Archive for the ‘ Drums ’ Category

Couple of GarageBand/iPad2 experiments

Use a bath towel

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false] So, yeah I got a little side tracked this weekend while doing laundry and kept playing with GarageBand on the iPad. The nice thing about doing laundry is, you’re stuck doing it for the duration, so in between the folding and switching from washer to dryer, you really have a nice chunk of time to mess with the iPad.

I did 2 different songs this time. “Dream Puppet Show” is really a tip of the hat to Dream Theater. The by no means is a master piece, but many of the sections are right out of the DT text book 😉 I wanted to see how GarageBand handled odd time signatures, and the quantization with a triplet feel where a quick straight 4 riff was inserted into the rhythm. I also went completely off the tempo in one very short section, then went into a normal straight 4 feel. The results were mixed. The quantization feature is limited in that it’s applied to the recorded section. So if you apply it to a drum part, and that part happens to be what i described above, you’re screwed if you can’t play it straight enough on your own. What you hear in this piece is not quantized in the first half of the song. It’s not bad, and I was able to consistently play the guitar and bass rhythms the same. The drums however, are still not quite where they *could* be to make this thing great. Their much closer than any other drum app on the iPad, but still inconsistent.  The guitar however, was a ton of fun and I was able to use the note bending feature in a realistic way – that ended up being a ton of fun!

Listen: Dream Puppet Show

Listen: Groove

The next piece is called “Groove”, and this one I wanted to open it up and see what it could do. The First half of the song just loops a main drum part that i recorded over 4 bars. It was very very very very very frustrating to get right. With the other songs (Genesis and Dream Puppet Show) the tempo was much slower, and the parts were pretty straight forward. With Groove, the parts were much more intense and notes were much closer together and required accuracy. When I tried playing the 2nd half of the song with the ride (32 bars straight), I had to record the snare, crash and kick separately, then do a pass with the ride. When I tried to do the ride along side the snare, I nearly punched a hole in my iPad or nearly threw it across the room in fury. Not kidding. Finally, I turned on airport mode, killed all applications, restarted the thing and that helped. But the thing that made the most difference was putting it on a bath towel and laying it flat. I know they use the accelerometer to measure sensitivity, so when I was using the cover to prop it up and play or flat on a glass table, I wondered if that was causing the inconsistency with the snare hits. After putting it on the towel I had MUCH better results. Still, there’s plenty room for improvement, but I’m really encouraged at how good it is now. Not great, but very good.

In the end, I think I’ll actually be able to put ideas down with the iPad for the first time ever. I’ve always just fired up the mixer, played my kit, recorded some guitar, you know – the old fashion way 😉 But considering I’ve put out 3 solid ideas in the past few days, I’d say this actually has a future in music and not just some toy to lower the learning curve for kids who lack the self control to learn how to play a musical instrument.

Wish list so far:

1.  Quantize “selection” – allow me to select a region of recording and select the quantization type

2.  Add a china and a splash cymbal – please.

3.  Allow merging of channels

4.  Let me name my sections – “section A” is a little hard to keep straight

5.  Put Pan over in the mixer controls

6.  Group channel faders – so I can lock the bass/guitar/keys together and move one slider – they would remain relatively the same volume to each other.

7.  Volume and pan throughout the mix – for final mix, I’ve been playing it from the headphone jack into the computer and mixing live for things like fades, solos etc

8.  Assign 1 sound to the entire snare – the areas are a bit small for people who have bigger fingers than Alvin.

9.  Give the option to *not* use the sensitivity per drum/cymbol/keyboard etc.  Sometimes, when i hit the note, I really just want it full blast 😉

10.  Give the ability to move higher up on the guitar neck in Notes mode with no scale selected.

11.  Show the notes on the fret board when a scale is selected.

12.  Allow for setting stomp boxes per recorded piece.  It’s a bit annoying to have to decide whether or not you want it for the entire song on the one guitar.


The 40 Minute Jam

My Office

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]40+ minutes of my brother-in-law Jim (fantastic guitar player) and I goin’ at it on Saturday evening.  We get together maybe once a year and whenever we do, he and I go and play for a bit.  For him to hear his guitar, I had to hit record on my mac using Soundbooth (long story, don’t ask), so I didn’t pay attention to the levels cause I wasn’t thinking of keeping it (hence being slightly distorted).  It’s at least interesting, and some parts I really dig, so in the interest of posting something “rock”… err, here you go:

The 40 Minute Jam

( just let it play in the background 🙂

Drum solo for the week

I re-organized my office so I could get my kit closer to my computer 🙂  So far so good – the samson mic’s sound VERY good consider the cost/grade.  I’ve been extremely happy with them and the Alesis MultiMix 16 USB console.

