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Author Topic: Is it all worth it?  (Read 12928 times)

VikingBlues

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Is it all worth it?
« on: August 04, 2013, 03:43:54 PM »
I've spent about five years now doing some fairly serious attempt at getting to grips with guitar, in particular the bluesy stuff.

As much as I can do a serious attempt with a full time job and a family that is!

I've been wrestling with an improv on a Bb Major BT from JamTracks Central - which has some quirks like chromatic descending chords.

I've just had a final go at it. The end results of the 5 years graft applied to that backing track is something like this:-
https://soundcloud.com/vikingblues/lowdown-slowdown-blues

Meanwhile I'm about a month in with trying to do recordings with a keyboard controller and VST synths (now that I finally have a computer that is up to the task). So without a backing track and having to do it all myself I've got, after just those few weeks, something like this to show for it:-
https://soundcloud.com/vikingblues/stringyfing

Now ... I'm comparing the two types of recordings and starting to wonder if I'm getting the right sort of return on investment for those five years of effort? ... and where do I go from here?  :-\

zagatron1

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2013, 07:21:22 PM »
Is it maybe you're venturing "out of the box" like many of us do after being "stuck" in the infamous pentatonic box? I know I was for years. When I felt uneasy about the plunge, I'd run back to the safety of the pentatonic shelter. For me it was fear of the unknown. I eventually adapted a different approach...I'd tough it out no matter how mad I got. After the pentatonic, it was the dorian. Then, there's the mixolydian and I'm still trying to get MORE comfortable with it. I'd forget about the ones I know for a while and work on the new stuff. Hell, I learned the pentatonic before I even knew the name of it! Give yourself a hand VB.... ya did good! And remember, if you hit an off note, do like I do. Play it off and keep on keepin' on!

johannes.maas

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2013, 09:20:33 AM »
As long as you enjoy it it's worth it in my opinion.

will listen to your stuff when I am back home.

I was into home recording before I finally found some nice guys and joined their band (we play alterntivr hard rock / nearly metal (-:)

For me it is fun to play around with my song ideas and develop my own stuff, I feeljust limited by my lack of singing - without vocals its hard to create a good song structure.

If you like to share ideas and maybe create a song together, let me know and send me a pm.

btw: what software do you use? (DAW & Drum Software etc?)

creekster52

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 04:39:48 PM »
Is it worth it?  ???

There are plenty of guys out there that WISH they could do as well as you have!

I can't wait to hear the final cut of StringyFing!!

reb

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2013, 08:38:59 PM »
VB,

firstly, in a 'general sense'....is what worth it??? i am reminded of a question asked of me by a young person on another forum some years ago....'what is the meaning of life?'....and the kid was deadly serious, as had been very, very depressed due to 'issues'.

i told the yp, 'the meaning of life is what you make it.  you are in a particular emotional place right now, and it is affecting everything you see.  if you can somehow get control of those emotions, slow them down, make them less important to you, things will change.  everything is perspective. eventually, your perspective will change. you can control your perspective, although at the moment you think you cannot, and it is controlling you.'.

we went back and forth several times, some things changed in time for the yp and their outlook improved.  one can decide 'it' is not worth it, is my point....but 'it' is all we have,even though much of the time we don't know what 'it' is....

as far as music, of COURSE it's worth it.  music is man's link to the spiritual.  some say the link is religion, however, i believe music is a reflection of the soul.

and, in five years, you have uplifted several people by what i see in comments. you have uplifted me, since i sometimes hit a hiatus, and quit doing anything with recording....but your soundcloud track is wonderful and inspiring. you used a synth on it? i have been thinking on synths, but that and midi have stumped me for awhile now. am sticking to traditional analog, as the other 'daw' challenges are enough. i came in here to check my email, wandered by this forum, and now feel like doing some more tracks on a song i was working on....i have been totally directionless. i am cringing at trying to do a master with multiple tracks...but i have gotten by the hardware issues, and eventually, i will get by editing/mastering.

keep on keepin' on, VB. we do not know where the road leads us....but it is our road to travel. it appears you are hopping and skipping down yours.

Memory Lane Jr

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2013, 01:29:34 AM »
Wow VB Lowdown Blues was cool but "Stringyfing" was really out of the box....
You will be giving Keith Emerson a run soon, well done mate...

VikingBlues

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2013, 09:08:50 AM »
Hey guys – I really appreciate all you replies – thank you.

Guess I had a bit of a crisis of confidence there – you’d think that trying something new and finding it worked OK would be good news – trust me to turn it around into doubt about what I’ve been doing before.

