Thinking of also joining his academy for 14$/month – that’s way cheaper than any real music school, and after my 35-year- (or so) hiatus, I probably need something like proper training.
Here’s the first freebie of his which I found interesting enough:
So I went and subscribed to his website for free, and downloaded the backing track to that lesson. It came as an .mp3 file recorded with a sample rate of 44.1kHz, so I had to convert it (using Audacity) to 48kHz and a .wav file to have Ardour accept it with my current settings.
Then I followed his advice about first playing root notes (and fifths) only – still made some “errors” (like playing the 6 on a 5 chord, or an ‘a’ instead of a ‘g’), but it’s still fun to have a nicely played II-V-I chord progression. Will keep my busy for some time, until my fingers get used to the quite high string tension of those Fender® USA Bass 7250ML, NPS, (.045-.100 Gauges) roundwound strings (as listed on the instrument’s page).
So here’s my first attempt on it:
Oh, and to another problem I’ve had until a few minutes ago:
Lately, in a music-related forum (recording.de) there was a discussion (again) on whether Linux is/could be a valid choice for recording, and for making music. One of the commenters – a strong proponent of using Windows and paid commercial software DAWs (digital audio workstations) – said:
“Command line? My god, we’re living in the 21st century!”
– or something along that, don’t recall his actual words. And these actual words don’t matter that much, since I’ve heard them so often.
No, you *don’t need to* use the command line when using Linux anymore these days. For installing software, you can use the fine available tools like synaptic et al – but sometimes, the command line is much faster than to click around with your mouse. And where Windows users are forced to first search the interweb for software they want to get, at least we people using Linux have it much and far better and easier with the repositories provided by the distributors of our fine software.
Which brings me back (sorry for the short rant) to apt vs. apt-get. apt is newer, but why should you use it? Found this nice explanation targeted to beginner-like questions like that one:
I’m mostly using apt since a while, but still I found some things in there I simply didn’t know (using apt-cache search or apt-cache show until now). I consider myself almost a Linux veteran by now, but I don’t dig that deep into it like I used to – so I’m still reading articles like these. Nice to know, that’s all.
Anyway – I found this useful, so I wanted to share it here. Enjoy reading it, if you’re interested in Debian- and Ubuntu-based command lines.
Like Zuleikha, I’m on summer holiday leave right now, which is cool – we all have some time for ourselves, and to do things we love to do.
So let me tell you a story.
When I was younger – in fact, much younger than today – I used to be a bass player. Like most other bass players, I came to that instrument via playing guitar first. Like Pink Floyd sang:
“You bought a guitar to punish your ma…”
And when I met some other bands whose guitar players were far better than me, but who needed a bass player, I took the jobs.
With 19, I was in the studios for the first time – at EMI Electrola in Cologne for instance. There I learned to really play a nice and tight line, and how noisy my Ibanez Jazz Bass was (all single coil pickups until today are) – so I also got a Music Man Sabre Bass, and an Ampeg SVT rig (300 all-valve Watts, two 8×10″ cabinets the size of big fridges (but way heavier)), all that. I was pretty much set, and ready to be a musician.
Except I didn’t earn any money. Plus I didn’t even have a driver’s license and/or a car to transport my gear. So I was dependent on other band members.
Then my Music Man Bass got stolen.
Then – realizing that we just didn’t have gigs like Deep Purple did – I sold my Ampeg and the cabinets, which left me with the Ibanez and a 15″ 130W (or so) Peavey combo.
Later I also left these behind, so I was pretty much a former musician. All I had until yesterday was a cheap “Eterna” (made for Yamaha in Indonesia) classical concert guitar, and an egg shaker. You see that guitar two posts below, and hear it one post below.
But since a year or two, I totally rediscovered my love for music. It’s through Zuleikha who plays piano, horn, and recorder, one of her classmates who is just brilliant on the recorder, her school who has a really nice big band and also the one in which Zuleikha plays (they call themselves “Brass & Co”), and also through some other people I know from my time with the Debian guys (and girls, I mean Debian developers).
One pointed me to a Korean singer named Youn Sun Nah, and I also stumbled upon Snarky Puppy lately – which is lead by a bass player.
So I also listened to lots of good bass players again, starting with the idols of my youth like Stanley Clarke or Jaco Pastorius, and also some which I heard much later, like Marcus Miller or Victor Wooten, to just name a few.
But what I also discovered was that tho the slap technique of a Marcus Miller is still great, it’s not what the bass was originally invented for. Long before that funky slap style, a bass was just a great and important part of the rhythm section, more or less carrying the whole music, and making people dance and swing and tap their feet – you probably know what I mean. So my “idol” picture shifted a bit again, to people like Pino Palladino – and to one of the first and greatest players of electric basses, James Jamerson (wow, got the curve to the headline after some 550 words or so).
You probably never heard that name, but James Jamerson (EN, DE) together with his band which was called “The Funk Brothers” (EN, DE) were the basis of almost everything Motown. Let me cite from that English Wikipedia article about them:
“The role of the Funk Brothers is described in Paul Justman’s 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, based on Allan Slutsky’s book of the same name. The opening titles claim that the Funk Brothers have “played on more number-one hits than the Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys combined.””
