[Baby Bought A Pistol]

The song has a title and tentative verse lyrics. The subject was suggested by the latest rash of school/university shootings. But it’s not a serious protest song, or anything like that. A little sardonic is the most I’ll attribute to it. Lyrics were finished mostly during my five minute ride to work.

The rhythm track was added. Tried adding an organ stab to accompany it, but I didn’t like the sound. Made the executive decision to stick to just guitar.

Started doodling around with a lead guitar track; eventually hit the Record button to capture some improvisation, and, as these things are wont to happen, my high E string snapped. I’m going to attempt using one of my other axes, but if I can’t get what I was getting out of my Casino, I’ll have to man up and change strings. It’s about time, anyway, I suppose.

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[bass]

Completed the bass track.

As previously mentioned, I built it with the GarageBand Smart Bass feature, and I nicked the “Taxman” riff.

Next up will be the rhythm guitar track. When that’s complete, I’ll try to post a few bars of this work-in-progress.

[riff]

Back to work, at least temporarily. The Coursera Blues Jam is starting work on another track, and that may distract me a bit.

But not for too long, I think. I find it takes me forever to get a new project rolling, but usually, once it does, I become consumed with it.

I recorded the riff with my Strat through iRig into GarageBand, pretty much the same way it was played in the video. Not “pretty much” the same way; the same way. Not straight through the entire song, though. Modern technology allows me to do a lot of cut-and-paste. I recorded the riff for 12 measures, then copied it throughout. I did a little edit of the main riff to serve as the bridge, and that was that. A little time spent fooling with the guitar tone, and I was done.

I started working on the bass track, and decided to build it with GarageBand’s Smart Bass feature. I can’t get the tone I want playing through a regular guitar, like I did with “Closing The Door”.

The Coursera Blues Jam

I wrote last time that I was involved with a little side project with some fellow students of the Developing Your Musicianship course offered by the Berklee College of Music through Coursera. That project is now complete, and I share it with you here.

First, a few notes from our producer:

In early May, a small group of us in our FaceBook study group decided to put together a little blues jam track, the idea being to have a little fun together irrespective of whether we were beginners or veteran musicians. We built a backing track within a couple of days and people were off.
Different skill levels. Different cultures. Different time zones. It still surprises me how easily this came together.
12 people.
11 different instruments.
18 days.
48 tracks.
2.3 GB of audio. (Mostly because of my inefficient workflow)
25+ hours of production, not counting the time we took to learn & perform our pieces.
10 minutes of bliss.

Credits:
Bass – Serban-Ionut Georgescu
Rhythm Guitars – Jim Bond, Aseem Mhaske
Drum Programming – Aseem
Clarinet – Miqueias Amorim
Background Vox – Miqueias, Caroline Lee, Rika Sato, Aseem
Additional instrumentation – Michele, Aseem
Production / Mixing: Aseem

Solos, in the order they appear:
Keys – Lauren Lastimosa
Vocals – Michele Dirks
Acoustic Guitar – Carlos Aragao
Harp – Robin Stadnyk
Vocals – Silje Benedicte
Flute – Rika Sato
Alto Sax – Caroline Lee
Vocals – Miqueias Amorim
Tenor Sax – Jibraan Saeed
Guitar – Jim Bond
Guitar – Aseem Mhaske

And now, the music, folks!

Be True

[the list]

After meditating on the matter, I’ve decided to use the riff as is for now, but, like I said, anything can change during the writing/recording process. I’m planning simple instrumentation, a couple of guitars, bass and programmed drum tracks.

I’ve decided to start out nicking the bass line from the Beatles’ “Taxman’; modified a little bit, it could fit in. At least it seems that way in my mind’s ear. We’ll see when I hear the two together. (What? Paul McCartney on his bass riff in “I Saw Her Standing There”: “Here’s one example of a riff I pinched from someone: I used the bass riff from ‘Talkin’ Bout You’ by Chuck Berry in ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. I played exactly the same notes as he did and it fitted our number perfectly. Even now, when I tell people, I find few of them believe me. Therefore, I maintain that a bass riff hasn’t got to be original.”

But I digress. One of the things I like to do when I start a project like this is pretend I’m organized. So I make a preliminary list of the order in which I plan to build the various tracks. This one looks like this:

Drum & Percussion Track
Riff
Rhythm Guitar
Lead Guitar
Write lyrics
Vocal
Process and mix

Of course, best laid plans, etc. But it’s a starting point.

On to the GarageBand drum machine!

Is There A Computer Doctor In the House?

