As of yesterday, there were only two ways to learn guitar music from the web: Googling a tablature file and emulating another guitarist on YouTube. While both are easier (and cheaper) than buying a book of sheet music, they are not without tedium.
Tablature files (or "tabs" - a simplified guitar notation in plain text format) are aggregated by shady content farms with strong SEO and dubious quality control. YouTube videos provide audio and visual instruction, but require patience and the ability to "read the fingers" of the performer.
That's why Soundslice is a revelation for self-taught musicians. Built on YouTube's API, it's a transcription interface that syncs tablature and videos so players get the best of both worlds. You can also play the video at half speed (without changing the pitch) and loop small sections if you're trying to pin down a tricky riff. Everything functions in your web browser or iPad - there's no software or apps to install.
While these tools are outstanding in their own right, the big promise here is in creating a rich trove of living, accurate guitar tutorials for everyone on the web to enjoy.
"My goal was to make something for myself, to make transcription less painful," the site's founder Adrian Holovaty tells Mashable. "I'd spend hours transcribing stuff, either on paper or in lousy text files, then I'd come back to it later and have to re-listen to the music to make sense of my own tab. I started to think, it would be so much easier to learn if the tab were synced with the original audio."
Holovaty has been working on this project for the last three-and-a-half years, and is no stranger to the web startup world. He launched EveryBlock, a network for "microlocal" journalism, in 2007. It was acquired by MSNBC.com in 2009, and Holovaty stayed on, working on Soundslice in his spare time. He left the company in August looking to do something new, and ended up focusing on the music project. "This is actually the third incarnation of Soundslice. The first version was in Flash and used MP3s, the second version was a really bad HTML5 MP3 version, the third works only on YouTube."
Drag the length of the note on the string and add the fret number. Space bar will start and pause the video. You quickly realize that Soundslice adds a temporal dimension to tablature without need of time signature or measures. If the community takes off, it could fundamentally change how the Internet thinks about, creates and shares this kind of notation.
I asked Holovaty about the potential for Soundslice to become a social network.
"It can become a commons for user-generated musical annotations and transcriptions," he says. "At the moment, social interaction is very limited - you can see other people's annotations and see all the other videos they've annotated and that's it. But obviously, there's a ton of potential to do more."
Holovaty envisions the classic 20/80 split - 20% of users will create the content for the other 80%. "Originally I imagined it to be for relatively advanced musicians, but I've already seen some simpler stuff come through the system. Never underestimate the power of bored high school or college students who want to learn music!"
Why would someone painstakingly transcribe a song into tablature and give it away for free on the Internet? The fact is, people have been doing that for years. "If you're already doing the work of transcribing something - which is very labor intensive - you might as well do a tiny bit of extra work to make an incredible synced video thing. The end result is just so much better than a text tab, and it benefits other people who want to learn that tune in the future."
That work will also be connected to your Soundslice account. Savvy transcribers might sync their own videos to teach, thus generating views and ad revenue from YouTube's partner program. There's a lot of potential for power users.
--Courtesy of mashable.com