Thursday, 23 January 2020

Did I inspire Sammy G?

I find Sammy G quite an engaging internet personality and quite often watch his videos when they pop up in my feed. I was watching this one and he mentioned he'd seen a cover of "Here Comes The Sun" when he was in grade 11 or 12, and then played a bit of it. It sounded _a lot_ like my cover, the timing is about right (I posted it in 2006), and that video has over a million views as it was featured back in the day.

The arrangement is basically a copy of an arrangement by John Keans, I changed very little. But he never played it on youtube as far as I know (I wish he had!) So... maybe I was there just at the right time for Sammy G and I didn't know it. There sure were a lot of other players who were there at the right time for me...the universal cookie jar continues to supply cookies! :-)

Check it out below, I've set the relevant start times for you.


Monday, 20 January 2020

Tabs into Musescore backlog

For years I have been tabbing out my arrangements and transcriptions. It's part of my music arrangement process. I don't need to do it so much anymore, especially on songs that aren't complex. So I have around 70 tabs from the last 15 years of effort. In the early days I used PowerTab version 1. It was fast and I knew it well. But it had known bugs, was no longer in development, and as Windows moved through versions it was increasingly less supported (I have a Windows XP virtual machine I use if I ever need to make PowerTab changes).

So I switched to Musescore a few years back. It is fully featured, I'm talking fully. So fully that I barely remember how to achieve all the different things I want. I'm constantly googling it, and saying "oh, that's right". Which says to me that it is a tool that you need to use regularly, and it is not completely intuitive. I still struggle with the hotkeys, I find myself pressing escape a lot and "starting again". Its concept is great (it is more "strict" than powertab) and the flexibility is outstanding and the scores are beautiful.  So I'm sticking with it.

But now I want to convert 50 of my old tabs from PowerTab to Musescore. Musescore does not support old PowerTab, but GuitarPro5 supports both. So I managed to PTB->GP5->MSCZ. Unfortunately I need to spend at least 10 minutes on each to standardise templates, fix errors, that sort of thing.

"JAW, why haven't you been using Guitar Pro all these years?" I have tried each version, but I always liked PowerTab more. Maybe I was being a bit anti-change and too used to PowerTab. I've scored out a few multi-instrument parts in the last few years and I have more planned, Guitar Pro is very guitar oriented, so it suits me even less these days.

So there you have it. I've got probably ten hours of effort to get all my tabs into Musescore up to a standard I will be happy with. It's only my OCD that will eventually drive me to do it - I don't need those tabs anymore, and I don't get paid for producing them, so I don't need to!

But it is really nice having them all up to date :-)

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Live stream rig

I've been building up hardware and software so that one day I could live stream to the tens and tens of people out there who would want it! Moreso, it feels like a good skill, and I love to ramble on about all things guitar, even better if someone was live and asking questions!  I'm not playing out at the moment so I miss audience interaction.

The gear:
2x Logitech C920 webcam (one is actually a C922, I don't think there is much difference). These are the current (2019) cheapest decent webcams for a live rig the google tells me. A better solution is DSLR cameras piped via HDMI into a capture card, but the cards are quite expensive $500 or so, and I don't know if I'm going to even enjoy live streaming. Put the cameras on tripods and have one capture full frame and one up close for guitar.

My usual Zoom H1n can go into USB live stream mode. All good there.

Lighting - I've got a couple of fill lights but just one with only half the bulbs on lights me up so there aren't distracting shadows. I should have been recording videos when I was young and good looking, those lights just make me look old :-) (I don't feel old. Well, most of the time.)

Computer - my trusty old Dell Latitude E6530. She's dated and clunky, but has 8GB RAM and two dual i7 cores running at 2.9GHz, and enough USB3 ports to deal with the large bandwidth that HD webcams throw at it. I bought it at an online auction 5 years ago and haven't found a requirement to upgrade it yet.

The Software
Musescore. I'm not as fluent in it as I was the original Powertab, and the revised Powertab from a few years back didn't grab me, they changed it too much. Musescore frustrates me somewhat, but the scores it makes are beautiful, and it has _everything_ you could possibly need for scoring.  Since I also arrange these days for multiple instruments, which is does really well, Musescore is my go-to.

OBS Project. Apparently the gamers streamers choice, it's freeware and it's really good! You can tell it about your cameras and microphones and the application you are running, and arrange scenes. and hotkey between those scenes. It even let me put a live bandpass filter on my  microphone (I dislike prominent mid frequencies, I want a solid bass and high frequencies, it has that "professional" sound).

Windows 7. Yeah, I'm still living in the past, I use Windows 10 and all the variants of Windows Server at work, but you know what, I plug in the webcams and the mic as USB and Windows 7 instantly knew what they were, and it all just worked.

