I’ve been trying to find a good tool to create drum-specific sheet music on my Mac, and have largely been frustrated. Expensive tools that do it all like Finale and Sibelius are just too heavyweight, both require lots of of tweaks to work well for drums, and felt a bit clumsy to me just because of their level of complexity. MuseScore looked great but the editing workflow just frustrated me, trying to get multiple voices in one stave (required when you have to chart up to 4 notes at a time in one place, because drummers have 4 limbs ;)) was far too fiddly and resulted in many annoying round-trips.
A little while ago I blogged about setting up a MIDI interface for a Roland TD-9 (KX in my case - I love my mesh heads :)) so it could be used to drive Rock Band. I’ve had that setup for almost 18 months now and it’s served me well, but the main problem with it is that the older Rock Bands only recognised 5 different triggers, with many doubled-up - so Yellow was both closed high-hat and high tom, green was floor tom and crash, and blue was over-used as mid tom, ride cymbal and open high-hat.
I’ve been branching out with my hobbies particularly in the last year or so, mostly because my back problems now prevent me from spending every waking hour hunched over a PC, coding. In a way that’s a shame - I lament the sudden drop-off in coding time and hence productivity - but it’s also good to broaden my horizons a bit. I’m 36 now after all, and spent the vast majority of my spare time in the last 8 years on Ogre, so maybe I deserve a break 😉 After all, I get to work on Ogre a bit as part of my day job now anyway, if not as much as I’d like.
Like most members of the male species, and particularly the geekier types, I love gadgets. Complex ones are great, but sometimes the greatest satisfaction can come from simple things that just work really well. Here’s a couple of recent buys for me that fall into this category that I thought I’d share. Joby Gorillapod When we’re on holiday I often spend time trying to find places to put the camera so we can do a timer shot with us both in the picture, and when you’re in forests and up mountains finding a level spot is tough.
I took up playing the guitar a couple of years ago, after almost 2 decades of not touching any musical instruments and forgetting just about all the musical theory that I’d learned. I’ve enjoyed it; despite not being that good yet, it’s nice to pick up a new skill and I discovered I still like music despite abandoning the study of it years ago. So I have 2 guitars in the house now, one accoustic and one electric.
Guitar Hero and Rock Band have been derided by some, with extensive cries of ‘learn a real instrument!’; however it’s my experience that by making simulated instrument playing more accessible to the masses, these games are responsible for many taking up an instrument for the first time, or reconnecting with a previously abandoned musical hobby. It’s the latter for me - I was heavily involved in music throughout my school days, until an overly pushy music teacher sucked all the joy out of it (what, you have a free evening / weekend that you’re not playing music in?
I’m still of the opinion that Harmonix make the most fun music software, and a lot of veteran players agree with me (except Eurogamer, who said GH3 was ‘better in every way’ than GH2, which IMO is total nonsense). However, Red Octane tend to make good hardware - personally although I own both I much prefer the Rock Band Strat to the GH3 Les Paul, but I know I’m in a minority there even among RB fans.