This exercise is a little different than the the ones in the last set I uploaded and I’ve found it especially useful. Each track plays a cadence (in C Major) and then a robotic voice says the name of an interval. You have a few seconds to guess the note before the answer plays. If you haven’t done this before, it’s probably going to be very difficult at first. It certainly was for me. But it’s a lot of fun when you get the hang of it and it really helps your ear. Most notably I’ve notice my ability to prehear notes when I’m singing has improved. I included all intervals including accidentals, which makes this exercise very challenging. Maybe too challenging for someone just starting out. Unfortunately I don’t have a version with just the major intervals. I would recommend that if you’re getting frustrated, find a couple of tracks with simple intervals. Say Perfect 4th and Perfect 5th and work on only those for a while before building up. Good luck!
The Carbon Copy is a kick ass analog delay. But one thing that always bugged me about it is that it came with a Mod button to add pitch shifting to the repeats, yet even with the internal trims cranked it did basically nothing. What a waste. I wasn’t alone in this opinion and a while back MXR modded the pedal to add more Mod. It happens that the modification is very simple. But it’s not easy to find information on the Internet. The designer of the pedal (who goes by Mr. Huge) had posted info at one point, but I couldn’t track down what he said. However the V2 Carbon Copy MXR released has a jumper (000 resistor) in R7 instead of the 470K resistor and that’s all it takes! R7 is an SMD resistor (most of the components on the board are SMD). It’s located near the top of the board. Generally SMD circuits are difficult to work with, but in this case, don’t worry, this is easier to do than most through hole mods. You don’t even have to remove the circuit board. Put a little solder on your iron and hit the two sides of R7. It will slide right off. Grab it with tweezers. Solder a jumper in its place (you could use a small piece of solid wire, the leads from a through hole component, whatever). The trimpots controlling the modulation will now have a very usable range going from extremely subtle to rather noticeable. As it should have always been!
I’m a big fan of the contextual hearing method of ear training. It’s basically the tradition method of ear training. The idea is to hear notes in the context of a key. This is opposed to the more modern method which involves learning intervals out of context often using mnemonics to help remember the sounds (ex. using “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to remember what a perfect fifth interval sounds like). I think using mnemonics is a bad idea. But I do think it’s important to train both skills. In other words, it’s useful to be able to hear both what type of interval there is between two notes as well as what the function of those notes are in the current context (whether that be related to a key or a chord). While the basic concept is very old, I got the idea for these exercises via Bruce Arnold who has made quite a few CDs with a similar style. I do recommend checking those out as they are much higher quality. I wrote a python script to generate these lessons using MIDI. The sounds are cheesy, but they work. With the exception of the “Harmonic Intervals” exercise, I’ve been using them a lot over the past couple of years, so they should be trouble free. But if you run into problems, let me know. And of course, questions and comments are welcome.
Note: Feel free to distribute these with proper credit (i.e. leave MP3 tags in tact and include a link to this blog). I do not grant permission to use these exercises in any sort of commercial context without my permission. Thank you for respecting my rights on that.
All of these exercises contain 100 mp3s. They are all randomly generated. However, I still recommend listening in a shuffle mode to avoid memorizing the order. Each MP3 begins with a sequence of chords (a cadence) that establishes the key (which in all cases so far is either C Major or C Minor). The question portion then plays, which will vary for each exercise. Finally the answer is spoken by a computer generated voice. Either solfege syllables or chord names are used. The solfege syllables used are: do (root), di (m2), re (M2), me (m3), mi (M3), fa (4), fi (tritone), so (5), le (m6), la (6), te (m7), ti (M7). Depending on the context the accidentals could actually have different names, but I stuck with these for now.
One Note Major: One note is played. The context is Major and accidentals (non-diatonic notes) are included. You name the note.
One Diatonic Note Minor: One note is played. The context is Minor and only notes in the Natural Minor scale are played. You name the note.