I ended up making 5 OBS Project scenes:
1 - one line of music, a small full frame thumbnail and the close up for the majority of the screen. I can kinda fit all this together so you get to see everything at once.
2 - mostly music and two thumbnails of the webcams. To talk about music.
3 - Small full frame thumbnail and close up filling the screen but no music. For when the music is getting in the way.
4 - just the close up
5 - just the full frame.

I hotkey'd this to 1,2,3,4,5 on the keyboard, so I can quickly click between the scenes. Musescore is running side by side with OBS Project so as I move around that you get to see it too.

The Delivery
So then it is up to me to make a compelling video! Got the tools, can I do anything with it? Ha ha, the more you do it the easier and better it becomes - well that's my thoughts. I am prone to waffle and I forget to mention important things, but being able to speak about a subject on the spot is a good skill to have. I recorded a test, up on youtube already at, let's see what the tens and tens of people who watch it say.


Saturday, 23 November 2019

What's happening November 2019

I'm currently obsessed with a song. Well, two actually, one was about 3 weeks ago, the other from a few days ago. It's hard to be properly obsessed with two songs at the same time, so one moved into the other. Fortunately I'd nearly finished the first before the second arrived.

(I have a lot of other things I should be doing. My poor wifey deserves better.)

The first is ELO Telephone Line. Not sure why it came back into my life, loved it as a kid, love it when I hear it, must have been a "heard in shops 'I can fingerstyle that'" usual thing. Own arrangement, it's pretty good, I just can't play it well yet ;-) Here's bits of it in a demo:

Telephone Line demo:

The second was a Naudo, posted a few days ago. Chicago "If You Leave Me Now". He absolutely nailed it. Had to do it. When a song is sung high/falsetto it works really well as fingerstyle, because the melody sits nice and high above the bass and mid fill. This particular song has some nice complex chords in it. In fact so does Telephone Line. I must be getting in touch with my inner Jazz musician; the one who appreciates more than just basic rock. Here's bits of it in a demo, it is much rougher than the previous:
If You Leave Me Now demo:

There you go! Busy!

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Guitar YouTubers and what videos to post

I noticed that one of my favourite fingerstyle guitarists, Jake Reichbart, has started live streaming. I'm always interested in what the professional fingerstyle guitarists out there have to say so I've been watching him (not live though, timezone issues).

Note: the guitar YouTubers I particularly follow are:

  • Naudo Rodrigues. Just plays fingerstyle covers. "Just". The guy is a genius. I have modeled my playing on his style for more than a decade now from just watching and transcribing.
  • Jake Riechbart. Just plays fingerstyle covers generally with a jazz feel. "Just". Recently streaming.
  • Paul Davids. Talks about many interesting guitar topics, very knowledgeable and has a nice presentation style.
  • Sammy G. He's quirky, interesting, a true musician and he talks about stuff in that vein. I don't think he is a fingerstyle player at heart, but when I've heard him fingerstyle, he's pretty good at it.
  • Allen Mathews. Professional Classical guitarist. Hugely generous with his instructional videos, so much good stuff, and even though I'm not a classical guitarist I was born from classical guitar, and I can relate to almost everything he talks about.
  • Kelly Valleau. Just plays fingerstyle covers. "Just". But his attention to arrangements is outstanding. I love it when he takes a minimalist approach and every note counts. I'd like to be like that!
  • Adam Neely. Bass player, quirky, but another true musician. Talks about proper music theory which I generally don't understand, but just enough for me to have an idea what he is talking about.

There are many other guitarists in my feed, but these listed are the ones that post most frequently and generally with something I'd like to see. Now Jake Reichbart will post a song, and has recorded an instructional video on it, so you can pay him some cash and he will provide you with it. So the more views he gets, the more sales he would get. Jake mentioned during one of his streams was how his viewership has dropped off, which affects his income stream. How previously he would post something and have thousands of views in a short period of time, but now it's more like hundreds of views. I have noticed the same with the other guitarists I follow. They have many subscribers, they release a quality video, but after a week maybe a few thousand views. No more million views in a week!

I think the days of targeting youtube views is probably over. As in making a video specifically for people to watch because you think that is what they want to watch and will get lots of views. If the people who are really good at it are running out of reach then it's all over. I love to make a good video, I won't settle for poor quality audio, and I only ever posted what I thought people might like to see. So generally just a song, not me nattering. But now, I think it's okay for me to put stuff out there I hadn't previously done in the past. That slow motion video I posted the other month - generally not liked. But I wanted to do it, so it doesn't matter! My "Jawmunji Talks" videos, which I used to post elsewhere but now post on my main channel - they are generally enjoyed, I look forward to posting more in the future...and I want to try live streaming. Maybe over the Christmas holidays.

YouTube - tough, but also liberating!