guitar

Classical Guitar News

I’m quite busy practicing these days and I have a couple of exciting projects to share with you:

1. I’ve been working with our school’s composition/flute prof, Derek Charke, putting together a concert of Classical Guitar and Flute music. So far we’ve chosen to perform a set of pieces by Celso Machado, Histoire du Tango by Piazzolla, and I’m working on my continuo chops on Bach’s Flute Sonata (BWV 1034). Should be a really great concert! (I’m always amazed at the guitar writing of Piazzolla, for a non guitarist he sure knew how to toe the line of unplayable without going over!!)

2. I’m preparing two pieces of Shawn Bell, Currents I & II, for recording. I performed Currents II many years ago and loved the piece so it’s nice to revisit it with a bit more wisdom. It’s my first time working on Currents I and I have to say that this is another of Shawn’s gems! It shares similar rhytmic pulses and harmony with Currents II, but has a very different feel overall. You can now purchase Shawn’s pieces from D’Oz for the first time here:
http://www.productionsdoz.com/en/currents-i-ii

These are really great guitar works, and I’m so happy that Shawn has finally published them officially!
Eugene

music

My initiation to programming: Rudi

Exciting news: I’ve created a new program which randomly generates music theory/rudiments worksheets and corresponding answer keys. I’ve been working on this a few months and I’ve got most of the bugs worked out.
To use the program itself you need to download the source and you have to have Python3 and lilypond installed on linux.
The code can be found here:
https://github.com/eugenecormier/rudi

If you don’t want to do it the ‘hard’ way, a former guitar student of mine is creating a web interface, you just go to the website, click the options you want and poof! you get two pdfs to print off and use.
Justin’s website can be found here:
http://ec2-54-69-119-251.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com:8080/rudiweb/

Of course all the code is free to use, change… basically do whatever you want with… I wrote this to help my life out at university, now I give it away freely to whoever else wants it (my thanks to the open source community, Python, and of course Lilypond)

linux

Linux DVD conversion to h264 aac mp4

So I get a week off, and what really needs to be done?!? I’ve been noticing the deterioration of my massive, 200+, DVD collection which contains ALL my former concerts, ensembles, studio recitals, grad recitals etc…

This of course is very precious to me and maintaining my data/media is always a balance of: newest and greatest way, good compression, high quality audio and video, longevity, and last but not least convenience.

For a long time now, the best option for me has been a transfer to the DVD format, and I have well over 200+ DVD vids of our concerts. I’ve been watching video codecs with hope, and finally with h264 and aac I have to say it really is incredible quality at a highly compressed bitrate.

So with the h264 (x264 in linux) codec (the video/size ratio is very good) and my dying DVDs, I decided to get this done, and I’ve learnt a few key commands that I’d like to share with whoever will listen. I’ll break it into steps:

1) Getting the info off the disc
Since these are all personal discs, a conversation about libdvdcss as it’s not needed. There are two good ways of doing this (the former is quicker, while the latter is far better at regaining lost data

ddrescue works really well if there are no/few problems with the disc (free from scratches):
dd_rescue -n -b 2048 /dev/cdrom dvd.iso

dd can be brutally slow, but gets everything:
dd if=/dev/cdrom of=dvd.iso conv=noerror,sync

2) joining VOBs
There are two ways to do this too. I’ll give the most logical and easiest first although I notice no difference at all between the two.

use cat:
cat VTS_01_1.VOB VTS_01_2.VOB VTS_01_3.VOB > combined.vob

use ffmpeg (you need 1.1 or newer for concat):
ffmpeg -i concat:VTS_01_1.VOB\|VTS_01_2.VOB\|VTS_01_3.VOB -c copy combined.vob

One neat thing about the ffmpeg command is you can include everything else and come up with a finished product like:
ffmpeg -i concat:VTS_01_1.VOB\|VTS_01_2.VOB\|VTS_01_3.VOB -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -c:a libfaac -ac 2 -ab 192k finished-video.mp4

3) Encoding video
I use ffmpeg for this:
ffmpeg -i combined.vob -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -c:a libfaac -ac 2 -ab 192k test.mp4

to break this last example down:
-i combined.vob -> is the concatted vob file
-c:v libx264 -> this is the codec (x264)
-crf 23 -> this is how you set the constant quality, a lower number means higher quality, bigger file
-c:a libfaac -> audio codec (faac)
-ac 2 -> stereo sound (channels = 2)
-ab 192k -> the audio bitrate, higher is better/bigger

and that’s pretty much it. For a 1 hour concert at 720p I’m getting about a 500-600mb file which is really good, and I’m using all open source software. I’m plowing through these videos, getting them backed up and safe. As soon as I complete this, the next stage is to run out to pick up a new 2TB HD, copy the files to that and move them offsite (just in case the house burns down…. you can NEVER be too safe with your data!

I like the quote:

“There are two types of people in this world, those who have lost data, and those who are going to lose data”

stsbanner

Shattering the Silence – in one week!!!

Shattering the Silence, Acadia’s New Music Festival starts next week and the guitar department will be well represented. The Acadia guitar quartet is going to play Philip Glass’ 3rd String Quartet (Mishima), Leo Brouwer’s Cuban Landscape With Rain & a brand new piece from Martin Campbell (Acadia composition student) called ‘Perspectives’.

It should be a great series. See the following link for more information:
ShatteringTheSilence.ca

tomregan2014

Tom Regan Memorial Concert tonight!

