Showing posts with label guitar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guitar. Show all posts

Monday, July 5, 2010

DK in Love (guitar)

Yay, another guitar recording!

Like my last piece, this arrangement of a classic video game theme, Donkey Kong, is written by kabukibear. If you don't remember the "theme" of the Donkey Kong arcade game don't worry because it is actually only 5 notes long (and played at the beginning of my video) and turns fairly annoying by the 10th time it plays.

I love Justin's arrangement of this, he added a true melody to the piece and ran with it. The first time I heard it I knew I wanted to play it, and boy was it a struggle. The piece uses a lot off pull offs (playing the string by pulling off of it with the left hand instead of picking the string with the right) and I had trouble learning this at first. After I was able to "play" each note, I listened to my performance and realized the actual DK part of piece was completely lost, the 5 note rhythm was just background garble. After more practice and lots of focus on my pull off techniques I finally got my performance where it is today and am very happy with this piece.

I am bummed it took me 8 months to finally record it but it was worth waiting for the better quality. Previous recordings were done with my smaller digital camera which doesn't have the best sound quality. While I filmed this one with DSLR HD camera, the audio was recorded separately with a better mic that we finally got at work. It isn't pro quality, but its an improvement over my previous recordings. Plus I got to show off a few of my desk decorations in the process! And I finally found a use for my footage from GDC of Steve Wiebe playing Donkey Kong.

I have another piece that I have been working on for years that is about ready to be recorded, hopefully there won't be another 4 month gap between that recording and this one...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guitar jam achieved!

Today was another first for me: I played in guitar jam. A few people at work also play guitars (including the CEO) and so they brought them into work today, passed out music, and we jammed during lunch. Our repertoire ranged everywhere from The Beatles, to Bob Dylan, to Van Morrison, to Elvis, to Richard Berry, and more. the group consisted of 3 guitars (2 acoustic, 1 electric), 1 bass, an electronic piano, and a drummer. One of the players has his own band and knows lyrics to many songs of the past 50 years so he took lead vocals (although I think he made up most of the lyrics to "Louis, Louis", but then again, so did Richard Berry). Overall we had an awesome time and will definitely do it again!

No recording or photos today, but maybe next time!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Descendant of Shinobi (guitar)

Time for another guitar recording!

I saw a video of this arrangement of a Final Fantasy VII theme about 2 years ago and fell in love with it. At the time I hadn't played in the guitar in about 10 years but this video was enough to get me excited about picking it up again. I spent months learning the piece (and re-learning the guitar) until it sounded decent. Once I "finished" it I began to look for more songs to build my repetoire, but those will have to wait to be posted another day...

This theme is also one of my favorites regardless of the instrument. I also enjoy playing the piano version, although it is difficult enough where if I don't practice it each week I will lose it.

And the original from the 1997 game:

Friday, February 5, 2010

State of the Passions: Music

Recently this blog turned 150 days old. I began this blog with a goal of bettering myself incrementally each day:
This blog will document my passions, progress, and random musings so at the end of the day I can look back and see that, while I have not reached everything I have hoped for, I am further than when I started. And tomorrow is always another day on the road to a new Jay.
I then laid out My Passions in my second post. So where I am 150 days later, specifically Music?

Piano: As noted before, I don't get to play much since I don't have a piano at my residence. But when I travel to my parents house I have access to a nice grand piano. But my time at my parents house is usually spent preoccupied with other important tasks. :)
I did (re)learn a song to perform for Raeleigh which was one my stated goals. I also uploaded and announced my Christmas arrangement that I created a few years ago. And one of the highlights of Christmas was (loosely) performing the entire "The Snowman" score for Raeleigh while reading the story to her. I'm working on a few other pieces to perform for the family and hope to have more at least another video in the next 150 days. Although considering my time spent at the house will be even smaller than the past 150 days that may not be possible. But I will try! In the mean time, I will continue to post my favorite piano music and collect new sheet music for the day I once again have access to a piano!

Guitar: Without the luxury of a piano I've had to put my musical urges into another instrument: the guitar! Since beginning this blog I have completed the tabbing of one of my favorite guitar pieces (of which my 12 year search failed to find sheet music). I am still learning the piece and likely will for a while but hope to have it performable in a few months. I've also completed tabbing (and learning) another easier piece which is just a fun little TV medley which I will either post my performance or just link to the original that I tabbed from.
More importantly, I finally went to a guitar store to get a "checkup" of my guitar. In the 13 years of owning a guitar (albeit I took a break for about 11 of them) I have never done that and either relied on others to change the strings or just lived without. I now have a capo, new strings, a clean neck (now free of 13 years worth of finger oil buildup, ech!), a thumb pick, and an actual music book to learn from! The fresh guitar emboldened me to finally record one of the earliest pieces I learned which in tern emboldened my to practice up my other pieces to eventually record as well. Finally. I began tabbing another piece, although this one is easier since it is from sheet music rather than an audio file, which I hope to document my learning process from beginning to end.
Finally, the one "goal" I failed to do over the past few months was posting links to my favorite fan guitar videos. Not only does this action make my goal creating content for this blog everyday a little easier but it reminds me of my influences. The only downside is a lot of the pieces I am learning/tabbing are the same ones I enjoy online, and since the original performers will always out perform me I am hesitant to post them first. That's something I will have to get over fast.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


