3rd Song in Demo Form

Posted: March 30, 2014 in music, Uncategorized
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I’ve just posted my third song of my five song EP to my Soundcloud account. I’m not doing it very quickly but I’m trying to keep pushing myself to finish the writing process. I know I’ll make changes as I track but now down to two more to finish writing.   I’m going to try to finish number four in two weeks.

EP Update

Posted: February 28, 2014 in music
Tags: , ,

Graham Cochrane at the Recording Revolution threw down a challenge to create more music this year.  That hit me because I have various “songs” in process but have never completed a package of those.  So I am actively working on a 5 song EP that I want finished.  This includes the songs, recording, mixing, master, and packaging.  It will be instrumental rock type songs and while I think the songs are pretty cool, what I am really looking to is finishing the project.  A project that I can say is done.  Not a demo, not something I’m “working” one, but done.  What happens after that I do not know but I will have a finished project and the experience that comes with it.  Of the 5 songs I have two fully completed demos (you can hear them on my Soundcloud account), two with the arrangement finished along with the basic melody, and one with the rough outline and hints of the melody.  I am going with the working title of Taste Of Freedom and the track listing looks like this:

1. Song for Stacy [3:34]  Demo Completed
2. Where are my Sunglasses [3:40]  Demo Completed
3. Sanctuary [3:56] Song outline and rough melody
4. Taste of Freedom [3:24]  Song outline and rough melody
5. Let it Go?  [?] Rough outline
As I finish the demos I’ll continue to post those out to Soundcloud.  I’m hoping to get 3 and 4 into sessions so I can create the reference tracks this weekend.  Once I finish the writing I’ll move onto tracking as I’ve got new pickups and some borrowed gear that should be a big upgrade.  Maybe I’ll try to get some behind the scenes video as I move into that phase to document how I’m doing that.

I’ve started a Coursera course for Android development.  We’ll see how much time I get for it, but I’ve got both Eclipse and Android Studio up and running with a couple of really simple apps to my phone and the emulator.  Week one was mostly that and some high level info about Android.  I’m definitely an Android enthusiast so I’m hoping to look more behind the curtain and ultimately get an app or two out there.  There are a few courses that follow that go deeper into mobile devices and the “cloud” so hopefully I’ll learn a bunch of new stuff.

Today I got the right tool for installing my new pickups in my guitar. I will have to say I am glad I waited as the soldering part of the project was so much easier to accomplish. Funny enough though as I started through the install it turned out that the wire strippers I have did not go small enough for the wire used in the pickup. I thought about this post but after double checking the garage I decided to use plan B which was a utility knife. I could have gone to the hardware store for another pair of wire strippers (and knowing this I probably will sooner than later) but in this case the down side was minimal. It just took me maybe 30 more minutes than if I had the proper tool. So I finished the project with imperfect tools but it is done and I’m thrilled with the result. If you are interested I have sound example from both sets:
https://soundcloud.com/michaeljturner/originalpickups and https://soundcloud.com/michaeljturner/crunchlabliquifire.

For those interested in more details, I got a Crunchlab in the bridge and a Liquifire in the neck. Both are from DiMarzio.

This was my first time doing any work on the guitar beside string changes. It was pretty straight forward if you have done soldering before but there were two things that slowed me down. One was the wire on the new pickups was thinner than any of my wire strippers so I was forced to use a utility knife which wasn’t so easy. Second was the fact that the springs and screws for the replacement pickups wasn’t the same as the OEM. So I ended up cutting the spring in half and used the original screws because they were going directly in the wood. Overall I’m pleased and can’t wait to start playing and recording with them.


Edit: I forgot to add that this post is not really sponsored by Acroma – Orbitals.  

I’m attempting to switch out the pickups in my main guitar, a Sterling JP50, and I did what I usually do when approaching something for the first time.  I looked online for others who have done it before to see what pitfalls are out there.  Of course how deep I go will depend on the perceived risk/value of the item I’m attempting to modify.  In this case there it is a non-trivial amount of money between the pickups and the guitar itself if I wire it incorrectly.  So I read and re-read several forum posts., measured and re-measured the distance between the poles, and imagined myself going through the steps in my head.  Then I pulled off the string, pulled the cover off, unscrewed the current pickups, and warmed up the soldering iron.  Once it was warmed up I sat down to do it for real.  Now my soldering iron is an old pistol grip one from my wife’s grandfather and while it works great for many things it is huge and as I maneuvered the wires to melt the existing connections I realized there was little chance I was going to be able to solder in that small space without melting the 3-way switch or burning myself.  I just didn’t have the right tool.  So for once I stopped.  I didn’t accomplish my initial goal, but I was worried about ending up worse than when I started.

Obviously there are also times to not let the little things stop you from finishing a project, but I think that often you end up taking a shortcut to “finish” but in the long run ends up taking longer because of all the problems created by that initial choice.  This is true in a work environment as well as personal projects.  I remember trying to change brake pads on a vehicle and thinking it was ridiculous to go spend the time, effort, and money to go and get a tool that pushes the brake hydraulic back.  It cannot be more than an inch or so and I figured I had enough tools that I could push it back no problem.  So got the car up on the jack, the tire off, and the bake pads removed in about 10 minutes.  I started on the plunger, going back and forth from the tool chest.  60 minutes later I was seething and no closer to getting the plunger backed out for the new pads to go in.  So I broke down drove to the store and spent the 13 bucks to get the stupid piece of plastic and bolt with a knob.  It took 30 seconds to push the plunger to the correct place and another 10 minutes to get the pads and the wheel back on.  I moved to the next wheel and it took me 20 minutes total.  So not only did I have to spend the time to drive back and forth to the store and spend the money anyway, I wasted all that time.

