Thursday, March 30, 2017

Music Video Grade 1

Yes, sir.
As I learn the baby steps of making a video, using the OpenShot video editor, about which I have been raving (I've been referring to it as the "OneShot" video in my raves) I am going to mirror that learning curve by publishing this series of videos based loosely enough so as to not run into any copy-write issues, around the Mel Bay Modern Guitar Method series.
One of the underlying ideas in offering the aspiring little tyke guitarists this treatment of the lesson material is to remove some of the reticence that they might have in performing the lesson material, such as I did when I was their age.
The problem I had, as a beginning student who had already been exposed to The Beatles, and was taking up the instrument so that he could start his own group, and take things even further than that boy band from Liverpool ever dreamed of; etc.
Songs like "The Merry Men," I found hard to reconcile with the image I had of myself, standing on the stage at an arena in front of thousands of rabid fans, turning the volume of my Telecaster up and bringing to life my 1,500 watt Marshall stack amplifier with the first few notes of "Frolic" (page 10).
They would have been better for a child, perhaps? A child might be happier to plunk the notes out with a "Curious George" soundtrack delivery, and been just fine.
One of my goals, in producing this video series is to actually learn things that I might have slighted, as a 14 year old student, like how to play the songs in an other than "Curious George" cartoon soundtrack style..

 Technical Schmechnical

The above video was made possible by the fine multitasking that the Thinkpad was able to do.

I opened the webcam application and started to shoot a video of myself, and then was able to open Audacity in a second window and click on record.

As Audacity recorded me through the Snowball microphone, (while sending what I was playing along with through the headphones) the Cheese Webcam Booth recorded vidio of me.

I was then able to go back to Audacity and do some sound engineering, balancing the instruments, taking a little bottom end out of the acoustic guitars, compressing, adding delay and reverb, etc...

One of the audio tracks was recorded live, so all extra voices and effects added to it are going to play right along with that original performance...pretty cool.
One thing that I discovered right away was that, if I laid down a 10 minute rhythm track, there would be a delay between my movements and what I saw on the webcam monitor screen, but after I reduced that to under 5 minutes, it sped up to almost instantaneous.

Audacity will run on the 4 gigs of memory in the Thinkpad, but 8 gigs is recommended, and that is most certainly for dealing with big files and, as in my case, running 2 applications at the same time, both of which are memory intensive...

Not to fear, though. With the capacity of the OpenShot video editor, I could easily patch together several shorter than 5 minute videos, all shot while playing over different shorter than 5 minute sections of a song that could be an hour long on Audacity, and all I would have to do is find their place in the audio and match them up. Since both audio and video progress at the exact same tempo, regulated by the metronome on the first track of Audacity, all I have to do is find a spot where a sound occurs that I can pinpoint, like the flick of a lighter, and match the sound to the flame, and the whole rest of the video would then be in time with the music at 160 beats per minute, or whatever...

I have some more studying to do on the OpenShot editor, but not much, really. It's a pretty simple tool, dedicated to just one thing. You load audio and video into it, and then cut them up and move them around, do all kind of effects to them, and then matching them however you want. You can separate the sound from the picture on any given clip, so that you could go from live sound, to say, a voice-over like the guy's thoughts are being made audible, or music playing, and then back to live sound, so you can hear him flick his lighter, perhaps.
Amazing tool (ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ ᴥ 1/2 Latin ains!) the OpenShot, free, open source video editor is!

Now, I am off to grab a bit of music, maybe some Phish, and then to check my green card balance and probably send for a new harmonica. Another 17 dollar Susuki Folkmaster harmonica, I'm afraid.

The Rose and Ed deal fell through, and I've been staying in a lot, studying XML, harmonica and guitar methods, blogging tricks and secrets, Perl programming, and not to mention, spending a lot of time learning how to make videos; so my cash has kind of dwindled to below the Hohner Special 20 price range, but, I guess I'll just do what I always do; go out there with a brand new set of strings and a brand new, even though it's just a Folkmaster, harmonica and try to have a $250 week, now that it is the wonderful weather season, and will be for maybe another month....

What's Coming

Coming soon, on Street Musician Daniel, besides things like my mentioning the exact text of the name of this blog to help those robots notice that it is being "talked about," and is "trending" big time in Mid-City New Orleans, will be another video soon.

Maybe as soon as I get back to the apartment and fire up the audacity for another round of instructional Mel Bay based guitar tutorials for beginners...

As I have reached the third string of the guitar, and not coincidentally the third chapter of the Book 1, with the inclusion of a little bit of the "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" melody, it is time to move onward to the 4th string.

I will say that I am practicing the heck out of these lessons, as I do find that each little piece presents some little technical challenge, like the crossing of strings while alternately picking that comes up in one of the 4th chapter songs, written by Bill Bay.

It is a series of notes that has a name, which I forget, even though I once knew it because I went to college and even have an associates degree in music to prove that, but I digress.

It is basically 4 notes that can take the place of one. The one note might be a C note, but the four note group (like in the Bill Bay song) that is being substituted are the C note, which gets landed on, and the other 3 notes which flutter around it, above and below. It's a Mozart and Bach kind of thing.

But for a guitarist, it's a Joe Satriani thing, and Vinnie Moore* thing.

It is a musical device which can often be capitalized upon on the guitar, as the notes can fall in a picking pattern where the pick is just going back and forth in a natural rhythm, and the next note happens to be on the string that the pick is already headed towards after hitting the previous one, etc. with the result that the pattern is easy to speed up, with practice, all the way up to whatever the limits of caffeine are...

The guitarist from, I believe "Racer X" was the name of the band, but don't quote me (or spread it on the web if I'm wrong) would use a lot of these 4 note type patterns. He used to attach guitar picks to the blades of an electric paint mixer, then squeeze the trigger and perform. His name comes up in discussions about "who was the fastest metal guitarist ever?"

