Thursday, 29 September 2011

sick puppy

Harvey is sick, he spent most of the evening throwing up and desperatly trying to eat anything in range, so he could throw up again.

I stayed up with him to keep him company and clear up any mess, but fortunatly he managed to keep down some antiemetics we were given last time he had a bad stomach, long enough to take effect...he's snoring away now so time to sneek to bed and let mother nature take its course.

Bina's going to take him to the vet tomorrow.

I need sleep!!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

and a bit of messing

I am going to redo these vocals at some point, Though I quite like the way I did it, there were a couple of points where I pushed too hard and the autotune failed to grab it....

but anyway, here's another version of Knocking with a bass line added, I don't play bass often so it does wander a bit, off riff, and there is 1 bum note that sticks out to me..see if you can spot it...

Since this was all done multi track I can always go back and redo it...but thought posting this might be interesting to look back on the way the thing progressed.

and after a bit more mesing

beter vocals and bass on this

theres a hiss on the vocal track I found out later how to fix but I just could not get a better vocal track done and after many attempts tbh I've got bored thats it for Knocking...going to try something else. It has been an interesting experiment though. Loads of fun.


hungover and 50 euro's lighter....what a great night

Awesome nights poker, I lost...oh well, but it was a fun night with my dutch friends finally getting to meet a few of my work collegues, one of who walked away with my 50 euros give or take a few cents.

Having a bit of an indian summer at the moment, our summer this year was unusually crap, but in its death throes it's brightend up quite a bit and everyone is making the most of the last few weeks of summer. Including us, we took the dog for a long walk at his favourite woods, after a false start to a local lake, which when we got there discovered it did not allowed dogs...oh well Harvey loved the woods more than I'm sure he would have done the lakes.

I've been getting a lot of positive feedback for my latest bit of garage band twiddle, its not really finished yet though so I hope they'll still like it when I am done.

I think most people are just surprised at the fact I can sing a bit (allbeit with mega help from autotune gadgets) and that my playing is getting better.
To me it still sounds rough and a bit ragged in places so I will work on it.

Time for a bit of lazy sunday afternoon, then a bit of prep work for the week ahead.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

more moozik

We had a go at this during our jam session last week, but we din't really know the words or chords so I decided to have a go at it on Garage band...3 tracks..I may add drums and bass later, and there is one (or 2) points where the vocals are ugg I might try and redo.

Hope you enjoy


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Now that I'm a singist

Due to a lack of male vocalists at our jams I've on occasion,and only as a last resort, had to do some of the singing....I know, I know...not nice, you can see people grimace and lose their timing when I start screeching.

As you can hear from my vocal performance on recent recordings I need very heavy signal processing and a touch of after take compression to make my voice sound in anyway reasonable.

I use my VL 4 at home to fix my voice and as I get more and more comfortable with it I feel I'm getting a sound I like and will stick with it, but I don't really want to take the VL4 to jams with me, its a bit big and its now "fixed" into my home board...I'm carrying loads of gear as it is, and this was the very reason I built my mobile board, so the VL4 is not ideal to cart about.

So I have bought a singist toy which can be carried in my mobile board box, and sits by the side when in use.


A tc-halicon C1 Correction Pedal.

It does the 2 main things my VL4 does, pitch correction and persona, ie makes it the voice sound lower or higher. I don't need the VL4's harmony and other functions at the jams cos there are usually a bunch of ladies to do that... So this fits the bill prefectly

A very very quick mess about shows that it seems to work fine, I may take it to tonights jam to play with since I don't think we'll have any male singers again tonight (groan).

I'm curious to know what it can do, maybe even hooked up with the VL4 as well :D

edit....its great...worked really well indeed, I was singing along with no one wincing or running out of the room....Though in typical computers are evil fashion, I can't seem to update its firmware with the supplied software, I may have damaged it having to abort the firmware update that refused to go past 0% after 20 mins....but no worries, I'll send it for a replacement. Still seems to work I wont be in a huge rush.

edit edit...used the mac to update it...its fine...:D liking my new toy a lot, the simplicity of it is fantastic even if it does not do all the nice harmony, warmth, and other twiddles my vl4 does, it does do exactly what it needs...I'll do another Stormy Monday to compare.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

2nd track on my new album

A wee bit more twiddling...though I rushed this so its not quite as good as the Thrill is gone, but I'll try again at the weekend when I have a bit more time to spare. The backing track is a bit short too, so it's a very simple version with no big twin guitar solo's.


Top 10

bloody hell, my blues twiddling has gone up to #8 in the Blues/General Chart.

