GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Lime » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:53 pm

Oh man I am so happy.....now - I had a bit of a setback earlier.


I set all my gear up with the focusrite 18i8. I have my guitar, ipad and fantomX8 all connected to the rear inputs, leaving all the front inputs for 'ad-hoc' mic/instrument connections. All nice new cables!

This was supposed to be a moment to celebrate, but.... I was getting intermittent clicks/pops regardless of what input I was using. These were being recorded on tracks I was making so they were an absolute deal-breaker.

I went through everything, buffer sizes, every PC optimisation I can find (including from a clean install of Windows 10, with minimal other software apart from Ableton). Tried looking at hard drive activity, CPU, memory to see if there were any bottlenecks. Tried different mains outlets, maybe a fridge or something was interfering. No change at all.

Eventually tried just using the 18i8 as a mixer, no PC involved - just set it up in the control software and unplugged the USB from my PC. This should eliminate any PC issues. Sure enough, still had the problem.

I was about to box it up and send it back when I just had a little idea - the online help for the 18i8 recommended using the internal clock for syncing the SPDIF signal. From a google the suggestion is that you should use the clock of the external device. Made the change - now it's perfect, no more clicking. I don't understand why it was affecting sound from all inputs but maybe I got that part wrong, since I wasn't really thinking it was associated with the digital input. I keep switching it back and forth changing the clock sync from internal to external so I can reproduce the fault, then solve it again!

So so good to get to the bottom of it. Phew!

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by OldSoulCyborg » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:15 pm

I'm struggling a bit at the moment with changing to barre chords on guitar, and doing so quickly without having it sound all messy. I can play barre chords just fine, but switching to them quickly and accurately in the middle of a song is a different matter.

Do I have to get my all of fingers into the right shape before pressing down on the strings, or can the index finger trail behind the others without hampering my chord changes too much?
I would think it's the former, but that feels next to impossible at the moment. I can get the other fingers into position easily enough, but getting the index finger into position at the same time as the others is proving difficult.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Squinty » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:37 pm

The one important thing is to pay attention on how to set yourself up for the next chord change. It's hard to explain, you want to limit finger movement when changing chords, the best way to do this is get the best finger positions on the chords you are using, so that you can avoid extra movement (which could result in messy finger transitions).

As with everything, have a think about the best approach, take it slow and build up speed over time. I basically had to unlearn some really bad habits that I had when doing chord changes. I'm still unlearning those mistakes.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by OldSoulCyborg » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:56 pm

Squinty wrote:The one important thing is to pay attention on how to set yourself up for the next chord change. It's hard to explain, you want to limit finger movement when changing chords, the best way to do this is get the best finger positions on the chords you are using, so that you can avoid extra movement (which could result in messy finger transitions).


Right. So, for example, open G to F would be something like:

Pivot index finger off the A string and straighten out across the first fret while moving the other fingers into their proper places

rather than

Lift off all fingers and quickly transition into the F chord
?

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Green Gecko » Wed Aug 12, 2020 9:18 am

Pretty much, yes. But this is also something you have to trust me when I say it "happens" over time the more you practice. I know it's horrible to hear that kind of advice, "just be patient and it will come" but it's pretty much the truth.

In the meantime, you can substitute bar chords for open variants unless there is time during a phrase for you to establish the barre position of the index finger. You can also slow down as much as you need to and just focus on the tempo. Perhaps think about using a metronome at say 60 or 80bpm? I honestly can't remember any much better advice from my own teacher, than to keep practising those transitions and speed will come from time.

Definitely one of the main reasons guitarist struggle to learn new techniques (or put them into realistic practice) isn't due to a lack of technique or tone but because they are going at it too fast. It will take time to establish that muscle strength together with the ability to stretch the finger out to just the right place to fret all the strings (especially under the knuckle, which is probably where I struggled the most, and sometimes still do - especially when playing multiple notes over the top of holding the barre, essentially acting as a capo for individual bars of music).

Lime wrote:Oh man I am so happy.....now - I had a bit of a setback earlier.


I set all my gear up with the focusrite 18i8. I have my guitar, ipad and fantomX8 all connected to the rear inputs, leaving all the front inputs for 'ad-hoc' mic/instrument connections. All nice new cables!

This was supposed to be a moment to celebrate, but.... I was getting intermittent clicks/pops regardless of what input I was using. These were being recorded on tracks I was making so they were an absolute deal-breaker.