There’s going to be lots of classical guitar offerings at the TR concert tonight including:

  • The Acadia Guitar Quartet (Me, Alec Leard, Matthew Martin & Jeff Torbert) will play the entire 3rd String Quartet by Philip Glass
  • The Cormier/Martin Guitar Duo will play Jongo by Paulo Bellinati
  • And Alec Leard, winner of this year’s Tom Regan auditions will be performing Tango en Skai by Roland Dyens
  • Should be a great night, everything gets started at 7:30.

    oro_band_photo

    ORO! Orkestra – Turko-Balkan Dance Musik

    I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve been invited to join ORO!, a Turkish/Balkan Dance band. We’ve had a few rehearsals and it’s very fun music to play. We also have a number of performances coming up starting with this coming weekend and the Deep Roots Music Festival. Keep an eye on upcoming performances below, and be sure to check out ORO’s website and some of their videos.

    http://oro-orkestra.com/

    steve-reich-2

    Reich…

    So I’ve just gotten home from a few weeks on the road. Edmonton and Montreal were great. I got to hear many good players while I was out, but I’m very happy to be home again. The next thing that I’m getting ready for is another concert playing the great Steve Reich piece 2×5….time to dust off the strat again :)

    edmonton-kiwanis

    Upcoming Concerts/Masterclasses etc..

    Well it’s official, I’ll be judging the 2012 Montreal Guitar Competition this year again! you can read more about that here. I’ll be playing a concert as well as a masterclass that weekend which is right after I return from adjudicating the Edmonton Kiwanis (busy April this year). Also I’ve added some non-classical-guitar gigs to my upcoming events as well including: 2×5 Steve Reich (an amazing piece for 2 rock bands….I had to dust off the ol’ strat :) and I’ll be playing in the Thomas Regan concert this coming weekend (Friday) with Matt Martin and playing Banjo in Kurt Weill’s Three Penny Opera on Sunday.
    E

    gentoo

    Gentoo on the MacBook Air

    It’s been a very long time since I posted anything, so it’s my new year’s resolution to do more this year. This first post of the year will be a computer post. Over the holidays I picked up a MacBook Air, and I have to say I love the design. Some of the highlights include: back-lit keyboard, multi-touch trackpad, fans & speakers hidden in the joint between the display and the keyboard & aluminium case. Apple really does a great job with design. But of course, I hate the simplicity of MacOSX. Yes I know it’s built on top of Darwin, but I like to be able to tinker with “everything” and run all my favorite programs. So the first thing to do when I got it was to delete everything and put on Linux. I won’t go through every detail, but I will mention the things that did not work out of the box. Hope this helps someone else!

    ##################################
    # MacOSX fixes – Do this before
    # removing MacOSX
    ##################################

    If you use only Linux, boot hangs for 30 seconds waiting for the Mac partition. To override this issue the following command (from MacOSX):
    bless –device /dev/disk0s1 –setBoot –legacy –verbose

    To stop the boot mac sound, issue the following command:
    /usr/sbin/nvram SystemAudioVolume=%01

    ##################################
    # Wireless Card
    # note the two <M>, these MUST be
    # built as modules for the wifi
    # card to work
    ##################################

    edit: in kernel 3.2+ you must turn off BCMA to get BRCM softmac enabled, which is now under drivers/network (not staging)

     

    Install: sys-kernel/linux-firmware

    [*] Networking support —>
    -*- Wireless —>
    <*> cfg80211 – wireless configuration API
    [*] Wireless extensions sysfs files
    <*> Common routines for IEEE802.11 drivers
    <*> Generic IEEE 802.11 Networking Stack (mac80211)

    Device Drivers —>
    Broadcom specific AMBA —>
    <M> BCMA support
    [*] Support for BCMA on PCI-host bus
    [*] Staging drivers —>
    <M> Broadcom IEEE802.11n PCIe SoftMAC WLAN driver

    ##################################
    # Intel Video Card
    ##################################

    edit: the hack below is not needed in kernels newer than 3.2

    I found this solution here: https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=39533#c25

    first edit /usr/src/linux/drivers/gpu/drm/i915/intel_bios.c
    and after the:
    DRM_DEBUG_KMS(“Found panel mode in BIOS VBT tables:\n”);
    drm_mode_debug_printmodeline(panel_fixed_mode);
    lines add the following:
    panel_fixed_mode->hdisplay = 1366;
    panel_fixed_mode->hsync_start = 1398;
    panel_fixed_mode->hsync_end = 1566;
    panel_fixed_mode->htotal = 1734;
    panel_fixed_mode->vdisplay = 768;
    panel_fixed_mode->vsync_start = 772;
    panel_fixed_mode->vsync_end = 776;
    panel_fixed_mode->vtotal = 792;
    panel_fixed_mode->clock = 72500;
    panel_fixed_mode->type = 0x48;
    panel_fixed_mode->flags = 0xa;
    drm_mode_set_name(panel_fixed_mode);

    Graphics support —>
    <*> Direct Rendering Manager (XFree86 4.1.0 and higher DRI support) —>
    <*> Intel 8xx/9xx/G3x/G4x/HD Graphics
    [*] Enable modesetting on intel by default

    ##################################
    # Intel Audio Card
    ##################################

    This worked automatically with pulseaudio, BUT I had to install gnome-alsamixer and turn up the “Surround” volume to get the speakers working

    ##################################
    # Webcam
    ##################################

    install the media-video/isight-firmware-tools
    download: http://www.mediafire.com/?81xtkqyttjt

    then ift-extract –apple-driver AppleUSBVideoSupport

    ##################################
    # SSD enhancements
    ##################################

    fstab should include (in this case sda1 is the ssd, the tmpfs is for gentoo to not compile on the ssd):
    /dev/sda1 / ext4 discard,noatime,data=ordered 0 1
    tmpfs /var/tmp/portage tmpfs nodev,nosuid,mode=1777 0 0

    add the following to the /boot/grub/grub.conf kernel line:
    elevator=noop