Is it maybe you're venturing "out of the box" like many of us do after being "stuck" in the infamous pentatonic box? I know I was for years. When I felt uneasy about the plunge, I'd run back to the safety of the pentatonic shelter
I’ve been enjoying venturing out of the pentatonic into modes – minor (easier) and major (trickier for me) with the guitar. I do like playing sort of cross genre bit bluesy, bit jazzy, hint of fusion, melodic sort of stuff – and that needs use of the modes. But descending chromatic chords is something else again! What caused most of my disquiet I think was how good musically the synth recordings were sounding when the amount of work I’ve put into learning to play it has been so much less than the guitar stuff.

For me it is fun to play around with my song ideas and develop my own stuff, I feeljust limited by my lack of singing - without vocals its hard to create a good song structure.
This is partly where I’m getting fun with this synth thing. With my usual guitar work I rely on backing tracks – I can sort of do bass, sort of do rhythm and am useless at drums and drum programming – any attempt to do all parts in a “normal” guitar type recording are therefore made pretty bad if it’s a full DIY job. I too am limited in my singing! With the synth thing I am managing to make it 100% me which does bring some additional satisfaction with it I suppose.

btw: what software do you use? (DAW & Drum Software etc?)
I use Magix Samplitude Music Studio – fairly cheap and basic, but I get on with it and am now on my third version of it. Any drum software I’ve tried has not been a success – hence backing tracks. I’ve tried software that does amp sims / fx etc for guitar but it all falls short for me on what I can get from the amp / pedals. With guitar based recording the sound that comes from the amp (mic’d from speaker or line out) is essentially the sound that ends up on the final recording. With the synth stuff I use either the software that came attached to the DAW or various free downloaded VST synths I’ve collected.

There are plenty of guys out there that WISH they could do as well as you have!
 
Wow VB Lowdown Blues was cool but "Stringyfing" was really out of the box....
You will be giving Keith Emerson a run soon, well done mate...

Thanks fellas – appreciated. It’s a bit different with these synth recordings. I do improv around the backing track with my lead playing on the guitar based recordings. But with the synth recordings track 1 has me finding a synth sound and setting that has an interesting character / tone / rhythm and doing an improv around some very loose basic idea or structure. Each following track is then also an improv and trying to underline what’s already there or trying to react to it. So far the end result is not a reflection of anything was in my head when I started otehr than general mood or atmosphere – I rather like the way the journey keeps me entertained, and surprised.

----------

Reb – I’m going to come back to your post later today in an additional post. You’ve hit on some issues and ideas that are very relevant and important to me so I don’t want to rush the reply and I've run out of time!

robert

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2013, 12:53:08 PM »
Yes it is worth it! You are doing great, just enjoy it and do not worry. And the more you do it, the better you will become. :)

VikingBlues

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2013, 01:45:43 PM »
Reb – very good advice you gave that young person – and advice also appropriate for an older codger like me!

as far as music, of COURSE it's worth it.  music is man's link to the spiritual.  some say the link is religion, however, i believe music is a reflection of the soul.
I believe you’ve honed in on something very important to me there. My playing music plays a big part (quite possibly too big a part) in my feeling of well being. So when I hit a wall when a project stalls or my playing just doesn’t spark into life easily I do find it affects my mood a lot and self doubt comes in on the rampage pretty smartish. I agree with your “reflection of the soul” idea rather than any religious link … spiritual link maybe but that’s a different thing to me than religious.

. you used a synth on it? i have been thinking on synths, but that and midi have stumped me for awhile now. am sticking to traditional analog, as the other 'daw' challenges are enough.
It is mainly software synths (VSTs) activated by a Q25 two octave controller keyboard (has no sounds of its own) through the USB. The software synths either came with the DAW or were free download VST synths.  Just like setting up an audio recording on the DAW except for selecting MIDI for the track instead of audio, telling the DAW the input comes from the Q25, and selecting a synth from a drop down list. So I don’t really need to get into how MIDI works – which is just as well because it is totally baffling to me. It has been easier than I expected to do these “synth” recordings – I couldn’t do this before because my computer set up wasn’t powerful enough or set up well enough to have the processing power to run VSTs with no glitches, pops, screeches etc. A decent spec Windows 7 machine seems to have been the key (with Vista and Win8 to be avoided). There are some tracks on the recordings I’ve done so far that are using a used Roland GR20 that I got for my birthday a few months ago – but they are mainly later tracks in the recording process just adding a bit of colour or rhythm. The guitar is not the best input for a synth – very easy to get rogue notes and sounds if you’re not absolutely precise with the hands on the strings and fretboard – lift a finger carelessly and you get a wrong note. I also only record the GR-20 using line out as I’ve no idea how to get the MIDI from it to the DAW despite rereading the manual several times.

and now feel like doing some more tracks on a song i was working on....i have been totally directionless. i am cringing at trying to do a master with multiple tracks...but i have gotten by the hardware issues, and eventually, i will get by editing/mastering.
 