I went through everything, buffer sizes, every PC optimisation I can find (including from a clean install of Windows 10, with minimal other software apart from Ableton). Tried looking at hard drive activity, CPU, memory to see if there were any bottlenecks. Tried different mains outlets, maybe a fridge or something was interfering. No change at all.

Eventually tried just using the 18i8 as a mixer, no PC involved - just set it up in the control software and unplugged the USB from my PC. This should eliminate any PC issues. Sure enough, still had the problem.

I was about to box it up and send it back when I just had a little idea - the online help for the 18i8 recommended using the internal clock for syncing the SPDIF signal. From a google the suggestion is that you should use the clock of the external device. Made the change - now it's perfect, no more clicking. I don't understand why it was affecting sound from all inputs but maybe I got that part wrong, since I wasn't really thinking it was associated with the digital input. I keep switching it back and forth changing the clock sync from internal to external so I can reproduce the fault, then solve it again!

So so good to get to the bottom of it. Phew!

glad you got it. Yeah, Focusrite is really top gear. THere's maybe some anomaly in how your Fantom handles the SPDIF single. It was maybe struggling to sync to the Focusrite's internal clock, so it was better for the Focusrite to sync to it instead. The kind of sounds you describe are digital "pop and click" artefacts, they come from sync issues or latency problems with the CPU not being able to process things fast enough. You probably either heard this in the master channel or the headphone mix, but it could show up in other discreet signal sources as well. You tried some of the right things changing buffer settings etc.

Honestly, once you have your setup working, provided there aren't too many big changes like overzealously updating to the latest version of Windows before drivers are even available etc, you should have a pretty seamless experience for a long time if my experience is to go by. Literally the worst thing ever I have to do is switch my device off and on again, and in OSX at least I don't even need to restart my computer or Ableton or anything else.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Lime » Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:27 am

Re: Barre chords, GG has a good point about it 'just happening', the very nature of repeating something over and over seems to make your body/fingers find more efficient ways to do it.

My approach to tricky technical issues is to isolate the part you're struggling with, and make yourself a little exercise.

For example in this case I would set up a little drum loop or metronome and set the tempo way down, then just start strumming 4 beats (or 8 if it feels less stressful!) of the open G, change to the F barre for 4 beats (or 8), then back to the open G for 4, back to F for 4 etc etc.

I would definitely practice the changes both ways, even if you don't need it for this song.

Just keep on going for as long as you start to feel like it's getting more comfortable. Make sure you're not super tense because you'll get some cramp if you stay in this position too long.

Gradually you'll find it gets easier and easier, you can gently increase the tempo and do the exercise again, and you'll eventually get it up to tempo - with the added bonus of wondering why it ever used to be so hard!

I've been playing the piano for 45 years-odd and I still use this to sort out difficult/complex passages. break it down, slow it down, repeat and then gradually bring up the tempo. It's like magic. Also the end result is better quality because you're done it from the ground up rather than just forced yourself to scrabble through it.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Green Gecko » Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:31 pm

Yes, later on my practice paid more attention to breathing technique and posture than anything else. There's nothing worse than cramping up and stimying over and over due to frustration and and fatigue, you're not going to feel any better so take a break. Perhaps practice just 10 minutes at a time rather than what can end up being hours or even days at a time. Due to its nature the guitar has a tendency to be cradled and hugged which can do your back, neck no good which can then lead to cramps in the arm and the wrist. It's important to try an sit up straight, lay the guitar on the lap and perhaps try raising the right foot slightly on some books or something (if you are playing right handed). The more relaxed you are, the easier some of these things can be. It will take time to focus on the strength in that very specific, really quite minute area of muscle in the hands and fingers and somewhat the forearm as well (try moving your left index finger forward and backward will pressing your forearm with your right hand, and notice how the muscles are actually contracting in the whole arm) until the body can do it efficiently. This is the actual physiological why this is hard, and it IS very hard, these are not natural movements at all. Nobody ever in the history of time has found these techniques "natural" or easy to do without a great deal of practice. Nobody at all.

And no, it isn't "cool" to destroy your very physique by leaning over the guitar like some kind of slime and stare deeply into the floor while playing the dirtiest blues nobody is going to hear. All it's going to do is restrict your playing. The guitar is an instrument, not a prop! Hold it delicately, treat it with respect, like holding a baby.

