Liner Notes
The FATpick Blog

If you go looking for advice on how best to learn to play a new song on the guitar, one tip you'll hear over and over again is to start slow.

Play the song - or just a small part - as slow as you need to in order to hit the notes. Keep practicing at that tempo until you're comfortable, and gradually increase the speed until you can play the song at full tempo. Or, if you really want to burn-in the muscle memory, keep increasing the speed until the normal pace feels like slow motion.

This doesn't work the other way around. You can't start fast but sloppy and get more accurate over time. You need to play a song right - at whatever pace is needed - and the speed will come with practice.

FATpick has several features designed to help with this process — notably using a repeat loop to play the same part of the song over and over again — but our topic here is the playback rate control.

Using the playback rate control you can choose to play a song slower - or faster - than normal. Both the rate at which the notes scroll by and the synchronized audio track will be slowed down or sped up accordingly.

The playback rate control can be accessed by clicking on "track configuration" button. On the upper-left of the tab viewer you'll find a set of media controls that look something like this:

Clicking on the "track settings" button - the one with the "three horizontal sliders" icon - will open a panel similar to the following.

At the top you'll find the playback rate slider, which works like this:

  • At the center of the slider - marked with 1 - is the "normal" playback rate for the song. When the slider is set to 1 the song will play at the normal tempo - the tempo specified in the original musical score that was imported into FATpick. You can click the 1 - or just use the slider - to restore the normal playback rate.

  • Moving the slider to the right - closer to the rabbit (or "hare") - will increase the playback rate. The song will be played faster than normal.

  • Moving the slider to the left - closer to the turtle (or "tortoise") - will decrease the playback rate. The song will be played slower than normal.

(The bottom half of the panel has controls that set the volume of each individual backing track, as described elsewhere.)

There are some helpful details about this feature that may not be obvious:

  1. The playback rate is "sticky" for each song. That is, FATpick will remember the playback rate you last used with each song and automatically restore that value the next time you open the song. This way if you're working on mastering a song you can pick up where you left off the last time you played it. Each song has an independent "sticky" playback rate. Playing one song at half-speed won't change the default playback rate for other songs.

  2. Whenever the playback rate is not 1 - i.e., whenever the song will play faster or slower than normal - the track settings button will remain highlighted. This is a reminder that a custom playback rate is in effect. It is particularly helpful when you've forgotten that you'd changed the "sticky" playback rate for this song.

  3. Changing the playback rate shouldn't change the pitch of the backing audio, just the rate at which it plays. (But the algorithmic magic behind this capability isn't perfect. The laws of physics prevent playing the exact same audio at a different speed without also changing the pitch, so you may notice some distortion - especially when playing very fast or very slow. Also some tracks just sound weird when slowed down or sped up too much, despite accurate pitch-bending.)

  4. You can change the playback rate even when the song is playing. This is useful if you want to interactively "dial-in" the rate that feels right to you.

Click the track settings button again - or anywhere outside the panel - to return to the tablature.

Import any Guitar Pro file into an interactive, auto-scrolling tab viewer sync'd with backing audio. FATpick listens to your performance, providing real-time feedback on your timing and accuracy, as you play along with any guitar.

You can download FATpick for free right now and be playing songs in just two minutes.

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