Archive for September, 2012

Rock Band Status: September 23, 2012

Sep 23 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Yesterday, Liesl and I went through the Blitz songs in Rock Band 3. A good collection: nothing that I was super in love with, but very few that I disliked, and in general we had fun. We went through them on guitar/bass; for a lot of the songs, it seemed like the vocals were the high point, so we’ll have to go through them again in vocal harmonies. (And I should do another sweep of songs that I haven’t played in pro keys, too.)

One bit that I hadn’t realized: the Blitz soundtrack includes two songs that were part of Rock Band 2 but that we weren’t allowed to export to Rock Band 3, namely Give It Away and Spoonman. I in particular really appreciate them for including Give It Away, because without that, it would have been impossible to play all of Blood Sugar Sex Magik in Rock Band 3, which kind of sucks. So yay to Harmonix for making that possible again.

Today I went through some pro guitar: I went through some of the tier 0 songs again and then started on my second tour through tier 1. In terms of tier 0, I think I’m going to leave I Wanna Be Sedated, Last Dance, and Yoshimi in the rotation for a while: they all have me emphasizing different core techniques that I still have significant room for improvement at, and they’re all songs I basically enjoy, so I should keep on going with them. Probably the solo for I Love Rock and Roll, too.

I wish I’d taken better notes on tier 1, because there were two or three songs in today’s selection that I also felt that I should replay, I just can’t remember what they were! And, of course, several that I was less excited about and will drop. (And one that I was unsure about: I really like The Only Exception, but that’s mostly because of singing, I don’t know yet how I feel about its guitar part. I’ll probably keep it in the mix for another week, though.) I only went through maybe six of the tier 1 songs, it wasn’t a particularly long session, so lots more exploring to come.

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Rock Band Status: September 16, 2012

Sep 17 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I was a little worried about how my guitar behaved the previous week, but fortunately replacing the batteries seems to have fixed the problem. I went through the rest of the Tier 0 songs (and repeated a few from the previous week); generally pleasant but unexciting. I’ve now gotten five stars on all of the on-disc ones except for Rehab and Midlife Crisis; both are scattered enough that I don’t really enjoy working on them, so I don’t think I’ll spend time there.

I will repeat some of the others, though. I was pleased at how much better I was getting at Last Dance by the end, I’ll want to keep that in the rotation because my hands just have to be able to do that reliably. I was less pleased with my problems with Yoshimi; another song where my hands have to be able to execute reliably. (And, honestly, I was expecting better, I’ve practiced that one a fair amount offline.) I should probably keep something power-chordy in the rotation, but nothing is really speaking to me; not sure what to do about that. Mostly I’ll move back up to Tier 1 next week, I think.

And on Sunday, Liesl and I sung together for the first time in ages. Which was fun, as always! Though I’m definitely out of practice. The best part was when Miranda joined us for the last 30-60 minutes; we introduced her to some geeky songs that she was previously unaware of, and ended up getting the #5 spot on the leaderboard for 30 Lives. And I quite enjoy the three-part harmonies in the last part of that song, too.

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VGHVI Minecraft: August 23, 2012

Sep 15 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Some pictures from the August 2012 VGHVI Minecraft session. First, Jonathan and animals:

Jonathan thinking about his next move

His loyal dog watching him.

Surrounded by animals on the ice

Miranda built a midair mine:

Miranda’s midair mine house

Top view of the midair mine

Miranda and Jonathan both experimented with redstone, though I’m not sure either of their creations survived:

Miranda experimenting with redstone

Looking through a passage at the temple

Cats examine Jonathan’s project

Side view of Miranda’s project

And finally Jonathan decided to build a house for his cats, and Miranda followed suit:

Jonathan building a house for his cats

A cat checks out the house

Miranda starts work on another house

Cats examining the blue house

Inside the blue house

Pictures added to both houses

Decorated front of the blue house

A cat, the blue house, and the pool

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Rock Band Status: September 9, 2012

Sep 09 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I was looking for the next song to focus on, and decided to go and give all the tier 0 songs a try. No practicing, just diving in and seeing how it was going.

