You are currently browsing the monthly Archive for April, 2008.
Rumor has it that 100 lucky people will get calls tomorrow to invite them to purchase the first Tenori-on units to enter the U.S. Chances are good that you will have to wait at least until June, but if you’re interested, go here and get in line.
Yesterday she arrived 10 minutes before time to start playing. Her name was Joyce and she was a “hotshot” soprano from a cathedral in Virginia. Usually she sent music well in advance, but today she just showed up and wanted to sing. I bumped the communion hymn off the hymnboard to make room for her solo and she handed me the copied pages of music; –music I had not seen before. I had only 5 minutes to prepare to sightread this piece. What did I do?
1. With pen in hand, I examined the page to make sure the notes were there. Soloists are infamous for only paying attention to their part and trimming the lower clef off the other parts.
2. I made sure everything was legible and dark. I will write letter names for notes more than 3 ledger lines above or below the staff. Copies made too dark or light can spell trouble when sightreading.
3. I examined the solo for 1st & 2nd endings, Da Capo al Fine, and Coda marks and highlighted these with attention-getting symbols of my own design (I favor frowny faces).
4. I looked for courtesy accidentals. Upon finding none, I inserted my own. Many publishers use courtesy accidentals to help you realize that the preceding accidental has been cancelled. The more accidentals a piece has, the more brainpower it requires. Once there was an old TV game show called “Concentration” where contestants had to keep remembering where the pieces were. If you don’t appreciate key signatures, go pick up a copy of some Paul Creston. I’m sure Creston was smart enough to use key signatures; –the problem was that he modulated so much he figured he didn’t need them. Most of the time he probably didn’t know what key he was in!
OK, enough of the accidentals rant. It’s important to know when accidentals are there and when they are cancelled. Do what you have to do.
5. I decide tempo and sing (“audiate” i.e. hear in my head) through the most complicated part of the soprano line. She may be the soloist today, but I’m driving the parade; –I’ll set the tempo and we can argue about it later.
6. Finally, I study the most important notes in the bass (i.e. reduction or Schenkerian analysis, for you music theory buffs out there). If the right hand should get lost in a sea of accidentals, I’ll jettison its part and will momentarily become a one-handed bass player.
The important things I keep in mind are: keep the steady beat (unless it’s colla voce), drive the music defensively (i.e., –act like the soprano drops a beat out of every 3rd or 4th measure and you’ll win a million dollars if you jump in the music with her) and don’t lose your cool.
Salvation is only a half-step away.
There you have it: my 5 minutes of prep. The performance was fine, btw, and Joyce said ”it’s so nice to work with a real accompanist that’s always ready to go” as she ambled off in search of food. Thanks, Joyce.
Whether you’re preparing for a studio session or live show, there are some interesting rituals that take place.
If possible, I also remove my wallet, checkbook, keys and spare change (when I have any) and hide them away in a safe spot. Sometimes there are no safe spots. Oh well.
If you have a moment, why not share one?
I’m still having embed problems with the site.
The above clip is of a performing artist on a syndicated TV show (thanks Listenerd!)
Watch his backup singers. Do you see the fan? Look at the candles on the keyboardist’s rig. What do the costume colors suggest?
What messages do these stage “props” send? Famous “props” (and costumes, decor, etc..) that I can think of:
“Eddie” the Iron Maiden mascot.
That scarf that Steven Tyler ties on his mic stand.
Johnny Cash dressed in black.
Liberace’s candles & outrageous costumes.
Elton John’s glasses.
Zappa’s moustache and goatee.
Michael Jackson’s glove.
Add more if you can think of any!
(And tell me if you use a prop onstage!)
Look, Dear… I linked my blog to yours! Isn’t that a nice present?
Tonight I took my wife to dinner in a loving pre-birthday celebratory fashion. Supposedly, there was a new Italian restaurant in town, located in the venerable Holiday Inn. Things didn’t go as planned. I should have known something was up when we saw the chef come out of the kitchen, tear off his apron and walk briskly out the door. It reminded me of that slow motion feeling I had when I hydroplaned into oncoming traffic during a rainstorm years ago. You can read the gory details here:
(my edublogs site is currently messing around with embed codes so you have to click the link above).
Bass guitar is an instrument ideally suited for playing chord roots and helping the drummer keep time. But it’s nice to see someone think outside the box and take the instrument to new levels. I’ve seen Victor Wooten live and he strikes me as a very warm, genuine person who never met a stranger. No wonder he’s among the top dogs, not only in Nashville, but around the world.
Pants with built-in mouse and keyboard? (Vous Pensez)
The inside story of a couple who make great microphones; The Pelosi Family. (NPR)
A new condo’s parking garage threatens the historic echo chambers built beneath Capitol Record’s Tower in L.A. (Jack Pribek’s Blog). If you visit, check out track # 6 on his new album. I love backup singers!
