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Using My Palmtop During Musical Practice Sessions

Using My Palmtop During Musical Practice Sessions

By Ray Kump

I play the bass guitar at Mass every Sunday. The music ministry has acoustic guitars, an electric guitar, saxophone, and drums in addition to the choir. My son Edmund plays the electric guitar. We practice on Thursday evenings.

After my first practice I realized that taping and playing back the practice would be a big help, since just one practice session where we try to learn five or six new songs every week would not be enough. I also realized that taping over the prior practice would be a bad idea. Without any hesitation, I knew my HP 200LX would keep track of which songs would be on which tape.

 When I review the tape for the first time I enter the song, date, tape number and counter number into the database so that I can find the song later if needed (see Screen 1). The counter number indicates at what spot on the tape the song starts.

 Screen 1: This custom database keeps track of which songs are on which tape.

 I often need to review the tapes in subsequent weeks because some songs are repeated each Sunday and not always played at practice. Although everyone else already knows the material, I am still new to the group, so this review helps keep the Thursday practices to a reasonable length.

 Last summer I played at the church every Sunday, even though there was no practice scheduled during the summer. I was able to practice the songs because I had a collection of the prior practices on tape to review.

 Different subsets

 I have two subsets for viewing the song list. The normal view is by date and counter order. This is the easiest view when going over the upcoming Sunday's songs. The second subset is by song title order. This comes in handy when you are looking for a song and need to find what tape it is on and its counter position.

 When my son Edmund joined the group a few months ago, he was able to review the tapes to help him step in without missing a beat. If one of us misses a practice we are able to keep up by using the tapes.

 Without the 200LX I would not know where the songs were on different tapes. Sure, I could keep track of it on paper, but that is cumbersome. After a few weeks it would become difficult to quickly find the songs I need from previous tapes. If the information is not easy to retrieve the whole process breaks down. Since my 200LX is always with me, the information is always available.

 For Christmas I got a Boss ME-8B Bass Multi-Effects pedal. This device contains almost all of the effects I need to use with my bass. This includes digital delay, compression, reverb, flanger, synth effects, de-frettor, distortion, and many more. I am able to create different patches of effects by selecting which effects are included in a patch and the individual settings.

I am able to create a sound by choosing different effects and customizing the settings and saving it as a patch and recalling that patch at the press of a button. I have a lot of options and storage patches available to me. With all these options comes the task of organizing the patches.

Boss was kind enough to include a blank template to notate the effects and setting used in each patch. I thought I had a handle on the editing because I had the foresight to use a pencil with an eraser. I quickly discovered that editing the template would be a hassle: moving a patch from one column to another used a lot of eraser.

 A Lotus template

I used Lotus 1-2-3 on my palmtop to recreate the template (see Screen 2). I then entered the data into the Lotus template and I could move entire columns easily if I wanted to change the location of the patches. By grouping the patches logically, I am able to change patches with little or no fuss when I play the bass. The more I use the ME-8B the more I change and customize the settings, and my template stays clean and easy to read. Printing a copy of the template is easy. While playing, I prefer to use the paper copy, rather than looking at the palmtop's screen.

 When I least expect it, another use for my 200LX pops up.

 Screen 2: The author's Lotus 1-2-3 template stores effects and settings used in each editing patch.

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