I have some hand exercises I do which might help for this, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to describe it! I do it on trains and must look like some kind of crazy person. But to be fair, it's just like a nervous tick or something a person with anxiety might do to stay calm, and I'm just fine with that, seeing as I suffer with this too, so, whatever, it's constructive. I do it on the way to gigs as well as there's often no chance for a warmup.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Squinty » Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:41 pm

OldSoulCyborg wrote:
Squinty wrote:The one important thing is to pay attention on how to set yourself up for the next chord change. It's hard to explain, you want to limit finger movement when changing chords, the best way to do this is get the best finger positions on the chords you are using, so that you can avoid extra movement (which could result in messy finger transitions).


Right. So, for example, open G to F would be something like:

Pivot index finger off the A string and straighten out across the first fret while moving the other fingers into their proper places

rather than

Lift off all fingers and quickly transition into the F chord
?


Gecko already got there, but yeah! You got it right, and you basically pointed out what not to do. Which is what I had to unlearn. Keeping a finger anchored usually helps.

It just takes a bit of time as well. Hell, I was recently practicing A minor to an F major barre chord. Guitar is such a humbling experience at times, even after years of playing.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Green Gecko » Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:50 pm

You got that right. I could ace a grade 8 Bach Prelude in D when I was 16, now I can barely get through more than 3 bars at the start without months and months of practice again.

And strawberry floating hell if you want to try tough barres in every possible combination try Bach.

Bouree has one in literally the 2nd note :lol:

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Squinty » Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:17 pm

It's amazing how quickly ability like that slips away. I have an old video of myself playing a rhythmically complicated (for me) Megadeth song and I don't think I could play that stuff if you put a gun to my head now. I never got anywhere near your level though.

I got my Schecter back from the guitar repair place. The setup amazing. He recut the bridge on it, as well as a few other adjustments. It's incredible how a well setup instrument can impact your playing. I have set exercises that I do, I was nailing them at 10 BPM more than I can usually manage. Played so much on Saturday and I enjoyed every second of it.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by OldSoulCyborg » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:37 pm

Thanks for the replies (and Gecko for the mini-essays) y'all.
One thing that kind of scares me about any kind of practice, probably the main thing that's kept me from "keeping at it" with guitar, drawing, painting, photography etc., is the knowledge that practice doesn't make perfect: practice makes permanent (not exactly permanent, but alliteration sounds nice).
The thought of practicing something the wrong way for ages and picking up bad habits gives me way more anxiety than it has any right to. I know full well (the times that I can actually think logically about it) that any practice is better than none at all, even if it's slightly flawed. If I pick up bad habits I can shed them later through more practice. I know this, but still I am beset by worries, fears and doubts.

That, or I'm just impatient and want clear and significant progress after just a few days of practice.


Anyway, I'm setting aside 20-30 minutes each day for practice and focusing on splitting my time up into a few minutes at a time to practice each specific technique rather than just going until I feel like stopping. It's nice to have a timer to help keep me focused, and I think it's just straight up good practice advice.
I'm putting time into learning to play songs as well. I don't have the confidence to just try to figure a song out by listening to it just yet so I'm making use of the Justin Guitar app. I want to start learning a song piece by piece soon so I can start playing it without the help of the app, just need to find one I really want to learn.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Squinty » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:47 pm

I would try not to worry about making mistakes. You will make them, and as you say, it's nothing that can't be remedied further on down the line with a bit of practice. The best thing to do is just keep at it and don't feel pressured. You have all the time in the world.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Green Gecko » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:57 pm

I have plenty of bad habits mate. Nobody cares if I can play the music even half competently, and even if I miss 10-20% of the notes sometimes.

I once did a gig with barely any practice where someone actually said "oh he just killed it", and I don't mean in a good way, I mean you have a good passage and it falls to pieces in front of you :dread: But on the plus side, that was possibly because my music can kill a room dead silent or they will miss half of what is going on in the music because it's not even a plug in guitar (I have to bring 2-3 mics with me wherever I go, but I'm thinking about picking up a small AKG contact mic, I had one and - you guessed it - my brother stole it, although those don't really appeal to me).

My nerves are absolutely strawberry floating shite also, it's never gotten any better no matter how long I've been playing or how many concerts I've done, whoever family and friends I've played to or around. Actually, I'm most happy just playing stuff while nobody is paying attention.

