With the current popularity of video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, I imagine that a whole slew of wannabe guitar rockers are flocking to the Internet in search of online tutorials and guitar tablatures of their favorite songs, inspired to try the real thing. All right, I confess. I, too, have had the urge to dust off the old acoustic in the basement and to dredge up what little I learned during the two semesters of Saturday morning guitar class eons ago in high school.
Fortunately for us wannabes, there seems to be no shortage of great websites sharing free instruction and guitar tabs, such as Justinguitar.com and GuitareTab.com. And of course there's YouTube. But Flash-based Songsterr.com is the first site I've seen that offers a truly interactive experience while you play along to songs online.
At Songsterr, you get a surprising amount of control over how you can play or interact with a song. If you're a beginner, like me, you can click on "Play Loop" (the default option) to play any one chord on repeat, which lets you practice that chord until it's deeply etched in your brain — or until your fingers fall off, whichever comes first. For the advanced player, you have the option of playing your guitar and singing along to the whole song by clicking on "Autopilot."
You can move backward and forward between chords by using the left and right arrow keys. You can also pause and unpause the song play by pressing the Esc key, and the Page Up key will take you back to the start. Plus, the site offers a metronome function to help you keep time while you're playing.
For a greater challenge, you can also choose to hide the chord labels (illustrated below).
As the site exists right now, you have to already know the chords to get through the songs on your own. It doesn't teach you how to play, at least not yet. I say yet because the site is still at the concept stage. There are currently only nine songs available — mostly rock classics like "The House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals, but also a couple of newer songs: namely, Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" and Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends."
However, a notice on the main page promises new features will be added soon, including assistance with guitar playing (finger positioning, strumming, etc.), the ability to add guitar tabs of your own songs or those of other artists, and the ability to record your voice as an MP3 file while you sing.
Songsterr seems to have the potential to develop in any direction, so be sure to let the site owners know of any other features you'd like to see added. I, for one, am looking forward to the "guitar learning assistants." If only a resource like Songsterr existed back in the day to help motivate many a lazy daydreamer.
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Our Guest Blogger, Lily Chaos, is a freelance writer, editor and (sometime) information designer. She enjoys daydreaming and discovering cool interactive websites on her downtime, and occasionally spams her friends with her discoveries -- her friends have told her to get a blog. She wanted to share some of her findings with the readers (new victims!) of InventorSpot.com.