What I’m Up To

Dys very (very) kindly not only abandoned the main iMac downstairs all weekend, but before she did so, she closed down the million and one windows that she generally has open at all times (chats with her umpteen employees and her boss, six windows on the dosage information for Fuckitol(tm), a Windows emulator so she can run her work software, etc etc etc).

So, I could get to two of my stated goals this weekend:  First, make some CDs for Kim (mwuhahahah!), and second, to install EZDrummer on the iMac and see what I could do with it.

I’d already installed it on the laptop and done a little playing, and I was pretty excited to see what I could do with it.  But even though the laptop is pretty damned fast, GarageBand and EZDrummer each eat up a lot of memory, so it was a little slow to use them both together.  Besides, the song I’d been working on most recently was downstairs on the iMac, and that’s the song that I most clearly had an idea in ye olde noggin for a drum sound.  And I’d been through every drum loop in GarageBand without finding a damned thing that came even remotely close.

Well, EZDrummer is a motherfucker.  Not only does it have dozens of beat patterns, but each beat pattern has a dozen or two playing variations.  Quarter,eighth, or sixteenth-note hi-hats, open or closed, tight or loose, standard or cross-stick, with or without ghost notes on the snare or kick, blah de frickin blah.  There’s a shitload there.  It boggles the mind to go through and try to pick something out.

Still, after sifting and sifting and sifting I found a few things that were almost right.  Close, at least.  I dragged ’em and dropped ’em onto the section of song that I had finished (and doubled that whole section so I’d have two verses and two choruses instead of just one each) and gave it a listen.  Better than before, but meh, still not quite there.  I was starting to wonder if I’d have to actually do what I was dreading, try to hook up the MIDI keyboard and play the drums that way.  Ever tried to play kick, hi-hat, and snare on a keyboard?

But then, ha-ha, I discovered how to edit the MIDI track directly in GarageBand.  And when I say “edit” I mean I can just play the track while watching the score.  There are little marks every time there’s a hit for each drum.  If I decide there should be a double-kick instead of a single-kick?  Click.  There.  There’s the second kick drum.

This discovery ate up hours of my weekend.  I moved things around, so that a kick drum came slightly before the beat instead of after it; I added crash cymbals in places; hell, I ended up by just sitting there listening to the thing over and over and tapping my foot.  If I tapped my foot naturally at a spot where there wasn’t a bass drum on the score, damn it, I added a bass drum there.  Hell, if I understood counting measures and beats and stuff worth a fuck, I might really be able to do something special with this thing.

So now I have something I’m a lot happier with.  I’m still not remotely finished…I need to write a bridge, I’d just come up with a good solo idea before my accident, and I’d like to rerecord the bass.  But this gave me the opportunity to come in and feel like I was making some music even with my half-crippled ass.  And that was a really good feeling.

(If anybody wants to hear the rough cut, drop me a line and I’ll email it to ya if you promise to take it easy on me…)

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