Diatonic Major Chords: One triad is played in a closed root position voicing, you name that chord (ex. two minor, five major). Only the diatonic chords are used, namely I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii(dim)
Four Diatonic Notes Major: Four notes are played in a row followed by the root. All will be in the major scale. You name the notes.
Harmonic Intervals Major: This is the most recent exercise I made and has not been thoroughly tested. Two notes are played together. Both will be in the Major Scale. You name those two notes.
That’s all I have so far. Perhaps if there’s enough interest I’ll generate more. The possibilities are endless, but these cover a lot of ground. If you’re just starting out expect to put a lot of time in before you get the hang of the basic exercises. I’ve been doing it for years and I’m far from mastering this stuff. I’ve just started the harmonic interval exercise which is a pretty exciting one!
UPDATE: I made a page that I’ll keep up to date with the latest version as I fix any thing that pops up and/or improve it. 0.001 turned out to be pretty broken!
Here it is in all it’s pea soup colored glory. Let’s call this version 0.001. It’s barely tested and bare bones. Well, I guess the only thing I cut out from the planned design are the “Mono”, “Reset” and sync option buttons. Everything should be self explanatory. Other than maybe the slider on the bottom. Slide to left and you hear less of what’s playing back from your computer, slide to right and you hear less of what’s coming into the interface. Nothing fancy. There is a bit of a volume scaling issue. I actually made it so the sliders don’t go anywhere near the actual minimum value available, because otherwise the useful range of the sliders is tiny. I’m guessing the right thing to do is use some kind of logarithmic scale or something like that. If anyone out there wants to figure that out and submit a patch, go for it. On that note, bug reports, fixes, etc are welcome, post them up here.
Link: <link removed, see note above!>
Instructions: First off, you’ll need to install some requirements. I’m not quite sure the full list, but definitely libcairo, python, python-dev, and libasound-dev. Run the setup command in the README file. Then run focus_mixer.py. That’s it. If you have a Scarlett Focusrite 18i8 connected, it should be detected and work. My plan right now is to use it for a while as is and see if it’s useful/functional. Might improve on it if do end up using it a lot and find things that annoy me. Consider the code up for grabs as far as modification and distribution goes. But don’t try and make any money off it and include a link to http://www.zackfacco.net. Thanks!
I’ve begun coding the mixer and I’m making steady progress towards having it be functional. I made a big change technology-wise. I decided to use Python instead of C++. And Cairo instead of SDL. I figured it’d be a lot quicker this way. And so far, that does seem to be the case. However the implementations I could find for ALSA libraries in Python are, well… lacking. So I decided instead to try using a command line tool, amixer, to do all that junk. It’s not the cleanest solution, but it’s a very simple one. One challenge I have is that the 18i8 is at my practice space and I don’t have Internet over there, so I’m doing the coding without having it available to test on. So far it’s been fine because I’ve had plenty to work on before getting into the ALSA calls. I made a little demo of what I have so far. It’s at about 75% of the planned GUI (notable functionality still missing includes panning and input/playback mixing). Amixer calls are being mocked up with print statements so I can get some idea if the functions are doing the right thing. Seems to be working okay so far, but there’s a fair amount left to do and then of course I gotta fix the bugs that are certainly hiding out in there. Could be weeks.
The 18i8 is a powerful USB interface at a very low price. I picked one up this week to expand the number of inputs I can record at once, mostly to accommodate drums. Luckily it’s well supported in the Linux kernal starting at 3.19. Unluckily the interface for accessing the 18i8 internal mixer is… well horrible. It’s done using the standard (and aptly named) ALSA mixer tool… alsamixer. I decided to give a go at designing my own mixer which won’t include all of the functions available, but everything I imagine I’ll need. Most importantly, the ability to control the impedance/pads on the front panel and to control the headphone/monitor mix between playback and inputs. I also decided to include a full on mixer for all the inputs so that if some asshole musician asks for more bass in the monitor you can accommodate them begrudgingly. I haven’t started coding it yet, but the plan is to use SDL library (because I’ve used it before) and ALSA. The mockup image was done using the rather powerful and free tool Inkscape. Uhh… I’ll change the colors up, I swear! (but they’ll be equally whacky). I’ll try to update this entry once I release something, but better yet, stay tuned to the blog (yup, shameless).
