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Can't play the guitar? Don't fret
Can't play the guitar? Don't fret

Robert Hirtle

 BRIDGEWATER - Bill Schnare's association with music goes back a long way.

 From his early years growing up in Mahone Bay, through a period in the United States with the rock band The Great Scots in the '60s, to his return to Bridgewater where he began a career teaching, music has always been his love.

 "People may consider me a bit of a fanatic, but every minute of my day involves music," he said.

 Now Mr. Schnare has taken his fascination with the art a step further. He and his partner, John Rogers, have created a computer program designed to make it possible for anyone to not only play music, but to also compose it.

 The program, called Guitar Mentor, shows the student all the components necessary to produce or compose music, as well as how to co-ordinate them.

 "If you really want to understand music, you have to get into understanding chords," he said. "You have to be dealing with an instrument that is capable of playing multiple notes simultaneously."

 Mr. Schnare said most people don't realize that all music is based on mathematics.

 "Music is perfect math," he said. "All the relationships that occur can be explained mathematically. Once you [realize this], it makes everything very understandable."

 According to Mr. Schnare, the Guitar Mentor program will give an individual access to 30 years of music study instantly.

 "With this program, a person who has never played music before, can actually compose a song the first day they use [it]," he explained. "They could compose a song in 20 minutes which would be every bit as good as anything you'd hear on the radio."

 Mr. Schnare has spent over two decades working on the program. It began with the creation of a device called a Guitar Scale Calculator, or GSC.

 "When we first built the music calculator, we thought that this was as far as it would go," he said. "But we decided to take the concept further and apply this to the computer."

 

Bill Schnare of Bridgewater turned a lifelong love affair with music into a successful career as a musician and a teacher. Now, with partner John Rogers, he has developed a computer program called The Guitar Mentor, designed to teach aspiring musicians how to play music mathematically. The program, which became available on the internet last fall, will eventually be expanded to provide instruction for other instruments. Here, Mr. Schnare shows off the Guitar Scale Calculator, the more portable predecessor of the computer edition, which was 20 years in the making.  Robert Hirtle Photo

 Essentially, the device enables the user to combine into chords only the notes that are harmonically compatible. There are a limited number of combinations for each chord, and the calculator does not allow the use of those notes which do not musically conform.

 "When in the key of C, and when an A seventh chord occurs, you must play a D harmonic minor scale," Mr. Schnare explained. "Nothing else will work."

 It is this knowledge, he said, which produces greatness in musicians.

 "That's what enables them to stand up, with no music in front of them, and play solos that sound like they practiced them for months," he said. "When actually, they're doing it right on the spot."

 "In other words, I can give this machine to somebody who just bought a guitar, and they have the ability to take it and play exactly the right notes," he explained.

 Mr. Schnare said the Guitar Scale Calculator is a unique product in the field of music.

 "Nowhere in the world does a thing like this exist, except here," he said.

 Once the first GSC was produced, Mr. Schnare and his partner were able to broaden the theory behind it within the realm of the computer, and The Guitar Mentor was born.

 "The computer program contains a lot more, simply because the processor in [the calculator] is small," he said.

 Currently, the software is available only for use with the guitar, however a program for piano has been produced and will be released shortly. Production of similar programs for other instruments will follow.

 Mr. Schnare said he would eventually like to build a small factory in Bridgewater to begin production of the Guitar Scale Calculator.

 He said that although the GSC is not as advanced as The Guitar Mentor, it does have one distinct advantage over the computer version - portability.

 "This is something that you can put in your shirt pocket," he explained.

 More information on The Guitar Mentor is available at www.guitarmentor.com.

  January 23, 2002  
 
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