Don’t Fear the REAPER

For most recording of vocals and instruments (i.e., anything not a Caustic synthesizer) I’ve been limping along with Audacity for Windows. The most it has to recommend it is that it allows me to record and edit .wav audio and it’s free. It leaves a bit to be desired, however, in the number of signal processing effects available and that they can’t be applied in real time.
So a few days ago I installed Reaper version 5-point-something and I’ve been watching tutorial videos on teh YooToobz to learn the general layout and workflow. It looks pretty sweet, being a full-featured DAW that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars like Ableton, Cubase, Reason, Cakewalk, or the like. $60 should be quite affordable by the time my birthday rolls around in July, and I’m sure they’ll forgive me going over the 60-day trial period a little bit in the meantime. The only way the trial version differs from the licensed version is a nag screen on startup, easily dismissed after a few seconds with a mouse click, reminding users that the program isn’t free.

I’m not going to be one of those cheesedicks that uses the trial version forever on the free – Cockos has been totally cool releasing an unlocked, ungimped program that a prospective buyer can really give the full workout before committing dollars, and they should be properly thanked for not treating paying customers like criminals.

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Practice Log 2015.08.10-16

Monday 08.10
20:55-21:45 (50 min)
Instrument(s): guitar, Chapman Stick
Guitar: 15 min practicing chords from songs “We Could Share”, “Beautiful in Black”, and “Swamp”.
Chapman Stick: 35 min practicing “Fix It” playing both hands and singing, and trying to incorporate lead break in its proper place. Mostly practicing changeover from vamp to lead break and back to vamp. Also a couple of minutes playing “Night Ride Home” left hand chords.

Tuesday 08.11
21:30-22:15 (45 min)
Instrument(s): guitar, Chapman Stick
Guitar: 25 min; don’t remember what (typing this Thursday 8.13)
Chapman Stick: 15 min; got tired and went to bed.

Wednesday 08.12
21:00-21:30 (30 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” main chord sequence, work on switching to and from lead break. Also a little time on “The Monster Song” lead break.
Before instrument practice, some work on stitching together a drum arrangement for “Peter’s Lament” in Audacity.

Thursday 08.13
21:30-22:05 (35 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.
Guitar: 5 min; random noodling and riffing, and lead line to “Peter’s Lament”.
Before instrument practice, another attempt to stitch together a drum arrangement for “Peter’s Lament” in Audacity. Better than last night’s effort, but still needs fine-tuning.

Friday 08.14
21:30-22:05 (35 min)
Instrument(s): guitar
random practice before bed, after coming home from seeing a movie.

Saturday 08.15
19:30-20:00 (30 min)
Instrument(s): guitar
Noodling through AmpliTube to settle on a tone, and rhythm guitar riff, for the “Ralph Bakshi” remix.

22:15-22:45 (35 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” practice switching between main chord sequence and from lead break. “The Monster Song” main verse/chorus sequence and some practice of lead break.

Sunday 08.16
18:00-18:30 (30 min)
Instrument(s): guitar
More work on the “Ralph Bakshi” remix, settled on an auto-wah tone and recorded some rhythm strumming of two different voicings of chords.

Practice Log 2015.08.03-09

Monday 08.03
Fuck-all. Still recovering from a week of County Fair Hell; no time to practice.

Tuesday 08.04
21:24-21:54 (30 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” playing both hands and singing, and trying to incorporate lead break in its proper place.
“The Monster Song” playing both hands and singing, trying to incorporate lead break in proper place.
A couple of minutes playing harmonic minor scale on treble strings starting with first finger.

Wednesday 08.05
21:25-22:05 (40 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
A couple of minutes playing chords of “What I’ve Done”.
“Fix It” playing both hands and singing, and trying to incorporate lead break in its proper place.
“The Monster Song” playing both hands and singing, trying to incorporate lead break in proper place.

Thursday 08.06
21:35-22:05 (30 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” playing both hands, practicing change from vamp to lead break and back again.

Friday 08.07
20:45-22:25 (40 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” playing both hands, practicing change from vamp to lead break and back again.
“The Monster Song” practicing lead break, particularly left hand, sometimes also playing whole-note right hand chords.

