And We’re Back….

No no, it was not some sort of FBI raid, or something that took us down. It was signing up for AT&T’s new Uverse service under the impression that you could keep your existing DSL line (on another number other than what Uverse was going to be installed on). Well, that was NOT the case as the DSL went down on December 11th. After a few calls on the 11th, and 12th, on the 13th someone from AT&T informed me that you cannot have Uverse and DSL coming to the same residence even though they are on different phone lines. So, I cancelled the Uverse service (not all that great anyhow), and the next 2 1/2 weeks began my struggle with AT&T to get them to activate the DSL again. They promised the following Tuesday, 18th, which they missed and said that Friday the 21st it should be up. Nada. Then on Monday the 24th, someone finally saw that there was some sort of Uverse hold on it, and cleared it, and Thursday the 27th was the date to get it up. No. The tech who came out on the 27th finally went to bat for me, and today, the 31st, the internet is back. Whew. What a pain. AT&T is getting a nasty letter from me, and the PUC is getting one about this as well.

Two good things came out of this whole mess. One good thing though was that I discovered Google Applications. There is a way to host your email there. That is huge, and it filters out a ton of spam. Previously, email was being served by this server, and I got all the strange spam and stuff. The other good thing was that I really, really relied on my iPhone during this. Even on the Edge network, I was able to connect to my daily sites, email, etc. In fact, I seem to miss the whole browsing with your fingers thing now……though it’s nice to have it hook up via WiFi now.

SSL Pro Convert

Announced at AES, SSL Pro Convert sounds like a very cool piece of software. Say you have a project you recorded in Digital Performer, and want to put in ProTools M-Powered. You can’t. Nope. Yeah, it sucks. It is stupid. But you simply can’t export a OMF file out of Digital Performer and open it in Protools M-Powered. So, all that stuff I won a while ago, I can’t use ProTools on projects I have in Digital Performer. In fact, most of my stuff is in Digital Performer as that is what is in my teaching studio, since you need to have M-Audio or Digidesign hardware to run Protools (in addition to a iLok USB key).

Anyhow, SSL Pro Convert seems to be a piece of software that sounds like it would overcome this problem. Not sure how much they are going to want for something like this, but it might be worth it to some people. Though, that new M-Audio interface, coupled with Protools looks real tempting.

Boots Randolph’s Rock And Roll Saxophone

Boots Randolph’s Rock and Roll Saxophone – Techniques and Fundamentals for Today’s Players by Boots Randolph and Mike Shannon is 63 pages that try to show you how to play rock and roll like Boots. Not that Boots playing could in any way be condensed down to so few pages.

The first part of the boot, about 20 pages, deals with scales. Major, minor, blues, dorian, mixolydian, in thirds, fourths and arpeggios. Nothing new. Then the book moves into long tones, and has a little discussion about how tone/ear training is important. It is worth reading.

Page 30 on out gets into the stuff you wanted to know, how to play Rock and Roll saxophone like Boots. The book goes over Growls, Slap tonguing, Throat trills, pops, and vibrato in addition to a bunch of other things. There are some excellent examples of what these sound like on the CD. Then there is an excellent discussion about altissimo, and how to do it, when to use it, how to practice it, and Continue reading Boots Randolph’s Rock And Roll Saxophone

Xmas Guide 2007

Last year, I didn’t do a Christmas guide. This year, I am going to. What holiday gift would you get your favorite saxophonist(s) this year. Here are some ideas.
Under $100

  • Reeds. Pretty obvious. Should be fairly easy to figure out what they use as well. There will be dead ones in the trash, and ones that are not working strewn all over the place. Cost: $20-$40.
  • Neckstrap. Can never have too many of these. Buggers get misplaced quite a bit. Cost: $10-$40+
  • Books. Walt Weiskopf’s books are always good gifts. As well as Greg Fishman’s books. And Jim Snidero’s books or any book with a recommended tag.
  • Mouthpiece. Probably not the best idea for someone who has been playing for a while. For a new saxophone player, it would be a good thing to get. Good brands to look into would be Meyer, Otto Link, and Berg Larsen. For Alto saxophone, a Meyer 5M is a good gift. For Tenor, an Otto Link 5* is good. (Though unless you get some of these off Ebay, some of these will be over $100. Though Meyer alto mouthpieces go for at $70)
  • CDs. There are so many good artists out there, and people’s taste range widely. I’d suggest getting an iTunes gift card, or a gift certificate to a store and let them pick what they want. Unless you know them well or you can steal a peek at their collection, or load up their iTunes while they are away and see what gets played alot.
  • iLife 08 for Garageband if you don’t already have it. (for Macintosh people) and/or JamPacks.

Up to $300

  • iPod Nano, or an iPod Touch. Don’t bother with some other brands. Believe the hype. The iPod Touch is amazing, and next year, expect games and all kinds of interesting applications. There is a great little game (on your hacked iPhone/iPod touch) called Tap-Tap-Revolution. Music game. Think Dance-Dance revolution, but tapping. I’d expect to see lots of neat applications for it next year.
  • Band in a Box 2007 Pro. Great tool for practicing, ear training, etc. etc.
  • Apple Logic Express. Like Garageband, but way better. ($199)
  • A recorder. The Zoom H2 and H4 recorders get good marks. I’d personally opt for the H4, but that is me.

