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November 30, 2009

MultiTrack For iPhone

I'm curious to know whether this is any good.

Not that long ago I accidentally snapped my old mobile phone in two (yes, really, I'm that hard) and I gave in to the inevitability of eventual iPhone ownership.

The iPhone is a great toy... not a great phone per se...

Anywho, I came across this "app" today. I've seen 4-track recorders on the iPhone before, but never a 16-track. Right now it's a pretty simple program, but it looks like it has potential to be pretty cool. Right now it's just a low-latency recorder with import and export functions, pan, track volume, mute/solo etc. Future enhancements (apparently) include a metronome, effects etc.

I have a number of music apps. Most of them I got for free (usually on sale days). Some are decent. Some not so much. Almost universally, though, the GUI leaves something to be desired in terms of functionality. Because the iPhone screen is so small, most programmers have opted for teeny-tiny buttons which, well... they're fiddly. This one seems to have adopted a more practical approach. Touch a control and it pops up to fill the screen, making fine adjustments easier. Developers... learn from this!!!!

Of the music apps I have, I think the most useful to date has been iDrum, a pocket drum machine. The pros for iDrum are that it's easy to control and it sounds great. The downside is that exporting beats isn't as easy as it should be. As far as I can tell, all you can do is export 40s of a beat via the 'Ringtone Sync' option. So once you've painstakingly generated the drums for a whole song... well, you're f**ked. The only workaround I can think of is to use an audio cable and a desktop recorder on your 'puter to create a 'live' copy.

The other app I like is iSequence. The user-interface on this one is way too small, though. It has loads of sound banks etc, but its biggest failing is that you have to generate chords via individual notes and until the last release there were only 4 tracks... when you have three notes in a chord? Um...

So, I'm curious about MultiTrack. Apparently, it's possible to import drum tracks etc from PC/Mac. I wonder how easy it would be to use this little device to record home demos, or moreover, when not at home, whether it's functional enough to be a decent pocket recorder. Now that winter's well on the way I'm already looking forward to the summertime... I want to be out there in the sun, jamming, writing songs... creating.

November 24, 2009

It's Not My Bag

I need to dig out my gig bag.

In the run up to Chrimbo I decided (or rather it was decided for me) that I should hit the gym really hard, ably assisted by a trainer. I've had one session with him so far and he nearly killed me! I ache. All over.

To add insult to injury, I'm not sure where I've shoved my gig bag. I know it can't have gone far. Our place isn't that big!!! As such, when I'm heading off to a jam (like today), I have to pack Red up into his hard case. After trekking to work by public transport this morning I now not only ache all over, but one arm is significantly longer than the other. D'Oh!

What else... oh, I suppose if anyone's still reading this then you deserve a giggle. The BBC show we're going to be on (unless the footage of us hit the cutting room floor) is due to air next Tuesday, December 1 at 22:35. It's the arts show, "Imagine", hosted by Alan Yentob. We've not been allowed to see a preview. It's going to be so embarrassing. The BBC just rang Tim to ask whether they can use us in the publicity for the show. I don't know what that means!!!! I hope they don't mean that we'll have our faces plastered on billboards across all major cities in the civilised world...

November 23, 2009

Jam Imminent

It's the first blues jam tomorrow night. Am I prepared? Nah. Do I care? Nah!

I just want to get in the room and feel these guys out. The first sesh always goes to rat-sh*t anyway, doesn't it?

I figure that as long as I grab the amp that goes up to 11 I'll be fiiiine!

(Plus I MUST remember to take my guitar with me tomorrow!!!!)

November 17, 2009


Went along to support Mr Furtheron of the "Guitars & Life" blog (here). He was performing his debut solo acoustic gig for the Rock Til You Drop crew (here). A very good Sunday afternoon all round. Beautiful music, good company... polite conversation [cough].

Furtheron did a great job and says he'll be back for more sets at the Libertine in Borough. For a more detailed write up, check out the Rock Til You Drop blog.

For myself, I'd set aside this evening and tomorrow night to go over the tunes I've selected for the jam on Tuesday, throw around some ideas... basically, get a handle on everything so that I don't walk in looking like a numpty. Why today and tomorrow? Well, Tim's out of town and while he's away, this cat can play.


Anyway, that plan's out the window. Got a call last night from my other jammin' buddy, asking whether I'd be so kind as to sit in on a jam tonight. I was a bit torn, but I figured that getting in a pre-jam jam would allow me to blow away the cobwebs and, well, there's always tomorrow, isn't there... [cough].

I can see myself doing all the stuff I should be doing at the 11th hour.

November 10, 2009

Proposed Song List For Jam

So, here it is... the playlist I've proposed for Blues Jam #1. The idea is not necessarily to learn all the leads etc for a particular version, but to get the rhythm down and have a play around.

I think I mentioned, the line-up is 2 guitars, bass, harmonica and drums. For the most part I've shied away from straight 12-bar blues stuff. I figure we can fall into that as and when we want to have a laugh.

Here we go!

"Smokestack Lightning"
"Key To The Highway"
"Strange Brew"
"Stormy Monday"
"Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out"

On top of that, I've asked the bassist to learn the groove from Donny Hathaway's "Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)" for us to have a loose jam on. For simplicity, he's transposing it up from Eb to E.

November 4, 2009

Jam Update

So, we've not jammed yet, but here's where we're at.

Influences have been exchanged and I think I'm coming down to a shortlist of songs to get the ball rolling. I'm not thinking that we should be learning covers note-for-note, but I do think that having some basic song structures in place for our inaugural jam would be a good thing.

My top three shortlisted tunes are:

"Stormy Monday"
"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"
"Smokestack Lightning"

Those are the ones I plan on putting chord charts down on paper for, along with maybe a few riffs etc.

In addition to that, I'm getting our bassist to learn the groove riff from Donny Hathaway's "Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)". The original's in Eb, but for simplicity he's going to transpose it up to E. I think we may have to hike the tempo, too. He's looped the bassline and I'm planning on circulating it tonight for the guys to have a listen to/play with.

Plus, I'll tell the guys that if they turn up with a riff, groove or beat idea they want to work up... well, they'll get brownie points!