It’s play time

Some of you may know that I occasionally write songs. Over the last few weeks and months I’ve been talking to folks at church about forming a band, with a view to recording a CD of original songs, and on Sunday we had our first rehearsal! It was so much fun!!! I admit part of it may possibly have been me being a control-freak, but it was so satisfying being able to mould the sound of a bunch of talented musicians, creating a really professional sound. I started off the rehearsal by getting everyone to just play around a chord, and told everyone basically what to play, how loud to be, and pretty much orchestrated the sound there and then. It was really dynamic and exciting, and we produced a really rounded, tight, clear sound. We then went through four new songs that I had written, and learnt them fairly quickly, which I was very impressed with. I decided to take the revolutionary decision of not using music at all, since no one really relied on it 100% anyway, and it means that I can play around with textures and feels without people having to worry about playing the “right” notes all the time. It’s sounding really great though, by the end of the rehearsal I could tell that everyone was really listening to each other and playing with a very high level of musicianship, which was so encouraging! If that first rehearsal is anything to go by, the CD we eventually create should be fantastic!!

As a result of all this, I’m considering extending my ability on the guitar with an effects unit. So far I’ve just been plugging my guitar straight into the PA system and getting the basic sound of the guitar, which is a very nice sound but difficult to vary. After a chat with Luke I’ve been recommended a Zoom G2, which apparently is very good. Basically what I’m after is an all-in-one effects unit that will provide me with a few nice effects to beaf up my guitar tone. Some reverb and chorus would be useful, some distortion and electric guitar sounds would be fun to play with too. I’m not thinking anything too serious or expensive, just something to get me started. I’ve seen one fairly cheap too, so if I make a decision soon I might have something else to write about here later on!

In addition to that, I’m also on the lookout for a new keyboard. I did have a keyboard earlier in the year, but I recently gave it to my brother. Technically we both own it, it’s just that I’ve been having my turn on it for the last five years, and since he’s doing a Music degree he figured it was time he had his turn! I’ve been looking at a variety of models on the internet, trying to find the ideal keyboard for me. The Yamaha DGX205 looks rather nice, a nice keyboard with Yamaha’s Portable Grand built-in, which should produce a very nice piano sound! It’s also got a whole host of other sounds, including the normal General MIDI sound set, the XGlite sounds (which is basically an extension of GM, and is really cool), plus some special sounds that Yamaha have bundled in there – Cool! and Sweet! sounds are I think recorded samples of particular instruments, aiming to capture the sound and style of the instrument a little more accurately. I went into town today to try it out in Allegro Music, and found it to be quite impressive. The Cool! and Sweet! sounds really were excellent, and the piano sound was very convincing. But then my eye found the DGX305, the model up, which has square piano keys rather than the flat organ-style keys that most cheap keyboards have. It also has an improved piano sample for the main piano sound, which is noticeably better. It’s fundamentally the same keyboard, but with a few extra bells and whistles. So now I’m faced with a dilema – do I go for the affordable model which will suffice for pretty much anything I’ll need to do for the next few years, or do I spend a little more for something a little more special and hope that I’ll find a good use for it in the future? The keys themselves are much nicer on the 305, but would I actually need to use them very often?

2 thoughts on “It’s play time

  1. “Cool!” and “Sweet!” sounds… overtones of “Dude, Where’s my Car” there! Shame they didn’t use “Dude” instead of “Cool”…

    “Dude, what does mine say?”
    “Sweet, what does mine say?”
    “DUDE, what does mine say?”
    “SWEET!!!, what does mine say?”… etc

    In terms of keyboards – I went with a digital piano because I wanted something which played like a piano (weighted keys etc). The keyboards are OK, but IMHO you’re better off hooking a cheaper keyboard up with MIDI and getting some decent software for the PC. If you want to do anything at all, it’s going to be easier on PC. Sequencing, recording etc — keyboards have quite a limited interface! I guess it depends on what you want to do though.

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