Well, after a completely frustrating day and not so hot week at work, I finally had had enough of the 3D animation I’ve been working on and just beat the tar out of my drums.

be warned, this has nothing to do with flash, and it’s a completely self-indulgent “drummers” type of solo playing.  I don’t wanna hear comments like:


“that cowbell sounds off…” – yes, that’s because I meant to play it as a rhythm on top of the main rhythm and “attempt” to keep it going through out ( 4 on top of tripplet feel I guess you could call it ).

“it sounds the same all the way through…”- it’s not, but its definitely more for the drummers in the audience 😉

it’s not the cleanest of solo’s, but I washed my hands beforehand – Enjoy 😉

Read on only if you like being bored by drum stuff…

For those enthusiasts who might wonder about the kit – its a 2006 Hawaiian Thunder Tama kit.  9 Ply shells – 8 are Bubinga wood from South Africa, the outer ply is Koa from Hawaii.  8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18×22, 14×6.5 Snare, 13″ hats (k top, z bottom zillgian), 20″ Sabian Ride, 8″ Sabian splash, 14″ K crash, 16″ Sabian Vault crash, Sabian china, DW 5000 pedals

it’s the best sounding kit I’ve heard or played on – unbelievable.

I did something I’d always been scared to do

Well, it’s not secret, and I’ve often said it when I’ve spoken or taught: If I could be a full time drummer, I would quit Flash in a second (ok millisecond). But apparently, I’m better at flash (which isn’t saying much) than I am at drums which is somewhat depressing actually 😉

on a total fluke, I ran across Guitar Center’s banner add for the annual Drum Off competition. I’ve been playing for over 25yrs now and NEVER entered a competition. To be honest, I was pretty well scared to do so. I’ve played in front of 3000 people before, but for some reason, sitting down infront of other drummers and trying to “impress” them…well, that was just nerve wracking.

[ Me, Riley and her friend ]

The drum off was the same day I’d read about it, and I’d mentioned it to my wife. She encouraged me to do it, and well, I sat down for an hour and hacked out an idea to play on and went to the store to sign in as an alternate. The signups had been available for weeks, so, there were only slots available if someone didn’t show up. I was thinking I might be safe and I wouldn’t make it in! “oh well, I tried” would have been my thought. As it turns out, there were spots available so I was able to get right in – yay. Then, we had to draw #’s to see who’d go first. You should have seen the blood leave my face as I picked… you guessed it …#1. Oye vey – what in the world had I gotten myself into?!?! no practice, first time ever and I’m first up. Murder me. Just bludgeon me to death.

Well, I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I would be, and I got to meet the other guys and they were fantastic guys – so that was really encouraging. I really do think God heard my prayers and calmed me down a bit. I sat down, and had a really great time playing – I was pretty calm, not too nervous and I didn’t embarrass myself – which was my #1 goal – just don’t embarrass yourself!!. After it was over, I’d come in 2nd place and that means I go back in 2 weeks and repeat the craziness!! I could hardly believe my ears when they announced it. Anyway, it was a real moment for me and I broke through a major fear and wanted to share it with you guys.

I’m not kidding and I don’t really want to turn people off with “God talk” but, I prayed for calmness and a clear mind and I seriously think God stepped up for me in that moment and he deserves credit. I really expected to be nutty to be quite honest. I’m just so thankful that it wasn’t embarrassing.

Here’s the video – I doing a story with the drum solo, and the beginning of the story I said it was about “Riley and Luke, my kids who conspire to get to the candy…” – and no, that’s not my kit. They only allow you to bring your snare, kick pedals, sticks and throne.

Phlash5 – an experiment in Rock gone right

The headline should read “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?!…hey! that’s actually pretty good…”

Which is nearly exactly what I was saying before we actually rehearsed 🙂 but after our first session in Boston, I was blown away – these guys are unbelievable musicians and we came up with some originals that are really fun and have alot to do with – you guessed it – flash

The time has finally come to let the cat out of the bag (for later, we’d have a dead cat) and announce Phlash5 – A band of Flash musicians. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Nearly everyone I know, that’s a flasher, plays music – in fact, I’ve met so many that I purchased and a while back. There’s some natural draw for musicians when it comes to flash!

