NYU SteinHART – Conversations with don Menza

Don Menza hands down was one of the most interesting saxophone players I have ever heard talk. Seeing his infamous “make any mouthpiece sound like whatever” clinic was mind blowing. He took a $400 mouthpiece, $100, and a cheap like $10 one, and made them all basically sound the same. 

Anyhow, this video is a great listen as well. 

Why Do LPs Sound So Good?

CNet has an article up about LPs.

The continuing audiophile fascination with LPs is a mystery, LPs are ancient tech, records can be noisy, they’re fragile, expensive and they take up a lot of space. The best turntables, high quality phono cartridges, and preamps can cost a fortune. Even so, a lot of audiophiles still favor LPs, I know I do.

I know I still have a bunch of LPs, but do not have any space for them (they are in storage). Why do I have so many LPs? Because, before about 2003 or so it was cheaper to spend $20 and go get a bunch of used LPs of music rather than buying a CD. Digital music was just starting to come out more mainstream. Yes, the late 90s saw Napster. And of course I partook in Napster. Quite honestly, the quality and quantity of music I like was not really good on Napster “back in the day”. And stuff was horribly mislabeled and the encoding was all over the place (anyone remember OGG audio format? Anyone?)

 

Review: Woodwind Design’s Bari Sax Stand

Over two years ago, I wrote about this stand I saw on youtube. Blew my mind. A Carbon Fiber stand?!? What wizardry is this? Playing sax, we are sort of shackled with the “standard” stand from Hercules or other similar ones. The Hercules stand is terrible. And it is yellow. Like construction yellow. *blah*

So, getting one of the Woodwind Design Bari Stands has been on my wishlist for a while to replace my Hercules one. I was contacted by Gijs van Leeuwen of Woodwind Design after leaving a comment on one of his videos, and he cut me a deal on a set of these if I reviewed them here. Here is the FIRST review. I was going to do them all together, but I think they really deserve individual reviews.

The stands arrived in a box that took about two weeks to make it to the West Coast. Most of that time it was in customs. I’m sure the customs people were like “huh?”, what is this?  Anyhow, it arrived safely.

 

The stands come with a two sided pamphlet telling you how to assemble the stands and what not. Pretty basic stuff. I’d be in favor of doing the QR Code thing and having a PDF or a website link to this instead.

So, let’s look at the Hercules stand.

I’ve had this stand for several years.  It’s been on many many gigs. It is heavy, and it doesn’t fit in any bags I have. Plus I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pinched myself putting this stand together or breaking it down. It has been a love/hate relationship. 

Now here is the Woodwind Design stand next to the Hercules.

Yes, in the case.

 

 

 

Amazing. (out of the case)

 

 

 

AND…..

It basically weighs nothing. Ok, well, if I had to compare the weight of them I would think about a dozen of the Woodwind Design stands might equal the weight of the Hercules one. According to Hercules, the weight of the Hercules stand is 4.6 pounds, and the Woodwind Design Bari stand is 1.1 pounds. The Woodwind Design stand feels like a piece of paper, while the Hercules is a rock. 

Stand vs Stand

Side by side, these stands are about the same height. The Woodwind Design one sits a little lower than the Hercules one. 

That’s not a problem though. The bari is still well within “grabbing range”, even if you are standing up.

As for actually HOLDING the Bari, they both do a fine job. 

Both stands are VERY stable if the bari receives a push side to side. The only issue might be that a forward push on the bari, the Woodwind Design stand seemed to want to tip a little easier. But in reality, the amount of forward leaning needed to get the stand to tip is not something you are ever going to encounter.  Both stands hold the bari steady, even though one is a 1/4 the weight of the other.

 

 

 

 

The Biggest Factor

The biggest selling points of the Woodwind Design stand are it’s  weight, and that you can transport it in the case. 

This is HUGE. When you bring a lot of equipment to a gig, having not to think about a stand is a big plus. I can’t tell you how many times I have been on my way to a gig and forgot a stand (bari or otherwise). I even went as far as making a check list for gigs that included stands, and I still forgot it once (cause I thought it was actually in the car already, and it wasn’t). Having the stand IN THE CASE just makes sense. And there is no really perceptible weight increase I can feel.  It is one of those “why didn’t they think of this before” things.

Compare that to the Hercules stand….

 

Plus the stand weights quite a bit, is bulky, and isn’t bag friendly.

