Preparing to Work with emuso Lessons

Guide to Emuso music lessons.

Emuso lessons are interactive and usually consist of an instructional video and perhaps reading materials and a quiz. During the instructional videos we may mention some concepts and features of which you might not be familiar with yet. Below, we have compiled a guide to list the features mentioned in this course, with short descriptions of what they entail.

You can read through them before your start or keep them handy to refer to when you need to. We strongly advise that you at least look at the titles of these features, before you start the lessons, so that you know where to find the information when you do need it.

Enjoy your musical journey!

Team Emuso


The Interaction Icon

When reading an emuso lesson or practice regime or emusoBook, you will often encounter the icon shown above.  This is the interaction icon.  It indicates that there are interactions available that invite you to explore some concept, or to be tested on it.  Click on the icon to start the interactions.  Usually, this will bring up a virtual instrument, such as the “guitar”, and one or more prompts, along with lesson controls.

Lesson Controls

Most lessons have tests or tasks to do.  There will always be a prompt that pops up in a window over the lesson content, asking you to do something.  Here is an example.  This widget can be dragged to where you want. Click the “x” at the top right to dismiss the prompt.

The small block of buttons above the prompt are for  lesson navigation.

The retry button may be disabled if the test requires this.  The other two buttons will be disabled when there is no other previous or following test.

If the interaction is a test of some sort, emuso will provide you with feedback, by adding “CORRECT” or “INCORRECT” at the end of any prompt.

If the lesson is driven by video, then these navigation controls can be used to navigate across video segments as well.  For example, if there are multiple video segments interspersed with tests/tasks, when you click “|>” after the last test in a block of tests, the video will resume playing.  Clicking “|>” will jump over that video segment to the start of the next block of tests, if it exists.  “<|” can be used analogously, to navigate in the reverse direction.


Getting Hints in Tests


When taking a test, you can ask emuso to show you the correct answer, by pressing the “emuso” button.  You will usually see a change reflected on the virtual instrument, and you can listen to this.  Pressing “Mine” changes what’s on the instrument back to your answer, so you can compare and listen.


Video Link

Pink underlined text represents a clickable link to a video in emuso lessons.


Split Screen and Full Screen Lessons

When you start up a lesson, initially the lesson environment appears full-window.  However, you can customise this to whatever is most comfortable for you. There are two ways to do this. Firstly you can  use the emuso menu (at the top left of emuso). Alternatively, you can select from the drop down menu located on the right side of the toolkit.

In the example image below, the user has previously selected “lesson full screen” from the drop down menu. This  makes the lesson become full-window, and flips the drop down to show “instrument full screen” (pressing that shows the virtual instrument full screen, swapping the lesson content into where the instrument was previously showing.

The alternative option is to have a split window so that you can see both the lesson and the virtual instrument.

Furthermore, you can chose to split the window with the lesson to the left or above the instrument.

Some interactions will split the window as soon as you click on the interaction icon.  Use the drop down mentioned above to change the layout, if you want.




Mouse Interactions

You can find a full video on mouse interactions via the Help menu at the top left of emuso.  Here are some of the main mouse interactions used in lessons.


“CTL-Left click”

You may be prompted to hit “CTL-Left click” somewhere on-instrument.  This means that you must hold down the Control key on the keyboard while you click using the left mouse button.  This will move the shape on instrument.


You may be prompted to drag what’s showing on instrument.  To do this, hold the left mouse button down on the solid red circle showing on the instrument (there will only be one like this, all others are black circles with coloured rims), and then move the mouse while holding the left button down.

Creating a pitch at a clicked location

A left-click (without the CTL key) on an empty location on-instrument  (string, fret or piano key) creates a pitch at the clicked location.

Deleting a pitch at a clicked location

A left-click (without the CTL key) on an occupied location deletes the pitch there, emptying that location.

Selecting a pitch at a clicked location

A right-click (without the CTL key)on an occupied location selects the pitch there.  For example, you may be asked to select some pitches from what’s currently on instrument.

Listening to the sound of a pitch

Hold down the ALT key while hovering the mouse over a pitch showing on the virtual instrument will cause a sound to be generated.  This may be just the sound of that particular pitch, or it may be a chord.  This depends on whether a scale is showing or not.  For a scale, hovering over a pitch generates the sound of a chord rooted at that pitch, or the sound of a pentatonic rooted at that pitch (if present) and you’ll get visual feed back also.

The Pitch and Interval Strips

The Pitch and Interval strips are two rows of 12 buttons that appear under the virtual instrument. This block of buttons can be dragged around by holding the left-mouse button down near any of the buttons. Be careful to click and drag near the buttons, not on them.