Check out seb’s post on the band (much more words than I have)


FITC Hollywood – Monday October 22nd, 9pm at the Howl at the Moon club in the city walk

The line up
Samuel Agesilas (Saffron) : Guitar
Chris Allen (Red5, infrared5) : Trumbone and MD
Aral Balkan (OSFlash, SWX) : Vocals
John Grden (PaperVision3D, Red5) : Drums
Seb Lee-Delisle (Plug-in Media and particles freak) : Bass
Chris Mills (formerly FriendsOfEd, now Opera) : percussion
Jared Sims (the only non-flasher of the band, here purely on musical merit!) : Saxophone
Craig Swann (Crash!) : Guitar, samples and visuals

WiiFlash + Papervision3D = \m/\m/\m/


Man the title says it all – the WiiFlash server rocks and married with Papervision3D, well, that’s just about a slice of heaven right here in the RockOnFlash studios! Thibault Imbert and Joa Ebert really have done an outstanding job in creating a very solid server and a great looking, easy to use API for working with the wii’s in flash! I gotta say a special thank you to both of them, they really let me beat the crap out of them for 2 weeks leading up to FITC to get the drum demo working and it really was well worth the effort IMHO. Once you try the server and get connected, you’re gonna be hooked – it’s that easy!

First, I wanted to show the WiiBallet app and post the code for the demo. Thibault had asked me to work out a PV3D demo using the WiiFlash server and this is what I came up with. The idea was that a ballet dancer would hold the wii, and dance. Then they’d display the visual on screen as she danced. It was supposed to happen the FlashFestival in France a week ago, but I don’t know if it every quite panned out or not. Still waiting for the pics!

The amazing thing is, I spent 2 seconds on implementing the wii code and getting that connected and the rest of the time was spent on creating the PV3D app, then messing with it to find something that looked decent! The API for WiiFlash server is as easy as it gets:

private var wii:Wiimote = new Wiimote();

// later in the init() method

That’s IT! From there on out, all I had to do was grab the properties I wanted from the wii object I created, applied the angles to the new plane object I was creating on the fly, and BAM, render camera!

// I instanced these at the class level:
private var toDEGREES :Number = 180/Math.PI;
private var toRADIANS :Number = Math.PI/180;

// then we confvert to degrees since the wii props are in radians

(see Keith? I memorized em’ like you said ;))

Source available here – I’ve commented through the code and it’s fairly straight forward. AS3 / Flex builder project files

In the video, you can see how I’m using roll and pitch with the wii to fly around in virtual space. The app creates planes on the fly, and the direction of the stream is dictated by the roll/pitch of the wii and some creative bending of the rules since we don’t have “yaw” with the wii without the sensor bar. To create the the chase cam, I actually created a dummy object (DisplayObject3D) and set it as the camera’s target. Then, I use transform.copy and copy the previous plane’s coordinates to the dummy. I’m later adding some camera movement around the stream based on the x/y properties I’m maintaining. This gave it a nice visual as though the cam were truly affect by the wii stream rather than just clumsily moving around the stream based on some noticeable constraints. I just wish I’d have more time to spend with it – this was about 4hrs total effort, and while it may show, I think it’s a testimony to how easy the WiiFlash API is to use and how well Papervision’s api works.

This last video with WiiFlash server is the drum demo I did at FITC in April. The drums are Papervision3D created in 3D studio max and animated with the Tweener animation classes. The WiiFlash server made this demo possible and very easy to create. This time, with 2 wiiMotes, the WiiFlash server just created another wii object and I was off and running. This was also the first time we’d demo’d Red5 doing midi out. For triggering sounds with any type of speed, we had to go outside the flash player and Red5 provided that via RTMP. The sounds are triggered from a Roland TD-10 sound module. Midi via RTMP – You gotta give it up for Red5 🙂

FITC 2007 – Toronto

What do you get when you cross an axe and a wii?

  1. splintered white plastic?
  2. a happy axe?
  3. a psychotic blend of midi/wii joy?
  4. a ROCK ON experience you’ll never forget?

We’re not talking "wii" like, "I gotta go man, pull over NOW!"

We’re not talking about "wii" like, "oh those puppies are soo adorable!"

We’re talkin’ about " W\m/ "!! The kind of wii we’re talking about causes involuntary outbursts like:

  • "DO IT AGAIN!!"
  • "ROCK ON \m/"

If you find yourself at FITC Toronto 2007 this year, catch Red5’s presentation and get yer dose of Rock for the day! I’m planning on trying to find the time to get this all working together, but if it does, we’ll have some people helping out in the audience and get some groove on with their wii’s.

Disclaimer: I’m partly insane – i’m not a guitar player, I’m a hack, but I LOVE playing and I figure, why not make a TON of noise with some rowdy Flashers liker yerselves – am I right??!