I can understand how the 4 picks, which multiply the RPM of the paint mixer by that factor could allow the guy to play well, maybe 4,000 notes a second (what do those tools red-line at?) I can see the appeal there, and it would be hard to flat pick at that speed, especially given the disadvantage of having only a quarter of the number of picks that the Racer X guy has working for you.

My question, upon hearing about the guy in the early 80's, was more about, how did the guy keep the hum out of his amplifier that one would think might be produced by running a paint mixer nearby. Nearby some electro-magnetic guitar pickups. Wouldn't the grounding situation be a nightmare? They probably had to plug the amp and mixer into different outlets at arena. I mean, what if he's playing a quiet ballad??

*Vinnie Moore, not exactly a household name, but not because he isn't a good guitarist.

His claim to fame, other than being on the cover of guitar magazines dubbed "The Greatest Guitarist You've Never Heard Of" so many times that he became by far one of the most famous of that group, was that he was "the guy" who was handed his diploma from The Grove Institute or some music school along with an offer of a job as a guitar instructor at the same time.

To make a long story short, I met the guy when he was putting on a clinic which was being sponsored by Laneyꝉ amplifiers.

He put on his latest CD at the time, called "Time Odyssey," and then stood on stage and, through a Laney amp, played flawlessly along with it. It sounded like a single guitar, so in time was he with it, which is saying something. 

But, he is a proponent of using patterns that are physically easy to repeat at a fast rate, and then moving them around the neck of the guitar, using the fact that if you do "the same thing" on a guitar at a different fret, then you are actually doing a different thing; same pattern but different pitched notes.

Vinnie would play a lightning fast flurry of notes and then repeat it as he slid up a fret at a time until landing at a fret where the pattern fit in so well that you, in hindsight realize what he did. But it is always a pattern that can be done with blazing speed on the guitar. A pianist might have trouble tripping over black keys trying to do the same thing on his instrument; but of course he can play 12 notes at a time....

Vinnie was not a "words" person at all. It is funny how he has the capacity to play his compositions in exactly the same way each time. I asked him if he ever got the urge to deviate when he's in the middle of a song. He said that he did that when he was practicing, but when he played for people, he had his compositions set in stone. So, he can play with extreme precision and memorize long passages, yet he can't come up with a less generic sounding name than "Time Odyssey," for an album. How about "Untitled Number One," LOL!!

Vinnie did eventually get his reward, in a sense, when he was chosen by the band Deep Purple to replace their venerated guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.
Let me bring this full circle: I had a friend in the mid 80's who was a very technically oriented guitar player, who played things like ragtime guitar where there is only one fingering and one way to play it. His name was Mark.
Mark wrote and recorded some pieces which were very precise and were named, I kid you not, "Untitled No. 1," "Untitled No. 2" etc.
So, there is an interplay of the sides of the brain, the more creative side and the side that works by rote like a machine. I couldn't play very precisely because my mind would want to explore other possible ways of playing something, yet I could think of 7 possible names for the song.

Mark really liked Richie Blackmore as a guitarist.

So, I think it is cosmic that, when I saw the title of Vinnie Moore's "Time Oddesey," it made me think of Mark in an "Untitled No. 6" kind of way; and then Vinnie Moore winds up replacing Mark's favorite guitarist in Deep Purple.
I thought it cosmic and blog-worthy, anyway...

So, the point is that Bill Bay, in his infinite wisdom has actually given little Johnny quite a valuable tool with those little 4 note things. It's just up to the kid to go out and get a reliable power tool.


alex carter said...

That video you did is a bit over 5 minutes long. So, did it take you a bit over 5 hours to upload? Why or why not?

Daniel McKenna said...

Wow, I couldn't (and still can't) comment on my own blog using Firefox...
Ironically, I was answering the above comment from Alex in California with some technical advice, like make sure the wi-fi he is using is the problem by trying to upload videos at Starbucks, for example
It took 4 minutes to upload my 5 minute video; as soon as I clicked publish it said "4 minutes remaining"
if it isn't your wi-fi connection being hacked by a neighbor who is chewing up bandwidth playing online war games while you struggle to upload, and it isn't a setting in your computer i.e. other sites upload fast -how long does it take to upload a blog post, mine is like less than 5 seconds usually...
Well, let me see if this publishes; I closed Firefox and opened the Ubuntu linux supplied "browser" maybe this is how people become loyal to one or another browser, let's see if this comment posts
P.S. @Alex, you could be on a blacklist of trumpet makers that some powerfull people are trying to mute (excuse the pun) LOL

alex carter said...

I think the problem is (1) that my camera is filming at full HD, which makes the overall file size very large. I have watched quite a few videos by gamers trying to post their gaming on YouTube and running into the same problem, some taking closer to 2 hours per minute of viewed video, making a dedicated computer and internet connection *really* a must-have. The answer seems to be to use a Windows video editor you can't get any more to "compress" the video, making it imperceptibly lower-res to the viewer, but the file much smaller, making it upload at a 5-10 minutes per minute of video rate. (2) I am in San Jose, the very center of "Silicon Valley". As I'll keep harping on until it sinks in, the "digital divide" here is about the size of the Grand Canyon and I lived here for almost 5 years before I got internet at all. Free wifi makes dial-up at 28.8kbaud look blistering fast, and that's if and when you can find it. I have internet now, that my employer is paying for, and it could well be that the upload speed is very slow. Fast enough for me to upload single photos to Ebay on, but just not up to anything like uploading video. In this area, if you want the kind of internet they have in Albania or Korea, you have to pay $500 a month or so for it.