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Song Surgeon Review – Slow Down Music Easily!

Have you ever wanted to slow down music so you could actually figure out what was going on? 

Song Surgeon does exactly that for you – just like a surgeon, it allows you to slice and dice and manipulate any audio file in almost any way you want.

4 Reasons Why You'd Want To Slow Down Music Or Change Pitch

There are a few common reasons I can think of why one might want to slow down music, or alter its pitch:

To learn a new riff that’s too fast in the original.
Let’s face it, some great sounding riffs simply have to be learned at a slower pace, and then brought up to tempo through practice. It’s difficult to really decipher exactly what is being played without being able to slow things down to the point where you can identify individual changes. Song Surgeon allows you to do this – without distorting or changing the pitch of the song. This means you can play along at half the speed, or even a quarter of the speed of the original, but still in the same key.

To bring an older recording into standard pitch.
Some of the older recordings, especially those done on tape, were edited so many times that the end result was slightly sped up, or slowed down from the way things were played. Due to lack of technology at the time, this actually changed the pitch of the recording, putting it out of tune if you tried to play along with it. With Song Surgeon, you can make those adjustments to bring the song back into tune with your guitar. Some artists even sped the tapes up on purpose, just for kicks! Song Surgeon makes it easy to learn from these types of recordings.

To shift a song from Eb or another key into E standard.
Ever tried to play along with a song, only to find it is in Eb? That means you have to tune your whole guitar down a half step, which takes time. Maybe the next song you wanted to practice with is in standard tuning. Then you have to re-tune again, or, have two separate guitars. Song Surgeon allows you to simply change the pitch of the song you’re playing with to where you want it to be.

To change a song to a different key so you can sing along.
Want to sing or perform a song, but can’t do it in the same range as the original, due to your own vocal range? The easy answer is to change the key you play the song in. But which key works best? Song Surgeon let’s you quickly change keys so you can sing along to find out which one works best with your vocal range. Once you know which key you’re working with, then you can transpose the chords. Why go to all that work before you know which key you want to end up in?

I have experimented with Song Surgeon, and found it to be quite powerful and easy to use for all the above situations. I’m sure there are other uses for it as well, I just need time to find more problems to solve with this software!

What Else Can Song Surgeon Do?

  • Analyze the key, tempo, and chord changes and display all that on-screen for you. Yes, it overlays a visual chord chart on top of your song! 
  • Allows you to export the chords to a text file. 
  • Can slow the audio to as little as 10% of the original speed, all without changing the pitch so you can figure out what's being played. Audio quality is not affected at all. 
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    Can transpose the song to a different key with 1 click (this is great if you want to learn a song in a different key to match your voice better)
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    Easily create loops, so you can practice a riff or a portion of a song over and over without interruption. 

Conclusions

Song Surgeon is a powerful piece of software, there’s no doubt about it. The presets on the Tempo and Pitch sections are incredibly handy, and the layout is intuitive and easy to learn, and the sound quality is great. Creating easy-to-work-with loops is child's play. 

It’s true, there are free ways of performing some of these tasks, however for anyone that does this kind of thing on a regular basis, it makes sense to have a tool that is designed specifically for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Song Surgeon offers a free trial download, so if you’re unsure, or even just curious, I recommend downloading it and giving it a try. You don’t need a credit card or anything to get started, simply download the software to your computer, fire it up, load in a song you want to learn, and start using it. You’ll find out pretty quickly how cool it is.

Bottom line: If you learn a lot of songs or portions of songs from recordings, then this software will make your life easier. There’s no two ways about it.

How To Make a Simple Midi Jam Track in Logic Pro

The other day I found myself building a simple midi jam track so I could practice a particular 4-bar turnaround lick with it. I wanted something I could easily change the tempo on, because it was a complicated lick and despite learning it really slow, like around 50 beats per minute, ultimately my goal was to play it at 100 bpm, or even 120 bpm.

So, I built a little track, and after using it to increase my speed on the lick from 50 to 135 bpm (it’s best to practice past your target bpm, because then playing it at the target will feel effortless), I realized what a powerful little tool that was.

So today we’re going to look at how you can build these for yourself. I’m using Logic Pro X, but the basic process using other software would be similar, I just can’t tell you exactly how.

The track we’re making is going to be really simple – just drums and bass, and I’m pulling the drums from a Groove Monkee pack I like using.

If you’d like the file that was created in this video, you can download it here. You’ll have to unzip it first.

12 Bar Blues

Here’s a real quick refresher on 12 bar blues, if you need it. Basically, you’ve got 12 bars, and you can do with them what you want. How’s that? ?