Living in America was power chord practice; I was a little disconcerted how badly it went at first, but pretty soon I figured out how to use muted chords to my advantage when shifting and ended up with gold stars on it. Last Dance really made my hands hurt—I should work barre chord practice into the mid-week routines. Still, it went pretty well, I think that was the song that I managed five stars on for the first time? I also beat my previous high on Beautiful People; only four stars, though, but it’s metal with a dropped D tuning, so I don’t want to spend too much time on it.

The thing is, though, part of the reason why I missed notes on that one was because the guitar kept on playing false strums. And I went on to a couple other songs, and the same problem kept happen. I swapped out MIDI cables and turned the guitar off and on, and it didn’t go away. So then I got frustrated and stopped. And, of course, after stopping I thought that maybe the batteries were low; I swapped those, but didn’t go back to the game and play.

So, a brief session, and one that ended in frustration. But assuming I can resolve that problem, I actually think I’d enjoy going through the tier 0 songs and trying to get five stars on all of them and gold stars on a few more of them. That definitely seems like it’s within reach now. (The one thing I’m curious about is whether I’ll finally be able to beat Dan Bruno’s score on Yoshimi…)

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Rock Band Status: September 3, 2012

Sep 03 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

It’s been a month and a half since I last posted here—I’d hit a wall on pro guitar, and while my plan was to start over when that happened, being more selective on what I played and trying to get really good at a few songs, that plan was interrupted by a vacation, two sets of guests, and a conference. But that’s all over, and this was a three day weekend, so: time to get back in the saddle!

Which, to be honest, my brain wasn’t really raring to do. That’s probably the reason why I downloaded Rock Band Blitz on Saturday and ended up spending almost seven hours on it. My basic takeaway is that it’s a quite reasonable price for a 25-song pack, but as a game I’m not impressed with it, and I don’t like the coins mechanic; I played it for maybe another hour today and I’m not sure I’ll play it again, I have a strong preference for the regular Rock Band gameplay.

On Sunday, though, I did pick up the guitar, going back to tier zero songs. Specifically, I started with The Hardest Button to Button—it’s the song that the training goals encourage you to start with, so it seemed like a good place to restart. And wow, I was a little rustier than I realized: it’s mostly slow arpeggiated power chords, with a few non-arpeggiated ones thrown in, but I made more mistakes than I would have liked. Still, after a while (an hour? two hours?) I was playing it acceptably well—I didn’t get a full combo (though it seemed like that’s plausibly in reach), but I did get gold stars, which is good enough for me. Sounded fine plugged in, too; a pleasant song to have gone through again, but it’s basic enough that I don’t think I’ll particularly return to it.

The next song that I went through was I Love Rock and Roll: I reminded myself of the basics of it yesterday and focused on the solo today. It’s a song that I like (both playing and singing) and that I think will be good for me—the power chords are straightforward, but there’s a solo that I thought was within reach, and a tremolo bit that’s good practice.

And I was pleased to find out today that yes, the solo is within reach: I managed to get 100% on it not only on practice mode but when playing through the song in game. It’s near the edge of my capabilities, and it’s again pointing out areas where I’m rusty (as well as the fact that my calluses have receded!); I plan to add that solo to my regular out-of-game practice routine. Partly because of that rust but partly because playing it unmuted pointed out areas where I should consider working on my technique: the game encourages me to play certain bits as pull-offs, but they sound lousy when I do that, which either means I should work on that bit of my technique or I should strum those notes. Definitely something to work on.

The song is, sadly, kind of frustrating to play unmuted in game, because the non-solo/tremolo bits have enough pauses in them that the game picks up false strums all the time. Though the good thing there is that I eventually figured out how to turn down the crowd noise, so at least I’m not getting booed; that makes it manageable. And when I played it muted, I did quite well: I didn’t manage gold stars, but I did get one playthrough with a 184-note streak. (And where I missed some easy notes at the start—if I’d been crisper there, maybe I would have gotten gold stars.)

So: back in the saddle, with a bunch of free weekends ahead of me. With one new addition to my practice repertoire; and I did well enough on both of this weekend’s songs that I plan to move onto new songs next weekend.

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