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Feb 22, 2021 - 4:23:31 PM
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35 posts since 4/2/2019

I had seen good reviews for the Strum Machine site but didn’t want to add ANOTHER subscription service. I’ve been fairly happy with a similar app, iRealPro, but the sounds are just harsh and unpleasant enough that I don’t use it very often. Now that I started playing fiddle again, I really wanted something better for practice (including work on intonation). I did a search this weekend, found Strum Machine again, and signed up for the free 2-week trial.

In brief, I love it! The guitar strumming is simplistic, but it sounds ok. You can choose if you want bass and mandolin (chop). Comes with over 1000 tunes, but VERY easy to add your own or edit the existing tunes. Easy to put tunes in your own lists. You can add notes about each tune. Once you’re ready to play a tune, it is quick and easy to change tempo or key. You can choose to have tempo slowly increase if you want. You can control the number of repeats. You can choose if you want a spoken count-off (I like that feature, and feels like a jam).

My practice sessions yesterday were so much more fun and I can’t wait to practice tonight. Weirdly, I don’t feel so alone when I’m playing along with Strum Machine, lol. Playing the tunes was more fun than playing with a metronome (which I generally don’t like doing), and I extended my practice time because I didn’t want to stop. I loved having instant aural feedback about intonation, too. I found myself going through the tunes, and then branching out into some improvisation, too, after a few repeats, something I hadn’t really tried so far with fiddle.

I’m thinking the $5/month ($49/year) is one of the best bargains I’ve found! I’m eager to try it with mandolin, too (though not for intonation reasons, lol).

Edited by - DougBrock on 02/22/2021 16:25:22

Feb 22, 2021 - 5:25:19 PM
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doryman

USA

99 posts since 2/10/2020

I 100% agree with every thing you said, especially the part about it being so easy to use.

Feb 23, 2021 - 4:54:43 AM
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RichJ

USA

411 posts since 8/6/2013

I've been using Strum Machine for 3 years and love it. I find it has helped me with both rhythm and intonation and it's far more fun than a metronome. A few times have wanted to try 3 chords/ measure and thought there was a way to do this. So far haven't been able. The annual cost is fair in my view.

Feb 23, 2021 - 5:40:15 AM

35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

A few times have wanted to try 3 chords/ measure and thought there was a way to do this. So far haven't been able.


Yes, I struggled with that one, too. I think it's under "Chart," then "Subdivided beat," but when I tried that Sunday I couldn't figure out how to put an extra chord there. That was about the ONLY thing that seemed confusing to me on my first efforts with Strum Machine. That feature appears to be a relatively recent addition.

Feb 23, 2021 - 9:00:29 AM
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1863 posts since 8/27/2008

I think Strum Machine is a good tool too. It's actually quite easy to use once you spend some time with it. New features were added recently, and one is the ability to record your track as an mp3 just as you hear it. One click and it leaves it on your desktop or wherever. I do that sometimes and pass it along to a friend if we're working on the same tune.

I also use the feature to link sheet music transcriptions from the net and have both on my screen because I often learn from transcriptions.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 02/23/2021 09:01:05

Feb 23, 2021 - 9:12:48 AM

35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood

I think Strum Machine is a good tool too. It's actually quite easy to use once you spend some time with it. New features were added recently, and one is the ability to record your track as an mp3 just as you hear it. One click and it leaves it on your desktop or wherever. I do that sometimes and pass it along to a friend if we're working on the same tune.

I also use the feature to link sheet music transcriptions from the net and have both on my screen because I often learn from transcriptions.


I'd LOVE to be able to link to transcriptions! I'll have to figure that out. I use books a lot, and also ForScore. It would be great to have Strum Machine and a transcription on screen at the same time!

Feb 23, 2021 - 9:59:31 AM
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11699 posts since 9/23/2009

It sounds so much better than playing with a metronome...metronomes are the most annoying things ever invented. Seems to me the fiddle is one instrument that just doesn't like to stand alone. It's good there is stuff like Strum Machine.

Feb 23, 2021 - 10:37:22 AM
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doryman

USA

99 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

It sounds so much better than playing with a metronome...metronomes are the most annoying things ever invented.


Yes. Also, I've tried dozens of metronomes and I have yet to find one that can keep time properly. 

Feb 23, 2021 - 10:42:23 AM
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1863 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood

I think Strum Machine is a good tool too. It's actually quite easy to use once you spend some time with it. New features were added recently, and one is the ability to record your track as an mp3 just as you hear it. One click and it leaves it on your desktop or wherever. I do that sometimes and pass it along to a friend if we're working on the same tune.