The pitch strip  is on the bottom row. The default setting is collapsed to one button- However clicking on that button reveals an entire strip, showing pitch names.  As you move the mouse over the instrument, different buttons on the strip appear larger reflecting where the mouse is.  If the instrument showing is a guitar (as above), and you click on one of these buttons, the anchor moves along its current string to the corresponding named location, taking the shape with it.

Interval strip is on the top row. Usually, this just provides visual feedback of the interval between the anchor and the instrument location the mouse is currently over.  You’ll learn about intervals in Sounds and Instruments.


Tuning your guitar

Standard tuning

In standard tuning, the guitar strings are tuned to specific pitches (you’ll learn about pitches in the next lesson) named E2, A2, D3, G3, B3, E4, for strings 6 through to 1 respectively.  You can use emuso directly to tune your guitar, or you can use a guitar tuner, or get someone else to play these for you, and you adjust the machine heads until the sounds match.  If you tune the guitar by listening to another sound, you’ll notice an aural beating effect as the two pitches get to be nearly the same.  This beating slows down as you get closer to matching, and stops when they match.

To use emuso for tuning, press the “Toolkit” button, press “Clear” in the right hand column of emuso, then drag the white circle (the “anchor”) to fret 0 on the 6th string.   Click on fret 0 of each string of the virtual guitar to create pitches that represent each open string pitch.  Then hover the mouse (no click) for around half and a second over any of these pitches to hear its sound, and tune the corresponding string on your guitar to match.

Tuning using emuso

If you want, click on the pitch strip button as well, so you will see the pitch names shown there (but without numbers).  You can also repeatedly press the keyboard character “i”  (lower case) and you will the labeling of the pitches change on the guitar.  One of the forms of label shows pitch names like E2.

If you’re curious, try dragging the anchor, while pitch names are showing.

Press “Toolkit” again to come back to a lesson.

While not immediately obvious, the way the guitar is tuned determines every chord and scale shape used.  We will look at this in a separate short lesson.


The Play Selected Style Control

This control contains two buttons, each with drop downs that appear if you click on the small triangle.   This control can also be dragged to move it around.

Upper button

The upper button can be set to:

Lower button

The lower button controls what happens if the shape is a scale (you’ll learn what a scale is in Guitar Tuning and Impact on All Shapes) and you hover the mouse over any member of the shape showing on-instrument.


Help Button

The Help button has the label “?”. You can find it in the Help Menu. Its main function is to activate the Help system.  Regardless  of whether help is activated, any clicked menu will show its menu items.  Activating help changes how emuso responds when you click on any button or menu item. Instead of carrying out the action, you will see a help video related to that action.

Turning the Help button off dismisses the video and puts emuso back into normal operation.

The help button is also used to dismiss User guides which you can find in the Help menu.

The Help button has the label “?”.   You can right-click on this button, to control whether you get information about a menu, or about individual items within a menu.  Choose “Overview” for help on the menu collectively, or choose “Detailed Help” (which is the default) to be able to click on a menu item and get its help video.  This is irrelevant to buttons you want help on.

Guitar Components

With a six string guitar, there are six tuning heads, fixed into what we call the headstock.   Each tuning head has a tuning peg onto which a string can be tied.  In this diagram you can just see the tuning peg for the bass string (thickest string).  You see the nut at the start of the guitar neck, and along the neck there are several frets (pieces of wire that are embedded into the neck) spaced out at carefully chosen distances.

Each guitar string is anchored to the guitar body by a bridge, crosses the saddle there, and runs the length of the guitar neck without contacting any fret, until it contacts the nut.  From there the string winds into the tuning head, which can be turned to tighten or loosen the string.  This tension can be adjusted until the string matches an agreed upon pitch (we’ll look at this below).



When you pluck a string, this string length vibrates between the nut and the saddle and creates a sound determined by this length and the weight of the string.  We call the pitch you hear the open string pitch.  You’ll often hear “play the third string open” to mean pluck the third string without holding down any fret.

If you press down a finger just behind a fret (for example, just behind (to the left) of the 1st fret, the string now contacts that fret, shortening the length that can vibrate.  It vibrates from that fret to the saddle.  You can think of the nut as fret zero … it’s doing the job for you when you’re not holding your finger down on the string.  We’d say “play fret 1” or “hold down fret 1” for example, to mean the above.


Emuso’s Guitar Representation

In the next diagram, you can see a shape made up of three notes to be played at the indicated frets: the open 3rd string (the red circle behind the nut) and the 3rd fret on the 2nd and 1st strings.

Compare it to the image below from emuso showing the same shape.  Notice that the solid red circle (which we call the anchor) lies behind the double vertical line (our graphics for the nut)




This lesson in not interactive unless you log-in via emuso. However, you're welcome to see it in its non-interactive form.

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Concepts for improvisation

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