Michael Brecker’s Health

I heard on the Wind Controller Group that Michael Brecker is suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome, which is:

"Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) refers to a heterogeneous group of closely related clonal hematopoietic disorders. All are characterized by a cellular marrow with impaired morphology and maturation (dysmyelopoiesis) and peripheral blood cytopenias, resulting from ineffective blood cell production."

Reading on, it does not sound good. More information is here about the disease.

Louis’s website has more information.

Recover quickly Master Michael. And read Lance Armstrong’s book about his fight with cancer. It is an inspiring account.

Update: 07/03 03:37 GMT by E :Mike Mainieri’s site has some more info.

Update: 07/15 05:19 GMT by E :Michael Brecker’s website is saying that Michael is taking a year off to recover. There is info there to send well-wishes and what not.

Garritan Personal Orchestra

I recently bought the Garritan Personal Orchestra as part of a group buy. If you haven’t heard this program, listen to the demos. Good stuff.

Anyhow, I’ve played with it a while, and I feel I can write a review now of it.

First off, you need a LOT of processing power. The requirements in the manual list this:

  • Mac OS 10.2.6 or higher G4 733Mhz
  • Windows Pentium 4/Athlon 2.8 Ghz or better.

Ok, so, knowing this, my 933Mhz G4 was NOT going to run this program. I already knew this from the get go. I prepared my Athlon 2.5 Gigahertz PC to run it (though it is under specs). Defragged the drives, added more memory, and got a M-Audio card. So, the system has 1 gig of ram, a fast 80 Gig hard drive, and Windows XP service Pack 2.

I decided to try a couple of things with it. I loaded up Kontakt player, and loaded up some patches. I chose a string section consisting of the “wet” versions of Violin 1, Violas, and Cellos on channels 1, 2 and 3. I then loaded up a Trombone Section patch, a French Horn patch, and a Trumpet patch. Not a lot of stuff I thought. I played back an arrangement I was working on.

Sound wise, these patches sound great. The strings are awesome. When I layer them with the Strings on my Roland XV2020 and SC8820, it sounds great. The trumpets sound a LOT better than either module’s trumpet patch. The french horns, layered with the other two modules, sound great, as do the trombones. I was in midi-heaven.

Then, I hit a section where, by my counting, I asked the Garritan program to do something I did not have enough processing power for. 3 notes sounding in the Trombones, 3 in the French Horns, 1 in the Trumpet, and 6 notes total in the strings (2 for each, in octaves). It pretty much brought the processor load to 100%, and effective killed the sound generation until I did a ALL MIDI NOTES OFF command.

What does this mean? It means that I need a faster PC to use this program effective. Pentium 4, 3.6Gigahertz or faster. Dual maybe. Dedicated to JUST sound. No virus crap, nada. Just Windows, and a blank, defragmented drive.

My only gripe is that if you use the Kontakt player as a STAND-ALONE, you can’t save all the instruments you loaded. Hopefully an update will fix this.

This program is great, but you need the power to use it. Horsepower. Don’t try it with a G4. G5 might work great, I don’t have one (yet 😉 ). But if you are looking to augment your setup. To take it to another level, get this. Go to Fry’s or something, throw together a FAST PC, get an M-Audio 4096 or something, and enjoy!

9.5 out of 10. .5 deducted for the stupid stand-alone Kontakt player

Resurrecting Performers Via Computer Performance

The NYT has an article entitled ‘Play It Again, Vladimir (via Computer)’ that discusses efforts to transform old recordings into new, computer played performances, by determining how the previous performer made the sounds and redoing it. Further efforts attempt to distill the ‘style’ of a performer and play other scores with the same style. As can be expected, musicologists argue over whether or not the new musical artifact is really ‘a performance’.

Next up, using the genes of dead artists to make current performers, like NSYNC and all those American Idol persons better.

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The Best Neck Strap

I don’t think this has been brought up here. What exactly is the best neck strap? There are a ton out there. I personally use a Ray Hyman strap. But it tends to hurt after a while if I’m not wearing a shirt with a collar 😉 I sometimes also use BG harness instead. Especially if I have to stand.

Oleg has some straps and harnesses. I’m sure there are a lot of others out there as well.

For me, I basically like how I can really adjust the horn level on the Hyman strap. And the hook has yet to fail me. Plus it makes a great weapon (whipping students and fellow musicians). Just someone needs to put some padding on it.