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I’d like to practice playing a musical instrument (a 34-string lever harp) by playing in sync with previously recorded or synthesized music.

In the past when I’ve tried to use my computer or phone to play a song, I’ve found it starts right away and I am not able to get my hands into position fast enough to play the first few notes in sync with it.

I would love to be able to sit at my harp, choose all or some of a piece, select a tempo, push a button, have a lead-in, and have my fingers on the strings ready to play along before the song itself starts — and it might be even better if the playback automatically repeated. It’d be cool if it could give me advice on where I’m messing up, but let’s not go crazy here 😉

Is there any software that might help with this? (If I had some additional hardware, like a USB footpedal, is there any software that then becomes more useful in this regard?)

Are there any tools, perhaps, that, instead of modifying the playback with a lead-in, easily modify a (copy of) the audio file itself, to add a lead-in?

While F/OSS that works on my Mac is my preference, it is not a requirement.

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You could use Audacity to add a click intro at the beginning of your audio tracks.

Load the track into Audacity. Add a click track. Trim the click track to the desired length for the intro and move/paste the audio onto the end of the click track.

You can play the track back from within Audacity, or save it and load it in any other audio player. Audacity allows you to play back a selection. (I can't remember if it allows you to loop the selection - I think it probably does.)

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I recommend and use this setup, as long as at least one foot is free:

MIDI Footpedal ➔ MIDI interface ➔ iOS device

For example I use

Behringer FCB-1010 ➔ iRig Pro ➔ iPad ➔ app

This will work for your synthesized music requirement. As I don't trigger prerecorded songs this way, I can't remember apps that can play an audio file triggered by a single MIDI note.

There are several MIDI footpedals on the market that will work such as ones from Roland and Keith McMillan, and several MIDI interfaces such as the Line6, and you could use an iPhone or iPod Touch. Just remember to put them into Airplane Mode before the gig!

  • 1
    Which app do you use on your iPad? – Clinton Blackmore Sep 24 '15 at 16:05
  • I use several apps. Magellan, Galileo, Laplace, iLectric, ThumbJam, DrumJam, Different Drummer, Stompwatch, ChordPolyPro… – jasonology Sep 27 '15 at 23:37
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Well it isn't 100% what I asked for, Anytune seems to be useful for this purpose. It will loop a section of a song for you, with a gap in between loops, and play it at different speeds or transposed, and it'll even play the loop faster every time if you ask it too.

I think RiffMasterPro is similar (but haven't tried it), and it looks like TuxGuitar is analogous should you want to be playing MIDI files.

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