Archive for March, 2012

VGHVI Minecraft: March 29, 2012

Mar 30 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I didn’t take a lot of pictures in the March VGHVI Minecraft session, but here’s what I’ve got. First, the obligatory tourism shots:

Some sort of nether creature greeting me

Island and ice palace

Super tree and floating castle

Train station

There were a few more chunk errors than normal, one of which I thought was very entertaining:

Chunk error

Flying squid

Island cut in half

The main construction project was Pat extending a tower he’d built previously to take advantage of the new height limit:

Starting to extend the tower

Skeleton of the extension is in place

Working on the top of the extension

Lava viewed from below

The tower lit up at night

Working on the bird

Bird mostly finished

Spread wings

The final bird

Looking down into the mist

Tower in the rain

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Rock Band Status: March 25, 2012

Mar 25 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

When practicing older songs on Pro Guitar this week, I concentrated on Tier 3 songs instead of my earlier practice playlist (which was mostly Tier 0); and wow, Tier 3 is so much fun. I went through More than a Feeling, Working for the Weekend, Combat Baby, Viva La Resistance, and Ziggy Stardust; all fun, all instructive, all worth returning to. (Viva La Resistance is maybe a little boring to play, though not to listen to, but it’s good tremolo practice.)

And the first song I played this week may well get added to the list; I didn’t take detailed notes, but I really enjoyed playing The Look. Walk of Life was okay but not great; Tier 3 on Pro Guitar versus devil horns on fake guitar, and it’s a little hard for me to imagine what would make it devil horns: unrelenting, but not ludicrously fast, and either no solo or an easy one. Admittedly, my hand did hurt by the end of it, but not so much that I didn’t play through it several times; good, albeit not quite as much of a keeper as several of the other songs. As was Spanish Bombs: that one was mostly barre chord practice.

After that, I went through five (I think) songs on Pro Bass, finishing off Tier 3 and doing the first two songs in Tier 4. Pleasant but, of course, noticeably easier than guitar, and I have no idea why the first of those Tier 4 songs was marked at that level, it was quite easy.

The one blemish was that my guitar started acting funny, not detecting input reliably even after swapping batteries; that happened before and it was caused by the MIDI cable, so I swapped that out and yes, it was the problem again. So I ordered another backup; and, since I’m starting to get paranoid about equipment availability, I also ordered a spare MIDI adapter.

I worked on the Musical Offering some, too; getting better, but my heart wasn’t in it this week. Not sure if I was tired or if that’s a sign that I’ve been working on that for too long; not sure I have the energy to really polish the 3-Part Ricercar, but I would like to get the 6-Part Ricercar sounding better, so I’ll keep going for a few more weeks (a month, really, to be realistic) longer. Not sure if I’ll pause on piano playing after that (to focus more on guitar and on non-musical pursuits) or switch pieces.

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Rock Band Status: March 18, 2012

Mar 18 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

What with GDC, I didn’t play Rock Band at all last weekend, and basically didn’t do anything musical for almost two weeks straight. This weekend was a little busy, but clearly I didn’t want to let that happen again, so I made sure to play some Rock Band on Saturday.

Which was, of course, great! I went through my regular round of practice pieces, and then on to new pieces: only three this week (like I said, I was a little busy), which were:

  • Combat Baby: super fun. Nice single note bits, pleasant chords that were mostly bottom three/four strings but with some interesting seventh fret playing around. Learned something (especially about the latter) from playing it plugged in.
  • Viva La Resistance; great song (one of my favorites to listen to on the disk), though actually not my most favorite to play guitar on. In particular, the alternating strumming is sometimes a bit too fast, especially when playing it muted; it improves significantly when plugged in. But even so I made it through it fine and there are a fair number of non-tremolo parts to enjoy; and it’s a reminder that I should get back to finding five minutes to do tremolo practice every evening. (Easy enough to do while cooking dinner, after all.
  • Ziggy Stardust: the arpeggiations were extremely similar to those in More Than a Feeling, it had nice power chord mixture, single note runs, all around lots of fun.