The BBC has just launched an interesting Sound Index of all the top 1000 artists from the web. Guess it beats the Nielsen scans… According to MillionMusic, the new service is “based upon a 6-hourly scan of MySpace, iTunes, Google, Bebo, Last.fm and YouTube.” (Via MillionMusic).
An afternoon panel at the Leadership Music Digital Summit in Nashville concluded that indie artists still need the big labels to achieve big successes. According to MusicRow, when the moderator “asked the panelists to name an artist who has achieved even mid-level success without a record deal, they were stumped.”
GuitarFlame ponders Aerosmith’s Joe Perry’s guitar solos. Add your voice to the mix.
Some of Seth’s smallest posts are the best. Read Better.
WiretotheEar has a great video from mastering engineer Rob Babicz.
Check our Martin Atkin’s video from SXSW; –NSFW ’cause he calls it like he sees it!
He has a brilliant book on touring (which I recommend) and also posted a Youtube video about his 5-pointed Star Inward Crush Touring Strategy.
Finally, Hometracked examines 10 Myths about Normalization (he’s talking about audio, not teenagers!).
This is the first time I’ve seen a 1 TB Firewire/USB/SATA drive for this cheap!
Froogling produced slightly lower prices, but none of those “Deals” were active at the moment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you can never have too many external drives (especially for audio storage). If only Seagate produced gasoline (petroleum, etc..)…
A big “Thank You” to Jeremy Sanders for finding this:
Man, I gotta get me a uke!
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UkeHunt posted TAB and tutorial here:
I heard Coulton do this live a few months ago and he was such a captivating songwriter; –great sense of humor and a knack for thinking “out of the box.”
Ukehunt is working on a buyer’s guide. I wanna read that when it’s finished!
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Born June 24th 1944. Knows how to play expressively (when he feels like it).
If you live in the U.S., statistics show that you like the above picture.
I had way too many statistics classes in graduate school; 24 semester hours! Along the way I learned something about the destructive force quantitative statistical methods could wield if they fell into the wrong hands.
Some musical “artists” actually sought to materialize the best and worst of our musical tastes.
The most unwanted music?, –if you dare!!
Download The most unwanted music?
The most wanted music?
Download Most wanted music?
From Discmakers.com comes a reasonably-priced duplicator. The new Forte ($499 U.S. MSRP) automated CD/DVD duplicator is a stand-alone unit and is easy to use. According to the press release, the Forte has a 20x DVD±R/40x CD-R drive and features a 25-disc input/output capacity. It has a 160GB internal hard drive that stores up to 31 full-sized DVD images. Duplication speed output is seven DVDs or 14 CDs per hour.
Ok, normally I don’t post cat videos. I’m allergic to cats. I like theremins, however.
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To My College Students–
Want to spend a couple of weeks in Los Angeles networking with the stars and Recording Academy members? How about if you were paid to be there? I guess I should also mention that you have to help take care of a bunch of high school age American Idol wannabes, but that’s merely a slight inconvenience; –what a great opportunity! If you’re not doing anything worthwhile this summer, please take a moment and consider this opportunity (but hurry; –I’m sure that once the word gets out, lots of folks will apply).
More general info on the camp available here:
Counselor application is here:
Website is here:
I love equipment shootouts; –especially when the underdog makes a great showing. Today’s shootout comes from Audio Geek Zine where Jon has matched a GLS #S-57 against 2 Shure mics and an AT-2020. I thought the S-57 did a fine job and at $30 Bucks a mic, you sure can’t beat the price! More info at Speakerrepair.com.
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Pat McMakin has 30 successful years of experience as a recording engineer, producer, songwriter and studio manager. He’s worked with great artists such as Dolly Parton, NSync, Brenda Lee, Brooks & Dunn, George Jones and Ray Charles. Ever wonder who inspired and influenced him? Well, I asked him, so you can take a moment and find out! Recorded 4/12/2008 at the Southeastern U.S. Music Industry Showcase.
Wanna give away buttons and stickers at your band’s next gig? WiretotheEar has a great post linking lots of good resources! And they’re not as expensive as I thought… Could be a good cottage industry for some entrepreneurial-minded student…
Ever wish you could play the intro to Stairway to Heaven on a uke? Check out the tab and video at Ukehunt.
Guitarflame.com wants you to put a Floyd Rose on your Telecaster. I think it’d be cool, especially if you’d get rid of that twangy single-coil bridge pickup and put a real high output humbucker on that baby! (–note the sarcasm in my italics!).