One of the very first pieces (definitely the first video game piece) I learned when I started playing the guitar was a piece called "Breezy" from Final Fantasy VIII. At the time I learned it from the MIDI (before Tabs were common online) which worked out great because the composer, Nobuo Uematsu, undoubtedly composed this on the guitar and input it into the game through a synthesizer (if he hadn't, strings would not match up as easily as they do).

So my first guitar video upload shall be "Breezy":

This is playing from my 1998 memory, so I'm sure a few of the notes/patterns are slightly different than the original tune (12 years will do that to your muscle memory).

You can listen the original version from the game here:

Finally, this will probably be the only guitar video I do in a single, unedited take. The simple piece is barely a minute long and only uses 4 strings yet it took me nearly 30 minutes to play it well enough to post online (even then it has little mistakes). It also didn't help that during the middle of one of my best performances my neighbor decided take a shower and the mic picked up the water flowing through the pipes. I'm sure the more complex pieces I perform in the future will consist of multiple takes edited together which means the video may need an image slideshow to hide the transitions :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jay's Playlist: Explosions in the Sky

Welcome to my playlist, where I discuss the music which is currently entertaining me. Below you will find a video, press play to begin the song and then read my feelings on the album.

Today's playlist is music by "Explosions in the Sky"

I first heard the music of "Explosions in the Sky", a Texan band, in the soundtrack of the movie "Friday Night Lights", a movie about the effect of football in a small town in Texas (the movie is based on a book written by a Texan). A few years later a phenomenal TV show based on the movie (based on the book) debuted and once again Explosions in the Sky was used to great effect in the series. Although, surprisingly, the theme song to the TV series was not written by Explosions in the Sky; instead the theme was written in their style by a famous TV theme writer.

If you are listening to the music and wondering when the guitar intro will stop and the actual chorus begins, well, it won't. That is the chorus. Explosions in the Sky rests in the niche of "lengthy, solemn, vocal-less guitar solos and ambiance". And I love it. Their album "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place" is 45 minutes of solemn guitars reverberating various riffs into night sky. The album only contains 5 tracks (roughly 9 minutes each) and at present I still can't tell the difference between one track or another even though they all have different themes. I consider the album to be one beautiful, 45 minute track (the tracks don't have and ending, the end of one is the beginning of the next). Also, the titles of the pieces are pretty esoteric: "Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean", "First Breathe after Coma", and "The Only Moment We Were Alone" which makes it even harder to remember a track's title.

I love this music for the nostalgia it creates. Thanks to its association to Texas created by its use with Friday Night Lights (which plays the music during scenes of beautiful Texas landscapes and sunsets) I am reminded of my own childhood in that state. Whenever I hear this music I am reminded of my youth exploits: climbing to the base of the water tower on the large hill to watch the sunset in the west and seeing the rolling hills of prairie to the east slowly disappear in the purple shadow before being lit by the faint glow of the lively metropolis 25 miles away.

Would I still love this music if it wasn't used on a nostalgic show, or if I had never lived in the state it represents? I don't know. But I can't help listening to this music and picturing a beautiful sunset over the prairie...

...and that positive emotion means this music earns its place in my playlist.

Bonus song
The aforementioned TV show theme that is not by EitS but is a TV songwriter's interpretation of their style:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Guitar Tabbing (in Portuguese)

If you want something done (right), you have to do it yourself...

Roughly fifteen years ago I heard a Portuguese vocal/guitar combo that I fell in love with. A few years later I started playing the guitar and, determined to learn the piece, searched for the sheet music (called "tabs"). To my dismay, none existed. Off and on over the past decade I reinitiated the search. Usually, there is someone out there with the same peculiar passion for this music who will transcribe the pieces without official sheet music. After fifteen years of fruitless efforts I decided to become that someone and tab this piece.

Over the past few weeks I've spent many an hour holding my guitar and listening to the 1-3 second chunks of the piece to determine each individual note of the accompaniment while ignoring the overpowering vocals. So far I only have 1 minute of the 3 minute piece on paper (er, digital paper) but I have solved the general chord progression. This allows me to tab future measures much quicker as I have an idea of what notes in a chord should be played and am not randomly fumbling around on the strings trying to match/guess the next note . Thankfully, most of the song is played with single strings, I'm not sure my ears could pick out the harmony strings when chords are played (bass and melody strings are easier). Hopefully the next 2 minutes of the song won't take as long as the first to tab, then I can began the task of actually learning the piece.

