Minor Accomplishments

Finally worked my way through the introductory solo of Eric Johnson’s Cliffs of Dover tonight.  I remember the first Guitar Magazine I bought with Eric Johnson’s music featured on it back in the ’90’s, and feeling overwhelmed  at trying to work through it, not feeling adequate enough.  I remember feeling frustrated not being able to play fast, learning a new instrument, expecting a lot of myself.  Over the years I learned to just take my time and slow down.  One of the major lessons I learned about music was a lecture from my band instructor:  Anyone can play fast, but not everyone can play slowly with expression.  Anyone can play loud, but not everyone can play soft to where you can barely hear it.

That lesson was reinforced by my uilleann pipe instructor Brian Bigley, who encouraged me to really slow down and let the rhythms sink in, solidify the fingerings and understand what it is that I am playing.  So I spent the last couple weeks just learning a measure at a time of the solo.  I finally managed to get through playing it, albeit haltingly.  I’m proud of myself.

Bringing Focus Into the Mix

One of the best things I have been doing lately to bring focus into developing my music is actually doing it.  I’ve been going through a “falling-in-love-again” phase with the whole music thing by digging into the things that caused me to fall in love with music in the first place.  Playing songs I enjoy by bands that gave me the inspiration to play in the first place, like Van Halen, ZZ Top, Eric Johnson, etc.

So here is a diagram I put together while thinking of how instruments should be spatialized in a mixdown.  My thoughts on this were spurred from the problems I was having with the convolution reverb I was working on for my warm pad.  Then it hit me. Why should I be adding reverb to every instrument?  I then put this diagram together:

Record the dry signals, apply effects if necessary and as applicable to the instrument, then place it in a virtual space with appropriate stereo or 3d imaging.

Building the Ultimate Warm Pad

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I’ve been working on developing a warm pad sound using Csound, and I’m very close to getting the exact sound that I want.  It features 16 detuned oscillators that I’ve spent a lot of time tweaking to get the right sound.  While attempting to make a somewhat final adjustment (to which I would say the pad is next to darn perfect), I discovered a gross error.  I was attempting to set up a sample and hold modification to the detune to each oscillator, instead of having a global S/H.  Why detune based on the same source if I need randomness, right?  I couldn’t perceive any effect with my ear, so I printed out the values of each link of the chain to see what might be causing the issue.  While researching, I discovered my pink noise source used for my S/H was valuing negative.  The detune should be negative and positive.  Great!  Back to the drawing board.