Musicthing asks the musical question: “Can you sing Death Metal without losing your voice?”. The endoscopic video examples are a bit disturbing…so beware.
NewMusicStrategies is convinced that you’ll get radio airplay if you write a song with the word “radio” in it. Also check out his post about selling your music online (some good comments on that one, too).
DMMobileStudio has been dealing with plumbing, vendors and inspectors in his last few posts about his studio building adventures. Upcoming duties include air handling and isolation transformers. Hey, I’m excited.
Coolfer reports that Boosey & Hawkes has been sold to a company owned by a Dutch pension fund-owned group called Imagem Music. Imagem owns a few rock and pop catalogs acquired from Universal. Classical musicians everywhere owe a great debt of gratitude to B&H for years of wonderful publishing. RIP, Boosey.
Update- Sarah at B&H says “/…/don’t worry — there’s no need to bury us. Our ownership doesn’t affect our staffing, catalogs, or operations: we’re a privately traded company so it’s totally normal for us to change hands every once in a while. We look forward to many many more years of service in the industry! “ Thanks Sarah, but tell your friends at B&H to be careful; –you can’t trust many of those rock and pop publishers!
UPDATE - I left off the wildest link of all; Cooking Shrimp with Coolio. Mea Culpa! (Warning –some of his language [like his music] is not safe for children or other coworkers)
From the ASCAP EXPO/conference in LA:
ASCAP’s Bill of Rights
for Songwriters and Composers:
- We have the right to be compensated for the use of our creative works, and share in the revenues that they generate.
- We have the right to license our works and control the ways in which they are used.
- We have the right to withhold permission for uses of our works on artistic, economic or philosophical grounds.
- We have the right to protect our creative works to the fullest extent of the law from all forms of piracy, theft, and unauthorized use, which deprive us of our right to earn a living based on our creativity.
- We have the right to choose when and where our creative works may be used for free.
- We have the right to develop, document, and distribute our works through new media channels while retaining the right to a share in all associated profits.
- We have the right to choose the organizations we want to represent us and to join our voices together to protect our rights and negotiate for the value of our music.
- We have the right to earn compensation from all types of “performances,” including direct, live renditions as well as indirect recordings, broadcasts, digital streams, and more.
- We have the right to decline participation in business models that require us to relinquish all or part of our creative rights—or which do not respect our right to be compensated for our work.
- We have the right to advocate for strong laws protecting our creative works, and demand that our government vigorously uphold and protect our rights.
Add your name to a piece of music industry history! You can electronically “sign” the actual ASCAP petition here:
Today and tomorrow I’m presenting a ProTools clinic at the Southeastern Music Industry Showcase at Troy University. If you’re a music industry major and haven’t met me yet, this is your chance to get low-effort extra credit prior to taking a Fall class with me. Simply walk up and introduce yourself and say “I’d like the extra credit”.
One of these days, (when they let me be in charge again) I’d like to ask Jack Pribek to play a show here and tell some industry stories. There’s nothing better than music industry stories…
Well, maybe good impressions would come close. One of the clinicians here can do a Stevie Nicks impression that will make you slap your momma. It’s that good. Seriously.
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My college students dared me to post this video to share our pain with the world. I hope you won’t watch it because it will eat 24 precious seconds of your life and you will have seen nothing. The video details what it’s like to sit in a theater for 3 1/2 hours waiting on the technical requirements (lighting, sound, etc…) to get ironed out. It’s absolutely mind-numbing. Last night we managed to stumble through 2 scenes w/ music and lights. And I get to do it again tonight.
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Two musical giants try to pull off a historic blues cover tune and both manage to put their own unique spin on it; it may not be great blues, but it’s a classic collaboration! Thanks to Lenny Trawick for sharing this video with me!
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I took a walk on our farm today to survey the timber cutters who came to thin the pines my dad planted nearly 20 years ago. They were too thickly planted and as a result, I have a bunch of tall, thin trees that are fighting each other for sun and water. I always hate to see the way the equipment scars the land, but the crew working this thinning is actually doing a pretty good job, all things considered. And the result will be bigger, happier trees.
The flip cameras I had to order for film scoring class came in today, so I took one with me and made a little video. The musical underscore you’ll hear if you watch the video came with the software as “stock”; –it’s definitely not music that I would have picked as being appropriate for a walk in the woods.
Blog buddies Pribek and GuitarFlame have bestowed a nice award on this blog:
I’m very humbled and honored by this award; the first ever for my blog! I have a speech saved up from when I submitted an album for Grammy nomination last year, but I didn’t get to use it (until now). First, I must say that without the aid and support of my colleagues, family, friends, students, and family pets. I’d like to thank
the Recording Academy, all my music teachers throughout the years, Nika Aldrich at Sweetwater Sound, my Protools teachers throughout the years, my doctoral committee at Auburn, my dog Hunter,…
Seriously, thanks guys! In respect for the tradition, I now nominate 10 fellow bloggers who have helped me in many ways.