Very glad something positive came out of my post! I’ll admit that mastering and editing are areas I’ve hardly got into in any depth. I like all my tracks on a recording to be one take and unedited if possible to try to retain the full thought process of the playing. I also aim to have the sound going into a recording as being pretty much as I want it to be – I developed this habit when using a laptop with Vista for recording – it was such a troublesome beast for changing anything in the software that I gave up on trying to edit much. I’ll do a touch of EQ, or possibly adjust the overall ambient sound of the recording but that’s about it.

 
keep on keepin' on, VB. we do not know where the road leads us....but it is our road to travel. it appears you are hopping and skipping down yours.
 

That’s it – I just need to keep working at all these areas and trying to improve each one. If there is a big advance in one then I take that as a bonus and don’t worry that one of the other areas has stalled a bit. Don’t know about “hopping and skipping” down the road … I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for that … but maybe I can walk with a spring in my step after reading everyones thoughts here.

Very many thanks for your advice and help Reb. And everyone else too.  8) :)

VikingBlues

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2013, 01:47:11 PM »
Yes it is worth it! You are doing great, just enjoy it and do not worry. And the more you do it, the better you will become. :)
Thank you Robert ... quite right what you say ... and you've just put some icing on my happiness cake!  :)

johannes.maas

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2013, 01:58:31 PM »
I suggest you try out Reaper as a DAW and give also ez drummer a try.

you will be able to get good results out of this combo...

I will post some stuff produced with that setup later.

VikingBlues

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2013, 03:16:25 PM »
I suggest you try out Reaper as a DAW and give also ez drummer a try.

you will be able to get good results out of this combo...

I will post some stuff produced with that setup later.
Thank you - it'll be interesting to hear that - I was going to ask you tonight what you used. I did have a wander round a few of your Soundcloud recordings earlier today - I noticed very quickly that you do a good job with clean tones and I'm always glad to find someone else that does some clean playing.  :)

I have had a couple of goes at Reaper - each time for several weeks. I feel I should take to it more given it has a very big enthusiastic fanbase - but I've found both times I drifted back to my usual DAW. Reaper was often giving me far too many choices in set up - and a lot of these choices demanded knowledge I didn't have - I'm afraid I need as near plug'n'play as it's possible to get. To illustrate my dense quality I even got stuck on the opening screen of Reaper - trying to find how to start recording and not realising I needed to create a track to record on first! ... I'm used to everything being there that I need on the opening screen. Unfortunately I've used in three versions effectively the same DAW for the past 6 years or so and it makes hardly any demands on me at all to get it to work well. My ideal DAW is as simple to use as a 4 track cassette recorder but with the bonus of good sound quality.  ;D  My only negative about the DAW I use is that it seems to have a blind spot for seeing Native Instrument software - but having got Reaper to work with the NI software I realised it didn't matter as I didn't like it.

Oddly enough I have an EZ Drummer in my watch list on E-Bay at the moment, but no funds.  :(  Any drum software that I might use would need to have the facility that someone (i.e. me) with no idea of what a drummer does can still put together a decent drum part. When I first started trying to play electric guitar again for a couple of years around the year 2000 my recording method (on a 4 track cassette recorder) was to play a drum pattern from a Zoom machine and play a rhythm part with it. I'd then add "bass" (guitar through an octave down effect back then) and I'd then add what was massively poor quality lead playing. I had no sort of musical stamp to my playing that was my own back then, and could not play what I heard in my head - so it was all vary mechanical and lacking proper melody. I do love using backing tracks as a good one has a musical structure that suggests what a lead line should do and will make that lead sound even better - it should sound like a whole group playing together. If I do my own backing it puts a lot of pressure on the lead guitar part carrying all the interest of the recording which is a tough ask. Doing my own backing track also means it has to be me that decides on the structure of the piece too and I'm not very skilled at that.  Wow - starting to sound like I'm very lazy and unambitious!  :-[

johannes.maas

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2013, 03:17:47 PM »
Here is a recording made in reaper.

https://soundcloud.com/sologuitar-1/strictly-instrumental

Guitar is a Schecter Hellraiser c-1 Extreme
(Metall Axe - but killer playability and very nice tone - has coil split for neck pu)


DAW: Reaper (Freeware!!)
Drums: EZ Drummer by Toontracks

AMP Sounds: POD HD 500
Post Effects: Guitar Rig (Delay & Reverb for Sololines) - all other rythm guitar parts are just played through the ampmodell: ENGL Fireball without effects


Memory Lane Jr

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2013, 05:16:09 PM »
Nicely done Johannes..... I wish I could get my  recordings to sound as good, you must spend a lot of time refining your sound.
And a HD500 must be a great tool once you get it sorted.

johannes.maas

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Re: Is it all worth it?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2013, 12:36:32 AM »
I didnt do anything with the Hd 500. Just selected an amp and used the sound out of the box (-: