Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Riff Repeater Oddities and Some GAS Cramps

Finally seem to have gotten back to a regular practice mode after a week of Spring Break. I had a hard time getting back into the groove after taking so much time off. The first night back toward the end of last week went great (see previous post), but then it was just hard to really get going again after a very busy weekend which included playing drums at two different locations. But, I'm back. Last night was my second night in a row after taking practically ten days off.

Went pretty well - I unlocked the Dry Acoustic tone and the Bay Academy venue. Worked on Smoke on the Water, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Single Note arrangement), and chord arrangements for Do You Remember and High and Dry. Admittedly, the last two were sort of shameless RSP-mongering efforts.

I've made a few observations about my practice results and using Riff Repeater.

First of all, solos are clearly not my strong suit. I have about four songs that are very close to reaching the 100k score and I have all phrases mastered - except the solos. So, I clearly need a strategy to learn and master solos. Riff Repeater seems to offer what I need for this, but Riff Repeater can be a little strange and I've had to sort of create my own approach to using it. Here's how I'm using Riff Repeater to master solos for now:

(For any non-RS players, Riff Repeater is sort of a game where you get 30 chances to play a section of a song correctly. If you succeed within 30 tries, the game increases the level of difficulty by adding more notes or speeding up the tempo, depending on what part of Riff Repeater you choose.)

Last night I worked on Smoke on the Water for my entry in the Ubi/RS forum Weekly Challenge. As usual, the solo was a speed bump for me. Actually, there are four solo phrases in this song; I just picked the first one to work on. First I went to Leveler and hammered on this phrase for 30 attempts. I started at the 54% difficulty level and managed to level up to 63% within my first 30 lives. But, that's as far as I got in 30 tries. Just one level up.

So, I went into the Freespeed mode and forced the difficulty level to 81% (two more notches up). I reached 100% speed at 81% difficulty within 12 tries! Odd, huh? If I could play two levels above where I had been playing and get up to 100% speed in less than a dozen attempts, you'd sort of think I could level up in the Leveler. . .

[Note: You can force up the difficulty level in Riff Repeater by pausing - hit the Start button on XBox system controllers - the game. Four menu options pop up. One is "Set Mastery." Choose that and you can bump the mastery level up or down. Very handy. One reader told me they do this to get levels to 100% in Freespeed so they can transcribe all the notes into tab on paper! Lots of work, but that would be a great way to learn and memorize songs.]

After working on Freespeed, I went back to Leveler and forced the difficulty level to 81%. Guess what? I maxed the Solo 1 phrase in less than 10 lives. Very weird considering that I had played it through 30 times just minutes earlier at 63% difficulty and could NOT level up beyond 63%. At any rate, this will be my new strategy for mastering solos. Force the level up and work on them in Freespeed! Then come back to Leveler to max out the phrases.

Now, here's another oddity. Once I maxed out the first solo phrase, I went to play the full song through again. When I got to the solo, not only was the first solo phrase maxed out, so were the other three! No big deal, but I certainly wasn't prepared for that and had to just muddle through the rest of the solo phrases the best I could.

And, that's not all! I noticed as I played through the whole song that I got a lot of Streak Over messages when I felt like I was hitting everything right. And, since I have maxed out the levels on all non-solo phrases by just playing through the song, clearly I AM playing the notes right. So, what's the deal with my streaks? No idea. But, somehow when I'm playing through the chorus, that part where you go from 6th to 5th string at the 3d and 5th fret back and forth a couple of times, my streaks seem to end prematurely. To investigate, I went into Riff Repeater and pulled up the chorus in Freespeed. Played through as I normally do and got 100% ON THE FIRST PASS. . . So, I have no freaking idea what's going on when I play through the song. All I know is that I'm getting damned irritated by the Streak Over messages and by my relatively weak 50-88 note streaks.

How Many Guitars is Enough? One More? How About 6 More?

Here's the latest addition to my collection. Mind you, the two electrics are just cheapies, but the acoustics are all pretty nice. I'll let you know how nice when I actually get my hands on them. My brother-in-law is graciously picking them up for me and keeping them in his garage until I can go get them later this month. Most of these will be for sale, I'm sure - I can't afford to put strings on all these every couple of months!

The electrics may end up being part of my new charitable effort to provide instruments to kids who want to play but can't afford an instrument. Since my son is an aspiring trumpet player, my main focus is going to be the repair and restoration of old brass instruments, but I can do a couple of basic guitar repairs. If I can organize funding, I'll take any guitar repairs that are over my head to Shepperd's shop and pay him for the work needed.

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