The Virtual Air Guitar - all you need is a rock'n'roll attitude
By Mike Hanlon
November 30, 2005
December 1, 2005 As computers learn how to enhance and augment every form of human endeavour, it was only a matter of time before talentless, uncoordinated individuals such as your humble writer could indulge their musical ambitions and produce sounds to match those in their dreams - and the Virtual Air Guitar project appears to be well on the way to setting would-be musicians free, without the need for even an instrument.
Playing the Virtual Air Guitar is simple. You pull on a pair of orange gloves (for the image tracking to recognise what your hands are doing), press the start pedal, and swing your right hand as if you were strumming a big chord and that's exactly what happens - you hear a power chord with punchy distortion. Now move your left hand along the imaginary neck and strum again - it's a different chord.
You can't play any "wrong" chords here - they have been pre-selected for you. When you're ready, press the switch pedal to change from chord mode to solo mode and you suddenly have a pentatonic minor scale on the three top strings, with fret slides and vibrato. Play hard enough with feeling, and you start getting screaming distortions. It's easy enough that you can pick it up in ten seconds, but especially the solo mode has just enough freedom for every solo to be different. You don't really need to know anything about guitar solos, except for how rock guitarists perform on stage.
The goal of the project is to provide people without musical skills the chance to experience the fun of playing and creating music, and to expand their concept of music from listening to fully experiencing its creation.
The Virtual Air Guitar Project can be found here.
Other virtual guitar projects we’ve written about include: