Monday 9 August 2010

Drummer and Something...

Since my drummer mate Leith moved 25km's north and I moved 25km's south we haven't been together for a guitar-drum session. However, at work I found out that Rob, another electrical engineer, plays the drums. For a few months now we had tried to organise a get together, and finally it hashappened.

Playing solo instrumental fingerstyle with a drummer works quite well - the whole point of solo instrumental fingerstyle is to capture bass, melody and rhythm into one instrument. To some point you can capture percussive but generally it's not covered quite as well. Playing with a bass guitarist, lead guitarist even a singer, you might as drop back to "normal" guitar playing.

I knew Rob would be a good drummer, and I wasn't dissapointed. He's a bit like me in some of respects - he enjoys playing along with songs on his ipod - I like to work out arrangements of songs and play them to myself. Which means when you put two independent people like that together it's not so easy to mesh, both are used to "doing their own thing". Which means even more importantly those people need to be playing with other people! Music isn't a one man show (he says while still being a fierce solo instrumental fingerstyler :))

Rob sound is a bit more heavy rock/metal than mine (take note of the bass drum triples in "Sunshine of Your Love), but he slotted in with my mellow stuff just fine. Unfortunately the only recording device I could get happening for two instruments was the laptop internal mic, and I had forgotten even that was dodgy, so most songs got scrambled. A few survived, the mix is not good and the sound quality poor...and my playing was sub-par...but you've heard all that before from me so if you are game just have a listen :)

I was so annoyed about my inability to record good sound I had a fiddle with the laptop the next day, and managed to at least sort out the internal soundcard. However, on this new laptop I have not been able to get to synchronise video and audio...I've been ready to record a new video for youtube for a while, but I can't get the video and audio in sync. That's a problem with audio and video on PCs - hard to synchronise.

Well okay, easy to synchronise if you have an integrated device, for example a webcam - it clocks the video to the audio and pumps the data stream to the PC, you pretty much can't miss. But the microphone in a webcam is awful - what you want to do is use the video from the webcam, and the audio plugged in on your soundcard. However, when you can't get software to synchronise them both you will get nothing but frustration :(

I've got coming in on a slow boat from China a "USB guitar lead" - basically it plugs into your guitar, has an analogue to digital converter on the other end with a USB plug. You need fancy drivers to keep the latency (signal conversion delay) to a minimum; I'm hoping that will help with several of my issues. I'll report back on that in a later blog. If you can buy $AUD20 USB instrument leads I'll be buying several - each instrument in your band will just plug into a USB port and your multi-track software recorder can lay them all out into separate tracks, ready for post mixing and tweaking!

Meantime, While I was trying to sort out my laptop I recorded a song, link below. For a long time now I've wanted to arrange/cover "Something" by The Beatles. I took inspiration from Hiro who does a superb alternate bass version, but based it more heavily on Naudo's version. The key difference is while Hiro plays it in "proper" C, Naudo shifted it up to D which I just love. I haven't been able to put the George Harrison solo into it; not possible to play it in the right key (too much separation from the bass) and when shifted down an octave it just doesn't sound I'm just going to do a rough transcription of Naudo's improvised solo. See, that's one of the places where Naudo's brilliance lays - he improvised against a very well know solo and managed to make it sound of the same style, and made it sound great!

So for now, try out this recording sans-solo, still in the learning stages so it's rough. Yes, I will have tabs and I will record a video for youtube in due course for those who like the sound of it!



  1. Hi JAW!

    I've got a colleague who's an amateur drummer, he's been calling me to play some songs together. I'm afraid of it, beacuse sometimes I can't even play with the metronome :D.
    Listening to your recordings, I think I should give this play-together a try.

    Your new arrangement is very very nice, and the guitar sound is fantastic!

    Interesting, I listened to Naudo's solo and somehow it reminds me of George's singing in place of the later solo in Something's demo.
    I love troubleclef's version of the song, he plays the solo brilliantly. Well, he plays everything brilliantly.

  2. Another WOW!!

    I have been hacking at that song for a LONG time, now I have to start over...heheh...

    I need to work on the thumb independence. I saw in your blog somewhere that you gave a tab of a Beatles snippit to practice. I didn't get very far with that.

    Keep up the OUTSTANDING work here, it is quite an inspiration for me to push myself. AND thanks for educating me on Tommy Emmanuel, I might get to see him next month in Michigan!!

  3. Tommy Emmanuel was my original inspiration for getting heavily into fingerstyle...I still go to see him everytime he is in town, fantastic performer, great musician and such a nice fella. My style has gone in a slightly different direction, but that's the fun of it isn't it?!

    The song Something - yep, I've always loved it and I knew I'd get around to it one day. I'll probably post up a video and tabs in a months time, stay tuned! :)

  4. Ah, don't be afraid, I can't play to a metronome either...but it's a good aspiration to strive for. My drummer mate and I decided I would record some tracks of my stuff THAT I WILL PLAY AGAINST A METRONOME...and he will work out a drum beat and practise to it. I'm not looking forward to recording stuff to a metronome!

    Really, give playing with a drummer a try, I'm sure you will enjoy it, I certainly do.

    I'd forgotten about Troubleclefs version of Something, he only posted that one recently. Just re-listened, yep, it's very Troubleclef - fantastic and nobody will be able to play it except for him :) My version you will be able to play, it's shaping up to be straightforward. I'm aiming for deep subtleties in the playing and sound, I am starting to find it, that recording was halfway there, too many mistakes for my liking.

    That will be the trick with my version, intermediate level suitable enough to fumble your way through, but very difficult to really _play_

    ...if you know what I mean :)


  5. Hi Jaw, I missed that as I was on holiday in France for some time, with no internet, no tv, no radio. I think your version of Something is very very good, I like how it sounds relaxed with a quite slow tempo. Also the quality of the sound is terrific, it really brings a lot to it.
    About the songs with drums, it's a very good idea, as a fingerstyle player, adding a drum is probably the most natural thing if you're gonna add something, as you don't wan't to add another guitar (that goes without saying), no bass either, don't need it, but a drum is of a different nature... anyway you are lucky as it gives you a wonderful opportunity to improve your rhythm, you can see where it doesn't really fall in the right place (yet), but overall it sounds surprisingly good. This makes me very enthousiastic about fingerstyle

  6. (continuing)
    ... about fingerstyle guitar with drums or percussions, to the point that I would like to try if I can have the chance.

  7. Hey R, good holiday? Right time of year for it for you guys living on the bottom side of the world ;)

    Yep, drums are the most natural partner for fingerstyle. As you can tell, Rob and I have some work to do if we were to make it happen; mainly focussed on getting timing and tempo right. The natural tendancy when under pressure is to speed up; and the natural tendancy when playing along to an external tempo source is to synchronise to it. Add those two things together, a song that starts at 70bpm will probably end well over 100!