I'll develop a mobile version for Android. If that goes well, I'll develop an IOS version.
If you contribute at the $10 level, at a minimum, you're getting the Windows version of Music Guru. If the Android and beyond development takes place, you'll also get the same rewards on those platforms as they are released for helping me get off the ground floor. When the project's complete, all lessons and instruments that are added down the road will be free!
That's about it. If you have questions or comments, post them on my Kickstarter page. Let's you and me make this happen!