In the following part of this user guide, every feature of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE will be explained in depth.
The top bar of the Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE interface lets you load and save presets. It also contains important management functions from checking your trial status to contacting support.
A preset in Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is a complete setting of the entire plug-in including Style selection and all control values. Here’s how you can switch presets:
- Advance to the next preset by clicking one of the arrows left and right of the PRESET name.
- Click on the name of the current preset in the PRESET menu to open the Preset Browser (see image above). As you can see, the Preset Browser is a clean, organized list of presets, categorized by simple musical terms.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE ships with over 50 Factory Presets. Take your time exploring them, as this is the quickest way of getting an overview of what Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE can do!
If you have freshly installed Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, there will only be Factory Presets. User Presets will appear once you have saved your first own preset.
Save and Save as …
You can of course save your own Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE presets. You can name them and assign a category too.
The difference between the Save and Save as … buttons:
- Save replaces the preset with the changes you just made.
- Save as … lets you assign a name and a category, so does not replace the current preset.
Factory Presets can only be saved using Save as …, they cannot be replaced.
Moving, renaming and deleting presets
You can move, rename or delete Presets directly in your operating system. You will find Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE Presets in these folders (replace “USERNAME” by your actual username):
Bell Icon – Notifications
When you launch Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, it will automatically check for updates. If an update is available, the bell icon will be illuminated. Clicking it will open a dialog that lets you choose whether you want to download the update now or later.
Update Dialog (from sister instrument VG IRON)
We built this mechanism to save you the pain of manually checking for updates in order to keep up with the latest improvements of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
Speech Bubble Icon – About Page
The About Page is the place for information about your version and licensing status of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE. It is also a portal to other services:
Product Website takes you to www.virtualguitarist.com with regularly updated news, videos, tutorials and other helpful stuff.
- Read Manual opens this document.
- Contact Support lets you report problems and ask questions.
- Acknowledgments – the people behind Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE.
- License Agreement – legalese stuff for gourmets.
In the Style Bar, you choose a STYLE (selection of phrases) and a KEY. It also contains the CHORD display.
A STYLE in Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is the counterpart to a particular phrasing style that you ask your guitarist to play. Styles are the “rhythmic vocabulary” of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, which is why we have included over 50 of them.
You can select styles by either clicking the small arrows to skip to the previous/next style, or by clicking the name of the current Style to bring up the full list.
Every Style is a set of eleven phrases that you can access via the Style Phrases area of the Interactive or MIDI keyboard. In most Styles, Phrases are ordered by intensity/density from left to right.
Many styles exist in an additional variation marked by the name extension “OCT”, an abbreviation that stands for “Octave” here. In these styles, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE doesn’t play chords, but single-note octaves.
In these Styles, no matter which chord or interval you play, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE will always play the root key only.
Single Note Styles
The two styles “Single 16th” and “Single 8th” provide a useful collection of phrases played only with single notes. Like with the OCT styles, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE will always play the root key only.
This parameter lets you define a Key (scale). With a pre-selected Key, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE offers a reduced chord selection consisting only of chords that work well in this key.
Setting a Key is useful if you want a simplified method of playing chords or if you’re controlling Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE from a non-keyboard controller and have only so and so many pads or buttons assignable.
CHORD is not a parameter but a display. It shows the chord corresponding to the keys you play (see also Fingering Scheme).
The interactive keyboard is both a display of received MIDI notes and an actually functional on-screen keyboard. The left side of the keyboard doesn’t make any sound by itself. Here, you control the performance of the guitarist by switching between 34 different phrases. 11 of these phrases are set by the style, the rest are always available.
Note: The on-screen keyboard does not get recorded by your DAW. Use a MIDI keyboard or – if available – the DAW’s own on-screen keyboard for this purpose.
The lower left of the MIDI keyboard (C♯1 – B2) is reserved for a collection of socalled Common Phrases. These phrases are “hard-wired” and won’t change with the STYLE selection. Common Phrases complement the Style Phrases by phrasings that are more generic and applicable to multiple contexts. Phrases are what you make of them. Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE lets you switch phrases in real-time without interrupting the performance. That’s a great way to create dynamic and interesting phrasings of your own. For example, lead from a bridge to a chorus with the build-up Phrases 19 and 20.
Keys in this area select phrases of the currently selected Style.
Phrases in the Style range start with the lowest density/intensity on C3 and get more agitated as you move towards B♭3.
You could generally work your way through a song going from left (intro, verse) to right (chorus), but of course this greatly depends on the style and your song. Just know you always have 11 different rhythms plus the Common Phrases at your immediate disposal.
The highest key of the Style Range – B3 – is the Stop key. In Latch mode, pressing this key will stop playback (whereas the Silent key (C1) will keep playback going, just with an empty phrase.
Keys in the Chord range function almost like a regular musical keyboard: You start and stop the guitarist’s performance and you determine the chords played. It’s like playing keyboard, except that instead of playing notes you select the chord the guitarist will perform as a phrase.
Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE features a built-in chord recognition that makes it very easy to play even complex chord progressions. You can play major chords with just one finger and other chords using two or three. The following paragraph will tell you exactly which chords are supported and how to play them.
The chord recognition scheme of Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE is pretty straightforward and intuitive – it basically plays the chord you play, or the next possible chord if that’s not available. But there’s something more to it which we’ll look at in this section.
Actually, there are two ways to tell Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE which chord to play – actually playing that chord (or a subset of it), or playing an interval.
Chords The schematic on the next page shows you which chords you can play with Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE. Here’s how to read it:
- A black dot on the stylized keyboard means “required”,
- a grey dot means “optional” – for example, if you use the MIDI file of a synth pad to control Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE, MIDI chords including these additional keys will still play the right chord.
Optionally, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE also lets you play intervals and interprets matching chords. For example, when you play C and D at the same time, Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE will interpret this as a sus2 chord.
This is particularly useful if you use Virtual Guitarist SPARKLE in tandem with Virtual Guitarist IRON.