Firstly, thanks for everyone sticking with the blog. I guess you can tell from the lack of posts that I haven’t really picked the guitar up for a few weeks. There are a few reasons, which technically aren’t much more than excuses really, but at least one of them has made an actual difference to me picking the instrument up.
So, I don’t really know where I’ll be going from here. The blog itself isn’t abandoned but a new approach may be needed. I wonder how successful the 60 Day Challenge has been overall. Certainly, the lack of tracking on the website hasn’t helped, it would have been nice to have that realtime tracking so it’s a shame that the website never really worked.
I’m interested if anyone has any tips to keep interest, aside from Rocksmith and actual lessons (and I don’t mean buying new kit, AV people :-p ).
So not abandoned, but delayed.
I’ve clumped a few days together – not necessarily through laziness – but because it was all pretty samey, the way the sessions went and the feelings that went with it. With one exception though which made the week fairly worthwhile in the end.
Most of the issues are my issues, and I’m at the stage where I know I could quite easily quit trying to play again, and have done in the past. Why? Because it’s hard. And that’s a lame excuse really. One thing the game does is when you get to an ability level and maintain it, when you start a new song you start at a higher level. You can change this in the riff repeater, but sometimes when you click on a new song you’re completely unaware of what it’s going to be like. This week’s song of the week – Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – chucked me in at such a high level it was an inevitable mess. I tried to slow it down, I ramped the mastery level right back to the start, but it was always sounding a mess. It does have Em in it though, which is a chord I can actually play (not hard though)
So I did what had been recommended to me a few weeks back. I switched to emulated bass mode. Played through the song. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
I think what appealed is the lack of chords, and actually this may be a really good way to get me more acquainted with the strings and the fretboard. It actually saved the session for me because I really wasn’t having fun up until that point.
I’ve also gone over a few more lessons, specifically palm mutes and harmonics, as Mary Jane starts wil harmonics and one of the other songs I often play – I Can’t Hear You – is mostly palm mutes and I can’t really do them. Harmonics were fun and sound really good when they work. I’ll have to go back to plam mutes because the mastery was too high and I ended up just watching the second half of the practice track go by without playing a note…
I changed my guitar strings! Myself! I’m a bit pleased by this. It wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected either, although the two thinnest strings were a little fiddly.
Haven’t played yet today, but I have sat down after the changing the strings and have a bit of a play, through some scales, a few chunks from the three songs I’m looking at at the moment. The strings feel nice. I guess they’ll need to be tuned a fair bit over the next few days as they settle in, but they’re good to play.
I’ve been back playing for about a month and a half now, so probably time to look back and see how well it’s all going. Alright I think.
In an ideal world, I’d have been into about day 34 or 5 by now, but it hasn’t been that way. I’ve had a couple of breaks in that time (Christmas) and haven’t had the guitar with me (maybe I should get one for every house I may spend time in!) but I’ve had a few good days over the period and some decent practice time.
And it’s not been bad actually. I definitely feel like I’ve made some progress. It’s certainly slow, but most certainly progress. Some of what I learnt has come back to me, and going through some of the songs has become easier over time. And I feel a bit more confident in trying songs, and that I might be able to come out the other side with something tangible. Playing through the game has given me a better platform to aid with breaking the song down and practising it. Yes, I realised that’s quite easy with a paper tab as well, but here I can control the speed I play at the difficulty and can have it just keep going without me wandering off halfway through. There’s been a couple of times where it’s been a struggle, nothing’s sounded right and I’ve not been able to get something but happily, not that often.
I still hate chords tho.
Tonight was way more constructive than Monday. Brilliant!
I wanted to get a bit of a structure to playing, but I’m not really doing it at the moment. Which is kind of working. I’m flitting between songs to try and find one I want to work on, and I keep thinking I’ve found one, only to try another. This is probably my terrible attention span working. I had planned to start each night with a quick go on one of the guitarcade games as a warm up, but it hasn’t happened.
Flitted first of all between a few songs; Boys Don’t Cry by the Cure, another one I can’t remember (that’s bad!) and then Love That’s Gone by La Sera. I’ve ignored this song until now because I don’t know it, but it’s always been near the top of the recommended list so I gave it a go. I quite liked it. It’s a slower song, quite mournful? I think that’s what I mean. Good for me, it’s got a mixture of single notes, chords and an odd (for me) double note combination towards the end. But it’s not too quick or complicated. I worked it last night up to about 27ish% mastery and enjoyed. Took me a while to incorporate the e chord into the song, but it’s one I know a little bit, and I’ve managed to fit it in at the mastery level I’m at.
I spent a good half an hour in riff repeater on the end section trying to get the double note section right. The notes come on the bottom e and the g strings, so I needed to work my way around playing them without playing the b string in the middle. When I first saw them, I had no idea what was going on, but slowing it down and keep playing it was really helpful, I can play it now with my first and second fingers and just slide, with the edge of my first finger dampen the b string. I’m going to try again tonight and see how much I remember.
It seems that I’ve had my guitar for about seven years now, and I’ve never changed the strings. I guess this is my activity for the weekend! Hopefully Monday won’t be a trip to the guitar shop…
Oh, tonight was terrible! It’s actually made it really obvious I haven’t played in over a week, and not enough since before Christmas. I mean, yeah ok, I knew it wasn’t going to be great but everything I played mostly sounded like a dirge. And the ends of my fingers had softened up so I have to go through all that again.