Alrighty then, here’s my predicament:

Last week I started getting little messages from my computer that one of the hard drives in my RAID array was failing (I have 2 250GB drives in a RAID 0 array). It didn’t look like I would be able to save it, so since I’m running Vista Ultimate, I used their Complete PC Backup and Restore feature to back up my entire hard drive onto an external USB drive; programs, settings, files – the whole shebang. I ended up with a .vhd file of almost 180 GB.

I settled the issue with my hard drive, built another RAID array, reinstalled Vista, yada, yada, yada, and went to restore the whole shebang. But Vista said, “Backup file? What backup file? I don’t see no backup file.”

Now, you gotta understand what’s in the backup file that I stand to lose. Not just your typical personal stuff like irreplaceable documents, photos, videos, my iTunes library (including the applications I bought for my iTouch), financial info, several GBs of Disney park music I’ve collected over the past year and was in the process of burning to CD, but also hundreds of buckaroonies worth of downloaded software that I don’t have physical disks for. “Well, why didn’t you back that stuff up?” you may ask. “Shut up,” I may answer. “I did back that stuff up, but now I can’t access it.”

I did some research on the problem, and found scads of people saying how wonderful Complete PC Backup and Restore is, and how easy it is to use, and I began feeling like an abject failure because I couldn’t do it. Then I started reading comments by people who were having the same problem as I was, so I perked up.

A couple of the options suggested:

Download and install Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, which has a feature called “Vhdmount” which, when coupled with a certain registry hack written by a MS engineer, allows you to mount the .vhd file as a virtual drive, from which you can access whatever files you want. I couldn’t make it work.

Use a program called WinImage, which also allows you to access and extract individual files with a .vhd file. It crashes on me every time I try to use it. There’s also an option for restoring a virtual hard drive to a physical drive; I get an unexplained error when I attempt this.

Download and install Microsoft Virtual PC, install a virtual machine, and mount the .vhd file as a secondary drive, from which you can extract whatever files you may want. Unless I’m doing something wrong (which is very probable), the maximum secondary drive capacity is 127 GB, and as I mentioned, mine is larger than that.

So that’s my need for a CD. Best-case scenario is a complete restoration from the backup file, but if that’s not going to be possible, I’d like to be able to pull certain files and folders out and salvage as much of my shit as I can.

So, Loyal Reader…any suggestions?

Random Thoughts #1

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post; I’m sure you all have missed me terribly. Truth is, I’ve been fighting a severe case of Procrastination lately, and have only recently felt recovered enough to attempt to string a few words together into a coherent sentence.

I’m still feeling too weak to attempt an entire post on one subject, so instead I’ll throw out a few disconnected Random Thoughts:

• Only three more new episodes of Lost this season. Then I guess that’s it until, what – January? Thank goodness I’ll have summer and Christmas to distract me while I wait. One thing I’m not looking forward to during the Final Season is the amount of spoilers that will no doubt be floating around. Why can’t folks just enjoy the story as it unfolds?

• I’m seriously considering getting an iPhone when the new ones hit the market this summer. Burning questions: What do I do with my 16GB iTouch? Use the phone strictly as a phone and the iTouch as my .mp3 player? eBay the iTouch? What about all apps I’ve purchased? Can I move them to the phone, or will I have to repurchase?

• I need to do some unfollowing in Twitter. I’m sensing some Superior Attitudege by some Tweeters towards those of us who are using this social media to be…well, sociable. Some seem to think that Twitter should be used exclusively for entrepreneurial networking and selling, I don’t know…stuff. Unless you’re a Social Media Guru or Maven or Whatever, you need not apply. Like every enjoyable activity since kids first starting tossing pie tins back and forth, the money people are looking to make a quick buck on folks having fun. The new buzzword is “Monetize”.

• I started using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter before all of my friends. I guess I could promote myself as a Social Media Pioneer.

• Heh…those last two Thoughts may lose me enough followers that I won’t have to wade through my list looking for cutoffs.

• I am still of the belief that Bluetooth headsets should never be utilized outside of one’s vehicle. If you’re walking around Wal Mart wearing one, people are not looking at you thinking, “There goes someone obviously very important, and leading the pack in cutting-edge technology.”  They’re thinking, “What a douche.” Particularly if you’re walking around with your phone in your hand.

• I’m participating in a weight loss challenge at the MMA school I train at. I’m not leading, but I’m close. I really want a couple of tacos, or a Five Guys burger.

• Speaking of douches, I’m hoping Coach Dragon Slayer gets blindsided sooner than later. Preferably by someone he despises. I don’t care how much Jeff likes him (gotta love Jeff’s blogs, though).

That’ll have to do it for now; I feel another attack of Procrastination coming on. I have to go be apathetic for a while.