Saturday, October 27, 2007

OK Now That Is Interesting

Daily Horoscope

For 28 October 2007

A family matter, relocation or contract on a property that tied in with events about a five weeks ago*, will be important in the organisation of events during October 28-November 7. Routines tie you into activities with others during October 28-November 1, creating a sense of familiarity and comfort. Relationships are strengthened then.

Well. That's interesting. Events relating to relocation/property of about five weeks ago? That would be around when Rocker Boy arrived. HMMMMmmmmmmm.

In other news: ankle is much improved. I'm bustling around like normal except for the occasional reminder when I step funny that "oh yeah, I hurt it". I think it's safe to say that it's a sprain. Thank you for all of your concern and, I'm assuming, many happy healthy ankle prayers/vibes.

My schedule is all whacked out. First, I got Cubase (music recording production software for the computer). I went with the Studio 4 version rather than the full or the limited—right smack in the middle. But it's pretty powerful stuff.

Next, I finally overcame my fear and discovered the magic of MIDI, which opens up entire new worlds of possibilities for recording my music. Yeah, it scared me. It sounded too techie for me and I was put off by concepts like algorithms and programming. GUI interfaces changed all that, though (meaning it's visual).

Then I decided I needed Groove Agent, which is... hard to explain. It's like a glorified drum machine for use with Cubase. It rocks. I got the previous version at a discount from my local music store—would that be an LMS?—with upgrade potential. It's amazing.

Plus I made the happy discovery that my ancient BOSS DR-5 Dr. Rhythm Machine that I bought in, oh, 1995 (state of the art then) is still paying for itself since it can be used easily as a MIDI controller. In layman's terms, I can tap out my drum parts (or any other instrument really) on it and "play along" with the song in real-time while the computer records me, then go into the MIDI file and nudge things around. Unbridled. So if I decided I needed more cowbell *wink* and forgot to add it, I can just click spots on the MIDI grid on the proper voice and voila. Instant cowbell. Or if I don't like the 1950's drum kit sound I can change it to techno-house, baby. Or for fun, assign a Sitar to it and see what noises it makes.

This MIDI is crazy shit, mon.

THEN I read in the Cubase manual that there is a feature for scores—actual music notation—within Cubase, AND it can read .mid and .xml files produced by music notation software. Well, I had an old version of Finale NotePad floating around—freebie—so I experimented with that, then went searching for the upgrades to that.

Enter Finale Allegro. Yes, my friends. It makes composing your first symphony in four movements as easy as typing an email. Plus they have a 30-day trial version (I had to geek tweak the URL to get to the link, though—it's mislinked). I'll probably wind up buying this, too.

So guess what I did last night? and early this morning? and was still doing at noon?


Back in 1987, I took a course at the college in Composition (music). Final project: compose an intricate piece of music that would be performed live at a class recital. Being I have a fascination with neo-classical virtuoso guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and so on, I decided to compose a piece for a chamber ensemble, featuring the electric guitar as the solo voice. Yeah, the classically-trained music students in the ensemble looked at me cross-eyed. (The jazz guitar major was psyched, though.) But I forged ahead, and I composed an 8-part theoretically-correct piece loftily entitled "Emotion Trines Venus: Mood et Variations in A Minor". Transcribed and transposed the entire thing, master score and individual parts, by hand.


Last night, I dug it out of my pile of old music, blew off the dust, and re-transcribed it in Allegro. Yeah. All night. Like 12 hours I sat there note by note, measure by measure, part by part. (I've heard tell there are scanners that'll do this for you, but... eh, I was on a mission.)

Then, I exported the XML file. And imported it into Cubase. And assigned each part a more realistic-sounding "voice" (except the guitar—it's gonna have to be recorded by an actual player, unless Steinberg's Virtual Guitarist is worth purchasing because I sure as heck doubt I can play what I wrote, LOL!—and the guitar tones in the VST instruments don't sound like guitars really... but they'll "do").

Then I sat back and listened to it, and I was shocked. First, I was shocked that I'd spent nearly 16 hours in front of the computer with no food, very little tea, and no sleep, transcribing non-stop. Then shocked to think that technology allows us the ability to do this. Finally, shocked that I had actually composed a symphony piece, and IMHO (take it for what it's worth), it's pretty good.

I'll tweak it and upload it one of these days. The mixing and panning part is next on my list of things to learn and explore.

So my bedtime wound up being 1:30. Pee Em. Yup. It was so grey and rainy today it didn't really look like daylight anyway, so... slept until 7 ish. That's a good six hour nap. Got up, ate, read the paper, got the mail, did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, talked to W on the phone, called Rocker Boy (left msg)... totally whacked my circadians again but OH WELL.

Let's just be honest here. I'm a musician. Always have been, always will be, I love me some fibrosity and some horseflesh but my #1 has always been music. Did my best to avoid the inevitable. Did my best to ignore the calling. For what? Why? If it's who I am. Let me be me. Maybe it didn't fit in with my Mother's grand vision for me, but I am under no obligation to make her happy anymore. It's ME time. I'm back on musicians' hours and I've never felt better.

Now if Rocker Boy would just follow suit. I'm pretty sure his own ignorance of the Call of the Strat is what is making him depressed. (We're a lot a like, in good and bad ways.)

Off to de-compose...

Oh—what—knitting? Uh... yeah. About that. Haven't knit a stitch since Rocker Boy left. Uh... maybe I should admit defeat and just start a musician's blog instead.

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