Category Archives: Articles

General Saxophone related articles, opinions, questions, etc, etc

Band in a Box 2018 for Mac

Some people think December is the best month. Christmas, etc. Some people think September when Apple events happen. Both are WRONG. The best time of the year is end of May when PG Music releases a new version of Band in a Box for Macintosh. This year they included a fancy keychain with the upgrade.

This year’s version of Band in a Box continues the evolution of a great program. 202 new real tracks, and Video real tracks (though no woodwind related tracks…..yet) are the major highlights. When the real tracks first came out, I was sort of “meh” about them (if I remember correctly, real drums were added first?). But they totally changed things around in subsequent versions. I can’t really remember the last time I used the midi tracks, the real tracks are that good. And it’s worth it to get the update just for the new tracks.

They added a “Audio Transcription” feature to the Mac version that converts a monophonic audio track to MIDI. Haven’t tested that yet. Also added were things like notation support for odd time signatures like 12/8 and 6/8, the ability to fix an out of tune recording, and a redesigned audio editor.

Band in a box always has worked in 4 by whatever grid since the Atari ST days. That is fine as MOST music is in a measure cadence that is divisible by 4 (8 bars, 12, 16, 24, 32, etc). But say you have a song you are working on, and it has a 7 bar phrase. It just doesn’t work as an 8 bar phrase. You put that in Band in a Box, and all hell breaks loose. It becomes a huge visual mess. Not anymore. They now will grey out and the next section starts at the far left again. Makes it a heck of a lot easier to see the flow of a song. Great addition to the program.

Couple of issues though….

Why are there TWO places where the Preferences are?

 

 

 


The other thing that bugs me is that you cannot decide what buttons go where. Like it would be infinitely better for me to have “Practice” be where “Video Help” is, but I cannot move these buttons around. Or even order them. Frustrating.

Other than that, an amazing program. This is a program that EVERY musician should have. From prototyping a new arrangement or song, to practicing, to even just messing around, it is a great tool to have on your Mac. Get it.

Media Management For The Musician

Managing your digital media in this age is rather daunting. A lot of people have ditched their iTunes libraries and gone to the subscription music service model. Some of us still have huge libraries of music. All those recordings you made in college, or those boot legs of various bands you got. Or teaching materials you have acquired over the years. You have a library of stuff. But how do you manage it?

Part 1 – Storage
For me, I’ve always had some sort of redundant system for storage. You need a redundant storage system, be it one hard drive cloned to another, or something. DO NOT KEEP EVERYTHING ON ONE DRIVE…..Drives fail…..then your stuff will disappear. From 2000 to 2008(?) I had a PC I inherited from a failed high tech startup that had a RAID 5 drive array. Basically, it takes your data and puts it across 3 or more drives in a way that if ONE drive fails, you can replace that drive and it will rebuild itself and you do not lose any data. And did a backup of this to a large USB hard drive. So TWO copies my digital assets.
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The AKG-C414

If you have read this site over the years, I have noted that my favorite mic is the AKG-C414. I have two of these microphones, a ULS model and an EB model. My favorite for saxophone is the EB model. It adds….how would I describe it…..a little more punch or personality than the ULS. The ULS is a great mic though, but the EB adds a little more. Either way, I like BOTH microphones.

MusicTech.net has a good little history piece on the AKG C414 microphone. If you are looking for a microphone, and want to make an investment in your studio, seriously look into getting a AKG C414.

Pedalboard 2.0

Basically, the idea of a dual EWI/Sax pedal board has died. Too many issues trying to get the EWI volume stable. Basically, the level, even with a boost and a volume pedal, never was right. It’s just easier to run it through a board. At some point, I’ll get something like a Radial Keylargo for Pedalboard 3.0, but…that is a lot of money, and it probably won’t fit on the current pedal board. Though I suppose I could lose the POG and the tuner and just go all H9.

Pedalboard 2.0

The cool thing here is that I am using a Mi.1 rev 2 connected to the H9. So, using Forscore, I can have the H9 automagically switch to the right patch on the pedal. So the Q-Tron like effect I have, it’s ready to go. Or in Forscore, I can have a little button area to switch to the patch. It’s pretty cool.
Continue reading Pedalboard 2.0

Inside One Of America’s Last Pencil Factories

From the NY Times:

“A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive. The lines it makes can be fat or thin, screams or whispers, blocks of concrete or blades of grass, all depending on changes of pressure so subtle that we would hardly notice them in any other context. (The difference in force between a bold line and nothing at all would hardly tip a domino.) And while a pencil is sophisticated enough to track every gradation of the human hand, it is also simple enough for a toddler to use.”

As a musician, I’ve used countless pencils to mark up music. To take notes. To write music. It’s basically part of your musicians toolbox.