I also use the feature to link sheet music transcriptions from the net and have both on my screen because I often learn from transcriptions.


I'd LOVE to be able to link to transcriptions! I'll have to figure that out. I use books a lot, and also ForScore. It would be great to have Strum Machine and a transcription on screen at the same time!


I can easily do it with either my desktop mac and my ipad. By default Strum Machine opens with Google Chrome. Size the Strum Machine window to half on one side and open a Chrome window on the other side too. Make the links yourself by clicking "References" at the bottom of the Strum Machine window. Add a url for the sheet music you want using Chrome (I use mostly my own transcriptions which are online for anybody to use). Once you've added that link open it and resize that window to fill the other side of your screen. Strum Machine retains your "references" for all your saved tunes for the next time you use it.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 02/23/2021 10:45:55

Feb 23, 2021 - 10:57:18 AM

35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock
quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood

I think Strum Machine is a good tool too. It's actually quite easy to use once you spend some time with it. New features were added recently, and one is the ability to record your track as an mp3 just as you hear it. One click and it leaves it on your desktop or wherever. I do that sometimes and pass it along to a friend if we're working on the same tune.

I also use the feature to link sheet music transcriptions from the net and have both on my screen because I often learn from transcriptions.


I'd LOVE to be able to link to transcriptions! I'll have to figure that out. I use books a lot, and also ForScore. It would be great to have Strum Machine and a transcription on screen at the same time!


I can easily do it with either my desktop mac and my ipad. By default Strum Machine opens with Google Chrome. Size the Strum Machine window to half on one side and open a Chrome window on the other side too. Make the links yourself by clicking "References" at the bottom of the Strum Machine window. Add a url for the sheet music you want using Chrome (I use mostly my own transcriptions which are online for anybody to use). Once you've added that link open it and resize that window to fill the other side of your screen. Strum Machine retains your "references" for all your saved tunes for the next time you use it.


Nice! My music notation is either in books or in ForScore. It will be interesting to see if I can figure out a way to link to tunes within ForScore. I did something similar on my iPad, with iRealPro on one side of the screen and ForScore on the other. It was a manual process opening up a song in each app, but it was great having both onscreen. With Strum Machine able to run on my Mac or iPhone or iPad, I might try running Strum Machine on my phone and ForScore on my iPad? :)

Feb 23, 2021 - 11:49:12 AM

1863 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:

Nice! My music notation is either in books or in ForScore. It will be interesting to see if I can figure out a way to link to tunes within ForScore. I did something similar on my iPad, with iRealPro on one side of the screen and ForScore on the other. It was a manual process opening up a song in each app, but it was great having both onscreen. With Strum Machine able to run on my Mac or iPhone or iPad, I might try running Strum Machine on my phone and ForScore on my iPad? :)


That might work, though you wouldn't have the link from Strum Machine for your tunes so you'd have to manage them seperately. What kind of tunes are you playing? I've transcribed lots of tunes on my humble but well organized practice page you might use if they suit you: http://fiddletunes.net/index.html

Edited by - Brian Wood on 02/23/2021 11:49:53

Feb 23, 2021 - 5:22:17 PM

35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
That might work, though you wouldn't have the link from Strum Machine for your tunes so you'd have to manage them seperately. What kind of tunes are you playing? I've transcribed lots of tunes on my humble but well organized practice page you might use if they suit you: http://fiddletunes.net/index.html

Looks like a lot of good stuff on your site! Nice!

I have used ForScore to basically manage a bunch (hundreds?) of pdf files for songs and tunes. Sometimes I take a pic from one of my books, sometimes I enter the notation using Finale (that can be handy when I, say, want to extract one part so that it will fit on one page.

Today I tried putting ForScore on one side of the iPad screen and Strum Machine on the other (I gave ForScore more space, so it is easy to read). Manual process to change Strum Machine and ForScore, but it works MUCH faster than finding songs in one of my books!

Feb 23, 2021 - 5:26:10 PM
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35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

I've been using Strum Machine for 3 years and love it. I find it has helped me with both rhythm and intonation and it's far more fun than a metronome. A few times have wanted to try 3 chords/ measure and thought there was a way to do this. So far haven't been able. The annual cost is fair in my view.


