Using Computers to Assist Fiddling

Computers can be used with the fiddle to offer many appealing facets to those who love the music and the instrument. It is especially motivating to play with others, but even practicing becomes more interesting when playing along to music. Several programs can slow down CD recordings without changing pitch. This makes it easier to learn some tunes. You can choose from programs like:  Slow Downer, CD Looper, Slow Gold,  or  Slow Blast. But first, check the software that came with your sound card. The Creative software with Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS will slow down, or speed up your CD playback very easily while keeping the proper pitch.
MIDI files are especially helpful as you can easily adjust both the tempo and key in which any tune is played using vanBasco's MIDI player (free) and Anvil Studio (also a free download). Many, if not most, familiar fiddle tunes are available in MIDI format and there are many MIDI music links below in "The Music" columns. To learn more about music files on the Internet, visit Jake Gibson's Page. 
ABC notation allows for  easy coding of fiddle tunes. Several traditional collections are available on the Interent. ABC Player will play any tune and allow easy management of the collection. It is also very flexible and is freeware. Any ABC tune copied in  text format can be converted to MIDI and sheet music at Enter the title, or part of the title of any traditional tune you want, into the search window at JC's ABC Tune Finder.  Select its whole text file and copy it to the Contertina site above. Press the "Submit" button and get the MIDI and Sheet music.  If you like it, copy the file and then play it on you computer in the key, and at the speed you want. Anvil Studio , will also let you change the instruments used on any track in your MIDI files so that you can select the type of "orchestra" you wish to practice with. Other inexpensive programs which can assist with music files and sheet music are:  Melody Assistant (free) , Midi Illustrator, and  MidiNotate. Noteworthy  Composer also could be of use in composing and playing back songs, and is not very expensive.
MP3 fiddle files can be found on the net, but not as easily as ABC and MIDI files. Many artists have short samples in MP3 format which can be downloaded. Please abide by applicable copyright laws when using MP3 files.
Finally, when you are ready to record your fiddling, you can have your computer act like a four track recording studio. Download the free "Quartz Studio" from DSP. You can even record tracks at various times to add your harmonies or accompaniment.
There is an incredible wealth of traditional tunes available free at many Internet sites. Have fun with your  practices!

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