The Sky Is The Limit

  • Logic Studio is a great deal for serious Musicians. You get 5 JamPacks plus Logic 8 and Soundtrack Pro plus all kinds of other goodies. ($499)
  • Reason. Reason works on both Macs and PCs and is a blast to use. ($399)
  • M-Audio Fast Track Ultra. Great preamps, DSP chip. For a street price of about $350. It’s on my list.
  • Sibelius 5.1. To write out and arrange music. ($499)
  • New horn, or another horn. If your saxophonist plays Alto, get them a Tenor. If they already have a Tenor, get them a soprano. Expensive, yes. Will you feel the love? Yes, you will. This will cost you several hundred, if not thousands, of dollars. Quality brands to look into getting are Yamaha, Yanigasawa, and Selmer for pro and semi-pro players.

Any other gift ideas?

Band In A Box 2008 Released

It is out, the latest version of Band in a Box. I took some guesses at what might be new in this version, and sadly, it looks like only two were put in. And that one was kind of a jest suggestion on my part.
From PG Music.Com

RealTracks. With the previous release of Band-in-a-Box, we added RealDrums. Now we’ve added three additional “Real” instruments, including Real Pedal Steel, Real Acoustic Guitar, and Tenor Sax soloing (RealSax). These tracks replace the MIDI track for that instrument, and can be controlled just like the MIDI instrument (volume changes, muting etc.). Best of all, they follow the chord progression that you have entered, so that you hear an authentic audio accompaniment to your song. These are not “samples,” but are full recordings, lasting from 1 to 8 bars at a time, playing along in perfect sync with the other Band-in-a-Box tracks. RealTracks can be built in to the style, and would replace either the bass, guitar, piano, or strings part, or they can be generated to the Soloist (or Melody) track using the Soloist feature.

Band in a Box starts the process of leaving its roots, and becoming more like a really bad GarageBand. In GarageBand, you can graphically create songs, preview the loops you are going to use, and then put them together, graphically. Band in A Box (BinaB) is becoming the MS-DOS version of GarageBand. You type in the text you want, then it will generate the loops for you, rather than doing it graphically.

I’m sure it all sounds good, real people playing beats midi usually. Continue reading Band In A Box 2008 Released

Hardcopy Of The II-V Patterns

The II-V patterns are one of the most downloaded things here. I’m currently working on another revision of them, which would probably make it 400+ pages. That is a LOT to print out. I’m considering making them available to people via for like a $1 over what it costs to print them. So, if the patterns were 400 pages exactly, to print them coil bound, it would be $12.53. So, I’d make them available for $14 or something. The money would go to running this site (which is not cheap people!)

So, here is a poll to figure out how many people would be interested in that.

Would you pay for a hard copy of the II-V patterns?

View Results

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Fourth Obession – Wil Greenstreet

Sometimes, people send me stuff to look at. Wil Greenstreet sent me his book, Fourth Obsession – inroads to out there. This book, obviously, deals with Fourths, something a lot of books touch on, but never really focus in on. This book does that. Starting out with the basics, being able to play fourths through the full range of your horn, then applying different rhythms to the fourths. Then backwards, then zig-zags, then zig-zags backwards, then zig-zags with rhythms, then zig-zags with rhythms backwards. You get the idea. And that is only the first 18 pages of 183 pages. Subsequent chapters deal with strings of fourths (in three, four, five, and six), root movements and fourths (whole-steps, minor-thirds, etc), and twelve-tone rows. All these get the backwards, zig-zag, zig-zag backwards, and with rhythms.

Whew! I don’t think he left out any combinations. Maybe I should consult with Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss or Archimedes to see if there are any other combinations.

After playing things out of this book over the weekend, there are some very cool lines to be found. The layout of the book is top-notch (except for the occasional use of the Jazz Text font, which I personally disdain). The material is presented clearly, the text is easy to read, and understand. The exercises, while not completely written out like in Walt Weiskopf’s books, are presented in a way where you can follow them (example being on the left page one would see the string of fourths in a group of five going up in half steps, and on the adjoining page the rhythms to practice them with). Should provide anyone with hours and hours (if not weeks or months) of stuff to practice. One thing that I wish was included were some etudes that encompass all that was presented in the book. I think that would have been a great bonus to have.

Looking for something to dig into? Then get this book. 9.5/10 (.5 deducted for lack of etudes, and illegal use of the jazz text font). The book can be purchased for $23 ($20 + $3 shipping) from Wil Greenstreet.

M-Audio BX8a Studio Reference Monitors

Part of the stuff I won in the SOS Competition were a pair of M-Audio BX8a Studio Reference Monitors. They came the other day, and they are an amazing set of speakers. Comparing them to the KRKv4 isn’t fair. They are in a far higher class. I really liked the KRKs, but these really are way, way better. The bass is great on them. The stereo image is great. The detail is great. But don’t take my word for it, read some other people’s views of them.

One little thing I don’t like, which I like on the KRKs, is that there is no auto power off. The KRKs power themselves off if they are not getting a signal after a while. It’s a minor thing, but its nice to have in a speaker.

Lets just say, I’m in a happy place right now with these 😉