The moment the teacher became the student…

May 26, 2008

Joelle’s brother and his 9-year old twin sons spent the weekend at our house and it was not only a fantastic weekend with them, it was also inspirational as I learned something from them.

While they were over, they had brought their guitars and amps and we were playing in my studio. I was also giving them guitar lessons and a bit of homework exercises to not only improve their picking co-ordination, but to also improve their songwriting abilities. Not that I’m this great songwriter or anything. They simply wanted to know how I started writing songs, so I gave them the same challenge that I was presented with when I wrote my first song.

However, the real lesson came for me when Joelle was doing a photo shoot with them and their guitars. Their dad always has them clean and polish their guitars as well as wipe their strings. The results of this showed in the photo shoot as their guitars were beautiful in colour. If anything, it made me ashamed as here I have my favourite 30-year old guitar that I cannot recall polishing even once. Even worse was that I showed it to them, corroded strings, salt deposits and all. I was embarrassed.

I took a lesson from them and yesterday, I removed all of the old strings from my favourite guitar and started by rubbing lemon oil on the fretboard. I then rubbed on some guitar polish on the finish and cleaned the entire guitar. I even went under the bridge and in almost every hard to reach area. I then put a brand new set of strings on it and reset the intonation on the bridge. When I was done, it looked practically like the guitar I bought 30 years ago.

The real reward came in the playing. I don’t think I could ever remember that guitar feeling as good as it did to play. Not to mention that I can’t recall it ever sounding better. That guitar definitely reclaimed itself as my favourite electric guitar. I owe it all to my nephews for having been able to rediscover this.

M-Audio: YER OUTTA HERE!! Make room for Mackie!

May 24, 2008

I hit my breaking point with M-Audio this past week. They put out drivers for every Firewire product except for their “flagship” control surface, the ProjectMix I/O. How do I know? Because I own a ProjectMix. Or, should I say, I owned a ProjectMix. As of last night, I finally went down to my music dealer with my ProjectMix in hand and traded it in for a Mackie Control Unit. It was the best move I ever made.

In the beginning, I lulled by the ProjectMix having both a control surface and audio interface on it and I was thinking that I could expand my inputs from 24 to 34 along with plugging my guitar or bass into it and then mix down. At first it seemed like a good idea. Why? I don’t know because I already have 24 great inputs that I can already use. Not to mention that the thing already worked with Logic and I was stoked.

However, the honeymoon didn’t last as M-Audio’s drivers began to suck worse and worse and the thing became less and less responsive with Logic. I had to do these weird button combinations in order to get it to do some regular workflow stuff in Logic. Not only that, I had to change various control surface commands in Logic just so that it would get along with the ProjectMix. This became a huge problem when Logic would crash… it would reset my control surface commands back to the defaults which became problematic between the ProjectMix. The screen started throwing up garbage and some of the faders never responded until I move banks around. Then it got totally bad once Leopard came out. It has been well over six months and M-Audio still hasn’t got a working driver out for the ProjectMix. Their beta was nothing but a bone… and a very bad one indeed. It wasn’t even beta… it was alpha! Total crap!¬†They have a ton of bull… and no meat!

Then, I really didn’t get to notice just how bad their audio interface is until I plugged in my ART TubeFire 8 into my MOTU 24I/O and plugged my guitar into that. Talk about presence vs. existence. Everything was alive. That basically sealed my decision that I really need is a good working control surface… and the ProjectMix isn’t it.

Plugging in my new Mackie board was total night and day. It responded and Logic automatically knew it was there. No contorted moves to get it to do things. Just a simple button press and its there. Logic’s default commands work fantastic with the Mackie. Everything is in its logical place and is totally responsive. I rarely ever have to take my eyes off the screen. I even love the jog wheel. And… I get more functionality right out of the box and it’s expandable. I don’t know why I didn’t get this in the first place. I would have never found myself in this situation. This is my board! I can’t wait to really mix with it.

Don’t go away mad… JUST GO AWAY!

May 21, 2008

Some people just don’t get it. Here’s why:

Apple just released a new update to Logic 8 (8.0.2). Prior to that, an band of trolls were whining in Apple’s user-to-user forum that Logic is dead and Apple has killed Logic, just because they haven’t gotten a software update every 15 minutes or so. Not to mention that they are talking about going from Logic to Pro Tools. Even worse is that they mention it at least 10 times a week or so. Now that the update is out, and with a whole grocery list of fixes, these same trolls are complaining that Apple doesn’t care because one of their problems didn’t get fixed. And, again, these same trolls are going on the forum that Apple has failed them and they’re moving to Pro Tools.

Yeah… RIGHT!!

If you’re gonna go to Pro Tools, then GO! It’s just a DAW and if it works for you, then more power to you and your music. Quit making noise on a user to user forum. They think that if they scream real loud in a public forum, someone is just going to go “I’m leaving too”. Ain’t gonna happen! A lot of us work very well in Logic and we’re not going to leave just because some troll is having a whine and cheese party on the forums. It has nothing to do with being an Apple fan-boy. It has everything to do with the fact that it DOES work. If anything, I have the music to show for it… both for myself and for my clients. If it didn’t work, would I stick around? I’d leave in a heartbeat. Music is something I love… I will not let anything turn music into something I hate!

