Saturday 18 June 2011

Video blog: Arrangements in progress June 2011

In an effort to try and improve my videoing skills, I've put together a video blog. I talk a bit about two of my current arrangements, "Us and Them" and "TNT", the sort of stuff I'm putting into them. From the video production point of view, it's my new webcam hooked into my laptop now running windows 7, but still captured with virtualdub. Took me a while to get the webcam and windows 7 to agree, I still have work to do in the area. I managed to put some bits of tab in as overlays using some other software, see what you think, I reckon it worked alright.

I noticed playing it back that I'm still a bit camera shy/awkward, I'm getting better at it, but I do say too often "this bit is easy, you'll work that other bit out, it's all simple" etc etc - sorry, I think it is a nervous habit. It's not actually easy, I'm not trying to be condescending. Really!

Anyway, this is a video blog, so enough text already!

Monday 6 June 2011

What's happening June 2011

Poll 3 results are in, I'm quite enjoying these polls. The thing about polls is that people like to vote on them - they are quick, easy, and kinda fun. The site is getting around 500 hits per day, which is largely due to YouTube people coming for tabs, but nonetheless the stats show me that around 1 in 40 visitors still vote on a poll.

This poll was "How many times a week do you play guitar?", the results from 184 voters show me that you are pretty serious with your playing!

89 (48%) : Every single day 
65 (35%) : Almost every single day 
20 (10%) : 2 or 3 times a week 
6 (3%)   : Once a week 
4 (2%)   : Less than once a week 

I've been getting a bit more playing in than normal myself, and, not surprisingly, the more I play the better I play. Last week I felt like I was playing great! Just my usual repertoire; but everything was flowing and it felt really good. The beauty of being "in the zone" is that you start to get more emotion and feeling into your playing. Which makes it even more enjoyable. Basically it goes something along the lines of: learn how to play the guitar; learn how to play a song; learn how to play the guitar well; learn how to play the song well; be able to pour emotion, love, heart into the song! Okay, maybe a tad oversimplified.

I even dragged the amp out into the backyard, cranked it, and went through some songs I was enjoying playing. Wifey was not all that pleased: "Why do you have to play so loud? I think that is rude to do that to the neighbours." But, in my defence, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and it was the first time this year I have played plugged in. Playing acoustic unplugged and plugged is different; I usually only play unplugged. If I ever get around to lining up some gigs (I'll save that for another blog) I need to be able to play plugged in. I need the speaker loud enough that I can't hear the guitar I'm holding, just the sound that is being amplified to me. And then, I play off that sound.

I put my phone down in front of the amp in record mode, sadly, it recorded 45mins of auto-gained distortion. I'm quite sure nobody would want to listen to a recording of me play for 45mins, but there *might* be somebody, so I'll tweak some settings on the phone and record again next time. Promise.

Speaking of recording, I watched a YouTube clip of kjjmusic play "Air on G string" last night. Beautifully played, but what really captured my attention was the superb audio recording. He'd used a Zoom Handy H1. Up until that moment, I thought my plugged in recording was pretty good. The H1 took digital recording up another notch. NOOO!!! Now I want one! :)

Changing subject; apparently, some of my mates like to know when I'm going to next put out a video. Well, I'm in a strange place where I have "Take me Back" done but I'm not happy enough with it yet. Also, I'm past the honeymoon period, and I've stopped enjoying playing it. Usually I have recorded a video before I've stopped enjoying it. (And in 6-12 months, I will probably start enjoying playing it again. Circles and cycles :)). "Howzat" is great, but I need to create the bridge. Which requires time and effort. I don't think I can let that one out the door without the signature key-change/bridge. So, on hold. And finally, my AC/DC medley which consists of "You shook me all night long", "Who made who", and...well there's the problem. I've got the first two ready to go, but I don't know what to do with the third. Yes; it needs a third. I wanted to go with "Back in Black" but I haven't been able to arrange anything cool/playable enough for it. Toying with "TNT", which would be simple enough, and probably quite effective, but again, time and effort. I'm enjoying just playing too much at the moment!

Meanwhile, I was going to say something about my guitaristy. Wasn't going to, was going to...well, maybe let me skirt around it a bit.

I follow blogs of other musicians, and guitar teachers, and well, they are great. Consummate professionals, all class, great people to boot. Passionate about music. Live it, breathe it, want to share it with you. Now I haven't self deprecated for a while, but just to clear up any misconceptions with my mates - I'm not a musician, far from it. I play the guitar pretty well but that's it - so long as you aren't looking for perfection, I strive for "good" not "excellent". Because playing the guitar represents only a small (but important) part of my life. Additionally guitar for me is at least 50% "a physical challenge" as it is music, and I'm a persistent bugger when it comes to challenges; I don't stop. I describe myself as a "programmable guitar playing robot". And I like to talk. And I like to share.

But what I found was there are other people out there - in fact probably the norm, not the exception - just like me. Guitar is a hobby that brings joy; who don't have the time or inclination to immerse themselves in all-things-music, who in fact just want to be able to play some nice fingerstyle even if they have no idea what they are doing; even if it is just programmed in like a robot. Welcome to one of the middle grounds of music. I hope I've helped out in your quest for joy. We are here (hand on heart gesture). Amen Brother, and Sister.

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Well, that was definitely true to form original JAWs Guitar Ramblings. See you again when I have something more coherent to say!