Category Archives: Articles

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

Boycott Sony Music

If you haven’t heard, Sony is installing DRM on its CDs. This DRM has also been exploited.
In fact, there is even a lawsuit over it.

Now, it seems even Mac OS X gets some sort of DRM with a Sony CD.

It’s time to boycott Sony Music.

Update: 11/13 20:27 GMT by E :There is an interesting discussion about Sony’s End User License Agreement on Slashdot.org. Amazing how this company is protecting it’s profits.

Xmas Guide 2005

Yes, it is only November. But there is no time like the present to start thinking of presents for people (woohoo, good play on words there E).

To start things off, iLounge has a very good, free, Holiday buyers’ guide available. Of course the guide is for people who own an iPod. And if they don’t own an iPod, that would be the #1 thing to get people. An iPod nano is only $199. Amongst the things they recommend are AKG’s new K 701 headphones. I own a pair of AKG 271 headphones, and they rock. The 701s are around $399.

Other things to consider getting a musician are:

This is just a start…..I’m sure there are other potential presents out there.

Metal Mouthpieces and Spoilers

pika writes “What do people think about the metal mouthpieces with spoilers? How much louder do they make you sound(tener sax) because i was thinking about getting one for marching band. Email me if you know anything.”

First off, we don’t “email me if you know anything”. That also goes for people who “please email your XXXX arrangement”. You won’t believe how many times a week I get that. It is so Middle School.

Back to your question. A baffle indeed makes your mouthpiece louder. I think that is what you mean by “spoiler”. It would make a metal mouthpiece louder obviously. However, it does change the quality of the tone you get out of the mouthpiece. I tried Power Tone Baffles briefly on alto, and did not care for them. I got more volume, but the tone just didn’t sound good.

There is another thing you could try. If you put some paper underneath the reed (where the reed and mouthpiece contact), that will give you a little more buzz and power.

EM Reviews Field Recorders

Electronic Musician reviewed a bunch of field recorders, including the the Marantz 671, Marantz 660 and the Edirol R1 among others.

Basically, they panned the Marantz 671 (successor to the 670, which I love) for having firmware issues causing the mic preamps to be noisy. The Edirol R1 came out on top of the two Marantz units. Though I would really call the article a “introduction” to field recording. They do not list exactly what they tried to record, and with what. We all know that the microphone is key to getting a good recording.

I would totally recommend the Marantz 670. I used it this weekend and got some great recordings putting it about 6 feet infront and 7 feet above the band. Of course using my Rode NT4 mic (awesome piece that it is).

I imagine the issues with the 671 have been fixed. I would take the EM article with some grains of salt. The reviewer used these units to record a snare drum (why??), the “ambience in a suburban neighborhood” (um, ok), and dialog. Ok, great tests there. NOT.

Oh, and EM was reporting, like it was news, that Sony introduced a new format called MiHD. Um, guys, these things have been out for OVER A YEAR. Get with the program!

Palm Keys on Tenor Sax

ladyzutano writes “Okay. I use a Selmer Tenor series III, and every time I play one of those chic little passages where versatility in the palm keys is required, I can reach the keys only by bending my wrist at an awkard angle. It’s almost a perfect 90 degrees! I tried moving the horn away from my body for a less cumbersome reach, yet by doing so I move the mouthpiece too far away. Any suggestions?”

Palm key risers. You can get Runyon Palm Key Risers or Oleg ones. I think the Oleg ones are also available individually. I used the Runyon ones for a long time, but switched to the Oleg ones because the Runyon ones tend to move after they have been on there a while.

Another solution would be to go to your local sax shop and see if they could build up the palm keys for you. That would be the best solution, and custom fitted to your palm.

Oodles Of Saxophones

I just received the latest Woodwind/Brasswind catalog. Have you seen the number of companies that make saxophones. Here is the list (in no particular order):

  • BandNow
  • Barrington (advertised heavily in the catalog)
  • Yamaha
  • Amati
  • C.F. Conn
  • Keilwerth
  • Blessing
  • Allora
  • Selmer
  • LA Sax
  • Jupiter
  • Chicago Jazz Series (LA Sax?)
  • Woodwind Brand
  • Yanagisawa
  • Unison (not in the catalog though)
  • Buescher (not in the catalog)
  • Selmer USA (not in the catalog)

Whew. And then there are different models from these guys. Selmer has at least 9 different alto saxophone models. Wow. Is there really a market for all these brands? Are any of them to be avoided? Did I forget any?

Politically Correct Musicals

With all the bad stuff going on in the world, here is a little humor.

You may know that Rosie O’Donnell suggested that they change the
lyrics “I can shoot a partridge with a single cartridge” in the
revival of “Annie Get Your Gun”, to make them less violent. This
inspired writer Susan Brady Konig to suggest even more politically
correct changes in her article “A Rosie View Of Broadway Classics”:

WEST SIDE STORY: The Sharks and the Jets rumble. They’re
subsequently arrested by Officer Krupke and sentenced to a low-
security juvenile rehabilitation facility, where they are all
diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and put on Ritalin and Prozac.

MY FAIR LADY: Professor Higgins attempts to transform street
urchin Eliza Doolittle into a society maiden. With the help of an
ACLU lawyer, Doolittle sues Higgins for violating her constitutional
right to live on the street. Perplexed, Higgins sings the gender-
neutral ‘Why Can’t A Person Be More Like A Person?”

GYPSY: Mama Rose pushes her daughter Gypsy Rose Lee into
vaudeville. Gypsy grows up and becomes a burlesque stripper. Show
ends abruptly, shortly into the second act, as all the strip clubs
have been shut down by the mayor. Gypsy takes a job as a clerk in the
Disney store on 42nd Street.