That’s actually true, but what is also true is that there are “classic” ways of using 12 bars that you bump into all over the place. The following diagram represents one of those:

To use this, you’ll need to know a little about the numbering system, but if we applied it to the key of G major for instance, the I would be G, IV=C, V=D.

In the video, I used the key of A, so I=A, IV=D, V=E.

You could play these all minor as well (Am, Dm, Em) or you could add additional chords from the key, or you could change up the placements. It’s a very flexible tool, so don’t let yourself get caught in a box by it (har har).

G-C-D: The 3 Greatest Guitar Chords (+20 Songs)

In the previous lesson we learned Em and Am, because those are probably among the easiest chords for a straight-up beginner guitar player to learn, however in this lesson we’re going to add three more: G, C, and D.

These three chords are quite possibly the three best chords you’ll ever learn, simply because of the range of songs you can play using them – AND because once you learn how to use a capo, nothing will be out of reach for you.

But first things first.

Here are the three chords:

Learn these well, my friend. Dream of them when you sleep at night.

I’m not going to re-hash everything here that I covered in the video, but I did want to give you a list of songs to get started with. All the songs below use a combination of the chords you’ve learned so far, G, C, D, Em, and Am. The links go to the song on youtube, so you can hear what it sounds like. Just a note on that though – sometimes recordings of older songs aren’t quite in tune, due to differences in recording techniques back then, etc.

7 Ways To Use Octaves In Your Solos

The octave is the most perfect musical harmony, because the second note is exactly the same as the first, only higher or lower in pitch. This means the two notes mesh perfectly together. This unique sound is one that deserves to be used in your playing, and the great news is that it isn’t super hard to do.

When I play bass, I use octaves all the time because it’s an easy way to add some extra spice to a bass line without influencing the character of the overall chord being produced by the band, as would happen for instance, if I played a 3rd or a 5th in that same place. Sometimes you’re looking for a bit more activity in your bass line, but you still have to play it safe, so… octaves!

But this lesson is about the guitar. We’re going to look at 3 octave patterns, 3 ways to play those, and 1 way to use octaves as an approach to moving around your fretboard.

All the examples in the video are from A pentatonic minor, which I perhaps should have made more clear.

Here’s a big takeaway: once you have the pattern locked in, practice by moving through your scale (any scale – doesn’t have to be pentatonic).

Some of the sounds you get from octaves immediately make you think of jazz music, but the reality is, you’ll find octaves used in all music, everywhere. So, learn the patterns and get to work applying them to your own music!

If you need help understanding your fretboard better, I recommend my Guitar Scale Patterns course.

Climbing with Thirds

In Secrets of Tasty Riffs & Solos, one of the tricks I taught was how to use two strings and climb up or down the fretboard in patterns of thirds. This is a great way to move between scale patterns, it sounds really cool and melodic, and it can quickly get you from one end of the fretboard to the other.

What’s not to like?

Anyhow I was just watching some Albert Cummings (do it!) and I saw him pull the exact same trick, and thought I’d post the video to give you another practical example of how this sort of thing can be used in a song.

Right around 4:06, you’ll see he starts using these patterns on the 1st and 2nd strings to rip down the fretboard, from right near the top to the bottom, then he uses different strings and different patterns (looks like inverted thirds on 1st and 3rd strings to me) to begin his climb back up.

Check it out!

1 Powerful Strum Pattern + Counting Rhythms

If chords are the bread, then strum patterns are the butter of a guitar player’s world. So far in our Level 1 series, we haven’t really learned any strum patterns beyond the most basic. Today, that starts to change. But first, let’s discuss rhythm.

In 4/4 timing, we have four beats per measure, or per bar.

The tempo is simply how many beats per minute the song goes at. So, if the tempo is 100, that means that every time we would count 100 quarter notes over the space of one minute. One two three four, one two three four… etc.

Now, each of those quarter notes can be divided, so that we get more interesting rhythms. If we divide the quarters in half, we get eighths. Now, we have eight beats taking up the same amount of time as four quarter beats.

We’ll go further with these ideas another time, but for today, that’s enough to give us options to mix and match, and create some more interesting strum patterns.

So, the patterns we’re learning today is D D  DU  DU. (D=Down stroke, U=Up stroke)

That takes up a full bar, and each of the down strokes happens on the quarter beat. The upstrokes can be counted by saying “and” which represents the second 8th note of that quarter beat.

So, we can count that same pattern like this: “One Two Three AND Four AND.”

So we have two quarter beats, then four eighth beats, and altogether, that makes a full bar.

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