Thursday, March 31, 2005

Gene Pool Cleansing


I almost fell out of my car on my way to band practice tonight. While stopped at a light during rush hour at a major Atlanta intersection I saw a grown man turning onto North Druid Hills Rd. from the I-85 off-ramp on a pocket bike. This guy had to have a death wish. He was at the head of traffic and he started oscillating from side to side as he entered the road. He almost slammed into the curb and had to stop to regain control.

It was the most ridiculous thing I've seen in a long time and I wish I had thought to grab my camera phone and take a shot.

At least he was wearing a helment...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Ableton Live


Downloaded a demo version of Ableton's Live product. What a very cool product. Much more powerful than Sony's ACID Pro (at least to this untrained music wanna be). I went through the included demo and then tried my hand at creating a short song using the included samples.

That was fun!

Then I decided to record the acoustic guitar part of a song that T. Mack Brown and I wrote and use Live to add the other instruments. One of the cool features of this product is that when a new sound file is imported you set up the bpm for the original recording. Live does a fairly good job of doing this when a clip is first imported but I had to do some tweaking for the guitar parts I recorded. Also, since Live can loop a clip for the desired length of the piece on the timeline I did not have to record the full song. I just recorded each phrase that I'll need.

After getting my clips in and setting the default bpm I set my set's bmp (set is what Live calls a song or whatever you're building). This is where the fun part comes in. I first wanted to add drums so I looked for an existing drum beat that closely fit the rhythm of the song. Once I did that I dragged the clip to the timeline and the "painted" for the duration needed. Now the clip was orignally recorded at a bpm that is different than my song. This is where the bpm mapping becomes important. Live will remap the clip to match the bpm for the set. This means that once the drums where dropped into my set the beat was remapped to match my song. This was really cool!

Then I went about the business of adding a bass line. In addition to the bpm remapping you can change the "key" of a clip. I found a bass line that fit rhythmically and once I dropped it in I changed the note for the base line to match the phrase it was dropped into. For each chord change I just dropped in a copy of the bass line and changed the tuning to fit the chord at that point. Once I had a full phrase completed I just selected all of the blocks and copied the block of clips to each phrase in the song that needed that bass line.

I did the same thing for a synthesizer line that was violin like and a heavily distorted guitar droning guitar part in the chorus.

Since I recorded my own "clips" on acoustic guitar I learned that you may have to edit the clip's wav file to make sure you have a smooth transition from clip to clip or end to start of each clip. I had a clip that had a small thunk that did not fit well when it was being looped back to the front of the clip. I just cut the thunk down using a wav editor and bringing the db of the thunk down very, very low.

This is a great product and will be on my short list for purchase as soon as I can free up the greenbacks.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What A Washer


Our Kenmore bit the dust and after determining Sears service could not come out for 3 days I decided to roll up my sleeves and fix it myself. The good news is there are a lot of sites out there with detailed information on how to service/repair washers. A few of the best are:

Between these sites and the parts schematic I was able to determine that a coupler was broken. A $20 part found locally. After replacing this part and patting myself on the back.. the moment of truth -- turned washer on and it began working. Pow!!!! A very large and sickening sound and I immediately turned the washer off.

Not good, I now see dark black oil oozing from the transmission case (didn't know washers had transmissions...did you?). I was able to remove the transmission case, the one with the large fracture. After disassembling the transmission I found the gear used to drive the agitator had broken. This is what caused the coupler to break in the first place. I was still hopeful but the transmission case is cast iron and the price is around $150. I also still had to buy the agitator gear.

If I had just known there was something wrong in the transmission case I could have spent another $20 on the agitator gear and been home free. Well, I couldn't see investing more time and money into a 5 year old washer. Next step, research and purchase a new washer...