Hey! Now that I have had the chance to work with Maria Elena a little more, and really get a sense for how this song feels and where the melody goes, I think it is time I start talking a little more about the resources I have been using during this project.
Throughout the whole project I have been using Ultimate Guitar’s TAB Pro as my primary learning resource. The purpose of using this tool was to be able to play along with the song,
learning it one chunk at a time, slowly if need be. For the most part, I have enjoyed using it as it does come with a variety of really good functions. This includes looping, tempo change, pitch/transpose change, metronome, and a fretboard display. These all come with a subscription. Actually, you cannot access any TABS at all, unless you subscribe. I find that to be a little bit of an unfortunate catch. There were a couple of other things too, that I didn’t particularly like. The first one I found to be the sound level of the play function. Unless I had my laptop hooked up into a speaker, I could not hear the song being played while I was playing the guitar. And yes…my volume was up! 😉 The second thing, and what I find to be the biggest thing wrong was that the TABs were not accurate. The second half of the song was missing and only part of the ending correctly notated. This caused problems for me later down the line!
Along with using TAB Pro, I also took a look at what Songsterr has to offer. For the majority of my learning, I did not use this resource. However, I did take a look at it for the sake of comparing it to TAB pro. Also, one of my music buddies was using the free version of it, so naturally I was curious. The first thing I liked about it was that I could access the TABS for free and play along with them. Perfect! But there was a catch…just as there was with TAB Pro. I could not manipulate the song in any way, other than to stop and start it, unless I paid for a membership. So even though I had access to the TABS, it still wasn’t going to help me much because I couldn’t break down and manipulate the song in the ways that I wanted. So why not Songsterr? Well really it came down to the fact that it is about five dollars a month more than TAB Pro. As well, I think I would have driven myself crazy listening to Songsterr’s midi version of this song. How the notes are played, present almost no musicality or style and each note is picked with a harsh/hard tone. I really don’t like that. On the positive side though, this resource did have a complete version of the TABS.
The final online resource that I used for learning Maria Elena was YouTube. I only used this to listen to and play with the original song done by Los Indios Tabajaras. This was to get a feel for the song. I find that listening to it, as played by real musicians, was a very important part of the process. Without doing that, you are just learning a bunch of separate notes all strung together. Learning, from the other two resources gave no context as to how those notes should sound and be played within the musical piece. Of course, YouTube does not have the same functions as the guitar TAB programs, but it still has one really useful feature that can be used when learning songs – speed control. This is great for when you know all the notes and just need practice playing along with the song. If you can’t play it up to full speed, you just have to touch it down a notch or two.
Overall, I feel like I have benefited from using all three of these online resources in some way, and would definitely use them again. Just like with anything you learn, it is important to consult multiple resources to make sure you are getting the whole picture. And with Maria Elena just about under my belt, I can’t stop now!