Getting started instructions

Setting up software

From the downloads page select the software for you system. Once downloaded follow the onscreen instructions to complete the install of both Xtractor and Analyser.

Setting up hardware

All you need in order to learn with Gigajam is an instrument and your computer. The two do not have to be connected. Xtractor can be used to play along with and the course can be read and worked through step by step.

However, if you want to use the recording features and feedback of Xtractor/Analyser then you will need a MIDI instrument and a MIDI interface to connect your instrument to your computer.

If you do not have MIDI then just jump to the Beginning to Learn section.

MIDI Keyboards

Nowadays, most electronic keyboards are MIDI enabled. Look for sockets like these on the back.

GM Midi Logo
MIDI IN and OUT sockets.

Often, you will also see this logo on your keyboard somewhere.

GM Midi Logo
GM MIDI logo

MIDI Drums

The same goes for electronic drums as for keyboards, look for the same sockets and logos.

Acoustic drums can produce MIDI with the addition of drum triggers; small microphones that connect to each drum and then into some hardware that turns the drum hits into midi data.

MIDI Guitar and Bass

Unlike keyboard and drums, your average electric guitar or bass does not have MIDI capability.

MIDI has to be added to a guitar. This is usually achieved through the addition of an extra pickup: a six-way pickup that generates a separate signal for each string. These six signals are then fed into a box of electronics that converts the pitch of the signals into siz channels of MIDI data. These are often referred to as ‘pitch-to-MIDI converters’.

These solutions can be expensive. There is a cheaper alternative. The Yamaha EZ-AG guitar is a modern MIDI controller device.

Yamaha EZ-AG. Guitar MIDI Controller
Guitar MIDI Controller

Despite its unusual appearance, the EZ-AG plays and feels like a guitar. It has MIDI sockets and a synthesizer built in. It is the electronic keyboard equivalent of a guitar. There are some things you cannot do with this instrument, such as bend strings. However, it is a great platform to start learning on. It also works better with MIDI than the pitch-to-MIDI solutions.

Setting up your MIDI Interface

Modern MIDI interfaces tend to be USB based devices, the usually look a bit like this.

Image of the USB MIDI interface
USB MIDI interface

They consist of a USB plug for the computer, two MIDI plugs for the instrument, and a box in the middle of the cable containing the hardware.

Get the latest drivers from your manufacturer and follow their instructions for installation. For some interfaces this is just a matter of plugging in the USB and letting your computer automatically recognise it.

Next, plug the interface into your instrument. Make sure that all the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ are connected properly. MIDI is a two way street, each device will send data out of its ‘MIDI OUT’ and listen for data on its ‘MIDI IN’.

Think of it as a river-like flow of data. Connect the MIDI OUT of your instrument to the MIDI IN of your computer and the MIDI OUT of the computer to the MIDI IN of the instrument.

Testing your MIDI setup

Load the Xtractor of your choice. It'll look like this, or similar if you chose something other than guitar.

Guitar Xtractor
Guitar Xtractor Mac version on the left. New Windows version on the right.

Click the button in the bottom right, as marked on the picture. You will now have an expanded Xtractor.

Expanded picture of Xtractor

Now right down at the bottom is "Your performance" and a little volume meter. Play your instrument and if everything is working the bar graph will light up.

You might not hear what you play though. Click the setup button and select where Xtractor should send its MIDI output.

MIDI out settings

You should usually select the interface that you have plugged the instrument into so that the backing band goes back to the instrument and plays with its voices.

If your guitar is connected with a pitch-to-MIDI solution then you will have no GM MIDI voices on the hardware. You will have to use another MIDI device for playback. Your system may have a built in device such as Microsoft GS Wavetable or Quicktime MIDI. On the Apple Mac, Quicktime works well with no noticeable latency. On a Windows PC, a soundcard that supports General MIDI is required as the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth produces too much audible latency for playingalong and accurate analysis.

Uploading to portfolio

Gigajam's new VLE version contains a locker area where students can upload their performances. Using our windows version of Xtractor/Analyser, you can set Xtractor to automatically drop a file into your portfolio by enabling an Upload button and setting your account details in the software. In this video we show how to set up Xtractor to do this.

Beginning to learn

Video One : Using any instrument

Gigajam's uniquely simply way of learning to play the guitar, bass, keyboard and drums is quickly demonstrated live, by founding director and self professed dodgy guitarist Brian Greene. You will soon realise that he is best known for his drumming!

Video Two : Using a MIDI instrument

In this video tutorial we describe how you can interact with Gigajam software by connecting a MIDI instrument. The GigajamXtractor becomes not only a means of supporting play along practice, but enables you to record your performance and listen back - as well as use Gigajam's award winning Analysis software - which gives you a percentage score, as well as note by note graphical feedback. Gigajam's software interacts with all MIDI instruments.