Being a Dad to a 9 month-old 6-month-old takes a lot of time and energy. Combine that with being a decent husband, and commuting everyday, there’s not much time for hobbies. There’s a ton of things that I want to do such as build another RC airplane, learn to skate and play hockey as well as several programming projects I’d like to do. The biggest roadblock for most of them is finding a large continuous chunk of time to devote to them. I’m lucky if I get half an hour straight to do any given task. So I’ve been thinking about something that I can get some enjoyment out of that only takes about 15 minutes a day.
To that end, I’ve decided to start learning the bass guitar again. I started playing maybe 5 years ago, and was pretty consistent for about a year and a half. I was never very good, but it was fun. I’ve found a couple of good sites for bass, specifcially the Basstalk forums and Study Bass. There’s also the Fret Surfer Bass application for my iPhone so I can learn the fretboard on the go. I can find the time to devote 15 minutes everyday to bass. I’m not expecting to be great immediately. It’s probably more like Norvig’s teach yourself programming ten years, but for bass.
One thing I’ve always struggled with is being able to gauge if I’m playing something correctly. To me, it sounds right, but I’m not sure. So for a little programming project I’m going to try and make a guitar game similar to Guitar Hero, but with a real bass. Of course this is not a new idea. Two similar projects I’ve found are Guitar Rising and LittleBigStar. Mine isn’t really for anybody else but me, and it’ll be more focused on actual learning than simply a game.
I’m planning on using Microsoft’s XNA framework to do the game stuff because I’m most familiar with C# at the moment and it should be relatively quick to get the project started. The biggest hurdle will be retrieving and processing the signal from the bass. I tried doing this about 5 years ago, but the latency was too high to be able to process the notes in real-time. This time I’m going to try using an ASIO driver, which should help. I’m also planning on getting a USB interface, and try that. Specifically this one from Line 6, which should work with the ASIO driver as well.
First I need to find (or buy another) adaptor to hook the bass into the mic jack of my sound card. We’ll see how it goes from there.