Kevin McFarland Portrait Image


GuitarViz Inc. is a California corporation.

Kevin McFarland, president, is a longtime guitarist with extensive experience. For the past two decades he has worked in educational and entertainment software as a programmer and designer.

GuitarViz Inc.
Concord, CA

About GuitarViz®

Hi, I'm Kevin McFarland. I've spent my life listening to and analyzing the music of the great guitar heroes of our time. From Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin to Metallica and Pantera... I've listened and thought: "there's got to be a better way to show how this stuff is played". Rock guitar is played by ear, not by reading music. Static, lifeless sheet music or tab just doesn't do it justice, and limits its audience.

Sheet Music ImageI'm old school. I grew up in the early 70's, when tab was unknown, songbooks were atrocious, and the computer and VCR hadn't been invented, so the only way of learning what my heroes were playing was either from other people or figuring it out myself. The music acquired an air of mystery: how was it really played?

Onstage ImageBeing old school was good in a way, because it forced you to develop your ear. Lots of gigging, playing six nights a week, learning endless cover tunes, teaching guitar -- all of it helped, and I developed a pretty good understanding of the music.

I also studied music formally. This helped in ways, but in other ways I began to realize how different rock guitar was. It was played by ear, and playing by ear is a very visual thing. Shapes and patterns are moved around on the guitar neck, based on the underlying key or chord.

This led to "Metal Rules", a self-published pamphlet of licensed transcriptions of songs by popular guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, Michael Schenker, and Yngwie Malmsteen. It used a visual system that showed the underlying patterns on the guitar neck.

Cartoon ImageIt was visual but you still couldn't hear it, so I began experimenting with computer animation synced to the original recording. I believed then, and still do, that just setting up a camera and filming a teacher playing has limited usefulness. Its too hard to tell which strings are being played, and its never as much fun to hear someone other then the original artist.

Working with computers led me into programming, and for many years now I've worked as a programmer on over a hundred digital media projects, like CD-ROMs, web sites, and kiosks.

Guitar ImageSeveral years ago I created an early prototype of what would become GuitarVision software, but I left to pursue my own direction. I formed GuitarViz and have been working on HyperTab software since then.

I'd like to use the potential of the computer and the internet to bring to life the music of the great guitar heroes -- music to inspire generations of guitarists, both present and future.

Kevin Signature