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 different 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 tuning into standard tuning.
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 Does Song Surgeon Do?
- Save or export changes as new audio file, making the changes permanent and portable.
- Easily create loops so you can replay specific segments of the track without listening to the whole thing each time.
- Set multiple loop points within a single file, each with customized settings.
- Store notes, tablature, etc.
- Open and convert most common types of audio files.
- Automatically detect audio or video playing in your internet browser, download and save the audio to your computer. This is great for grabbing stuff off Youtube to practice with.
- Strip audio from a video file.
- Rip music from a CD.
- Edit the wave data: delete, copy, paste, insert silence, fade in/out, change volume.
What Does Song Surgeon Look Like?
Here's a screenshot of Song Surgeon in action.
As you can see, the file I imported is stereo, and shows up as a nice visual waveform in the program. I'm using the Mac Version, but the layout of the PC version is very similar. The green L1 marker shows the start point for the loop I created, and the red marker following that indicates the end point of that loop. You can setup multiple loops within the same file. Incidentally, to create a loop, simply press the Start button down in the bottom right section of the screen as you're listening through, and then hit End when you want the loop to end. This creates the start and end points, which can be further fine tuned using your mouse.
One of the great things about Song Surgeon is they have quite a comprehensive list of video tutorials available on their website to ensure that you can quickly learn the software and get the most out of it for yourself.
As you can see, along the bottom of the screen you have several main features. You can change the Tempo very easily, either with the slider, or by hitting the presets. Zoom simply determines how much of the waveform you see onscreen. Pitch is a really cool section, allowing you to vary the pitch with the slider, or to simply drop it by preset intervals. I find the presets very useful, because if you're trying out different keys for instance, this will drop you to another key, but keep you in tune - something that is difficult to do with the slider.
There are quite a few other features, but I'm not going to walk through each one in detail. The Song Surgeon website does a good job of that, if you're trying to learn how to use the software, I recommend using the resources they have available there.
Song Surgeon Review Conclusions
Song Surgeon is a powerful piece of software, there's no doubt about it. I've reviewed RiffMaster Pro before, and although they perform similar tasks, I like Song Surgeon better. 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.
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.