I'm a top 10 recording artist lol

» today's position: # 16 in Blues
» today's position in sub-genre: # 8 in Blues General

Time to start planning my tour. I asked Bina to get me some M&M's but take out the brown ones....she wasn't impressed.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Getting the hang of this moosik lark.

After 1 day this is #12 in the Blues General "charts"
» highest in charts: # 30 (46,501 songs currently listed in Blues)
» highest in sub-genre: # 12 (19,996 songs currently listed in Blues > Blues General)

Quite pleased with that, I had not noticed that some of my "tunes" were actually in a chart, lol its just dawned on me, these are open to anyone who goes on that site..gulp...I thought it was just a repository to store sound clips.

Anyway, for future reference, this is Frankie, my Telecaster (I said strat on teh notes for some reason) going into my mobile board with the 808 on, but no amp, straight into the Mixer board, mixed with my voice then into Garage Band which has that nice Cm Backing track playing.
Done in 1 take after 20 or so tries to get the levels right and work out how to phrase it to suit.

Very pleased with the guitar work overall, could have done with a bit more play on dynamics, and a couple of twiddles are not really needed and hang in the air a bit, but I was singing and playing at the same time so it was more of feel thing so I left them in, I didn't do any post take edits at all, but I did add a bit of reverb and compression to beef it up.

Its all improvised as I was singing, but its very much on the theme of the original and just had to start with that opening vibrato note but after that I went with the flow, though of course a few trademark BB pings are in there ;)

Vocals are being autotuned to death by my VL 4 with a "big" persona setting to lower the tone and add a bit of depth to it...maybe a bit too much. I've finally worked out that the best way to use the VL4 is to actually try to sing in tune and to add some effects and tones to get a more naturual sound.

I've not really found a sweet spot that suits me yet, to my (and mums) ears this does not sound much like me (which is probably a good thing) but at least I've got out of the habit of setting everthing to 100...except me it needs it.

I missed out a verse cause I just could not get the phrasing on it right but its not missed that much.

of course.....nothing quite beats this amazing version....I'll keep working on it.
Lyrics | B.B. King lyrics - The Thrill Is Gone lyrics


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Finally, storage problems resolved

On obvious issue with having a large collection of wood and string beauties, is that they need to be stored..I have some on the walls, which look great btw, and some on stands in the corners, but I have to admit I have reached capacity now...and a few of my babies are stored away in their cases not seeing the light of day very often.

Being one of those people who wants to have my guitars on show and easily to hand for a bit of plinkyplonkystrummywummy stuff. Storage and display is a bit of an issue....But there is this, wonderful item

Its a Hercules 6 way stand. I've been trying to get hold of one of these for ages, but they don't have many european stockets, and by the time you factor in shipping (if indeed they will ship them to The Netherlands) buying from the US or UK has been bothersome.

But happy to report I finally found a stockest in Belgium who has stock and will deliver...not actually all that far from where we are but lack of car and fear of buying too much other stuff if I go into a shop stops me visiting.

This should tidy up my guitar corner quite nicely. I have one of their 3 way stands and its a solid bit of kit, as you would expect from the name. I'll be able to display all my guitars when this comes and put the cases away in the shed or someplace untill I need to transport them..So in fact it will provide a bit more space....hmmmm maybe I will visit Belgium after month.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Larry is sick

With the arrival of my new pedal board and the ability to just plug in a wireless bug ratehr than messign with wires, I have taken to rotating my guitars when I play...probably not a smart idea for practice reasons but for noodling around its a lot of fun and ensures that every one of my babies gets a little bit of loving.

It also shows me the vast differences in tone and output from my guitars, quite staggering, you don't really spot it till you plug in a succession of guitars and find which are the loud screamers, which are throaty and which are the quiet warm homey ones.

And then there's Larry, my GS60 hmmm something not right with her, she's got a serious case of laryngitis. When plugged in I just can't get enough output to drive the amp or pedals..even the tuning pedal can only pick up on a low E and A.
Considering she has a van Zandt humbucker in her bridge, which should scream, something is very wrong. I had noticed on occasion she does go quiet when I switch pups, but flicking back seemed to resolve it..clearly a problem which has now got worse and perhaps no longer resolvable with a simple tapping of the electrics

Time for her to take a trip to the guitar shop and get her checked out.


Friday, 2 September 2011

New Rules Suck

As we start the new academic year, we're being bombarded with meetings and information. Some if it interesting, some of it useless,to me at least, some of it quite worrying.

Interesting and worrying was our general lack of graduationg students. This is not a reflection on our staff, but more a problem with the fact that our standards and resulting drop out rate are so high that by the time they come to 4th year we don't have many students left. Or they've taken an extra year to complete.