Saturday 08.08
21:30-22:02 (32 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” playing both hands, practicing change from vamp to lead break and back again.
“The Monster Song” practicing lead break, particularly left hand, sometimes also playing whole-note right hand chords.
A couple of minutes practicing left hand 2-octave scales starting with first finger, major and harmonic minor.

Sunday 08.09
14:40-15:10 (30 min)
Instrument(s): guitar
Practice fingering open position and barre chords, and playing 2-octave major scales. Some attempts to work out fingering for harmonic minor scales.
Half-assed attempts at pieces of “Medusa”, “Peter’s Lament”, and “Innocent Victim”.

17:58-18:14 (16 min)
Instrument(s): guitar
Practice fingering open position and barre chords (changes to “Beautiful in Black” and “We Could Share”), and playing 2-octave major scales.
Half-assed attempts at intro to “Innocent Victim”. Also noticed slight buzz on B string. 😦

21:46-22:18 (32 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“The Monster Song” lead break, some outchorus.
“Fix It” lead break, practice integrating lead break, run through of whole song.

Practice Log 2015.07.19-25

Sunday 07.19
~15:45-16:40 (start time approximate; about an hour practice)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“Fix It” with special attention to left hand bass part for lead break, and some work on lead break with both hands together.
“The Monster Song” with special attention to left hand lead break, and some work on lead break with both hands together.

Sunday 07.19
20:55-21:40 (45 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“The Monster Song” with special attention to left hand bass part for lead break, and some work on lead break with both hands together.
“Fix It” mostly playing the vamp and singing, and some work on lead break with both hands together.

Monday 07.20
21:20-21:55 (35 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“The Monster Song” with special attention to lead break with both hands together.
“Fix It” mostly playing the vamp and singing, and some work on lead break with both hands together.

Tuesday 07.21
21:47-22:26 (39 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“The Monster Song” mostly work on lead break with both hands together. Also some work on the outchorus and some practice playing the main verse and chorus.
“Fix It” mostly work on lead break with both hands together, and some practice playing the main section.

Wednesday 07.22
I’m a lazy asshole.
The closest I got to practicing tonight was listening to “Riding Tigers” by Slapp Happy on YouTube three times in a row, paying close attention to the instrumental. This song is on the list of pieces I want to learn and perform on Stick, though it is a more advanced tune than the ones I’m currently working on.

Thursday 07.23
21:47-22:34 (47 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“The Monster Song” primarily worked on lead break with both hands together; some work on verse/chorus and the chord break between chorus 2 and verse 3.
“Fix It” worked only on lead break.

Friday 07.24
22:35-22:55 (20 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“What I’ve Done” lead line and left hand chords.
“Fix It” a couple of minutes on lead break both hands.
“The Monster Song” only a couple runs through the lead break.

Saturday 07.25
08:41-09:00 (19 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“What I’ve Done” mostly left hand chords and some coordinating with right hand
“Monster Song” about a minute on lead break.

Saturday 07.25
21:09-21:46 (37 min)
Instrument(s): Chapman Stick
“What I’ve Done” lead line and left hand chords; also playing lead line over single-finger bass to facilitate finding left hand chord positions by touch.
“Fix It” playing both hands and singing, and trying to incorporate lead break in its proper place.
“The Monster Song” playing both hands and singing, trying to incorporate lead break in proper place.

Tomorrow (Sunday 07.26) will be last opportunity to practice until August (Monday 08.03); other obligations prevent setting aside any time.

“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.

(No Static At All)

Last Sunday, ian on the Single Cell Software forum shared a link to this site with what’s basically a “FM Synthesis for Dummies” so I figured it’s time to get schooled.

http://www.dubbhism.com/2010/06/tao-of-fm-synthesis-introduction.html

I read the introduction linked above, and then I went and watched Rej’s tutorial video for the Caustic FM synth, for the first time ever. Then I returned to dubbhism.com and searched the tag “TAO OF FM” to find the rest of the series. As of this writing I’m about halfway through part 5, and I’ve twiddled a bit with the Caustic FM synth.

Thinking my composition “Voltron” (one of four tracks on the planned Robotron EP) will use mostly FM synths to make it more “eighties”.