I suck at it, and that’s great!

It’s really odd to switch like this from being heavily into electronica and synthesisers to going 100% into the guitar again.

But there’s something very immediate about it that really appeals to me right now. No cables to connect, no software to update, no keyboard shortcuts to remember or midi timing issues to worry about. Just pick up the guitar and play.

If I’m feeling adventurous I might just turn the amp on… Maybe even a pedal or two.

IMG_4985And, almost out of sight, in the corner of my eye sits the one piece I couldn’t let go of. My Native Instruments Maschine. Actually the piece that started me down the electronica path back in 2012.

I’m holding off for the moment. Savouring in my mind the moment I’ll start playing with it again…

Another great thing about the guitar is that I suck at it.

It’s great because it means there is no pressure to be creative yet. No stress to create actual music or publish polished tracks. For now it’s all about learning the basic handling.

Chords, scales, picking and strumming…

Kind of meditative in a way.

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How do you learn?

In 2011 I bought an electric guitar.

In fact, my original plan was to learn the acoustic and to that end I had bought a Hello Kitty branded black guitar on an impulse while living in Tokyo.

kitty

After realising I didn’t have time to practice, it ended up (like I suspect so many other) standing in a corner collecting dust.

That is, until my wife decided to pick it up. She quickly learned the basics and watching her get better and better I decided it was time to give it another go.

At this time we were living in San Francisco, and I thought rather than buying another acoustic, I would get an electric to complement. A late evening trip to Guitar Center at Van Ness and our home was one Ibanez richer.

I_RG471_natural_flat

However, soon after buying the electric and learning just a few basic chords, I slipped via Midi into the world of synthesizers, and since then have spent the better part of the past 3 years exploring electronic music instead.

This all changed as part of our recent move, when I decided to downsize my musical equipment and get back to basics again. Now I’m struggling for the 3rd time to actually learn how to play the guitar properly.

This said, I do not regret all the time I spent learning software and synthesis as I also picked up some basic music theory along the way, and I can see how this helps in getting a better grasp of the guitar as an instrument as well.

I’m actually really excited to start this next chapter of Glitzerstrahl and I look forward to sharing the road with you all…

Please share in the comments if you have any tips for how to learn the guitar (especially the electric) faster :).

strat

My current (middle)

Building or Buying?

Let’s just get it out of the way, building your own pedals will probably never be cheaper than just buying them.

That is, unless you plan on building a lot of pedals. Economies of scale will likely never work in your favour, but if you stick with the hobby for a while I suspect you start to build up a supply of various components and tools, to the point where you can experiment with new builds with almost no additional investment.

Then it might just start to make economic sense…

Then again, I guess very few builders are into this stuff for pure economic reasons. I know I’m not. I do this (or I want to do this) simply because its fun. And educational.

My goal is to get to a level where I can experiment with effects that I dream up myself. I already have several ideas that I’ve been carrying around since I got into modular synthesis.

Hopefully this time around I’ll actually realise at least some of them!

A new direction, for the time being…

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote something here. My ambitious goals for 2015 where all scrapped due to lack of time and inspiration, but that’s ok. Instead I spent the year building out a bunch of tracks in and learning Cubase 8. I also moved to a new apartment, where the plan was to finally set aside a room for the studio and music gear.

However, as the move approached I did some very long and serious thinking, mostly about the goals of this project, how far it has come thus and where I wanted to go with it. In the end I decided that I had plowed way too much time and money into acquiring and mastering various gear, and way too little energy into actually making music.

This lead to the conclusion that I had strayed too far from the original vision and goal of Glitzerstrahl, which was to keep it simple, work with simple tools and create simple music.

The natural consequence of this realisation was to shed some weight and return to the roots. I have since sold off 99% of my gear, including all synthesisers, my modular and all my MIDI controllers. I even got rid of most of my software.

All that’s left is Logic, Maschine and my Strat.

And guess what? It’s been years since I felt this free and inspired!

2016 will be about a much more simple direction, and a slower pace. Hope you still like to stick around.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 15.52.12

Cubase vs. Logic

I’ve been on the fence for some time, going back and forth on Logic as a DAW.

I like how simple it is to get going with a melody and a groove, and how snappy the UI of the actual DAW feels, but at the same time the state of the built-in instruments and effects really drags the whole experience down.

It’s not that they sonically sound bad, but the design and presets are really starting to feel old. I’m sure this is great for old time users, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the engines under the hood, but for me the design and look and feel of a creative is just really important to get in the zone…

With this in mind, and after carefully looking into other DAWs at the market, I’ve decided to finally give Cubase a chance as well. I’ve only just recently installed it, and at the moment I’m plowing through the manual while finding my way around the UI.

So far though the impression is excellent. I really think Yamaha / Steinberg has made a fantastic job with laying out the controls while retaining a super fast response and a very logical workflow.

There are some things that require a bit of un-learning, such as Instrument Tracks and how the mixer and internal signal routing works, but it all makes sense once you open your mind to it.

Given the above though I’m uncertain if I will manage to pull a whole track together for Feb, but I’ll try…

Right, one more thing! The other reason I’m really excited about Cubase is because it will allow me to run the Hatsune Miku vocaloid plugin natively on the Mac. The standalone editor is only available on PC, and the plugin only works in Cubase…