If you’d like to skip all these steps and you have an amd64 system… well, you can probably get away with installing the deb file I made… however, it will most likely break your system, sleep with your significant other, open a wormhole under your bathroom sink and cause erections lasting longer than four hours… so have fun.
Debian install file: audacity_2.1.2-facco1.deb
For the past month I’ve been getting an error message every time I open Audacity that says something like:
It pops up and gives the option of not showing again (but it happens every time anyway). Well turns out there’s a bug involved somewhere along the line. I use Debian Jessie, but here is the same issue filed in Ubuntu:
I managed to fix this, but it took all friggin’ day and it isn’t pretty. I ended up building my own version of Audacity and some libraries from FFMpeg. Debian Jessie comes with Audacity 2.0.6, but I installed 2.1.12 (the current latest). Here’s how I did it in case you want to try (but this is not for the faint of heart!)
- Download Audacity source code for 2.1.12 (or whatever the latest version is, should be alright)
- Install build requirements (try “sudo apt-get build-dep audacity” but you may have to get fancier than that)
- Untar the source files and browse into the source root folder. Run “./configure”
- *Read the end of the output carefully* Make sure there are no errors and that everything you want enabled looks like it’s actually enabled. Make sure FFMpeg is listed as “LOCAL”!
- Run “make” and wait a while…
- While you’re waiting download the source for FFMpeg 2.3.6 (yup, it’s getting ugly around here)
- Again, make sure build dependencies are installed…
- Run “./configure –enable-shared –enable-pic –extra-cflags=”-fPIC -m64″” and then “make” (NOTE: Not sure if the -m64 is needed on 32 bit systems… but why are you still runing 32 bit anyway?)
- Wait some more…
- While you’re waiting, create a folder called “audacity_2.1.2-facco1″… ah, the facco part is options, you can put your own name if you really like
- Go into that folder and create the folder “DEBIAN”
- In the “DEBIAN” folder create a file called “control” with the following text:
Depends: libasound2 (>= 1.0.16), libavcodec56 (>= 6:11~beta1) | libavcodec-extra-56 (>= 6:11), libavformat56 (>= 6:11~beta1), libavutil54 (>= 6:11~beta1), libc6 (>= 2.15), libexpat1 (>= 2.0.1), libflac++6 (>= 1.3.0), libflac8 (>= 1.3.0), libgcc1 (>= 1:4.1.1), libglib2.0-0 (>= 2.12.0), libid3tag0 (>= 0.15.1b), libmad0 (>= 0.15.1b-3), libmp3lame0, libogg0 (>= 1.0rc3), libportaudio2 (>= 19+svn20101113-2~), libportsmf0, libsbsms10, libsndfile1 (>= 1.0.20), libsoundtouch0 (>= 1.8.0), libsoxr0 (>= 0.1.0), libstdc++6 (>= 4.9), libtwolame0, libvamp-hostsdk3, libvorbis0a (>= 1.1.2), libvorbisenc2 (>= 1.1.2), libvorbisfile3 (>= 1.1.2), libwxbase3.0-0 (>= 3.0.2), libwxgtk3.0-0 (>= 3.0.2)
Maintainer: Nobody <email@example.com>
Description: Audacity sound editor
This is an updated version of Audacity from the Jessie package which currently has bugs in it (errors related to wx during startup)
(again, you can change the Version extra info to whatever you like)
- Now go back to that Audacity “make” command… is it done yet? Hope so. Run “make install DESTDIR=/path_to_that_folder_you_just_made PREFIX=/usr”.
