Make learning tricky musical riffs and solos easier by slowing them down or adjusting the pitch
Whether it's classical, rock or jazz, learning solos from recordings can be difficult to follow when they are fast. BestPractice can slow down playback to make this easier. The pitch of the music can be left unchanged, or can be changed as well.
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Installation is simple but we found that we had to run BestPractice in Compatibility mode on Windows 7 64-bit. Right-click on the shortcut (either on the Desktop of Start Menu) and left-click on Properties. Click on the Compatibility tab and select the top option to enable Compatibility mode. Following the best practice of trying the most recent version of Windows and working back, we found that Windows Vista Service Pack 2 worked fine.
The interface is simple with only one window and no menus. The left half of the window is used to select the music to play. This can either be from a CD in the optical drive or an MP3 audio file on the computer.
The right-hand side of the window has the various controls for playback. A section of the track can be selected to be looped, which is useful if you want to concentrate on one particular phrase. The start and end points can be set by minute, second and milisecond, but it might be easier to just click on the Now! buttons at the beginning and end of the phrase and use the specific times for fine tuning.
The tabs at the bottom right switch between the Time and Pitch, and Karaoke modes.
The Time and Pitch tab has three sliders for adjusting the playing pitch by semitones, fine adjustment for pitch, and the playing speed. We were very pleased to see the pitch measured in semitones as this makes it easier for musicians to bring the recording into a convenient key rather than having to experiment with percentages.
All of the adjustments happen immediately, which can be a little odd when the pitch shifts but that's a problem of perception, not the software.
Inevitably there are distortions when adjusting the speed but these are acceptable unless you select the extremes. BestPractice can slow a track down to 20 per cent of its original speed or speed it up by 200 per cent.
We tried it with a variety of musical styles from the Allegro from Mozart's Clarinet Quintet, C'est si bon by Acker Bilk and Cool No. 9 by Joe Satriani. The Quintet didn't sound much different between the CD and MP3.
All the tracks worked well and the worst of the distortions seemed to be confined to the backing instruments.
We were not able to check for CD track information using the CDDB feature in BestPractice. As there didn't seem to be much difference between the CD and MP3 tracks, it's no more than an inconvenience.
All of this makes BestPractice a useful tool for any musician wanting to study tracks in detail.
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A very useful tool for musicians
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