I figured it out! Not as easy as typing a chord and hitting the space bar, but under chart, choose subdivided beat. Then on the bottom of the screen you'll see two spots for chords, beat 1 and beat 2, and you can choose the chord for each. You can get more than two chords per measure, and you can make some interesting rhythms, too! |GG GC|CGCG | GGGC | :)


 

Edited by - DougBrock on 02/23/2021 17:28:36

Feb 24, 2021 - 2:01:12 AM
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RichJ

USA

411 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock
quote: I figured it out! Not as easy as typing a chord and hitting the space bar, but under chart, choose subdivided beat. Then on the bottom of the screen you'll see two spots for chords, beat 1 and beat 2, and you can choose the chord for each. You can get more than two chords per measure, and you can make some interesting rhythms, too! |GG GC|CGCG | GGGC | :)

Hey Doug, - thanks for taking the time to figure this out. Can't wait to give it a try. BTW: have you noticed Strum Machine is a little shy on a lot of the OT standards?

Feb 24, 2021 - 5:13:42 AM

35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ
BTW: have you noticed Strum Machine is a little shy on a lot of the OT standards?

I'm not sure about OT standards, but I was surprised at some of the popular fiddle tunes that were missing. I entered a bunch of tunes using the editor - SO fast and easy!

Feb 24, 2021 - 5:38:04 AM
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DougD

USA

9975 posts since 12/2/2007

Just curious - do any of you use OldTimeJam.com for accompaniment, and have you found it useful?

Feb 24, 2021 - 8:26:08 AM
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11699 posts since 9/23/2009

Doug beat me to that one. Oldtimejam is a fun thing. I thought they were getting ready to add more tunes a while back but as far as I can see they haven't. Yet, there are an awful lot of good tunes on there already.

There's also a thing, not as good as OTJam, but called Free Bluegrass Backing Tracks...it sounds funky like some electronic thing, but it's not bad...you can vary the speed of it too. It's called Bluegrass but they do have a handful of OT tunes in there too.

There's also this youtube site, again, mainly Bluegrass, but they have a few OT tunes on there too.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB9CEXR7cXSDV3wP8gDQ2lw

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 02/24/2021 08:29:26

Feb 24, 2021 - 9:19:31 AM
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35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Just curious - do any of you use OldTimeJam.com for accompaniment, and have you found it useful?


I took a look and it's cool! Even without the ability to change tempo or key (or do edits), it still is nice having the banjo and fiddle. It would seem more like you're in an old-time jam (but with a chord chart), and that could be a good thing!

Feb 24, 2021 - 9:45:26 AM
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DougD

USA

9975 posts since 12/2/2007

Glad you took a look. I think there's also a guitar, with several options, and also a couple of tempos available. As far as key, these tunes are traditionally played in certain keys, and I think the oldtimejam reflects that. Personally I don't use any of these - I'm quite happy with solo fiddle, and don't have timing problems, but I think Josh (a member here) did a really good job with the site, and just wondered if any of you knew about it.

Edited by - DougD on 02/24/2021 09:53:06

Feb 24, 2021 - 11:14:59 AM
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11 posts since 10/24/2008

Strum Machine's creator here. So nice to read all the positive feedback! ??

Thought I'd pop on here and address a few things that came up in this thread:

The library is a little more weighted toward bluegrass than old-time right now, but Ken Torke from Tater Joe's has added all 600+ tunes from his site to Strum Machine and has made them available as lists that you can add to your account. (Eventually I plan to add these to the built-in library, but haven't had a chance to yet.) There are also some old-time tune lists folks have shared on the Strum Machine Forum, such as the ones in this thread. Viewing the list and clicking the "Add to my account" button makes all of the tunes searchable just like the built-in tunes. Of course, it's quite easy to add your own tunes (I can generally add a new 32-bar fiddle tune in half a minute if I know the chords) but adding those shared lists will give you a larger selection to start with.

Making the (quite new) Subdivide Beat feature more intuitive is on my to-do list. At the very least, I need to make a "hint" appear when you first enable the feature, to show you where to set the chords (as Doug showed above). This feature should almost never be necessary for fiddle tunes but it does come in handy for waltzes now and then.

I've certainly put Strum Machine and a web browser side by side on my computer or iPad to refer to lyrics and such as I use it, which works great. I also plan to improve on the built-in References feature; I'm thinking it'd be great to be able to link to images and PDFs in Dropbox and have them displayed in Strum Machine next to the chords; need to see what's technically possible there.

I haven't used ForScore but from there website it looks like I could add a feature to Strum Machine where you can link directly to files in ForScore, if there'd be interest in such a feature... 

Finally, this is probably a bit far in the future at this point but eventually I will have banjo (clawhammer as well as bluegrass) backup as an option! There will also be more strumming styles to choose from beyond the simple boom-chuck there now. 

Feb 24, 2021 - 11:31:40 AM
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35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by lukeabbott

Strum Machine's creator here. So nice to read all the positive feedback! ??

