Guitar Status: November 2, 2013

Nov 02 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I decided to bring my guitar in to get set up today; that will take a week, which means no Rocksmith tomorrow.

Today was interesting, though. I learned that the game models tapping; which, on the one hand, sounds like a technique that I should learn, but on the other hand mostly occurs in sorts of music that I’m not all that interested in playing? The one song that I played today didn’t do anything to disabuse me of either notion, at any rate. A bit frustrating that the game had a hard time detecting notes that I could hear just fine; I think its detection on the upper E string is not so great, I run into problems when tuning that string.

On which topic: another one of the songs I was playing today was in E flat / dropped D flat tuning, which meant retuning all the strings. And that was a pain, both getting it in tune to play that song and then getting it back in regular tune. I’m tentatively thinking that a lot of what’s going on there is that I need to replace my strings; another side benefit of getting it set up, I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time the game seems to be acting odd tuning-wise.

Not a whole lot to say other than that; a pleasant enough practice session, tuning and tapping frustrations aside. Oh, and the tone-switching on Subdivisions makes that song a little more annoying to play than in the original Rocksmith: the tone that they use for the arpeggiated sections brings out the audio delay somehow. Maybe at some point I’ll see if I can plug headphones directly into the 360? I also browsed the lessons to see what other techniques there were that I hadn’t learned; I’m mostly done with them, but I see more advanced lessons for techniques that I’ve seen the basic lessons for, so more lessons for me to go to. And certainly lots more practice for me to do on techniques that I’ve been exposed to; I did a bit better today at muting with my fretting hand than I have been, at least…

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Guitar Status: October 27, 2013

Oct 29 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Rocksmith 2014 showed up this week, so I played it on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. But I ended up having enough to say about it that I wrote about it on my main blog rather than here, so: Rocksmith 2014 first impressions!

One thing that I didn’t mention there: I’m enjoying the songs in game quite a bit, which I wasn’t entirely sure would be the case going in. Yay for more Rush and Boston (are we going to get the rest of that album as DLC?), but also yay for random songs that I’m less familiar with. I’m still worried that there’s going to be a bit more metal than I can like, but the game gives me enough options to skip songs that I’m not in the mood for that that will be fine; between both games plus DLC I’m certainly not lacking in options to play…

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Guitar Status: October 20, 2013

Oct 20 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Not much to report for the last couple of weeks; the one new song I’ve gotten is Wish You Were Here, which has the distinction of being a little harder than it seems and causing my hand to hurt. Both, I think, caused by its copious use of inverted power chords (or whatever you call them—like power chords but with a fourth on the bottom instead of fifth), I’m probably gripping too tightly and putting too much pressure on my pinky?

And I’ve been playing a bit of guitar outside of Rocksmith, too, trying to learn Itsumo Nando Demo. Memorizing it is a little harder than I somehow think it should be, but tractable.

But really the most distinctive aspect of this week is that it’s the end of this iteration of Rocksmith practice: Rocksmith 2014 is coming out on Tuesday. I’m curious to see what improvements they’ve done; sounds like mostly usability improvements, which is fine with me. And having more songs to play is always welcome, of course.

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Guitar Status: October 7, 2013

Oct 07 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

It’s been a month since I gave a guitar status update, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been playing Rocksmith: it’s just that I didn’t have anything particular to write about. (Though there was one weekend day where I didn’t practice guitar because we spent the afternoon singing in Rock Band 3 instead.) I was basically just going through the new DLC that I downloaded; some was quite good (the songs from The Strokes and My Chemical Romance in particular), some was pretty boring to play (funk is nice to listen to and probably fun enough on bass but not so great on guitar), and Love Hurts was fascinating enough that I think I’ll write about it on my main blog.

But now I’ve finally played those enough that the game has decided to go back to the regular rotation. I’ve already started being a little more selective in what to play, ejecting songs from events if I don’t think I’ll enjoy / learn much from them, and I plan to do that more. And I plan to get back to practicing specific songs (and even sections of songs) instead of just going through events.

And I might learn a few more songs outside of the game: in particular, I’m thinking this arrangement of Itsumo Nando Demo might be worth learning.

Of course, it doesn’t make much sense to talk too much about my plans, because Rocksmith 2014 will comes out in just over two weeks, and once that’s out I’ll be spending my weekends diving into what’s new there…

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Guitar Status: September 2, 2013

Sep 02 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

It’s a three day weekend, and I played Rocksmith all three days. I’d downloaded a fair number of new songs this week: three-packs from The Strokes and My Chemical Romance, and several individual songs from other artists, something like 12 in total? And I’m definitely glad I had something new to play, I enjoyed the new songs more than I expected, and in particular those two three-packs were both good choices.

Some of the individual songs were a little boring, though (actually, if I’m remembering correctly, one of the songs from The Strokes fell into that bucket, too), so the flip side is that there’s a reason why I hadn’t bought these songs until now: I’m sure that there’s other DLC that I would enjoy if I gave it a try, but my success ratio is getting lower. So I doubt I’ll buy any more DLC until Rocksmith 2014 comes out; but I’m really looking forward to that, partly to get a lot of new songs and partly because I hope the game experience will improve somewhat.

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Guitar Status: August 18, 2013

Aug 20 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

We’re done with summer visitors, so I got back to Rocksmith this weekend. Which started off by throwing more Rush at me: YYZ and Red Barchetta this time. And a couple of other songs, too, maybe My Sharona and I Miss You? Pretty tough group; I had a target of 90,000 on most but not all of them. And I hit my target on some and missed it on some, but on the whole I felt like I was doing better than the last time I saw those songs, and I got a little better at them while practicing that day.