Yes, it basically is an anchor you have to carry around. Then there is the aforementioned pinching yourself while setting up and taking down the stand.

Wrap-Up

There is nothing NOT to love about the Woodwind Design Bari stand. It’s everything one could want in a stand…..but…..you will pay for it. The stand currently sells for 242 Euros, which is about $276 US dollars. A Hercules stand costs about $55 on Amazon.

Now, a lot of you are like “damn, that is really expensive for a stand“. Yes, it is. But consider how much you have spent on the Bari (several thousands of dollars), and then add the case (several hundreds of dollars),  then your favorite neckstrap or harness (up to a hundred dollars), and finally your mouthpiece (several hundreds of dollars). 

And you want to skimp on a stand?

Really? 

 

FinaleScript 101

A while ago, I did an article about using FinaleScript to format charts for an iPad. I’ve been working on some charts for a new group I might be playing with, and further added to my script to make the charts work on the iPad.

page layout tool
menu item "Page Layout/Page Margins/Edit Page Margins"
type "0.3" 
tab
type "0.10069"
tab
type "0.10069"
tab
type ".12153" 
tab
select radio "all pages"
press "apply"
press command + "."
select first meas to the end
note spacing
unlock systems

First part of the script opens the selects page layout tool and opens the menu for editing the page margins (first two lines). Then we start filling in what we want (assuming inches are set up as the document default). 0.3″ at the top, 0.10069″ at the sides (why, I dunno, just have used that. You could probably set it to 0.1). Then selecting ALL PAGES and applying it to the pages. Next command closes that window. Then we select ALL the measures, and apply note spacing again. Then we finish off by having it unlock the systems, and it then adjusts how many measure per system to better fit with the new spacing and margins.

Generally, I love how this works. Save a TON of time, and on Finale 25, it works perfectly every time. In the last version of Finale, it would frequently not fire off correctly.

Anyone who uses an iPad for music, you really NEED to get rid of your margins. Things look better on the iPad if you have it formatted like above. I’ve said this for years, since the iPad came out.

Open Source MIDI Foot Controller

On the heels of the last post, An Open Controller For Woodwind Instruments comes this from hackaday.com:

MIDI has been around for longer than most of the readers of Hackaday, and you can get off my lawn. In spite of this, MIDI is still commonly used in nearly every single aspect of musical performance, and there are a host of tools and applications to give MIDI control to a live performance. That said, if you want a MIDI foot controller, your best bet is probably something used from the late 90s, although Behringer makes an acceptable foot controller that doesn’t have a whole bunch of features. There is obviously a need for a feature packed, Open Source MIDI foot controller. That’s where the Pedalino comes in. It’s a winner of the Musical Instrument Challenge in this year’s Hackaday Prize, and if you want a MIDI foot controller, this is the first place you should look.

Check it out. Pedalino.

An Open Controller For Woodwind Instruments

From Hackaday.com:

Engineers, hackers, and makers can most certainly build a musical gadget of some kind. They’ll build synths, they’ll build aerophones, and they’ll take the idea of mercury delay line memory, two hydrophones, and a really long tube filled with water to build the most absurd delay in existence. One thing they can’t seem to do is build a woodwind MIDI controller. That’s where [J.M.] comes in. He’s created the Open Woodwind Project as an open and extensible interface that can play sax and clarinet while connected to a computer.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. Believe it grew out of this project. Can’t wait to see what is created with this.

Michael Brecker Archive

Steve Neff has a great article about Michael Brecker’s addition to the Living Jazz Archive.

Steve Neff’s Blog Post:

Dr. David Demsey at William Paterson University contacted me a few years ago to tell me about the “Living Jazz Archives” that the University was building and how they were adding a Michael Brecker Archive to the already existing archives that they already had. The Living Jazz Archives are:

A TEACHING TOOL for William Paterson University Jazz Studies majors, for classes in other academic areas across campus, and for visiting groups of students of all ages from public schools, from other colleges and universities, and the general public.

A RESEARCH CENTER for professional scholars, authors and researchers and for faculty from other institutions.

A MINI-MUSEUM honoring the lives and careers of these great jazz artists and their important contribution to the history of jazz, by displaying their music, artifacts and memorabilia using audio, video and multi-media.

AN ARCHIVE, containing the archived collections of Clark Terry, Thad Jones, James Williams, Michael Brecker, Mulgrew Miller and other collections, maintaining and preserving those materials in perpetuity.

Jazz-Sax, all things Jazz and Sax