Greetings, and May the Fourth be with you!
Here’s what’s been going on with Strum Machine since my last update in March…
Additions and Improvements
Auto-Modulate: practice playing a tune in multiple keys without lifting a finger (off of your instrument) with this new tool, which you’ll find in the key menu. It just left beta this morning; thanks to all my testers for helping me squash the bugs!
Auto-Speedup/Auto-Finish improvements: These tools now remember their settings even if disabled and re-enabled. Auto-Speedup now accepts negative and fractional BPM values, and can be made to reset the BPM back to the original speed after the song stops.
No-third 1 chord in A/Bb/B: tweaked the chord samples used in the keys of A, Bb, and B to make “modal” tunes (that aren’t strictly major or minor) sound better. This is a temporary solution to the issue of modal accompaniment, which I will expand on in the future.
A slew of minor improvements and bugfixes: too many to list here. Again, many thanks to everyone who wrote me to let me know what needed fixing and improving.
I’m honored to say that Strum Machine was featured in the April issue of Bluegrass Unlimited!
Thanks to Strum Machine user Brett Davis for interviewing me for this piece!
Behind the scenes
The Master List: One of my April projects was a long-overdue consolidation of all my notes, sketches, feedback, and ideas from the past couple years, since my previous organizational system “broke” (as in, I stopped using it). Each task/idea/issue was labeled, categorized, and tagged according to importance, time needed, etc. Ended up with a 30+ page document outlining some 200+ ideas and issues, ranging from the tiny (“Improve intuitiveness of Subdivide Beat feature”) to the massive (“Sets/Medleys”) and everything in between. Having everything organized in one Master List is simultaneously empowering and very daunting… but I can already see that it’s very helpful to be more organized about it (again). The hardest part, as always, is choosing what to do next!
Recording studio update: After a few months of COVID-related delays, the acoustic panels for my new recording studio are set to arrive by May 24. What does that mean? I get to start recording new audio samples for Strum Machine! While I’m not looking forward to the tedium of the actual recording and editing process, I cannot wait to be able to offer more strumming patterns, and eventually instruments, so I am looking forward to being able to get started on this.
Vim: I posted about switching to this very powerful (and very nerdy) text editor back in December. Just wanted to let any fellow coding nerds out there know that I have successfully transitioned to full terminal Vim for all my Strum Machine development! I don’t know if it’s making me more productive, but it’s certainly making me feel like more of a 1337 hacker…
What I’m thinking a lot about…
Talking with you, my users, is so helpful – for motivation, yes, but mostly in terms of helping guide my development of the product. And I’m so grateful to those of you who are active on the forum, and encourage those of you who have kept silent to chime in whenever you like.
What I wonder is, are there better ways I could be engaging with you all? Could this forum be better organized? Would an alternative platform, like a small email mailing list, be better? Would people be interested in more Zoom office hours? Let me know if you have any thoughts about any of this.
Thanks for reading the update! Keep on pickin’…