Overall progress update, and further testing on Yousician, because that has apparently become my mission, whether I like it or not.

I get that I haven’t been talking much about lessons lately, but I don’t want you guys to think I’ve forsaken them entirely! Actually, I haven’t been working with the programs much due to a variety of reasons. I’ll try to give the list some brevity:

  1. The gym cuts an extra hour out of my potential practice time, so it’s not always practical to spend 10 minutes of that hour fussing with cables and microphones to set up a program.
  2. Digitizing my DVD library, or at least enough of it to box up my anime cupboard, and therefore move the physical media into a closet, and free up space in the cupboard for, you know, guitar accessories and printer paper effectively uses up every USB port I’ve got. Since, to date both Rocksmith and Yousician require at least one USB port for proper functionality, that limits the amount of time I can use those programs further.
  3. One of my cats is apparently suffering from anxiety (why, I have no idea. He has a chill life and very loving cat parents) and licking his leg bald. The way to keep him calm and not over-bathing his balding leg from cat stress seems to be devoting about 20-30 minutes of totally undivided attention in the form of play and cuddles to him every night. Not that I mind, he’s adorable, but time is time.

So, I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to working on memorizing those songs (365, check! But, I will likely remember not a word of it by next New Year’s), ‘This Way’ and ‘Jack and Davy’ about 50% each. The chord changes I wrote for the second half of this way aren’t planting themselves in my brain, and Jack & Davy is new, and I am apparently memorizing it in no particular order.  I still remember ‘In My Mind’ by Amanda Palmer, but Wagon Wheel is completely gone from my memory, and Lean on Me is in some questionable space between.  I’m writing down a lot of songs to learn as they come up on my shuffle and interest me, but I haven’t attacked any of them with gusto as of yet.

And, as of my last post I’m back on Yousician, testing it out on my tablet to run a comparison.

3 days in, things are going well on the tablet, owing in part to the nature of my desk meaning the tablet has to nearly sit in my lap, and it’s virtually impossible for it to not hear my instruments at that distance. Not that my laptop is far away, but we are talking a difference in distance of about 12 inches, which, when you’re dealing with an app that tends to need a little loving care (at least in Windows) can be a significant difference.  My tablet has quiet speakers and a comparatively loud microphone (tested that out yesterday to see where the default sound quality stood), which also helps.

In light of my thoughts on that, I ventured into the settings menu again, looking to see if there was, in fact, an internal volume control for the backing track. There is, in fact, a single volume control in the settings menu listed only as “volume”.  I’ve tested this briefly on the tablet, and it appears to be a master volume control that adjusts all in app sounds.  My thought is that this could, potentially, be the ‘fix’. Of course, it depends on how good your ears are. Mine are damn sensitive. I notice the girl four cubicles away opening a bag of chips over the sound of four different radios, the phone, and ambient people noise; it’s a curse. So, I can theoretically turn that way down and still be able to hear the backing track enough to be functional. How much any individual can work with this, of course, will depend entirely on how good their hearing happens to be.  However, theoretically, if you reduce the volume of yousician’s backing track, and also increase the volume level of your microphone (effectively controlling your speakers and mic completely separately from one another), this MIGHT be a fix that doesn’t require external equipment.

(This is where I pause writing this post to go test it now that Yousician has finally finished spending more than 20 minutes updating to even open on my laptop.)

Okay, I’m back – and sorry to tell you guys, abysmal failure. I turned the sound down in Yousician to about 30-40% (I started at 50, but that didn’t improve matters, so went down further), my mic levels are set to 78%, which happens to be about my sweet spot for everything. Anything from 70-80% works great for Rocksmith. 75-78% is about what I use for my samson mic, etc. With these settings, which should resolve, or at least improve, the sound recognition issue if the sound recognition issue is coming from the backing track, I tried both single notes and chords. I chose lessons very early in the syllabus to absolutely guarantee that there is no way I was just playing like an idiot. I have used audacity to record myself and confirm (for the umpteenth time) the functionality of the internal microphone, which is still working perfectly).

I can tell you between both options, chords and individual notes. It registered one note, one time. It did not register one note consistently; it registered one note, once and only once.  So whatever the cause of mobile users’ sound recognition problems may be, it does not seem to be the cause of the issues I’m experiencing on windows 10. That means the only thing left for me to try (which I will not be doing at 10:30 at night on a weekday, thank you.) Is a full uninstall and reinstall in the hopes that the problem is due to some sort of corruption in the program file, and that reinstalling it will clear that out.

I can safely say that, while the program is recognizing sound on my samsung tablet, the sound recognition on my windows 10 laptop (which has better sound than said tablet) is effectively completely nonexistent at this point in time. I can make the program work with external devices (a rocksmith cable or an external microphone – once again stating that there is absolutely fuck all wrong with my internal mic. It actually does quite well for an internal mic; I don’t buy cheap laptops as I use them as my primary PC and require some decent specs to run my art programs without lag), but without them, it’s a digital paperweight and has been since before my upgrade from win8.  It’s unfortunate, but true.

This weekend I will try to fully uninstall and reinstall the program and see if that fixes (or at least improves) on the issue, but what I can say at this point in time is that on a windows 10 laptop, calling this a ‘sound recognition issue’ is basically like calling the Bubonic Plague a common cold; I could not possibly be understating the problem more.

So, that’s where my Yousician troubleshooting stands. Up side is that for the moment it is working well on my tablet. Down side is that I can barely count it as working at all on my PC.

Other stuff going on, I bought myself a sheet music stand, since they were on sale on musician’s friend for $16.99.  Gotta say guys, for $17 bucks, she’s built like a rock. Surprisingly quite solid.  I’ll be using that, eventually, for recording purposes (I’m going to clip my phone to it, so I don’t have to rely on my memory.), but I have to now get or jimmyrig some sort of phone stand to it. More updates on that later.

What I can say about my progress at this moment is that a lot of my practice is re-hashing.  (and I’m cutting things short right where I ought to give some detail, because I need to get my butt in bed!) Since my fingerpicking skills are quite bad yet, I’m focusing on the early fingerpicking lessons.  On guitar, I’ve reached arpeggios. I can understand them in theory, but I can’t focus on both forming chords and plucking the right strings with any amount of speed, so until I can get a more solid grip on the latter, arpeggios will be out of my reach.  That’s probably as it should be. I’m nowhere near the point where I should be working on arpeggios, but it happens to be the next lesson on the list. Instead of moving forward, I’ve gone backwards to perfect earlier lessons. This was the right choice at the moment, because while arpeggios are an ego-bashing experience, easily getting ‘perfect’ or near perfect scores on lessons that I was only getting middle of the road scores on before proves that there is a sort of progress being made, even if it’s not immediately obvious.

Until Next Time, things are still in motion, just not very interesting or noteworthy things worth discussing in much depth.

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