Posted October 20, 2013
I accomplished my goal, sort of. It took me a few days longer than I planned, but I did indeed learn 30 new Old Time tunes.
Here are some of my take-aways…
Overall, I’m happy with how this turned out. I found it to be a great motivator and I’ve been thinking of more possible “do X in Y” types of projects I could pull off. My gypsy jazz repertoire needs serious boosting and I’ve been wanting to get more into making electronic music. We’ll see… If I do, I’ll be sure to write about it here.
All of the tunes from this project can be found, on video, here… http://www.youtube.com/user/bancro22
Posted August 2, 2013
That’s my plan. On both banjo and fiddle.
For a while I’ve been needing to beef up my old time tune repertoire. I’ve been playing the same cross tunes for way too long, I’m forgetting my G and D tunes and my C tune list is essentially non-existent.
So, why 60 days? I could probably do it in 30, but I want to remember these tunes. The extra day on average will help out a lot with getting them into long-term memory and will also give me a little more freedom since sometimes I’m just not around my fiddle for a day or so.
Here’s the list of tunes I plan to learn with sources and links to audio where possible. Sources may not be original recordings, but the source that I’m learning it from.
I don’t have many rules for myself, just that I need to learn a new tune out every two days. I may swap tunes out or move them around. I’m not going for perfection, my goal is to have the tune memorized and playable at a moderate tempo in a relatively short period of time.
Here’s my YouTube channel. The final video is due
September 27th October 3rd. I’ll add links to my videos to this post as I complete them.
Posted August 1, 2013
One thing that took me way too long to figure out was how to add a custom mouse pointer. As is typical, the code was ultimately very simple but examples for this sort of thing seem sparse. Here’s the relevant code.
class Game < Chingu::Window
@cursor = Gosu::Image.new(self, 'media/mouse.png')
@cursor.draw(self.mouse_x, self.mouse_y, 100)
The biggest tip for me came from this StackOverflow question, which got me far enough along that I was able to figure the rest out on my own.
The third parameter on line 10 is your cursor’s z-index. Make sure it’s high enough that the pointer floats above any other game objects that it should.
Lines 12-14 are used to hide the system cursor. Without it you’ll see both your custom cursor and the system cursor, which is likely not what you want.
Posted July 25, 2013
Over the years I’ve saved almost every website I’ve ever made. I’m 29 now and I think I can date this stuff back to being 15 or 16 so it spans a pretty good time-frame.
Recently I descended into the tombs to uncover some of the nostalgia. Surprisingly, I remember building many of the sites I found, but I have little memory of the content, which is pretty much all hilarious and clearly written by a young me.
Though some of the work is a little embarrassing, getting to reminisce about where I’ve come from has been pretty cool and against my better judgement I thought it would be even more enlightening to write a bit about what I found down there. Generally, the work ranges from god-awful to mostly crap to the occasional pleasant surprise.
Let’s start with something god-awful… One of the first websites I ever made for myself.
This was clearly for some sort of theoretical business idea I had cooked up with the awesome name of “Comtec Web Design.” Apparently I was planning to build web pages and banners. My favorite bit is this:
“With prices starting at only $9.95 what else could you ask for.”
lolwut? I don’t even know what that means. Like was I willing to build an entire website for $9.95? Also… Flash was apparently in it’s hay-day and I was drinking the Kool-Aid real heavy-like.
Looking at the source, I can tell that this was from a period of time when I used Adobe GoLive, which is a product I’ve long since forgotten. It really wasn’t that great, I vaguely remember it having some sort of grid system that made building a site with any fluidity at all difficult or maybe even impossible. However, I owe a lot to GoLive. I used it because it was available in one of my computer classes and it’s the first piece of software that made me think I could do this. Code was hard for me back then (it still is really) and not having to write it to make a site lowered the barrier of entry allowing me to focus more on the way the website looked and less on the code behind it.
The site, for all intents and purposes, sucks, but I’d never tell my 15 year old self that. This work foreshadows much of what I would continue to tinker with and think about for many years to come… Design, Photoshop, an interest in entrepreneurship, it’s all there.
Cheers 15 year old me, keep it up!
Posted July 17, 2013
Last week I had the privilege of teaching guitar and fiddle to a great group of kids in Cordova. It was my first music camp, my first visit to Cordova and my first trip on the Alaska Marine Highway. Pretty awesome.
Instructors came from all over the place. There was a whole contingent from the Bay Area, some of whom are part of the killer bluegrass group Front Country. Mariel Vandersteel made the trek from Boston with her Hardanger fiddle in tow. Finally, the usual Alaskan suspects were around as well. Everyone’s musicianship was seriously awesome. I left feeling inspired to start collecting new tunes and making headway on my instruments again.
The camp is part of a program called Bluegrass Camps for Kids. They do a handful of camps up here in AK and some in the lower 48 as well. The kids were super talented and it was amazing to be a part of the whole thing. I hope to see everyone there again next year!
Posted July 6, 2013
A while back I stumbled upon a web app called Soundslice. From the website:
“Soundslice lets you sync tabs with video so you can see (and hear!) them in real time. Gone are the days of ASCII art approximations.”
At the time, I made a mental note to revisit the product and went on my way.
Fast-forward a few months, and I’ve been working on a Gypsy Jazz tune from Stochelo Rosenberg titled Valse A Rosenthal. Now that I’m finally getting a good chunk of the tune down I figure I should share some of what I worked out, because it took me forever to do it by ear. So, tonight I finally gave Soundslice a shot. The tune is nowhere near finished, but here’s where I’m at:
The transcription process was painless… mostly. There was one point, while tabbing for a while without checking the sync, that I realized my transcription was a single note behind the video. Somewhere I skipped something and tracking it down became a massive pain in the ass. With Soundslice, currently you can only slow down clips by 50% which, for me, with a tune like Valse A Rosenthal, is not enough. The notes come at you like machine gun fire and trying to watch them as they scroll across the screen, even at half tempo, while matching them to the audio is insanity. I wound up having to go through most of the transcription in 3-4 note blocks looped over and over again making sure they matched the video. It probably took me an hour to find the missing note. My girlfriend is very tolerant.
Overall though, I think the tool is great. Far less work than transcribing to paper and a good bit more useful. I’d really just like to see some functionality to cut the speed by more than half.
Update – July 14th 2013
Adrian actually found this post and sent me a really nice message about it. Awesome!
It turns out that only being able to slow down by at most 50% is a limitation of YouTube’s HTML5 player. I actually knew about this on YouTube so I had a hunch that this could be the problem but I wasn’t certain.
Regarding getting slightly off with a transcription… This is clearly a tough problem to solve. Especially when limited to half speed. If you’ve experienced this and have any ideas on how to make the process smoother I’m sure they would love to hear from you!
Posted July 4, 2013
A couple of weeks ago a good friend came up from Colorado for the weekend to play some tunes. The weather was so nice we couldn’t resist an outdoor recording session. Dusty Rider plays the banjo and I’m on fiddle. Enjoy!
Dusty has also been working on an album with his band, The Railsplitters, that should be out sometime soon. It’s going to be awesome.