Pimped Out Studio

The idea, which I have had for years, was to have a digital studio where I didn’t go through reams of paper every year. I finally did it. Using an iMac, and it’s video spanning capabilities, I made a digital music stand. While the technology has been there, the costs were way too high. The costs for this was around $650+/-. $70 for the VESA Mount, $100 for the Conga stand, $300 for the monitor, $25 for the iMac video adapter, $120 for the USB foot pedal, and $6 for the plastic cover and connectors (Tap Plastics rocks). A year or two ago, this would have been a lot more. A year from now, it will be less. That’s technology for ya.

Pictures and more inside……

I have a lot of songs that I have done on Finale and on PDF, enough to fill a 3 inch binder. In fact, I have 5 such binders that I have tried to store copies of the songs so I wouldn’t need to print them out if I wanted to play them with a student. One problem with this system is finding songs. An Index? Well, I suppose, but it is a pain keeping it up to date, and flipping though a huge 3 inch binder is not fun. Plus, the Manhassette stand won’t keep raised with a full 3 inch binder on it. Then there are page turns. It was just a hassle.

Now, with the all digital setup, I can load a song up, display it on the other screen. Simple. No printing. If it is multiple pages, no problem, the 22″ monitor handles it with no problems. Three pages? That is where the foot peddle comes in. I have the X-Keys programmed (using iKey) to advance to the next page if I stomp on the right of the peddle, back a page if I stomp left, and in the center, it toggles one or two page mode. I can also do the same stuff using PDF files. So, anything I’ve scanned in I can view in the same way. It works very well so far.

The other thing is SmartMusic. It’s easier to use, though SmartMusic does not do two pages. Though it does seem to work alright if you flip the monitor around and put it into portrait mode.

Continue reading Pimped Out Studio

Three Michael Brecker Things

In a previous story, I noted that Virtual Instruments Magazine was coming out with an article about Michael Brecker’s EWI/Logic environment. That article is now out in the June/July 07 issue. It is very insightful in how Michael Brecker approached technology and how he was able to take two 4 foot racks of gear and put it all on a Apple Powerbook. I almost want to get Apple’s Logic program and try it. Wonder if you can do that with Digital Performer

iBrecker has a link to a video of interviews with the players from Michael Brecker’s last album (Herbie Hancock, etc). Sadly, no interviews with him, but you get to hear him playing, see studio shots, and even a little bit of him tinkering with his tenor between takes (looks like he had a full on repair case with him).

Update: 06/09 02:01 GMT by E :A intrepid reader, Dave Kiffer, from Alaska, informed me that Downbeat has an electronic readers poll. Go vote for Michael now! (Also updated the title of this article to reflect the three items)

SmartMusic 10

MakeMusic, after much hype, delay, and then more hype, has finally released SmartMusic 10 in April. This is really what the program should have been from the get go. There are a lot of great Concert Band, and String Orchestra music on the screen selections. There are a few Jazz Band ones as well. The program is Universal Binary for Macintosh, meaning it is really responsive.

The short review of this is to get it. If you can get it for the $25 a year subscription price, it is a huge value. There are tons of great tunes, exercises, and other things in there.

However, the promised “60 New Titles A Month” has not materialized as of yet. And there are some bugs need to be addressed….

The New Stuff

In the previous version of SmartMusic a lot of the arrangements were installed when you installed the program. Now, SmartMusic downloads what it needs. For people with fast internet connections, that is great. For people on Dialup….you have my sympathies. Though, on the flip side, once you have them, you don’t need to download them again.

This is also true of the Pro Audio backgrounds. One of the new features of SmartMusic 10 is the inclusion of professional background recordings. So, instead of a midi rendition of a Jazz piece, you now get a great sounding real version of the song. But…..you need to download it. For dialup users…..well, that could be a time consuming thing. Once you download them, the recordings seem to be stored in a SQLlite database as MP3s. I’ve tried out a lot of the Concert band and Jazz Ensemble ones. Very nice. Recording quality is excellent. You can also select whatever part you want to play. So, you can play Oboe parts, or Clarinet 2, or Bass Clarinet, or Drums. Very cool and fun stuff.

Music on the screen. The previous version of SmartMusic had a very limited amount of music on the screen. There were a dozen or so classical pieces, the Alfred Jazz stuff, Wynton Jazz stuff, and the exercises. SmartMusic 10 has a ton of music on the screen. ALL the pro audio selections have music on the screen.

There are some things to track student assignments and stuff. I really am not interested in that, so, I did not try it.

The Bad Stuff

First, content. MakeMusic is promising Continue reading SmartMusic 10