The Finale School

I use Finale for notation. True, I did buy Sibelius when they were offering that sweet upgrade price. But, honestly, I haven’t used it. I haven’t had the time to learn it. I’d rather spend it learning, oh, Logic Studio, or ProTools. I like to complain about Finale, cause I use it daily. I want it to be better. It is a great notation product.

Finale has been tagged with the perception that it is hard to learn. That might have been true back in 1999, but that is certainly not the case with the latest versions. For many versions now, MakeMusic has been making Finale much easier for a new user to use. Finale’s real strength is it’s power. You can tweak your music to your hearts content. Learning how to do this can be a long, lonely road.

Enter The Finale School. Matthew Voogt has put together a nice site that has a lot of videos showing how to do stuff in Finale 2007. While the video quality is not great (fuzzy when you blow it up), the content is straight forward and easy to follow. You can learn a lot of new Finale things by watching a few of the videos. Check it out.

SmartMusic 10.2

MakeMusic finally released SmartMusic 10.2 today. Highlights of the new features:

  • Support of Mac OS X Leopard
  • Microphone Check Wizard ensures proper microphone levels for recording and assessment
  • Easier-to-Use – many aspects of SmartMusic have been simplified and made more intuitive, including the installer, login process, activation, and update messaging
  • Create assignments with audio-quality accompaniment for any concert selection. Simply upload the audio file and distribute sheet music; then your band, orchestra, and choir students can practice their part with accompaniment in SmartMusic.

There are some other “features”, but these are the ones that are interesting. Especially the last one. The update is about 80 megs for Windows, 97 Megs for Mac. So, how does it work? In a word, the same as before…. Continue reading SmartMusic 10.2

Steinberg – Classroom Resource Pack

Not sure what happened to the Music Education Alliance, but Steinberg announced their Classroom Resource Pack.

“Computer technology is increasingly being used for teaching music in schools world-wide,” comments Mark Porter, Steinberg’s International Sales Manager. “But often the task of providing classroom resources is left to the individual teacher, even if their personal experience using modern music technology products has been somewhat limited. So the huge quantity of structured, high-quality resources provided by the Steinberg Classroom Resource Pack will be invaluable to music teachers everywhere, whether they are experienced Cubase users or are completely new to using computers – because it gives them more time for applying their teaching rather than preparing for it,” he continues.

Blah, blah, blah. Look, kids don’t want stupid worksheets to do. They want to play. The want to learn music, not do some generated worksheet. Technology. CMEA just discovered Band in a Box. Maybe in 10 years they will discover this? Maybe? Perhaps?
UPDATE: 02/16/08 by E: The latest issue of Time Magazine has an article about “How To Make Better Teachers”. Funny thing is that technology is not mentioned in the article. Hmmm….

CMEA and Technology

I just was given, to look at, some technology thing from some guy named Wilson, who is in charge of CMEA (California Music Educators Association) technology or something. Anyhow, it was about Band in a Box. It read like this guy had just found the Holy Grail. And, he had really BAD rendered backgrounds done off the Macintosh version of it. Like Nintendo type backgrounds.
First off, I don’t know if I should be amused or saddened by this. On the one hand, it is great that this guy has found Band in a box, but at the same time, it has been out since….the Atari ST. Which would be 1988 or so. And CMEA is just now finding out about this? And they want tax payers to pay more money for the schools? What?
Band in a Box is a great program, but you should avoid the Macintosh version. It is 5 versions behind at my last count. It lacks a ton of features that the PC version does. If you want to run it on a Mac, get an Intel mac, and do the Boot Camp thing or run it with Parallels. It works fine.

Orchestra In A Box

Why do you need “real people” when you can get this?

Vision DAW and East West announce an 8-Core Xeon Server-Class Workstation, including the complete Quantum Leap Orchestral collection. This set runs with Play software (64 bits) and the virtual orchestra takes up a 4U rack with 2 Quad-Core Xeon 5440 at 2.83GHz, with 16 Go RAM (8 x 2Go at 667MHz), 1 Teraoctet storage, a dual screen video card and a sound card RME Hammerfall 9652. Possibility to customize RAID configuration.
Dreamin’ Price for the whole symphony orchestra starts at $5,800

You can go really insane in configuring this thing….pimped out, you can spend $14K or so…

Scientists With Too Much Free Time

I wonder why things like this get funded.

John Coltrane and other famed jazz saxophonists hit piercing high notes that amateurs can’t by expertly changing the shape of their vocal tracts, research now reveals.

No shit Sherlock. It’s called having chops. Practicing for a long time.

Untangling this mystery has proven hard, since it is challenging making precise acoustic measurements inside the mouth during playing.

You think? Really? No way.

“It’s wet in the mouth and the acoustic conditions in there are really variable, and it gets really loud in there during playing,” explained researcher Jer-Ming Chen, an acoustician at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

No, you think?
Can I get a grant to do pointless research like this? Jer-Ming Chen, why not focus on IMPORTANT SCIENCE? Oh, maybe creating renewable energy, or creating a cure for cancer? No? Too hard? Is that why you had to spend time on this “science”?

Chen added that for pro saxophonists to reach these notes, “they say they have to hear the sound in their head, to kind of get a mental image of the sound. This suggests they have some muscle memory with this tuning. I think that means anyone can learn how to do this, but you need to put in a lot of practice to get that same muscle memory.”

A scientific study which “proves” the obvious. I give you a nice “golf clap” for this. Now go freaking do something worthwhile with science. Geeze.

Hancock/Brecker Win At Grammy Awards

I’m a little confused as to what the difference is between Album of the Year and Record of the Year. But, anyhow from CNN:

Amy Winehouse had a great night at the Grammys, winning five awards, but in a shocking finish, the big award — album of the year — went to Herbie Hancock for “River: The Joni Letters.”

Some other winners are:
Traditional Pop Vocal Album: “Call Me Irresponsible,” Michael Buble
Contemporary Jazz Album: “River: The Joni Letters,” Herbie Hancock.
Jazz Vocal Album: “Avant Gershwin,” Patti Austin.
Jazz Instrumental Solo: “Anagram,” Michael Brecker, soloist.
Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group: “Pilgrimage,” Michael Brecker.
Latin Jazz Album: “Funk Tango,” Paquito D’Rivera Quintet.
Instrumental Composition: “Cerulean Skies,” Maria Schneider, composer (Maria Schneider Orchestra).

Great to see Michael Brecker getting some awards. Finally.

Auto-Tune Abuse

I came across this article from Hometracked.com.

Pitch correction software has applications from restoration and mix-rescue to outright distortion of a voice or instrument. I’ll discuss some of the more tasteful uses of these auto-tune tools (whether the original from Antares, or a variant like the free GSnap) below. But first I thought I’d highlight their misuse to illustrate the effects we usually try to avoid.

I think the second example on the page is more of a vocoder thing, ala Gorillaz or Peter Gabriel. However, there is a band I play in where we are trying to do a CD, so, we hired someone to record us live. After 3 months, he had two songs done, and I’d say they are not anything to write home about. He even put in clapping which makes it sound even more fake.
When I record, I try NOT to do much to it. Balance it, sure, but pitch correction…..not really, unless there is something that totally sticks out like a sore thumb. I had a two or three songs that students did before Christmas that I had to do some pitch correction with, but it was not the whole song. Just a couple of notes here and there.