I have always wanted to learn music, but it seemed to me so boring and painful, that I have never really tried.

Couple of weeks ago, I ended in a party with an electric guitar in my hands, and my childhood dream reappeared. I bought an acoustic guitar and started learning.

Thanks to technology and the internets, the age of painful learning is over. I found 4 different ways to learn electric guitar.



Teachers use Skype for remote lessons
Teachers use Skype for remote lessons

Hiring a music teacher is expensive.

To cut the logistic cost, some teachers offer lessons by Skype. I didn’t try yet but it seems to me that it is good to understand the basics and to check your progression, but it’s not really a tool for a daily practice.



How Yousician works.
How Yousician works.

Yousician is very smart. It uses a tablature (simplified partitions for guitar), where a little ball jumps from a note to another to indicate you when and how to play. The software recognizes the sounds produced by the guitare and gives a feedback on the note and the tempo.

The tutorials are organized on a roadmap where the level increases smoothly. Every part of the guitar experience is simplified, so you can focus on what matter the most: reading the notes and playing without watching your fingers.

I have 2 cons:

  • following a dynamic tablature doesn’t train you to memorize the notes neither to have rhythm skills,
  • the songs are a bit cheesy, which for a future hardcore metal music player like me, doesn’t motivate that much.



Rocksmith has a rich gaming experience.
Rocksmith has a rich gaming experience.

Rocksmith uses a video game console to connect with your electric guitar and displays a rich gaming experience on a TV screen.

Like Guitar hero, the up coming notes are coming from the background. The player has to play them when they hit the corresponding string and fret (part of the guitar).

A wide range of rock&roll music makes it very stimulating.



Fret X guides the player directly on the instrument.
Fret X guides the player directly on the instrument.

I met this start up at Connected Conference Paris. The idea is to put LEDs just behind the strings at every fret and to guide the player. The system can be easily plugged on an existing guitare and is connected to a smartphone.

Compare to Yousician or Rocksmith, the experience is much more focus on the instrument, which means you don’t need to carry a laptop or an I pad to play outside.



pros et cons of the 4 ways to learn electric guitar
pros et cons of the 4 ways to learn electric guitar

It is interesting to see how hardware and software interact with each other in a different way on these 4 products.

Rocksmith is very powerful in term of performance, but in term of business plan, Yousician is really good, because you don’t need any extra hardware or a big screen.

Then, the guitar is one of the most affordable instrument, and it is easy to recognize its sound or to connect it.

I wonder what will be the next connected experiences for more complicated music instruments, such as drums, piano or saxophone.

What about you, reader of Shake Up ID, do you learn music by yourself, what’s your trick?



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  1. Brandon
    5 August 2015 at 3 h 54 min — Reply

    I’ve been using Rocksmith off and on for some time but haven’t heard of the other platforms listed here. The original Rocksmith didn’t offer any controls in terms of tempo or complexity of the song, so you had to play the song at full-speed and everyone starts at a very simplified version of the song. The game then determined what your skill level was as you played each song and changed the level of complexity of the song, meaning once you get comfortable with playing the notes it completely changed things up on you. Horrible… Fortunately, Rocksmith 2014 offers these controls if you know how to find them, but the song selection has taken a turn for the worse in my opinion. Therefore, I’ve been using a combination of apps and websites to learn songs that I actually want to learn to play, such as ultimate-guitar.com, and the apps anytune pro and ampkit. Anytune pro is a great app to change the tempo of a song and loop portions of a song for any instrument, while ampkit gives you the ability to create cool effects on your guitar directly through your iPhone. The problem with Rocksmith is that is completely closed and proprietary, so people are dependent on the developers to come out with the songs that they like. Just look at the comments on their facebook page to see how much people enjoy that kind of system… I have been playing with the idea of a wikipedia of music notation that would be completely open and massively collaborative so every song and genre is properly represented. Wiki platforms such as XWiki allow for native application development that could potentially accommodate for tab pro-like notation scrubbing. In regards to platforms for drummers in particular, their are apps such as drum school that offer a huge library of basic rhythms across a wide range of genres and of course anytune pro works for drums as well. Roland offers an interactive software called dt-1: v-drums tutor but I haven’t tried it, largely because I don’t have the very specific electronic drum kit that it is designed to work with only. Given these limited options, I have also been considering creating a platform that uses drum triggers to recognize hits and grade accuracy and rhythm. Unfortunately, there are not very many options for triggering on cymbals. Zildjian offers the gen-16 cymbal triggers, but again we run into proprietary restrictions with the I/O module that they will work with. Oh the frustration – and possibilities…

  2. Olivier Brechon
    16 August 2015 at 19 h 15 min — Reply

    Hi Brandon, thanks for your well detailed comment and sorry to answer that late, I was doing a trek in Iceland :).

    As you mentioned, the key features are the ability of the soft to both make the learning of the song easy and to aggregate a massive songs library.

    Unlike Ultimate-Guitar, Yousician & Rocksmith have created new tablature systems to make it easyer for beginners.

    So, having open source libraries for these soft seams to me tricky, because it would require a back office to create the dedicated new tablatures (e.g. adding color on notes to indicates which finger to use in Yousician).

    I would need to much more energy for the creators and to much more curation from the software company.

    But, if we consider Spotify, it’s not open source and the library is huge. It just offers money and visibility to the artists.

    I guess Rocksmith pays also credentials and that, sometimes, music band can be too expensive or simply not willing to be associated with the game…

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