7 things we want for Guitar Pro 7

gp7So, now that Guitar Pro 6 has been shamed and buried, the guys over at Arobas Music are beginning working on their next instalment of their Guitar Pro music notation software. So, what’s to keep, what’s to change, what do you want to see in Guitar Pro 7?

Here’s my own list. As an avid user of Guitar Pro since their 5th iteration, I have a few things I wish for:

  1. Keep the fully configurable n-tolets (the -n:m- thing). This is important because I’ve encountered more than a few times – but more noticeable in Blotted Science’s Cretaceous Chasm – tolets that don’t play against 4s or 2s, the example here would be a 6:7 polyrhythm. It can be approximated without the n:m function, but it looks terrible, and it’s quite a pain to find out, look at that tab I made for an idea of how atrocious it looks. It sure can be enhanced, however: n-tolets crossing over bars, for example, should definitely be a feature!
  2. Ditch the RSE completely. Guitar Pro, to me, is a compositional and play-along software. It’s useful both to composers who want to write new music, and to musicians who want to learn a new song. The previous versions of RSE (“Realistic” Sound Engine), were okay because they didn’t get too much in the way, they did sound awful but at least they didn’t bother you. In GP6, there are at least two tabs entirely devoted to that!!! Moreover, if you want it to sound reasonably tolerable, you’ll have to spend a good amount of time mixing your instruments. You see what’s the problem here? I don’t want to be spending time tinkering with the sound of the instruments in the tab I’m writing or playing along to. In either case, the sound isn’t that important because that’s not how you’ll export it; in the end, you’ll either record your new song with real instruments or softwares better suited for that, or play the song you learned with a live band. MIDI is perfectly fine. It doesn’t sound natural at all, but at least you know what is what, and you can hear every instrument played together perfectly – which is useful when you want to hear if something’s wrong. The only reason I’ve installed RSE on GP6 is because it was required to export tabs in WAV format – which can be especially useful when recording a song – but that also bring the next point:
  3. The export to WAV function in GP6 is done better than in GP5, except you can’t export the MIDI player, unlike its older brother. Exporting in WAV in GP5 was a mess: you were required to actually play the song, and it was recorded with either the default system devices or another recording device of your choice, but that means that it takes as long as the song is to render it, and if there are noise around you or from your computer, they will be kept in the WAV file. Nonsense! GP6 did a better job because it actually renders the piece at a faster rate, and doesn’t require you to play it at all, but it won’t allow you to export it if you’re not using RSE! With all the bad things I’ve said about RSE in the previous point, you’ll understand that this is unforgivable. Let us export MIDI into WAV, for God’s sake!
  4. Stop putting arbitrary limits to the number of strings an instrument can have! Instead, put practical limits: for example, limit the number of strings on a tab to how much fit on a sheet. It might sound silly, but if you play with a Warr Guitar or a Chapman Stick, which can have 10, 12, or even more independent strings, sometimes up to 24, you’d need at least 2 separate tracks on the tablature, and that’s really annoying to work with. In GP5, the limit of strings was imposed at 7, and then 8-string guitars became popular, but you couldn’t fully tab out their parts: you needed two tracks; In GP6, the limit is now at 8 independent strings, and now 9- and 10- string guitars become more popular! I say stop it, and put only practical limits to the number of strings an instrument can have.
  5. Bring back tablatures for percussions and keyboards! Please! Not everyone is proficient with classical notation, and a lot less are proficient with drums notations. Bring back the tablatures for them, like in GP5. Even if it makes no sense to put numbers on strings for a drum, or a keyboard, or a clarinet, etc. We still get used to it, I can even tell you that 36 is the kick, 38 is the snare, 46 is the open hi-hat, and so on, but I have no clue about what the classical notation for drummers means! Let us just put numbers on a tablature for drums, and any other instrument, just because it’s way easier, and more user-friendly.
  6. Bring on microtonality! I mean, more than hardly accessible quarter-tones, I want the whole deal! With the advent of xenharmonic artists, Brendan Byrnes to me in particular, microtonality is becoming more and more popular. However, the softwares to create such music are rare, expensive, and not that user-friendly at all. I’ve recently tried out Mus2 (Musiki), which makes a wonderful job for microtonal fans! You can decide your tuning with such liberty: decide how many notes are in your scale, decide down to the precise Hertz the frequency of each note in your scale, or let the software figure it out by feeding him ratios or cents. However, the “writing” part of it is pretty awkward. I would love to see a Guitar Pro-based program with such liberty of motion in microtonality. For example, if you decide to go with a 22-EDO (Equal Divisions of the Octave) scale, then, on the tablature, “22” on a string would be an octave higher than “0”, instead of “12” on a regular guitar or tablature. This would also help the microtonal artists and community grow stronger! I’m sure if Arobas Music require some help, I know a few guys who would be really glad to help!
  7. Bring back the possibility to switch instruments on one track! When writing music (mostly in progressive music bands with keyboards or uncommon instrumentation), I often switch back and forth with various instruments, pads, and leads. This functionality was there on GP5, and it was really convenient: I had a progressive metal song on just 7 tracks! On GP6, the same song takes 53 tracks… FIFTY-THREE TRACKS! And it’s just unplayable: the program won’t even play it, it just crashes, and even the technical support wasn’t able to play it. So please, bring that back in GP7!

So, what do you think of my wish list? Do you have something you want to see in GP7? Let’s hope that the developers at Arobas Music are listening to their customers! This list will help the musicians, the composers, and the company, too! I’ve already had feedback that if all those wishes are in GP7, it’s an automatic buy! So, please, do this for us, and do this for yourself!

Update (the voice of the people)

  • Cross-functionality with finale and Sibelius (import/export).
  • Less ugly interface (less vertical).
  • Different tempos and time signatures simultaneously, on different tracks.
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