All in all, this week is just going to be a struggle.
So I’m working on the SotW, Some Might Say by Oasis. It’s in a slightly off e standard tuning which is a little sharp, but boy it sounded bad. It didn’t help that I was having struggles with the audio mix between the guitar and the backing track, but I do consider that it was likely a lot to do with me being out of practice and a bit uncomfortable. The song also has some strange timings too. The first two lots of notes kept giving me a miss even though I was convinced I was playing them right, but I discovered after a while I was playing them when I was expecting them according to the music, when they’re in fact a half beat later. After tonight I’m on 30.6% mastery, and have levelled the first section to 100%.
I think I’ll be happier by probably Thursday. Ish.
I also tried a different downloaded song which I may pick for my SotW next week, so I won’t mention it just yet. But it could be fun.
After having monumental sound issues (everything from the tuning, to the sound mix, to the random ringing of strings) I fell back to Next Girl, my musical safety net. It didn’t sound hugely great but I haven’t forgotten how to play it, which is pleasing.
Back home after my second separation from my guitar and I’m raring to go.
This week’s SotW is Some Might Say by Oasis, taken from the new DLC available from the game. This should be a good one to learn. I’ve looked at some Oasis in the past during lessons; parts not whole songs, and they were fun.
We’ve changed the format of our SotW over on the forum, we’re now taking percentage scores from Learn A Song. This should work well as it will enable me to develop bits of the song I can do well and not get held back by the parts I’m struggling with.
Tonight I just drifted through the game, looking at songs that I quite fancied playing but haven’t tried yet. I figured that if I give some of them a go, I might find one that suits me and I can go for. Trouble with that is (I was probably tired) they were quite hard and it’s a bit offputting. I know the inherant danger of going too far outside my comfort zone and getting fed up, but it’s still a pain when you get song after song that you make an utter hash of. Still, I enjoyed Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard and found it fun to play til it got beyond me. But I might enjoy working on it I think.
I gave session mode another go, but I’m still not feeling it. I wonder if it’s just because it feels weird that you’re effectively jamming with no one.
Also, I discovered that it’s difficult to play when one of your fingers is in a lot of pain!
Yeah, these days are getting bigger gaps in them I know.
I guess this is my under-motivated week, although it’s not been too bad. I haven’t played a lot since Christmas, aside from checking that I could still do what I could do before the holidays.
I had abandoned last week’s song of the week as I wasn’t really enjoying it and started looking at this week’s choice, Say It Ain’t So by Weezer. I’m definitely enjoying it more. This song is a really good illustration of the gulf in difficulty between easy and medium in Score Attack in the game. Easy is fine, medium suddenly shoves in lots of chords. I don’t like chords. I’m not good at them. It’s the area I really need to address because I’m only ever going to get so far if I don’t. A lot of it is the shaping and the changing between chords. If the song could pause for a few minutes between each chord change, I’d be there. Bill Bailey did a sketch once aping this exact same pausing between chord changes. Had me in hysterics because I recognised it so much!
Ran through Blitzkreig Bop a few times. Think I’ll stick on this difficulty for a while so I can get used to the speed of it. It’s fun though.
Last thing, I had a go on String Skip Saloon, one of the technique games. It’s basically to get me used to going between the different strings with my strumming hand. I will have a go on this one a lot more – it looks like it goes well with Ducks.
Ok, so I’m aware that when Ubisoft started the 60 Day Challenge, the idea was for you to play on 60 consecutive days. I think. It hasn’t worked that way, and I’ve had 11 days off, not ideal but couldn’t do much about it.
With no other plans, I’m spending New Years Eve practising my guitar (and watching Temple of Doom!) I kinda surprised myself with how much I wanted to get back to it over the holidays; I normally get distracted quickly.
Started off practising Next Girl again. I’ve been tweeking the visual lag a little, and tonight I’ve plugged my speakers into the tv instead of my headphones and I thought playing this would be a good indication of how the lag is. I think it’s the same! I can never really tell.
Moved on to try this weeks Song of the Week – Walk This Way by Aerosmith. Started with Learn a Song to see how it fits together as usual. Blimey, it’s a tough one from the start. There’s an interesting stretch on the 8th, 10th and 12th frets that I get the feeling turn into chords at higher mastery levels. Not looking forward to that! Oddly, it’s easier on easy level in Score Attack than it is on 0% mastery on Learn a Song. I managed a low score on easy, but left it after that. Even the game told me that things could be worse. Cheeky game.
I went back through the songlist looking for an ‘easy’ song, and ended up drifting back to Blitzkreig Bop, but on Score Attack this time rather than Learn a Song because my mastery was fairly high and I wanted to ease myself into the power chords again. I ran through it on easy and medium, and it seems to be quite achievable there – no chords introduced yet. I’m going to stick with this song for the next few days and see how much I can improve.
I finished off with a few goes on Duck Redux. I like the game, it’s a good way of working along the strings. I increased my score up to over 18M.
I suppose it my New Year’s Resolution would be anything, it would be to keep this up and keep playing. I’m interested to see where I am by next new year; hopefully not regretting a year of not playing guitar.