Its really quite a big issue, any university is measured by the quantity and quality of its graduates, we've got quality all right, several high ups in the industry are starting to say that. But we need to address the quantity.

That's going to mean a lot more pressure on students to get on with things, there's far too much larking around at certain key stages so we're going to monitor that more closely and make more effort to keep them on track.

Of course this means work for staff who act as mentors (like me) but overall its worth it. It should mean our low/mid skill range students will get more attention and hopefully we can push them forward rather than having them fall away as has happened in the past. OFten they are perfectly good students who just take a bit longer to "get it".

One or 2 things I am not happy with though, which may in the future cause issues for my job security.

There was a huge scandal recently over a university chain called InHolland which in light of similar issues with poor graduation figures, took a foolish route of downgrading the quality of the courses and basically let students get thier degrees for no work. This totally undermined those degress and many students have been forced to hand their certificates back and seek alternative tution to graduate again.

Madness of course, but once uncovered it created a massive stink at government levels, which of course has produced a typical political knee jeerk reaction with several new laws being proposed.

Some make forcing students and schools to pay for delayed graduations, (education here is heavily financed by the government so putting a limit on how long you can take before having to pay will be a major issue for slow students).

But others are just a bit daft...Like the insistance all teachers/lecturers are educated to Masters level....yeah you guessed it, I don't have a Masters. I don't even have a degree. I had planned to go to university to be a Vet, but when I messed up a year at school and got lower than needed grades I didn't go and instead drifted into computers.

When I got into games, there really were no equivilent degree courses that related to the games industry. I, like others of my generation helped lay the foundations of the game industry as it is now, and like others of my generation was self taught and have been constantly motivated to maintain and update my skills by the constant rise in industry standard.

I won't ever claim to obe the greatest coder around, but I do feel I am an industry veteren, an expert in my field and good at what I do...Thats why I was hired so many times as a freelancer as well as a code slave. Its also why I was hired to teach at NHTV.

How would an academic background help me be better at that? Academia and the Games industry have in the past been so far apart in both standards and goals that its long been known that game courses were generally outdated, impractical or even usless for entry into the games industry.

This is why I was so attracted to NHTV's IGAD program, here was a university clearly making efforts to build bridges and produce industry standard graduates, not academics with paper qualifications who would still need a years training if they were ever hired, many of whom may even end up going back to academia to teach without ever having produced a commercial game in anger. Are these the kind of people the government wants to teach the next generations?

After nearly 30 years in the industry nearly 70 self coded projects, 100's of producer credit projects and god knows how many lines of code and sleepless nights working out how to do things that now go into books I would have to read to gain a Masters, and quite possibly being supervised by people with a fraction of my expereince and knowledge???

A Masters will not make me better as a coder, it will not add significantly to my knowledge, (though I am not so arrogant to assume I won't learn something, even my students teach me new things which I love.)
It won't make me a better will probazbly teach me a few new things, show up some bad habits I have and perhaps even force me to rethink the way I do certain things...but I do that every time I start a project. So how will it make me a better teacher having MA or whatever after my name?

The idea that a masters or Phd makes you a better teacher is nonsense.

If this does become law, and the university tries to enforce it...I could have issues. Fortunatly I have a life time contract here, which has no stipulation about qualifications so I could fight it..
And I will, for as long as practical. But hopefully it will only apply to people who are working towards life time contracts. Bina for example...she however WANTS to do a Masters so she has my full support.

I don't... (I won't say never, since I LOVE my job and want to keep it), want to do a masters. I will not be forced to take a qualification I don't need, don't want and don't see any need for.

Hopefully this will be recognised as a human rights issue...we'll have to wait and see if the law comes into force and people start to fight it..who knows I might be the test case ;)

Rant over.......

I also worry that this insistance on a masters is going to drive away potential industry people who want to move into teaching. IGAD is now almost totally populated by industry nerds who are jumping at the chance to show students how it should be done as industry demands. Many in fact there becuase of my spreading the word.

A few of those don't have masters or life time contracts, and are now being forced to take them...some more willingly than others.

But I know many many people in the industry who are not academically qualified who would be great teachers, able to provide incredible uptodate insight into the black arts of game development and who would now be unable to take up a position here....unless of course they WANT to do a pointless 2 years masters course to prepare them for an insutry they already excel in!!!

Thats just plain daft. I really do hope that Academia does not start retreating back to its ivory towers insisitng it knows whats best for the games industry while the Game industry again establishes it market driven 10 year lead on academia as a result of idiotic blinkered shortsightedness.

At least IGAD for the next few years at least has Industry bods at the help producing top grade people......but a few years from now, we're going to need new..old blood to keep us in front, and it won't be there!

Rante really over now!!