1. Guitar Flame
9. DragonLady’s Blog (The wife’s blog; –need I say more?)
Are you wasting money on high-end audio equipment?
In the April edition of MIX magazine, Paul Lehrman reported on a double-blind study published in the AES journal which compared the sonic resolution of high-end SACDs, DVD-As, and the lowly CD. The 60 subjects were recording professionals, audiophiles, and college students in an audio recording program. In 554 trials, there was no statistical difference between “high-resolution” audio and the standard CD 44.1kHz/16 bit format.
So why should I spend more money for equipment w/ astronomically high sample rates/depth capacity? The answer seems to be that I shouldn’t. Read another way, it seems that spending lots of money for the high end stuff doesn’t equal a relative increase in the quality of your recordings (or Live sound system, for that matter).
Lehrman says …”something is causing people to say they are hearing differences” and offers a theory by Ethan Winer (RealTraps manufacturer) that could be one answer. Ethan says “I am convinced that comb filtering is at the root of people reporting a change in the sound of cables and electronics, even when no significant change is likely. If someone listens to their system using one pair of cables and gets up and switches cables and sits down again, the frequency response heard is sure to be very different because it’s impossible to sit down again in exactly the same place. So the sound really did change, but probably not because the cables sound different.”
I’m digging this Gospel, so I went on Winer’s site and started reading. From an article in a 2005 edition of Skeptic magazine, I found this gem:
Among devoted audiophiles, one of the most hotly debated topics is the notion that ultrasonic frequencies are necessary for high fidelity reproduction. Put aside for a moment that no human can hear much past 20 KHz. Few microphones respond to frequencies beyond that, and even fewer loudspeakers can reproduce that high. If maintaining an extended frequency response were free, I’d have little objection. But in this digital age, storing frequencies higher than necessary wastes memory, media space, and bandwidth. Even sillier is the way audio is handled on DVD soundtracks. DVDs accommodate frequencies up to 96 KHz, but then lossy* data compression, which is audible is often needed to make it fit! Record companies and equipment manufacturers just love that millions of people replaced all their old LPs and cassettes with CDs. They’re trying very hard to get us to buy all the same titles, and new gear to play them, yet again with the false promise of fidelity that exceeds CDs.
So if much of what we perceive as improvements in quality are due to our listening environment (changes in head position), are there any things that seem to make a difference?
Years ago I bought a BBE Sonic Maximizer because I heard a big difference in my PA system when I added it in the loop. Now I don’t have any inside knowledge about what these guys are actually doing to the signal, but it sounds like it’s doing something! I can peel away mud and adjust bass with a simple twist of the knob, but it’s still “magic” to me; – it’s some sort of smart eq/phase cancellation black box. Why can’t I do the same thing with an EQ and maybe a spatial enhancing plugin within Protools? Hopefully if I can get a free moment this week, I’ll try to create an audio shootout between the BBE box and my plugins. It should be interesting…
These past few days I’ve been interviewing the top candidates for a music teaching position in my department. All of these folks had great musical training, fantastic ability, a penchant for research, a strong desire to teach and advance the profession.
All are highly qualified. They all want to work here. How do I decide who gets the job?
Here are my selection criteria:
Who do I want to work with?
Who seemed to be having the best time while they were here?
Who seems best able to “put on a happy face” even if we’re out of coffee in the office or the students don’t show up for their lessons?
These qualities weren’t learned in a graduate school classroom and they don’t appear on the job description, but they are closing doors for some and opening one for another.
So don’t forget to smile and share a kind word or two. Be at ease and encourage others to feel the same. It makes a difference in the classroom and beyond.
That’s the news for today.
I never thought I would ever forget my father’s birthday. We’ve really become very close since Mom’s stroke and Alzheimer’s onset. And I was wondering just last week what I needed to get him. I didn’t expect my memory to fail me. Especially not on his 94th birthday. You see, I visit twice a day to give Mom her medicines and he mentioned this evening all the wonderful phone calls relatives made.
It’s clear how all the job-related hassles, deadlines and responsibilities mean so very little in the long run. Birthday’s are important. Very important. Happy Birthday, Dad. Belated celebratory plans are being made as I write…
UPDATE! Dad received cake and ice cream at 5 PM CST along with a generous stash of cookies and some hanging baskets I found at the gardening center. Mom subsequently forgot that she had forgotten his birthday yesterday too, but neglected to remember what she’d gotten him (or thought she had gotten him).