Spotify hit with 1.6 Billion Dollar Lawsuit

From Gizmodo

Spotify has been hit with a huge copyright lawsuit that alleges the music streaming company “failed to pay songwriter royalties to a publishing company approximately 21 percent of the time,” according to the complaint. Wixen Music Publishing filed the $1.6 billion lawsuit against Spotify on December 29th. The music licensing company says it represents Tom Petty, Rage Against the Machine, Missy Elliott, Neil Young, Weezer, and the Beach Boys, among other artists.

Honestly, ABOUT TIME. These companies make TONS of money off of things they do not make. Artists would be better off just putting stuff on Youtube with Ads than on Spotify.

Holiday Gift Guide For Woodwind Musicians 2017 – Books

Do you have a musician whom you want to get a gift for? Or perhaps thinking about treating yourself this holiday season? Here are some ideas of books to get that musician for the holidays.

    Zinn and the Art of the Saxophone is a collection of 6 books that will teach you everything you need to play saxophone, how to practice, and just be a bad ass saxophonist. Of all the books I have, and believe me, I have hundreds of books on saxophone, this is the most well thought out, and concise series of books.
    Greg Fishman has a TON of great books. I highly recommend his Lobster Theory book along with any of his other excellent books.
    Walt Weiskopf also has some excellent books out. My favorite is Intervalic Improvisation – The Modern Sound: A Step Beyond Linear Improvisation. His other book, Around the Horn is quite good as well.
    Any books by Jim Snidero. I don’t think he’s published anything “bad” in my opinion.
    Dan Higgins – The Jazz Etude Book. This is a GEM that I’ve had for years (decades perhaps?). I really don’t remember where I got it, but it is a great Etude book. If you don’t know who Dan Higgins is, you probably have heard him. He’s one of the guys who gets all the Movie work in Hollywood. He was the saxophone in “Catch Me If You Can” intro. He was also the lead alto in Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band for the first album.
    Jerry Bergonzi Inside Improvisation series of books. These are a great resource to learn how to play more “modernly”.
    Bobby Stern – The Melodic Minor Handbook: A Jazz Player’s Perspective. Never heard of Bobby Stern? He’s the great saxophonist who played with Marvin Gaye. He has this great book out, plus check his site out for other great things.

Anyone else have any recommendations?

Musicians Have Better Memories

Bobby Owsinski linked to a interesting study,

The study found “a slight superiority of musicians over non-musicians” in long-term memory tasks, and a larger one in both short-term and working-memory tasks. Musicians performed best on working-memory tasks involving “tonal stimuli,” as you would expect, but their “advantage extended to verbal stimuli, too.” And on short-term memory tasks, musicians showed superior skills whether the item they were asked to recall was a musical tone, a verbal instruction, or a visual image.

Duh….

Pedal Board 1.1

Pedal Board 1.1
PedalBoard1.1

This is a dual input, one output rig. Basically, I wanted a rig where I could do both Saxophone and EWI and run it through effects. Lets look at the signal flow.

EWI – The input starts by going into the MX Micro Amp. Then goes into the volume pedal. Why? In live performance, sound guys tend sometime not to pay attention. That lead to performances with the EWI not being heard. Having the Amp and the Volume pedal lets me control the volume. I can boost it, or lower it. The signal then goes into the Eventide MixingLink. The mixing link then can send it to the effects loop.

Sax – The input starts by going into the Eventide MixingLink. Great little box that has nice preamps, and allows you to send things to an effects loop, or not, or send things to the effects loop and mix in some of the sax (or EWI) sound. It’s pretty flexible.

Effects Loop Signal flow

  • First stop is the KLIQ Tuner. Hey, you have to check the pitch every now and then.
  • Electro-Harmonix Nano POG. This is a great little pedal that one thing, alters pitch an octave above or below. It tracks really well.
  • Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron. This the model Jeff Coffin uses, with pretty much his settings. In pedal board 1.0, it was having issues, now it’s back. It’s fun to also put the Nano POG on as well through the Q-Tron.
  • Last but not least is the Eventide H9. This is an awesome pedal that does everything. It can do reverb, harmonizing, effects, distortions, etc. Again, its fun to have the Nano POG go through the pitch stuff on the H9, then I can sound like a horn section(ish).

Then everything comes back to the Eventide Missing link. I have the Missing Link set in DI mode (not line level).

And that is the pedal board as of today. It’s been working well.

Sheet Of The Week – Look At What You Made Me Do (Tayler Swift)

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  Look At What You Made Me Do for Eb Instruments by Taylor Swift (135.4 KiB, 7 hits)
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  Look At What You Made Me Do for Bb Instruments by Taylor Swift (134.7 KiB, 7 hits)
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