- And hopefully FFMpeg is done, too. Make a temporary folder to install those files to and then run “make install DESTDIR=/path_to_FFMpeg_tmp_folder”
- In that temp folder, copy everything from “usr/local/lib” into “usr/lib” in the folder you installed Audacity to (This is because Audacity depends on a different version of FFMpeg then Debian Jessie uses… they must have some kind of patch to get around it, this is the best solution I could come up with)
- Go to the folder below where you installed Audacity and run “dpkg -b audacity_2.1.2-facco1” (Note: use the actual name of the folder you chose)
- Uninstall your current version of audacity (sudo apt-get remove audacity)
- Install the new audacity (sudo gdebi audacity_2.1.2-facco1)
- Run “sudo ldconfig” (so those FFMpeg libraries get picked up)
That’s it… theoretically you’ve only lost a few hours of your life and haven’t thrown your computer out a window. Oh and Audacity works right again.
I picked up some cheap watercolors. Mostly I’ve been doing drawings in black and white. It’s simpler that way. But I do love color. I also got some better India ink for the blacks. I’d been using Black Cat, the Blicks store brand, and it bleeds all over when watercolor is put on it (so much for the “waterproof” claims on the label). I’m now trying out Sennelier Indian Ink and Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star HICARB (oops, I meant to get Matte). Not sure which I like better yet, but the Black Star seems to be able to make thinner lines (using dip pens). Both are very waterproof. Here’s a doodle I did. I love how active water colors and dip pens are especially on watercolor paper, which has a little texture to it. It makes simple drawing look less flat. Really, this was a test of the new media, but there are some cool bits (ooh, sexy naked lady by the ocean!). The quotes are unattributed in the drawing, but come from Velvet Underground, Sun Ra and Ween songs.
The Small Clone has been around for a long time and it’s still a staple on pedal boards these days. I picked one up for the first time last year and while I do like it, it’s a bit intense for my liking. I looked around for mods and I found interesting options. The main ones I’ve seen are adding a vibrato switch, replacing the depth knob with a potentiometer and adding a blend knob. I was considering doing all three, however after looking into the depth pot mod, I decided it didn’t seem to work as advertised. I couldn’t find any good sound examples showing what the pedal sounds like with a depth pot added and in fact, I saw at least one post claiming that the mod doesn’t work properly. I decided instead to do just the blend knob mod, since it adds a lot of tonal control and as a bonus can get a vibrato effect without a separate mod. And it’s a very simple mod:
Look on the circuit board for R17, R18 and R19. They form a “T” junction together. R17 (20K) connects to the wet signal (it has a vibrato effect on it, which is to say it is oscillating up and down in pitch). R18 (22K) connects to the original dry signal. Both R17 and R18 connect to R19 on their way to the pedal’s output. So basically R17 and R18 are a static blend circuit. This mod removes those and replaces them with a potentiometer so the blend can be controlled. I desoldered R17 and R18 completely. Doing this leaves four empty holes on the circuit board. Solder some hookup wire into both of the outer holes and into one of the inner holes (it doesn’t matter which, they’re connected together on the circuit board). Solder the wire that was originally R17 directly to pin one of a 50K linear pot (looking from the top of the pot, count the pins from left to right). Connect the R18 wire to a resistor (optional, but it prevents a fully dry signal, which is useless. I used 1K, but I recommend higher than that) and then connect that resistor to pin 3 of the pot. Finally run a wire from the middle lug (pin 2) of the pot to either of the middle holes on the circuit board. The other hole remains unused which I think really opens up the tone of the pedal…
I made a video to show what it sounds like. There’s one kink I’ve noticed. When the circuit is at full vibrato or close to full clean, there’s a bit of a boost. Perhaps this could be fixed with a more complex circuit, but I don’t consider it much of a problem. Also, the vibrato signal is a bit noisy on it’s own.
I entered Song Fight this week with the title “Adele in the Car”… I recorded all the instruments before tackling the lyrics. At that point, I was all out of ideas. Then I came up with an angle, “Oh, yeah, Adele’s in my car, well, then she’s in the trunk… dead.” I was not the only contested to take this route!
P.S. I don’t actually hate Adele, she’s alright.