In fact, tier three guitar has been great all around: More than a Feeling and Working for the Weekend remain two of my favorite songs to play. (I should probably come up with a tier three practice list to return to, and quite possible all three songs that I learned this weekend will go on it.) So maybe that’s my current sweet spot? Which is gratifying: I’m sure I’ll hit a wall at some point, but I’m halfway through the difficulty curve on Expert and I’m still doing more than okay. The flip side is that I’m not coming close to perfect on any of these; but that’s good, too, I imagine I learn the most if I can do well enough on a piece to enjoy it and to motivate me to really learn it while having enough flaws in my playing that I really do need to work to learn the piece.

Liesl and I also started chipping away at the DLC backlog on Saturday (on fake guitar/bass); nothing too striking there, though Call Me was a reminder that I really like singing along with Blondie. (I fear that the high notes there are just enough on the edge of my range that I’d be nervous singing when anybody else is along, alas.) And Liesl and I should go through the Hall and Oates and Heart songs on harmonies, too.

Today I put in my piano practice; felt rusty (and my fingers actually felt sluggish, through a combination of the temperature and being out of practice), and the Three-Part Ricercar sounded as bad as I can remember in a while. The Six-Part Ricercar started bad, too, but eventually got better; I really am getting close to not sounding horribly incompetent at that. And I went through some songs from My Neighbor Totoro at the end, always fun to play through Ghibli music.

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VGHVI Minecraft: February 23, 2012

Mar 11 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Pictures from the February VGHVI Minecraft session:

First, the obligatory “flying around noticing stuff” shots. It’s amazing how well the temple area has held up as a center for our world.

Looking out over the temple

A chicken and chests

A watery cave

Pit inside the cave

Looking up from the bottom of the pit

Rain on bedrock

Dan decided to turn the session into a narrated adventure, here’s some of that:

Narrative 1

Narrative 2

Miranda returned to her platform from last time (which turns out to be a flower), finishing it off:

Working on the bottom of the flower

Added leaves

Completed bottom of flower

Starting work on the top of the flower

Enclosing the top in glass

Looking down into the furnished top

Inside the top


While Miranda was working on that, Roger was wandering around, and discovered a mushroom island; I went to visit him, because I’d never seen that either:

I'm a sucker for the art of Minecraft chunk loading

Mushroom hillside

Mushroom cows

Mushroom cave

Pink mushroom

Moon rises over mushrooms

After finishing the flower, Miranda made a floating island:

Floating island

The architect ponders

Trees, grass, flowers, mandala

Lamp and chest


Inside the hut


The bottom of the island

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Rock Band Status: March 4, 2012

Mar 05 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I was busy on Sunday, so I only got to practice on Saturday, but it went well. The missing arpeggiation lesson is finally starting to come together, I got 97% on it a couple of times. (Though I’m not doing so well on the tremolo lesson these days…)

Then I went through some of the old songs that I liked; Working for the Weekend and More Than a Feeling are both super super fun to play, and they’re both great for me to be working on right now on a technical level. So I’m definitely going to come back to those.

For the new songs, I’m actually just going through the motions a little more than I have been in the past—not sure if I’m getting burned out a bit or if none of them are super exciting. Here are the new ones:

  • Funk #49: Boring and repetitive, but playing plugged in was surprisingly instructional. There’s a hammer-on bit and a bit where you add the sixth string to the second through fourth strings, both of which made a difference that I wasn’t expecting when I listened to them.
  • King George: Arpeggiation and chords at the start that I should have done better on; fun power chords; an easy, short, pleasant solo. I didn’t do particularly well, but I basically enjoyed it; not sure why I didn’t put in more time on it, maybe I should come back to it later?
  • Turning Japanese: Another one where I should have done better, though I didn’t take many notes about the song, so I guess it didn’t make that big an impression on me.
  • Oh My God: I did well on the repeated notes, okay on the chords, but much less well than I’d like on one scale bit.

The other thing about the guitar practice was that something started to feel funny with my playing part way through. I hope/assume it wasn’t the strings, given that I just replaced them; maybe it’s the picks? I should experiment more with that next time.

I also put in some Musical Offering practice this weekend, and for the first time I can start to see what the 6-Part Ricercar will feel like when I basically have it in my fingers and can actually start really listening to it. I still have some work before that happens, but I’m a lot more optimistic about the how it will be after my second pass going closely through the piece than I was a couple of weeks ago.

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