Together with James, a new kind of bass was rising. It was invented short before 1960 by Leo Fender, and he called it the “Precision Bass” (EN, DE). The name was chosen because other than an upright double bass, it had frets, so “you could play it with precision”, which probably also helped in selling it.
During my journey through the videos on Youtube I soon found out about the differences of a P-Bass, like it is also called, and others like my former J-Bass copy. Professional studio musicians like Scott Devine will tell you that you need both P- and J-Basses, while others like Michael League from Snarky Puppy (and Forq and other bands of his) simply play it – and it sounds way better, deeper, with much more “growl” than, say, the slapped Fender or Sire basses from Marcus Miller.
So yesterday (it’s way past midnight while writing this) I’ve got one, after comparing it to some J-Bass myself.
Zuleikha helped with some add-ons and found a really nice (and not too expensive) strap, and even reminded me to get a stand for it (and that was a good idea, that stand also fits the guitar, and even her horn).
Other than Leo Fender marketed it, I’ve chosen a fretless one. Always, always wanted a fretless bass, and you should have seen Zuleikha’s astonished smile when she tested it herself (over a Sadowsky 200W all-valve amp in the store)! My god, these things can sing; it’s unbelievable. But to that aspect: later, in another post. For now, let’s just keep in mind that I’ll have to take care of that “precision” myself; cannot rely on frets because there aren’t any 😉
First thing I thought about when we were back home was what to teach Zuleikha in case she’d ask. And again some song on which James Jamerson played the bass came to my mind – probably the song with the simplest and one of the best known bass lines ever: Papa was a rolling stone, by the Temptations.
I had that as a MIDI file laying around on my hard drive, and started playing to it on my computer. But soon enough, I disliked that MIDI file, so I went for the original. Which I don’t have in our bookshelf, so I downloaded it from Youtube (search for “papa was a rolling stone temptations” (without the quotes), it’s the first one which was shown in my search result).
So what did I do? Well the bass line consists of exactly 3 notes (and the whole song on just one chord, can you believe it?) – so I put the song in a stereo track in Ardour, and played the same into a mono track using my own new bass guitar. Then I analysed the notes (Bb, Ab, Db) and their frequencies and took them out of the original a bit, replacing them with my own ones which I played. If you look at those two equalizers used for the tracks, it looked like this:
(Some short technical explanation: I was a bit afraid to also totally take out the kick (bass) drum while doing this, because I didn’t want to make the filters’ “Q Factor” to steep – which would add distortion. But switching between “bypass” and “filter on” that kick drum still sat pretty good in the mix – which means that it’s a great recording, even if it’s from 1972. Oh, and that source was from vinyl, you can hear the cracks on the LP, which gives it another vintage vibe. So except from Youtube digitising the original, and my interface digitising the bass, what you hear here is pretty much analog. Still cool – or maybe even because it is…)
Then I exported the result as a .wav file with the usual restriction to -23LUFS, which looks like this:
It’s all Ardour and some Calf plugins, and the bass was plugged directly into my Focusrite audio interface, so no amp was used at all. And like James did, I played it with just one finger of my right hand (but didn’t use my index finger but the thumb to make it sound deeper).
The result, again converted into an MP3 file? Here:
Oh, and in case you want to see the bass I’ve got – haven’t made pictures of it yet, so here’s one from the maker:
Click on that photo if you want to read more about it.
For now, thanks for reading, watching, and listening. More later.
Last Sunday, Zuleikha played piano together with some of her classmates of the piano teacher’s class at the local sports hall. Mitchie took it on video, and I recorded the piano (a nice sounding Yamaha Grand) with my Røde microphone, the Focusrite interface, and the company notebook (a Lenovo Thinkpad P50 running the IBM Open Client for the Debian Community, which is currently based upon Ubuntu 16.04 LTS).
Then I used every minute I could to learn new (to me) programs like Cinelerra.
In the end we’ve got a nice sounding movie with all the kids playing, and I also learned how to use fader automation in Ardour (tools like these weren’t even available while I was in the studios during my youth). Cool stuff, and the highlight for me personally was Zuleikha performing one of her own compositions – even some of the other kids were quite impressed by that. Cannot show the whole video here, but I’ll ask Zuleikha if she’ll put something online on her blog – maybe only some of her own playing (we’d have to ask too many parents to show everything here). If yes, then I can put up a link to it here.
On Saturday, June 17th, the latest and greatest version of Debian was released to the public, as promised. And I’ve got and installed it last night, just after finishing the video. It’s nice, and everything worked pretty much out of the proverbial box for me. I did an upgrade followed by a dist-upgrade like recommended, and the whole process didn’t last much longer than just half an hour. Nice.
And now, just a few minutes before writing this, I discovered a nice video on Youtube:
Recently, Zuleikha had just another gig as a musician (playing piano), and we recorded it – Mitchie on video with her Olympus E-PL5 and the 45mm/1.8 lens (on her tripod of course), and me with my Røde NT-1A microphone, the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd gen) interface, and the Lenovo Thinkpad P50 laptop/notebook which I’ve got from my employer.