Thought I'd pop on here and address a few things that came up in this thread:

The library is a little more weighted toward bluegrass than old-time right now, but Ken Torke from Tater Joe's has added all 600+ tunes from his site to Strum Machine and has made them available as lists that you can add to your account. (Eventually I plan to add these to the built-in library, but haven't had a chance to yet.) There are also some old-time tune lists folks have shared on the Strum Machine Forum, such as the ones in this thread. Viewing the list and clicking the "Add to my account" button makes all of the tunes searchable just like the built-in tunes. Of course, it's quite easy to add your own tunes (I can generally add a new 32-bar fiddle tune in half a minute if I know the chords) but adding those shared lists will give you a larger selection to start with.

Making the (quite new) Subdivide Beat feature more intuitive is on my to-do list. At the very least, I need to make a "hint" appear when you first enable the feature, to show you where to set the chords (as Doug showed above). This feature should almost never be necessary for fiddle tunes but it does come in handy for waltzes now and then.

I've certainly put Strum Machine and a web browser side by side on my computer or iPad to refer to lyrics and such as I use it, which works great. I also plan to improve on the built-in References feature; I'm thinking it'd be great to be able to link to images and PDFs in Dropbox and have them displayed in Strum Machine next to the chords; need to see what's technically possible there.

I haven't used ForScore but from there website it looks like I could add a feature to Strum Machine where you can link directly to files in ForScore, if there'd be interest in such a feature... 

Finally, this is probably a bit far in the future at this point but eventually I will have banjo (clawhammer as well as bluegrass) backup as an option! There will also be more strumming styles to choose from beyond the simple boom-chuck there now. 


Thanks for all the info, Luke! 

I'm not sure how common ForScore is with OldTimey folks, but a lot of musicians do use it! I personally love it and use it extensively.

I personally find the subdivided beat more useful that you seem to think. I don't just play old-timey though. I like folk, country, and pop stuff, too. Glad that you added that capability! (By the way, I couldn't find anything in your help files about its use, but I did understand that it was a new feature.)

About the subdivided beat... For me, the main point of confusion was how different chord entry is for that situation. Normally you type a letter for a chord and move to the next spot - quick and easy. With subdivided beat, I couldn't directly do anything to the chord in the measure. Hitting a letter for a chord replaced the subdivided beat with a regular chord.

I'd LOVE if you added banjo (especially if it's clawhammer style - I play banjo some, mostly BG style, but dabble in clawhammer and I do love the sound of a clawhammer accompaniment for a fiddler. 

Thank you for a great tool. Keep up the good work!

Edited by - DougBrock on 02/24/2021 11:40:16

Feb 24, 2021 - 12:18:02 PM

330 posts since 7/18/2014

Hi Luke, great tool. I wish it had an on / off feature in the editing section for the different A and B and C parts. When you are building your own tune, it would be nice to be able to toggle the different parts off while you are working on another part. Maybe a zero could be added in the repetitions and that would do the trick. Hope you will consider and add that feature sometime. The added record feature sure is nice to have. As long as it remains reasonably priced, it’s well worth the money.

Feb 24, 2021 - 12:32:49 PM
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11 posts since 10/24/2008

Astrang, if you select a chord in the editor and start preview-playback, it will start from that chord. So you could click the first chord of the B part and hit play to only play the B part. Does that work?

I have no plans to increase the price, and even if I did go up (say, many years from now), I will never raise it for existing users.

DougBrock, yeah I couldn't figure out a good way to support keyboard chord entry when the beat is subdivided. I'll have to update the help docs, thanks for pointing that out.

Feb 24, 2021 - 1:32:35 PM

189 posts since 4/15/2019

I am purely ignorant with modern tech . How do I get this strum machine? Just type it in the search bar on YouTube?

Feb 24, 2021 - 1:45:04 PM
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35 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by old cowboy

I am purely ignorant with modern tech . How do I get this strum machine? Just type it in the search bar on YouTube?


Web site is strummachine.com

https://strummachine.com/

Edited by - DougBrock on 02/24/2021 13:46:42

Feb 24, 2021 - 2:00:26 PM

330 posts since 7/18/2014

Yes Luke, if I click a chord in the B part it starts from there and plays through the rest of the B part. But then it continues and circles back around to the beginning of the A part and then plays all of that. So I’m sitting there waiting on all that to play out and then here comes my B part again. By then I’ve done forgot what I was going to do. So what I was hoping for was to keep repeating the B part only. Once finished then I could set the number of repeats accordingly. It’s not a big deal, just when you’ve got a bow in your hand all the time, it’s just something to have to pick up and put down all the time. Thanks though for replying.

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