And then comes the fun task of memorizing the Portuguese lyrics (which I have found, thank God) and IPAing so I can actually sing them. But that's a (possibly painful) story for another day...

(and yes, I am currently being vague on the name/composer of the song. But don't worry, once I am finished it will definitely be announced on this blog as well as the niche guitar tab sites who have failed me in my search for sheet music for this song)

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Passions

Woohoo, already on post #2 of the year! That is one more blog post than I made in 2008!

The present blog subtitle mentions passions. Here are a few (at least those I am currently willing to share in a somewhat public space) of my current hobbies and where I hope to go with them:

Family: My 2 (soon to be 3) children live 2000 miles away. While I visit them each month, my primary goal is to move closer to them so I can be with them more often while still supporting them as I do now. Which means I need to work on my professional skills so I can move to a studio nearby. I get to talk to them everyday on the phone and, when time permits, webcam with them so that I can read the draw for them (this will be a future post), etc.

Animation: I love animation and work at an amazing company which allows me to continue my studies and learn from some of the best animators in the world. I will continue to do this until it is time for me to move on and take those animation jobs that get me the skills need to be hired near my family. This blog contains updates of my animation here to track my progress!

Photography: I have always loved photography (and videography) and have taken +20,000 photos of family, friends, and places. As I improve my skills and try new techniques (like the bokeh above) this is where they will be posted!

Videos: Since before I had kids I have recorded and edited videos to document my families lives. While photos are great, videos are a great way to reminisce and laugh at all the fun times together. I have created multiple DVDs and music montage videos of my kids and will continue to do so. I don't have one for this post, but they will be uploaded in future posts so check out the "labels" section to find all the "My Videos" posts!

I only get the opportunity to practice when I visit my parents house, and that is when I am visiting my children. As such I rarely have time to play. I would like to get back into it when time permits, especially since Raeleigh has music she likes to hear which I could easily learn.

Guitar: Since I no longer am able to play piano daily (pianos aren't very portable) I have picked up the acoustic guitar (primarily finger-picking). The songs are pretty rudimentary but I am having fun tabbing my favorite themes and learning new arrangements. As I improve and I will upload videos!

BOOKS: One of the nice things about my commute was it forced me to find ways to be productive while sitting in the car. The best solution I came up with was to listen to audio books. I "read" numerous books in this fashion and loved it. The unintentional side effect of moving closer to work and removing the commute was I no longer had a set time each day to listen books. While I had more free time without the 90 minute round-trip daily drive, I would spend that free time focusing on one of the other items on this list. As much, my books-read-per-month number dropped significantly. That changes now! I will update this blog with my current reading list and my future reading plans! Problem solved!

A decade ago I was underweight and couldn't gain weight no matter much I ate. 2 years ago I was overweight and lazy. Through hard work and dedication I was able to lose 40 pounds and get back into decent shape. Now I want to really work on being fit and being able to get the most out of life. Beyond running in the mornings I am working out at a local gym and really focusing on toning what muscle I have. When I recently re-started running I could barely run a mile without stopping, and 1 month later I am running a 10k (6.25 miles) in just over an hour. You are only "this" young once (be it 20, 30, 40, 50+) so might as well enjoy it in the best shape you can be! Never again will I be out of shape enough to be gasping after one lap around the block.

Food: Living the bachelor life, I long to cook more advanced meals than "dump can in bowl then microwave". I have discovered a great local grocery store with a delicious variety of international ingredients and in tandem with my weight goal above will be learning new diet techniques for a healthy life style. No longer will "tuna + easymac" be my fanciest dish!

Entertainment/Wasted Time: I love movies. I enjoy TV shows. I play video games. But it got to a point where the combination of these activities interfered with all the above areas of life and in the end am I better for it? Did the games I play, as entertaining and animation-inspirational as they were, make me a better person in the end? While I won't give up any of them completely (all work and no play make Jay a dull boy), I am managing the amount of time I spend on any one of these so that they do not interfere with the above goals. The first step to this goal was selling my game system and TV 6 months ago. And surprisingly, life has gone on. In fact, I suddenly have more time than I thought possible to work on my own projects. I will likely pick up a TV series on DVD in the future and watch an episode a night on my own time, and I won't own a game system until I have met my other goals above. I still spend too much time on the internet,working at an internet school and blogging online make it impossible to cut that off entirely, but it is another goal I am working on. Enjoy life, but don't let life's smallest enjoyments take prevent you from having a life otherwise.

And that's all for now. While I definitely have other hobbies these are the primary areas I wish to track my progress on this blog. So let' do it Jay!

Note to self: work on being more concise in your posts, mmmkay?