Zuleikha’s piano teacher asked us to make a DVD from all the attendees’ performances, so we recorded everyone instead of just our own daughter. And since then (that was Sunday evening), I’m trying to learn just another video-editing program.
Why? Well because Ardour is more like Avid’s Pro Tools – a music studio inside of your computer, and OpenShot is a video editor which we’ve used previously, but which also gave me some headaches already – for bigger projects like a full-blown DVD, it’s not the most stable and full-featured one.
It’s still quite a lot to learn – these are not your basic editors, but full-blown and -featured professional programs like the commercial ones on other operating systems (and also a bit like Ardour vs. Pro Tools or Logic).
And with all that music- and video-related stuff, I’m still not forgetting about photography, even if I do that only for private and family “jobs” right now. So I’m still regularly reading the most interesting bloggers (and pros) like Kirk Tuck, or Michael Johnston’s “The Online Photographer” (and listening to Brooks Jensen’s “Lenswork Daily” podcasts).
I just answered one of Mike’s posts for instance, which was about his thought of a dual camera system (one his iphone, the other one maybe a Sony A7-2). My answer to that one, in case you don’t find it on his page, was:
“Love the idea, Mike.
I’ve got an Olympus OM-D E-M10 (first gen) which in cameras is in my opinion the equivalent to what our Corolla is in cars. It will do the job, and get you the picture. Not the best, but a quite acceptable one.
But the A7 Mk2 is the one that really interest me, even more so since I realized that both of our Olympus film bodies (OM-1 and OM-2) are having problems with their shutters, and ruin many potentially good (and expensive) film shots. So yes, a “digital back” for my OM Zuiko 50mm/1.4 would be great to have.
Or maybe an FM-2; could even be better. But that wouldn’t accept my Zuiko lens AFAIK.”
So beside my full-time professional job (still having to earn a living for us all), and beside my honorary work in the school’s parents’ association, I’m quite busy at the moment. Holding on to the next task, like: make a DVD for the parents of the other young and aspiring musicians – and for their teacher of course.
But being busy, and being together with the young ones keeps you young as well – or so they say 😉
Through an article on Imaging Resource I’ve learnt that Google will no longer maintain or “to update the Collection or add new features over time” of their Nik collection – which is a bit sad because they’re still awesome, and loved by many photographers either as plugins for programs like Photoshop, or stand-alone.
I don’t have Photoshop and/or Lightroom- and don’t plan to buy it – but still I have the Nik collection for some special effects on a Windows partition on my hard drive, so through their help center and forum I found this post from Paul Breslin, who volunteered to maintain it further after his retirement, and for which I “voted” already. And I suggest that you’d do the same; open-sourcing it would be the ‘proper’ way of dropping official support for a product.
And Google may even do it – they’re in some way still the “good guys”, with their initiatives like “Summer of Code” and so on and so forth. So if you also like or (occasionally) use the fine Nik collection, I’d advise that you do the same. If you haven’t heard of the Nik collection but have a Mac or PC with Windows operating systems, I’d suggest to try it out – it’s one of the best “free” (as in “no cost”) software packages there is.
My main interest in this? Well I’m still using real free and open source software on my Debian Linux machine, but who knows, maybe one day the Nik collection could be real free as well – it’s all a question of licensing. And there could even be a port for Linux, which would make that even greater as an artist’s platform as it already is (doing music and recording with it as well). It’s just a vote away, so what is stopping you?
So if you have your repositories pointed to “stable”, you’ll get the upgrade automagically – if it’s “Jessie”, you’ll have to change that if you want the newer stable version. And Jessie will be oldstable from then on, as usual.
Just listened to a very interesting talk of about an hour or so from Paul Davis, (co-) founder and inventor of programs like Jack and Ardour.
Found the report and the video on the Libre Music Production site, here. The video is also available on Youtube, and Paul’s keynote speech starts at about 2:22:32 into the video below:
So thanks for everyone involved, and to Paul again for the tools he’s working on since so many years. And thanks also for pointing me to such interesting and exciting things like Faust, or the Sonic Visualizer (parts of which you might have seen in Ardour as well).
What makes this talk so interesting is also that you see this presentation of about an hour to understand the state of audio on all systems, not just Linux.
Oh, and thanks also for letting us know that even products like a Behringer X32 console are plug & play not only on a Mac with its Core Audio, but on Linux as well. Long live class-compliance!
I’ve loaded the virtual instrument into Carla Patchbay, and after some manual configuration to hear the output, I could use the combination as an instrument within Ardour (which is still my favourite DAW (digital audio workstation) on Linux).
In the screenshot you see Ardour with the loaded “Take Five” song again, and I mixed that via Jamin into Audacity. The acoustic bass and the drum tracks both come via the CalfFluidsynth and its included GM (general midi) soundfont. In the master track I also used a Calf Limiter; EQ and a bit of compression came from Jamin. The .wav file was then leveled to -23dB LUFS in Ardour, and with Audacity I converted it to an MP3 file again which you can listen to here:
This time I wanted a somewhat more warm and intimate sound, and the “Jazzish” preset of xln’s Studio Grand gave me exactly that.