Many players are interested in reading music. After all, most players of other instruments can do this. For guitarists, it will open a brand new window of music that doesn't exist in tab! But, there's a problem.
Guitar players, and to a lesser extent, bass players, are notoriously bad at reading music.
You could solve this by buying a ton of sheet music and reading it (which is always a good thing to do). The issue with this is that, with enough repetitions,
you end up learning it by muscle memory and not by reading it.
The SightReader addresses this tool by providing new sight-reading material at the press of a button. Best of all, you can customize it in order to work on the things you want to get better at, as well as restricting it so you can actually get through it.
Let’s look at the SightReader Option Page
On the left we have the option to choose our key signature, Scale, How far the notes can jump, swing setting and time signatures. On the top middle, we have presets that we can choose and c, access deep rhythmic controls and clear the fretboard. Below that, we have note controls and below that, we have the controls for ties, chords, and accidentals (sharps and flats). The blue buttons control how often that thing will appear in the music.
On the guitar fretboard, I’ve chosen some notes. I could do this individually or just mouse-drag over a section and select all the notes in that drag motion.
We can set a key signature i.e. G major. In G Major, you’re going to see all the notes in that key on the fretboard. In G major, whenever you see an F or a C, you’re going to play them as a sharp. (see this link in Wikipedia to learn more about this). When you choose the Blank Key signature, you’re going to see the sharp symbols before F and C.
The scale function will enable you to choose a particular scale (With the root of the key signature chosen) to use. You may want to choose chromatic if you want complete control over which notes you want to choose on the fretboard.
Selected note jump
This will set the jump between notes. We can choose random (any notes are chosen at any time), or we can create a sense of order using the combo box. If we choose 3 notes away, the jump could be 1 note away, 2 notes away or 3 notes away. You have up to 7 notes away.
Swing 8th off/ on
In jazz, 8ths notes are often swung. In this setting, two 8ths notes will sound like 2 scud missiles going off one after each other, but to swing 8th notes would sound like a triplet where the first note holds for the first 2 notes and the last note is shorter, just for the length of the last note of the triplet (see wikipedia here for this).
Choose which ever time signature you would like to work on.
For more on time signatures, here’s Wikipedia again
The Presets are up in the menu for easy access. Any presets you create and save, they will ee added here.
You can delete them by going into the manage presets tab at the top of the window.
Deep Rhythmic editing
See at the end of this section
This will wipe the note selections off the fretboard. Choosing a new key signature or scale will also do this too.
Note Rhythm selections
Here’s where you choose which rhythms the notes will take in your music.
Pressing the blue notes will cycle these:
This work the same for any of the other settings with these blue notes
The rhythms actually are presets that affect the deep rhythmic settings. You can set more control over those in the Deep Rhythmic editing page.
Ties are lines that tie one note length to the next. In 4/4 there is a naturally invisible barline between the 2 and 3 beats. If a note crosses over that value, a tie will automatically appear (to make it easier to read). Setting the tie control to something other than “none” will mean that ties will appear in other parts of the music.
Chord options are chart chords (chords that appear above the music) and notation chords (chords in music notation). You can open the tools for each of these by clicking on the actual text (“Chart Chords” or “Notation Chords”).
Chart chords are pretty self-explanatory. I added this feature as playing a gig in a big band, most certainly on a cruise ship, they will give you a chart where you have to play the chords, but with the top note being the single note in the music (brutal eh?). I would print out the chord library “Robert Conti Melody chords” for chord voicings to get this down.
Notation Chords will use chord libraries for the source material for the notes that will appear.
You just drag them into the top box. You can also right-click on the chord libraries to see them.
Here you can choose sharps or flats, or include double sharps and double flats. These doubles are definitely not for the faint-hearted. A double sharp of C (or CX) would be D. A double flat of C (Cbb) would be Bb.
The Guitar Neck
First of all, this example uses a guitar neck, but you can choose also bass (4, 5 and 6 string bass). The clef that will appear in your music as a bass player will be a bass clef.
The notes that you can choose on the fretboard will have orange note names on them. You cannot choose notes without the text. But you can organize any combination you like between the key signature and the scales settings.
Like I said, you can choose notes individually or drag over a section to grab a whole bunch of notes and then fine tune it by turning notes on or off. If you are planning to use chord notation, you will need to do a new selection after choosing your neck notes.
Instrument sets your instrument. You can also choose this from the main window.
SightReading Mode allows you to choose 2 bars (default), 4 bars or 16 bars of music.
Export/import allows you send and get imports of presets to and from the export folder or the web.
Pitch choice allows you
Music written for Guitar. Help – a video to show you how to set it up in pictures and sound. Guitar and Bass are transposing instruments, which means that the music you play from reading music will sound one octave lower than if you play it on a concert pitch instrument like a piano.
Concert pitch. What you would do is play your selection of notes 12 notes (an octave) above your note selection.
A Bass plays for Guitar Chord Charts. It’s a little rudimentary but useful for some.
Guitar Sounds give you different instrument sounds. The graphic designer of my software is a flute player, so I made the option here to choose many different instrument sounds during playback.
The Deep Rhythm Editing Tools
Here’s where the deep rhythmic control goes on.
When opened, you get the window below.
If you click on any of the rhythms, it’ll play for you these rhythms. The note used is the note C (which is a great note to play back in your mind for a form of absolute pitch).
This is really useful as getting to know what a rhythm looks like associated with how it sounds is half the battle.
while in this window Press “S” and you get all the options available.
Guitar SightReader will usually work out which rhythms to use. This page will allow you more options.
Here you get the more refined option to select specific rhythmic figures… for example:
If you want your 8th notes in groups of 2 rather than groups of 4, you can select that with this window.
So that’s how you set up your options. As you can see, you can totally set the music to whatever level you like – or set it up to work on your sight-reading weakness so they can become strengths.
There are 2 modes for SightReader. There is Scrolling and Static.
Our next stop? The SightReader Music window. This happens when we click this button
This Dynamic page will use all the choices from the options page and create original content.
You play what is in the Left bar. In the right bar, this is the music that is going to move into the left bar once the left bar has finished.
It teaches looking ahead.
It will play along with you so you can check that you are matching it.
Space will stop the play or start again.
L will engage the loop so that the current bar plays over and over until to press L again.
The notes available are on the fretboard shown at the bottom.
You also have the ability to:
Show the name of the notes, change the tempo, change both the click and the music playback volume and, if it's in 4/4, only play the click on the 2 and 4 (like jazz students use).
Treat it Like a challenge, not a chore!
The Static window will create brand new music every time you press Generate Now button. You can have 2,4,8,12 or 16 bars of it.
A benefit of this is that you can take your time. Once you get the first bar down, work on the second, then join them together.
The more time you pend on this the faster you will be able to do it.
Once you have the music down, clic on the metronome (or press M) and play what you learnt along with it.
When you are fairly confident, press the play button and play along with that. You'll want to put your finger on th first note as there is no count in!
You have pretty much the same controls as the static version like looping, note names, tempo speeds, but you also have the feature of being to print!
Up the top next to the Generate Now Button is a printer icon. Clicking on that will enter a page to print out the score..
Finally, reading music is hard not because of playing the right notes, or playing the right rhythms. It’s hard because you have to play this together. Get familiar with notes and rhythms. Then don’t forget to play it so it sounds musical!