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So I don’t know if you know but it’s pretty cold in Canada right now. Anyway, the Brad Sucks rehearsal space is in a garage and it’s like -25C outside. As a pre-rehearsal measure this is a video of how we heat the garage:

It’s pretty effective but it’s still goddamn cold out.

Posted on - January 31, 2007 [at] 11:46 pm by Brad
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I think I may be able to declare success in the singer/songwriter versus Ableton Live and the Behringer FCB1010 Midi pedal board. It took a lot of thinkin’. I can’t say this is the best way, but I’ve got it working and boy will it be boring for you to read about!

So here’s what I wanted:

  1. My songs divided up into scenes (verse, chorus, etc) and for Live to automatically advance through them with no input from me.
  2. A pedal that repeats the current scene (for those extended solos or when I screw stuff up).
  3. A pedal that plays the previous scene.
  4. A pedal that advances to the next scene.
  5. For Live to control my Boss GT-6 guitar effects throughout the arrangement.
  6. For Live to automatically apply effects to my voice throughout the arrangement.

Here’s the screenshot of my live Dirtbag set in Live for those who want to follow along at home:


Posted on - January 30, 2007 [at] 11:15 pm by Brad
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Create Digital Music has a good Windows Vista resource: What’s Compatible for Musicians?

I have an irrational desire to upgrade to Vista. There are no real compelling reasons to and lots of good reasons to wait, but here I am all wanting it. No M-Audio drivers yet either, booooo.

Posted on - January 30, 2007 [at] 2:49 pm by Brad
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I still don’t have a Wii (out of stock everywhere and also I haven’t tried very hard) but that hasn’t stopped me from fantasizing about things to do with the accelerometer in the Wii controller.

First I came across this collection of videos of the 20 Greatest Guitar Solos. My main thought was “a little guitar solo goes a long way”.

Then I watched this Wii Wiimote Ableton Live Controller video.

So here’s my Wii guitar idea:

1. Strap the Wiimote to the headstock of your guitar.

2. Run your guitar through some effects, such as say, a flanger or a filter.

3. Have the Wiimote control various expressive parameters of the effects.

This way, when you pull this move:

Not only would you be looking dead sexy, you’d also be making expressive changes in your guitar sound based on the movement of the accelerometer in the Wiimote. Everybody wins!

Posted on - January 28, 2007 [at] 4:44 pm by Brad
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I’ve read disappointing reviews but this trailer fills me with awesome hope for the Aqua Teen movie:

Posted on - January 28, 2007 [at] 4:14 pm by Brad
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Brad Sucks Live @ MavericksIt was a fun show last night, thanks to The Coggs for having us and everyone for coming out. (A few pictures are here.)

In the crowd were multiple CBC Radio 3 Podcast listeners who heard my stuff the other day as well as a fellow from the open-source Jokosher project, which was sweet.

It was Jacquie in the Kitchen‘s farewell show and they put on a great one.

Our next (and final one before Rob leaves and we become a three-piece) show is on February 10th. We’ll be playing every damn song we know and I’m still looking for an opening band.

Posted on - January 28, 2007 [at] 3:32 pm by Brad
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Hey all right, the CBC Radio 3 podcast played one of my songs. Sweet!

Posted on - January 27, 2007 [at] 2:25 pm by Brad
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  • Live has no facility for quickly switching between songs (aka “sets”) via MIDI so you have to pile them all together into one giant set (unless you want to use the mouse and keyboard to move to your next set). This means the order you perform your songs in will be fixed on whatever order you have queued up, which blows. (Unless I can think up a clever way to jump around via MIDI.)
  • After thinking about it I thought the easiest way to start using Live in a live setting would be to have a fixed sequence of scenes (verse, chorus, verse 2, chorus 2, etc) which would go off without any input from the user (me), but I could hit a pedal to stay in any given scene if I wanted to pad it out, solo more, improvise, etc. But there’s no “scene follow action”, so you have to rig up some crazy solution via MIDI.
  • By far the majority of tutorials out there are for “live looping”, Kid Beyond style or DJing. I can’t find much in the way of singer/songwriter tutorials or using Live inside a conventional band.
  • The most commonly used technique with a midi pedal board as far as I can see is instead of triggering specific scenes you set up pedals for “next scene” and “previous scene” so that you can advance (and backtrack if needed) through the scenes. No functionality for this exists inside of Live so you have to use Bome’s Midi Translator or an equivalent to simulate keystrokes when triggered via MIDI.

I think what I want to do will be possible, just takes a lot of fussing around.

Posted on - January 26, 2007 [at] 11:23 am by Brad
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Sometimes the DJs get existential:

If I manually run a filter sweep over a 16 bar loop am I a musician?

Am I still a musician if I trigger an LFO to do the whole job?

Posted on - January 25, 2007 [at] 9:24 pm by Brad
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So I bought a Behringer FCB1010, it’s a (cheap as hell) twelve switch, two expression MIDI foot pedal. I’m thinking I can control my laptop with it while I play guitar and sing. 

Anyway, the entire experience has been great but not because of the device itself. The manual is terrible, the factory settings don’t work with Ableton Live out of the box and programming it via the foot pedals is tedious.

One of the greatest things about buying gear for me as a total nerd is when there’s a thriving user community around whatever I just bought. And there’s a great one around the FCB1010. Here’s some of what I’ve found:

  • There’s a great Yahoo Group full of resources for it. Photos, utilities, tutorials, patches, sysex dumps, hardware mods and more.
  • Hackers have made $10 replacement firmware chip for the FCB1010 that adds a lot of great functionality such as tempo tap, stomp box mode, not needing to put the device into “sysex receive mode” to transmit patches to it and more.
  • There’s an excellent home-brew PC Editor for programming the device.
  • A great FAQ.
  • Plenty of tutorials for getting the FCB working with Live.

As I was describing this, particularly the replacement firmware, a friend of mine wondered why Behringer doesn’t open source their firmware. They make their money on the hardware (unlike video game consoles for instance) and are also widely criticized for ripping off other company’s designs, manufacturing them cheaply and selling them at a fraction the price.

Seems to me they’d have nothing to lose by open sourcing their firmware. Hackers could add all the functionality they want, people would buy their products with the intention of tricking them out, it’s free R&D that they can fold into future devices, and their nerd karma would go through the freaking roof.

Posted on - January 24, 2007 [at] 12:18 pm by Brad
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