Practice Log 2015.08.17-23

Monday 08.17
20:45-21:45 (60 min)
Instrument(s): guitar, Chapman Stick
Guitar: 30 min with AmpliTube working at rhythm & tone for “Ralph Bakshi”.
Chapman Stick: 30 min “Fix It” and “The Monster Song” primarily practicing lead breaks.

Tuesday 08.19
21:30-22:12 (42 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” lead break, “The Monster Song” lead break and outro, “What I’ve Done” chords and piano line.

Wednesday 08.19
21:55-22:32 (37 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” lead break, “The Monster Song” lead break and outro, “What I’ve Done” chords and piano line.

Thursday 08.20
21:50-22:17 (27 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick, guitar
Stick: 30 min, “Fix It” main chord sequence, work on switching to and from lead break. Also a little time on “The Monster Song” lead break and outro.

Friday 08.21
21:30-22:05 (35 min)
Instrument(s): guitar
random practice before bed, after coming home from seeing a movie.

Saturday 08.22
afternoon (approx 1 hr)
Instrument(s): guitar, bass guitar
Recording in Audacity through AmpliTube, attempting to get parts for “Ralph Bakshi” remix.

21:25-21:50 (25min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” practice switching between main chord sequence and from lead break. “The Monster Song” main verse/chorus sequence, lead break, and outchorus. “What I’ve Done” chords.

Sunday 08.23 – times approximate; didn’t take notes at the time
approx. 15:00-15:55 (55min)
Instrument(s): guitar
Transcribed first 8 bars and pickup bar of “Riding Tigers”.

approx. 21:00-21:25 (25min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” practice switching between main chord sequence and from lead break. “The Monster Song” lead break.


Lights, Camera, Whatever

Stick practice continues apace; I think I might have missed a day sometime last week but those lapses are rare. Continuing to practice “Fix It” and “Night Ride Home” and a couple of days ago added “The Monster Song” to the routine. Also have started to practice singing “Fix It” while playing.
Yesterday afternoon I propped the iPhone on the computer desk and recorded myself playing and singing a few bars of “Fix It” mostly as a proof-of-concept, to check the overall sound quality as well as the balance between instrument and vocal. Overall not bad, though the thickest bass string clicks loudly against the fret rails.
Since the iPhone as I have it set up won’t let me post video to teh PhizBuk (I use the Chrome browser and not the FB app) I repeated the experiment today with the iPad, and sang in full voice rather than the halfhearted first take on the iPhone. Hoping with a couple more weeks’ practice I might be able to record an actual-by-doG performance and upload to teh YooToobz.

Also today I started on Bob Culbertson’s video Stick lessons on teh YooToobz. He has a playlist on his channel that collects them all, but they’re strangely out of sequence – like for example the “Getting Started” lesson is fourth in the list. WTF Culbertson?

Okay, back to it; get in maybe 20 minutes before bedtime.

Church of the Instrumentality

At long last I’ve been recording through the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB interface that I got last December. The current project is a cover of “Fix It” by Psapp, with a Chapman Stick arrangement and some supporting keyboard (organ and maybe some pad as well) plus a basic drum beat programmed in Caustic.

I started with each side of the Stick output plugged into one of the 2i2 channels and recorded in Audacity for Windows, about a month ago. More recently, a couple of weeks ago AmpliTube for iOS was a featured free app (normally $20) so I grabbed that and started putting the melody strings of the Stick through the iRig into my iPad running AmpliTube.

I still can’t play the arrangement live, so I started with fingering each individual chord and sounding it multiple times, with a metronome set to the song’s tempo (102), with the resultant recording to be sliced in Audacity and stitched together in Caustic as PCMSynth samples.
Fake it until you can make it, right?
At first I did both hands at once – holding the bass chord while tapping off-beat eighth-note chords in the treble – but soon decided to record each hand separately so that I could adjust the balance between the two more easily. I’ve even more recently thought of importing each hand into a separate PCMSynth so that I can treat each part with a different effects chain and mixer channel.

As a leftover from the both-hands-at-once recording technique, I left both Stick outputs plugged into the Scarlett with the treble being processed through the iPad and the bass recording dry. Now I want to re-record the bass parts again, putting them through the iPad as well – AmpliTube has one bass amp setup available without any further in-app purchases, though I think I’ll keep any effects in Caustic since slicing and looping a processed source signal might show some obvious artifacts.

Once the Stick parts are recorded to my satisfaction, I’ll work on playing the keyboard through the 2i2 as well, rather than just program synth parts in Caustic. I’m planning that the beatbox will be the only Caustic native instrument I use on this track.
Also this will be the first time I record vocals through the Scarlett, which should yield much better results than just plugging into the computer’s mic input.

“Drink All the Booze, Produce All teh Things!”

Got a chance last night to play with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and the Ableton Live Lite software that came with it. I got it set up sometime last month but getting it set up was all I really had time for. I think the pack-in software was Ableton Live 7 or 8, but I downloaded version 9 from Ableton’s site and the provided registration key still worked.

Watching tutorial videos for Ableton I learned how to record audio, and also how to tweak the settings to reduce the signal latency. The input and output buffer sizes were stupid high, but following the instructions in this video I was able to determine the minimum necessary buffer size, and reduce the latency down to around 20 milliseconds.

I don’t have an actual “MIDI controller” to connect to the computer, but I have a MIDI interface that I bought about fifteen years ago that connects to a PCs gameport. I don’t know if the PC I’m using even has a gameport though, so that might be obsolete gear and I would have to get a USB/MIDI interface to use my Yamaha keyboard. At least I can record the audio out from the keyboard, which has about a hundred patches so I’m not lacking for variety of timbres.

Next I look into exporting stems from Caustic and importing them into Ableton, and using them as scratch tracks as I record actual instruments like bass or keyboard.


After some weeks of procrastination, I worked a little more on “Butter Yo Shit” last night, finishing the bass line for the “verse” portion and making a tentative bass part for the “chorus”.

In other news, got a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 USB recording interface for Xmas, which I won’t be able to make use of until after I move sometime within the next month.

Also, last week I got an iRig interface for iPad/iPhone , which will let me plug an instrument into my iPad and use the AmpKit app to simulate a signal chain including effects, amp/cabinet, and microphone. Tried it for about five minutes with the Stick melody strings, and it sounded okay in the “clean” amp setting, but when I switched to “lead” I got screeching feedback. I remember reading about the feedback issue when checking reviews of the iRig, and that there’s a simple solution to the problem, but I don’t remember what it is, and I don’t really have the time to spare at the moment to figure it out (being in the middle of a house move, as stated above).

Anyway, hoping to get more done on “Butter” in the coming few days.