Then, that evening, instead of watching Deep Space 9, Miranda was in the mood for playing Rock Band 3. So we did that, for the first time in a while, and it was (of course) super fun! Miranda on vocals, me on (fake) guitar, Liesl on (fake) bass, except that one song in I pulled out the mic stands, and Liesl and I ended up singing along as well. (And doing better than we used to do when playing + singing in that song.) Really glad we did that. And Miranda is a Rush fan, so we ended up continuing that theme, singing another couple of Rush songs.

I can’t remember what I played on Rocksmith on Sunday (I should have written this up then!), but it was back to a noticeably easier level. So I went through the event rather more quickly, and then went through my current standard-ish set of songs.

Good weekend, glad to be getting back in the groove.

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Guitar Status: August 4, 2013

Aug 05 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

We had guests in town last weekend and we will guests them in town next weekend, but this weekend was free, so I made sure to practice guitar both days. And the setlist that Rocksmith gave me on Sunday was unexpectedly interesting: it was Anna Molly, Limelight, Do You Remember, Message in a Bottle, The End of the World, Tom Sawyer, and Play with Fire.

A couple of those were straightforward, but the rest weren’t. I’d been practicing the main arpeggio section in Tom Sawyer for the last month or two, but I hadn’t gone through the song in that time, so it was good timing for me to take another swing. Went well enough, but clearly I have quite a bit more room for improvement in that song; I think I’m going to switch over to practicing the whole thing.

And then I had to deal with Limelight; before I memorized the arpeggio section in Subdivisions, I hadn’t realized just how frequently Rush uses the same idiosyncratic chords and just how much they like Bs, but now I know!

Message in a Bottle was a good sign of my increasing dexterity: I already was able to play the arpeggios at the start, but it had been a stretch in the past. And it was a little bit of a stretch when I first tried the song this time, but not so much even then, and after going through it a couple of times, I was getting to where I could at least see what it would be like to play it comfortably. So my left hand is getting better; more of a surprise was how it felt to go through Play with Fire, my right hand was a lot more confident when jumping to the top three strings. I’m still not able to play that piece as solidly as I’d like (I still can’t even reach 90,000 points on it), but clear signs of improvement.

Nice to see that the practice is paying off.

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Guitar Status: July 21, 2013

Jul 21 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I practiced guitar both Saturday and Sunday this weekend; good stuff. A pleasant selection of songs in the events, generally hard enough for me to enjoy playing them without requiring too many attempts. And then I went through various of the songs that are either my favorites or ones that I’m working on; I added Sweet Home Alabama to the latter set, and I continue to think it’s a good choice.

Probably no guitar next weekend, we’ll have guests in town.

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Guitar Status: July 14, 2014

Jul 14 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

I played guitar with coworkers again this week (plus one friend of coworkers); again it was a lot of fun. I spent one of the songs (Hey Hey, My My) improvising, mostly reminding myself how minor scales work; no idea how it sounded to other people, but I enjoyed it. And we did Boys Don’t Cry again, where I played the regular part, and then we went through a song that the other people playing had written years ago; I learned the chords for that one. All good stuff.

I was too busy with on-call stuff for work yesterday to be able to play Rocksmith, but I had a good session today. Sweet Home Alabama seems like another song that would be good for me to add to the regular practice rotation: some plucking that’s just barely too fast for me and some two-note chords with a little more moving around and stretching than normal.

The other thing I noticed this week is that I’m getting better at Something Bigger, Something Brighter: I’ve been working on the arpeggios for that offline more recently over the last month, and it feels to me like I’m significantly faster than I used to be; I haven’t compared it against Rock Band 3 or a recording of the song, but I think I’m at full speed now, albeit with rough patches? So yay for improving after repeated practice.

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Guitar Status: July 7th, 2013

Jul 07 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

On Friday, I got together with a few of my coworkers to play together; and that turned out to be a huge amount of fun. About half the time, we were playing songs that I know relatively well (e.g. Boys Don’t Cry); fun to do those in a group. But what was rather more interesting was the songs we played that I didn’t know at all; for those, I ended up spending the whole time improvising single note parts.

Which went a lot better than I expected! I mean, I don’t know how what I was doing sounded to other people, but I was entirely happy with it as basically my first experience in that sort of improvisation on the guitar. I guess I’ve picked up enough from playing solos in Rocksmith to be less afraid of the concept than I used to be; and while I frequently didn’t manage to hit the note I expected to play, most of the time I could set it up as a suspension leading to something else that made sense. So, yay for not freaking out and for going with the flow.

We’ll doing that again this Friday. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to keep on doing it after this week, though: Friday evenings are generally family time, and with Miranda getting back in town I’ll probably be wanting to go home and watch Deep Space Nine with her and Liesl. And, unfortunately, my coworkers and I have a pretty disparate set of preferred days. Maybe something will work out; or maybe I’ll take this as a reminder that I should spend more time playing with Joan.

This weekend’s Rocksmith practice went well, too. These days, it’s pretty common for a couple of the songs in an event to be ones where I’ve done well enough in the past that Rocksmith doesn’t ask me to practice them before letting me perform them; so this time I only had three songs to practice. And, on all of them, I needed some practice before I could meet the game’s goals, and that practice was fairly pleasant. Two of them weren’t my favorite songs, but not ones I actively dislike (though, to be honest, there may only be one song in the game that I actively dislike); and one of them, Under Cover of Darkness, is one that I like quite a bit, I may well end up adding that to my regular practice rotation. So a good event, and, as always, pleasant practice outside of that.

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