Or, those trolls actually believe that Apple will eventually listen on the forum. Nothing could be further from the truth. Apple employees are ordered not to interact there because of the whiny trolls. DUDE! You killed it for yourself! I don’t blame them. I don’t even want to talk much on the forum because they’re whiny trolls. At least on the Logic forum that I moderate, I can at least call them out on it and if they can’t justify their whine, I have no problems calling them a troll. If you have a legitimate complaint, that’s different. Heck, one dude is a high-powered rock audio engineer and when he complains, I listen. It doesn’t mean I take his complaints at face value, but I will go to him and try to flesh it out… and he does flesh it out! Funny enough, however, some of the same whiny trolls don’t bother using the “I’m switching to Pro Tools card” on my forum. Wonder why? Is it because Apple’s not there?

So, if you want to be a troll and complain for its own sake, you’ll never be happy even if Apple does fix the problem you’re experiencing. You simply love being a troll and your thrill is simply being miserable. However, if you want to make noise threatening to go to another piece of software, then dude, don’t go away mad… JUST GO AWAY!

And don’t let the door slam your rear-end on the way out!

The hardest part of a long weekend is starting back at work again

May 20, 2008

Subject says it all. Heck, if long weekends are meant to be relaxing so that we can come back to work refreshed and stuff, then why am I so worn out already and it is only 8:30am? Already, I cannot wait to go home and sleep. Heck, I just may catch a lunch time power nap. But, as it is, I feel like, despite the 8 or so hours of sleep I got, I feel like I didn’t get enough rest. It’s even worse when my body clock is going haywire, waking me up at all hours of the night. Sure, it got me up on time, but I’m already feeling short circuited. Then I have to drive to Woodbridge… which I am totally grateful that traffic was not seriously backed up.

Perhaps, the next long weekend I get, I should make it a point of working out a little more often. Perhaps, I will be a lot better relaxed if I do.

God must hate Queen Victoria…

May 18, 2008

Queen Victoria must have done something really bad to earn the wrath of the good Lord. Otherwise, it would rain even Victoria Day weekend in May. I have rarely ever seen a May 2-4 weekend where it doesn’t rain. It’s always bad on that particular long weekend. I don’t get it. If anything, it definitely spoiled our weekend plans to go to African Lion Safari and do a photo shoot there. If anything, it’s totally incomprehensible. Heck, our weekend barbeque was in the rain. Not that I mind the rain, but it was cold as well. The only thing that should be cold and wet on the May 2-4 weekend are the beverages!

Oh well… it just meant more time to clean out the studio, which I did. If anything, the area is all clean and ready for recording and jammin’. At least I’m happy with the way that turned out.

Even if it is cold and rainy…

Those Vocal Exercises Paid Off… I NAILED the track!

May 14, 2008

After the initial shock of realizing that making sure that I have done my rock ‘n’ roll duty before attempting those vocal exercises from “The Zen of Screaming”, I started reaping the benefits from practicing them in the car going to Toronto and coming back home. I know that I only have to do them once, but they help pass the time as I am driving along the 407. I went to lay down some vocal tracks last night seeing as Joelle was picking Jake up in Buffalo and was going to be late. If anything, the results were astounding. I nailed the freakin’ track… and this was one that was giving me a bit of trouble. It wasn’t a range problem, but it was a case of hitting the notes properly. If anything, I’d always be slightly underneath it. Not last night. I was bang on the note. I used the same “dump area” techniques as the exercises and just let it all out. It was like opening the faucet on full and letting it flow. If anything, I have just one more vocal track to put down, which is the harmony. If anything, I’m gonna go full force with this and make sure that both ends of the pipe are clean as I have a huge note to hit before the lead guitar break.

Funny how the lessons that my mother taught me about singing go hand in hand with what Melissa Cross states in her DVD. Listening to Melissa is almost like listening to my mother on this, except that I get one thing that I never got from my mom… exercises. Funny how she opens up the DVD saying that she’s not my mother… it’s almost like she could have been.

I can’t wait to get the last vocal track down tonight. Hand me the toilet paper and wish me luck!

Note to self: go to bathroom before practicing vocal exercises!

May 13, 2008

This morning, I learned just how powerful those vocal exercises from “The Zen of Screaming” really are. Using the diaphragm and pushing down… in other words, using the dump as Melissa Cross puts it, not only helps you achieve those big heavy notes, but if you don’t make sure to take care of your bathroom duties beforehand, you will definitely hit the brown note in your undies. If anything, I almost experienced this in the worst of all places… in the car on my way into Toronto this morning. Let’s face it: it never occurred to me before to either be mindful of our bodily functions or take a clean pair of undies if we’re going to do this without taking care of ourselves beforehand.

Fortunately, nothing happened. However, I am going to make sure that I am going to take “one for the road” before I go home and try the exercises along the 407. But hey, at least I know that I am using the right area and almost having the proof in the pants proves it.

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