To be fair, I had some bad habits that my teacher would point out, for example I barely bother to play rest stroke as you should as much as possible on classical guitar, but after long enough he just accepted this is how I play and as I was progressing fairly consistently anyway it became a bit of a non issue.

I later learnt this is a conscious choice many players make, preferring more attack and speed in their playing than resonance, although I often flip between the two and have other methods of achieving note sustainence, namely, left hand work and holding those notes as long as possible (really I should do both).

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Lime » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:21 am

Green Gecko wrote:Honestly, once you have your setup working, provided there aren't too many big changes like overzealously updating to the latest version of Windows before drivers are even available etc, you should have a pretty seamless experience for a long time if my experience is to go by. Literally the worst thing ever I have to do is switch my device off and on again, and in OSX at least I don't even need to restart my computer or Ableton or anything else.



Nuts, I still noticed the issue on other inputs despite the change I made - I think you are right, it's likely to be an issue with the Fantom's SPDIF implementation. It is a 16 year old keyboard, and I'm on the latest firmware, so I don't think there's a lot I can do with it. So I think I'm going to have to go analogue from the Fantom. But I notice I also have an SPDIF output on my guitar effects board, so I may still be able to use the digital connection and keep all my cables tidy (!). Will test later today.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Green Gecko » Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:03 pm

Honestly the preamps are really good and quiet on these devices so it won't make any real difference to audio quality.

I think I've only hooked up a device via SPDIF/optical about twice and most of the time it's another computer that doesn't have FireWire so I can monitor it through my Focusrite without any interfence from the unbalanced outputs on the PC. Internal audio cards standard 1/8" outputs are pretty damn noisy due to all sorts of random EMI/RFI interference from other components in the PC cross talking with the audio chip.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Lime » Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:14 pm

Swapped over to using SPDIF on my GT-10 guitar pedal board and so far it seems good, no clicks/pops on other inputs that I've noticed.

To be honest it's less about audio quality and more about keeping all the permanent connections 'round the back' and leaving the 4 inputs on the front clear. If I still have an issue I'll just need to give up on the sleek look any have a couple of cables running out the front, and only have 2 spare inputs for random mics/instuments I have lying about.

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Squinty » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:05 pm

I've ordered a cheap interface to check out some vst amps and IR's. Ordered it quite some time ago, I assume they must be having supply issues due to lockdown boredom projects.

I'm using my Katana 100's USB port for an interface currently. Have had no issues with it despite the latency getting progressively longer during an extended DAW session.

Haven't recorded anything in weeks though :dread:

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Green Gecko » Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:24 pm

Lime wrote:Swapped over to using SPDIF on my GT-10 guitar pedal board and so far it seems good, no clicks/pops on other inputs that I've noticed.

To be honest it's less about audio quality and more about keeping all the permanent connections 'round the back' and leaving the 4 inputs on the front clear. If I still have an issue I'll just need to give up on the sleek look any have a couple of cables running out the front, and only have 2 spare inputs for random mics/instuments I have lying about.

I see what you mean, I have 2 at the front with instrument switches and 6 XLR/TRS combo jacks at the back.

Maybe you could add a small mixer with a SPDIF out or some other secondary preamp to go under the table? That\'s probably complicating things! You want that ADC to be good as you're converting analogue to digital. The preamps probably won't be as good, although it doesn't matter nearly as much for line-level signal sources like keyboards.

For lots of external instruments, a digital patchbay like that might make sense.

I think for quite some time I had a small interface like that (M-Audio fasttrack ultra) with 4 front inputs under a master keyboard, on top of a bass monitor, and then just ran a really long USB cable to the computer instead. That might work for you too so you have an area in the room with all the gear going on and a seperate clean desk? You could run shorter cables as well, or loom them up. Most of my cables are bundled up like that (but wrap them, don't bend them!!)

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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Victor Mildew » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:36 pm

That feeling when you've sent your music to some friends, you can see they've downloaded it and nobody says anything
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PostRe: GRcade Musician's Club - Do You "Do" Music?
by Green Gecko » Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:08 pm

Lol. Don't worry, my brother finally put loads of effort into producing his own album (on Spotify etc), and is now listed on Google as a "musical artist" (that makes it official!), but he still evidently felt the same way.

Just don't pay any attention, ever, to these metrics.

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