I was messing around with iMovie a few days ago, trying to figure out how to use my USB audio interface with my built in iSight camera (to make lessons, video demos, etc). Jack was with me, so I asked him to test it out for me. This is what he did.
I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff. He does accents (French, Eastern European, etc) and all kinds of crazy stuff. He can be really funny, but he has a 6-year-old sense of humor, so he can be pretty unfunny when he’s trying to be. He tells some painful knock knock jokes. Anyway, I thought that this video was hilarious, and Jenny told me that I have too much guitar stuff on this blog.
That reminds me, I want a G&L ASAT Classic Custom.
Once again, it’s testing season here at school. Since I don’t have a homeroom, I am not responsible for actually administering a test. As a result I am sitting outside in the “trailer park” (the temporary building annex) waiting for testing teachers to need something. Fortunately, 1) we have wi-fi here and 2) it’s not totally freezing today. Last year it was really cold, rainy, and miserable. Anyway, I just thought that I would post a few updates.
In a few weeks I will be attending the TMEA (Texas Music Educator’s Association) conference in San Antonio. It’s a really big conference with a bunch of seminars and clinics to hear new ideas, new music, and network with other music teachers. There are also a lot of performances by honor bands from other schools and all-state groups (compliations of some of the best students from the entire state).
I haven’t been to the conference in a couple of years, so it will be good to go again. It serves as a reminder of why I’m doing this teaching thing. It’s easy to get depressed by the apparent lack of student growth, especially when many of your students are fairly apathetic about the whole thing in general. Music education can quickly become a daily grind, when it should be an exciting thing – a job where you get to teach young people how to make music. I sorely need a shot in the arm.
In other news, I’m getting back into the pedal building thing again. I built a bunch of pedals a while back, but I eventually sold or traded them off. I just wasn’t happy with the sounds that I was getting from them. I recently ordered enough parts to begin working on a few projects. I am going to build a Bluesbreaker (with the King of Tone mods), a Lovepedal COT50 clone, and a ’69 four knob fuzz. If nothing else, they should be fun to put together.
As if building guitar pedals wasn’t geeky enough already, I further established my geek credibility by getting an Xbox 360 for Christmas. I have been playing Fallout 3, which is a really fun game. It’s not quite as deep or open-ended as the first two Fallout games on PC, but it’s still totally awesome. If you don’t know, it’s based in a post-apocalyptic wasteland 200+ years after a nuclear war. Your character has spent his/her entire life in a fallout shelter called a vault, but is now out on a mission to find his/her father, etc. Anyway, the game is very immersive, and has really good graphics and sound. I’m not sure how the graphics compare to other 360 games, since this is my first game, but it looks pretty awesome to me. Anyway, my Xbox Live gamertag is phintze if you’re on and want to add me.
I’m not sure that this is a great idea, but I’m going to do it anyway.
I recently finished recording that little tune for Jenny’s site. A few days ago, I mentioned that I would post it here when I was done, but I’m going to do a little more than that. I’m going to post the work-in-progress stages, which is kind of revealing. There are a lot of bad notes and questionable recording techniques to be heard here.
The first two tracks are pretty rough – number one in particular. I recorded it in my office at school during lunch with the built-in mic on my laptop. There were a couple of kids in the room and you can hear them banging around in the background. I just wanted to get something down before I forgot it. Oh, and I was playing one of the school’s nylon string guitars, so it sounds really plucky and there’s no sustain.
The second recording has a little more polish to it. I used an actual microphone, a steel string acoustic and I threw in some garageband percussion loops. Jenny thought that it was a little too fast, so I slowed down the tempo for the third and final version. I play a lot of clams on this one, but there are some cool little licks, even if I do say so myself.
On the final version, I recorded a lot of layers. 2 rhythm guitars (panned hard left and right), 2 lead guitar tracks, shaker, and djembe. I am not a good djembe player (and I don’t really know the best way to mic a djembe), so I turned it way down in the mix. I am not entirely satisfied with it, but I need to step away from it for a while. I was thinking about throwing some electric guitar in (over the C# minor section in the middle), but that just may be my inner wannabe rock god trying to get out.
When Jenny redid her photography website several months ago she asked me to do some music for it, so I came up with something really quick. It was recorded very unprofessionally – with a borrowed mic and dead strings. I didn’t even have a mic stand, so I had to rig it up so that the mic was laying on my bed while I sat in a low stool that just happened to line up with the soundhole. Somehow, the recording turned out okay and there have been a lot of positive comments about the music.
Over the last couple of months, however, Jenny has gotten tired of hearing the same song and, well, let’s say that she has been encouraging me to come up with some new stuff. She even bought me a new mic and a mic stand for Christmas to aid in the endeavor.
I ordered some hand percussion (shakers, a tambourine, and a small djembe) to add some rhythmic interest. I am not a percussionist at all and I have no idea about proper technique, so I’m just trying to get decent sounds out of this stuff. I’ve got a rough draft in Garageband at the moment, and my next tune is starting to come together. I’m going to try to finish it up this week, and I’ll post it here when it’s finished. I’d appreciate any feedback that you may have.
[Note: I wrote all of this on Tuesday morning, but I'm just now getting around to posting it.]
I’m sitting in a wedding chapel in Dallas as I write this. Jenny is shooting some bridal portraits for a client and I’m tagging along. We will both be shooting the wedding in May. I have never shot a wedding before. Actually, I have never been involved with a professional shoot. I have been doing photography type stuff for a pretty long time (I was on the yearbook staff in high school) so I know about apertures and F stops and all that.
Anyway, the point is that I’ll be sitting here for a while, so I figured I would work on a new post. This one is going to be about the acquisition of gear and how/if it relates to the actual music making process.
I spend a lot of time researching new gear purchases. It has come to my attention that I probably spend more time looking at pedals, amps, guitars, microphones, and speakers than I do playing guitar and making music. That is kind of a depressing fact. I think that the whole GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) thing doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with music. There are many guys who have much humbler rigs than I do who are quite prolific in their output.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to trade my Stulce for a Blues Junior or my Les Paul R7 for an Epiphone. However, I could make music that has the same emotional impact with either setup.
If this is true, then why do I/we spend so much time on the internet shopping for the next pedal/guitar/amp/whatever? For one thing, writing can be hard. It can be a grueling process. It’s much easier to just buy something and say “this pedal is it. It’s going to solve all of my problems.” It would be nice if that were the case. While that shiny new piece of gear is nice, great tone is not a substitute for great chops or a great new song.
I need to start spending more time with the guitar in my lap and less time on my laptop. That’s almost a play on words – I didn’t mean for that to sound cutesy.