So how do you know when you are using the lack of the correct tool as an excuse or as a legitimate case to keep from screwing it up?  I wish I knew, but based on several things lately I will be leaning toward the legitimate side of things, which means for the moment I wait on my guitar.

By the way this is coming from a guy who has a monitor stand shelf held at the right height by beer cans.  In my defense, the cans are the perfect height for getting my controller under and it took 1 minute to setup and were originally Coke Zero (because they’re black) until my wife stole them.  So this is a frustration that has been building.

This post not really sponsored by Steve Lukather – Darnkess in My World but it is a great track.

I’ve been doing more stuff on Google Plus lately and so haven’t really been keeping up with posts here.  But with Christmas just gone by and the new year right ahead I figured this would be a good time.  Christmas was great with the family especially with 2 new little grand kids.  They had a blast even though the youngest is still too young to appreciate it all.  It was a musical one for me with pickups for my guitar, a couple of  albums (Dream Theater’s new one and the Flying Colors disc), as well as a guitar bag.  I’ll have to post about the process of switching out the pickups and get some sound samples so I can compare.

Musically, I’ve had the chance to borrow a Mackie Control Universal and I’ve been using it with Reaper.  I’m trying to decide if I want to make the switch from Pro Tools.  So far it has been really nice and the community around it is very helpful.  I’d like to try a video on that, but I’ll see if I have time to put that together or not.  I’ve got a few riffs I’ve been working on turning into songs and I’ve tried my hand at lyrics.  Still a work in progress for sure.

I got a Samsung Galaxy S4 earlier this year and have been getting into the new features in Android 4.0, especially Google Now.  Spooky and powerful.  I’m in the middle of a Coursera course for Android development and that has been interesting to get into.  There is another class coming up as well.  Hopefully that will get me some good experience to try to build my own app.  I’m trying to build out a set list one that will hopefully be useful for musicians.  I’ve also been working on a prototype pedalboard that I hope can be useful.  The frame seems pretty good right now, I just need to flesh out the module I hope will set it apart.  You can check out my other blog if you want to keep up with that.

Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope the start of your year is fantastic.

Resolution – Create Music

Posted: January 4, 2013 in Local, music
Tags: ,

It is that time of year when people think of crazy things they would like to do in the upcoming months. In the past few years I have shied away from this superstition, but this year I figure I’d put it out there as a goal to see what might happen. My goal then is to start or possibly join a band. Yes it’s cliche, but I’ve been playing for about 4 years and I need to either get some collaboration going or give up the idea and focus solely on solo material. I would prefer to collaborate, which brings me to the weird part, the pitch. It feels like some strange dating ritual, but here goes.

I’m ideally looking for guitar (me), bass, drums, keys, and a singer to create and play original tunes.  I’m flexible on the instrumentation, but this setup allows for a lot sonically.  I’m looking for it to be more hard rock or progressive metal but I’d rather see what comes out of collaboration than set a specific genre. So I’ve laid out the obligatory influences, skills, and expectation categories.

My main influences are bands like Dream Theater, Rush, Kamelot, Megadeth, Coheed and Cambria and solo artists like Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and Marco Sfogli. But if you were to look at my Spotify or last.fm favorites you will see all kinds of stuff like Royal Hunt, Porcupine Tree, Andy James, Flying Colors, Tom Petty, The Vanden Plas and gasp Styx, Toto, and Firehouse. The point is that I’d rather see what comes out when playing instead of rejecting musicians because they don’t like the “right” music. A band should not be afraid to make music they enjoy without a limit on the palette of sounds.  Sometimes an acoustic is perfect for the song.

I’ve been playing for a little over four years and would consider myself an intermediate player. I’m getting a handle on scales, modes, and arpeggios though they aren’t yet second nature. I’m moving from focusing on speed to working on phrasing. You can hear a couple of songs I’ve written at my SoundCloud account to see what I mean. In addition to guitar playing I have also spent time the last couple of years working on recording and mixing because it isn’t enough to make music, you need to be able to capture it as well.

I’m in my early 40′s and I have a family and career so that means the gig is by definition a hobby. However, that doesn’t mean I’m looking to goof off, play a couple of cover tunes and call it good. The initial goal would be to get a 5 song do it ourselves EP recorded, mixed, mastered, and “released” in some form by the end of the year. To that end I’m looking for getting together once a month for focused song writing/rehearsal and at least weekly online interaction. That would most likely be in the form of posting parts for mixing or lyrical ideas. I could see trying Skype or Google Hangouts for video, but we could see if that was useful. I’m not looking for stardom, but creating music will help everyone grow musically and who knows what can happen.

If that sounds interesting you can leave a comment or hit me up on SoundCloud or Google+.  If you are into the same music but don’t want to be in a band, think about hitting me up anyway.  Maybe I can sell you some music later on. :)

EDIT: I also enjoy harder instrumental stuff like Chimp Spanner and Scale the Summit so I’m open to something like that as well.