Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Master Foo and the naming ceremony

    "Today's batch of software engineering disciples had carried heavy payloads of anticipation up the mountain. Some galvanized their exertions by dreaming of Samurai inspired names such as Oda Kouzukenosuke Owarinokami Nobunaga. Others dreamed of European inspired names such as Blaise Babbage The Elder. Still others ventured further afield with dreams of names like Ustad Hexwielder The Unbound or the swashbuckling Bus Grant - Ostiary of the Noosphere."...Master Foo and the naming ceremony

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Newbie geek strums #4

Further on the Mewbie Geek Strums theme...

Well, progress has been slow but the journey is proving its own reward
  • I can now bludgeon my way through some simple strumming three-chord trickery. I can hobble through some alternating base flat picking and some simple finger-style patterns.
  • I now understand why the E Chord is called that even though it does not involve touching either of the two E strings :-)
  • I now have a basic understanding about the relationship between chords and scales.
  • I now understand why Homer Simpson playing with a group called the B Sharps is amusing.
  • I can see faintly on the horizon how I might eventually be able to do barre chords by taking advantage of the fact that there isn't a single barre chord shape that I have come across that actually involves clear ringing on all six strings at the same time from the index finger. I sure wish more of the tutorial stuff would point this out.

Now for some gripes

  • Music notation seems to have the worst case of operator overloading of any notation I have ever come across. letters like "C" can refer to a shape, a chord, a tone, a note, a scale...depending on context.
  • Music notation is a set of off-by-one-errors/fences'n'gatepost errors waiting to happen. If ever an interval counting system could benefit from 0 based addressing, this is it! Instead we have "thirds". Hmmm. Now do you mean the item at offset 2 or are you counting from 1 and do you really mean the fourth item? Even if you get this sorted you have to deal with the fact that "thirds" might mean "major thirds" which, unlike "minor thirds" are actually probably "fourths" - or something - depending on how you count. On top of that, the entire naming system repeats in cycles up and down the octaves which makes it a *perfect* for modulus based arithmetic but no, that would be too easy...
  • There is a whole lot of mutually incompatible information out there about music in general and guitar seems to have a lion's share of it. Some examples:

    • chord diagrams that show D Major with 5 played strings and others with 4. (I now know why this can occur but it confused me greatly for a while).
    • Books/Web Pages that announce "There are two basic barre chord forms A and B."
    • Books/Web Pages that say "C Major is this 5 string shape" while others say "C Major is this 6 string shape". (I figured this one out too eventually.)
    • Videos that talk about hitting four strings only for D Major and then show you how to do it *but* actually play all SIX strings, using a thumb on the sixth string. (I figured this out too eventually).
Some non-gripes

  • The language of music is all the more intriguing for its
    weirdness. Just like so many other long established semiotic
    systems. Much of the weirdness is I think, traceable back to the naming convention for the C Major Scale with its straight A to G and its nice simple gaps of two semi-tones...except for the EF and BC pairs. Its as if version 0.01 of the naming convention just stuck and was never re-factored even though the app is now at version 20.0.
  • Finally, of all the video-based tutorial stuff I've been playing with and the DVD's I've bought, I find Mike Herberts
    no-nonsense, watch-n-learn stuff very, very useful to have
    side-by-side with the more theory-oriented stuff. The two-camera setup he uses is extremely helpful in figuring out what is going on.