PORGY AND BESS: Songs include “Bess, You Is My Significant Other
Now” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (with all biblical references
deleted).

HARVEY: Everywhere he goes, Elwood C. Dobbs sees a giant,
invisible rabbit. He undergoes therapy, is diagnosed with attention-
deficit disorder and is put on Ritalin and Prozac.

THE KING AND I: The king of Siam is unhappy with the plummeting
reading scores of his many children since the arrival of Anna,
teacher from the West. He tries to fire her. Unfortunately, she is
protected by a strong union and there’s nothing he can do about it.
She whistles a happy tune.

PETER PAN: Never-never land is forced to admit Lost Girls as
well as Lost Boys. Tiger Lily sues the government to recover tribal
lands and opens a casino. Mr. and Mrs. Darling are visited by Family
Services after leaving their children in the care of a dog.

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?: George and Martha join a 12-
step recovery program and quit drinking. They calmly discuss their
relationship ‘issues.” Some colleagues stop by for a pleasant visit.
(Ok so not a Musical, yet….)

THE SOUND OF MUSIC: All references to Catholicism deleted.
Sister Maria is now a member of an order of the Sisters of the Non-
Denominational Multicultural Non-Judgmental ‘Church” of What’s
Happening Now.

OLIVER! The conniving but lovable Fagin is arrested on several
counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He agrees to a
plea bargain and, with the help of a court-appointed therapist, is
diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and put on Ritalin and Prozac.

And, of course: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN gets properly registered,
after submitting to the required background checks and mandatory five-
day waiting period.

Articulation At Fast Tempos

harry63 writes “In slow and medium swing tempos I understand that “off-beat” articulation is used most often (I know there are times of course, that you don’t use this articulation, but I am generalizing on purpose). With fast tempos this articulation can really make your playing sound heavy and tend to drag. I am curious to know what sort of articulation patterns you all use at break-neck tempos?”

Valgon Rings

The latest issue of Flute Talk had an Ad on page 37 for Valgon Rings. No no, this is not a strange Star Trek device, nor is it related to the Vogon’s, whom destroyed Earth in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. These rings seem to be a serious thing. To quote the ad:

"The Valgon Rings control and stabilize the oscillating air column on the outside of your instrument, resulting in significant improvement in your instruments response."

The website has a mere two endorsements, one from a Doctor at the University of Florida (flute), and some saxophonist named Colleen Allen who, they say, plays with Molly Johnson (?).

Anyhow, the saxophone version seems to be two “rings”, one that goes around the bell, and one that goes around the neck. Not sure the physics of this. Could it be that these rings are converting a saxophone’s sound to be more direct, and hence a “better” sound?

I think if you wanted to do it right, someone should invent some sort of scoup that runs the length of the saxophone. Something that would take the reflected soundwaves from the pads, and focus them forward. But hey, the easiest solution is to put on a reed and/or a mouthpiece that has more bite to it 😉

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.

Keeping Track Of Your Stuff

Being a musician, one tends to gather a lot of “things”. CDs, books, magazine articles, posters, pictures, autographs, etc, etc, etc. How do you keep track of all them?

If you decided to “rip” all your CDs to a program like iTunes, then you have a nice, easy to use list of what you have. But what if you DO NOT or CAN NOT rip all your CDs. Like you don’t have the space, nor really want to have all your stuff on the computer? And what about books?

One answer on the Macintosh is Delicious Library. Using UPC codes found on most everything, it can easily catalog your “stuff”. However, there are some problems……

First, Delicious Library is not the only product out there that can look up and catalog items. Bookpedia, Media Collector, and probably a myriad of other programs on both the Mac and PC. Most all these use some sort of Database to look up the UPC or ISBN numbers off the book. Delicious Library uses Amazon.com to look them up. Some of the other programs can use other databases to look stuff up. Is it necessary? Perhaps…..

Delicious Library can use a bluetooth (ie: wireless) scanner to scan in UPC codes. This works GREAT. It’s very cool. And a HUGE time saver if you have a lot of “stuff” like I do. To scan 200 DVDs, it took about 15 minutes. To scan a couple hundred CDs (451), about 30 minutes. All wirelessly, all right to the computer. However….

Not everything has a UPC code. And not everything has a UPC code that can be found off Amazon.com. If you are part of BMG Jazz club you get CDs that don’t have a standard UPC code. It has some sort of BMG code on it. Resulting in a failed lookup on Amazon. But if it does have a UPC code, it works very very well. CDs I bought in the 90s work. Delicious Library finds it, adds the album art, and info to your collection. Easy.

Books are a mess. 9 times out of 10 the UPC code failed to find the book. However, ISBN numbers 9 times out of 10 WORKED. But you have to enter the ISBN number manually. That is a pain. But it works usually.

Hal Leonard sucks. Just 90% of the books I have from them, have their own custom UPC or they fail to be looked up properly. Shame on you Hal Leonard. If the book has an ISBN, it seems to work mostly. Oh…..and Warner Brothers. You guys are in the same boat. Get the UPCs happening.

Aebersold. Aebersold does not seem to have UPC codes at all. None of the books I own have a UPC. Books like “Around The Horn”, “The Augmented Jazz Scale”, etc have NOTHING. No ISBN, nada. I do think my latest purchase from Aebersold, Vol. 112 – Cole Porter has a UPC on it. It was not found on Amazon.

I’m not going to mention all the other pieces of Music I have that have nothing on it. All those classical Sonatas for Flute/Clarinet/Sax, etc. These are all manual entry things. Not fun.

For people with a lot of stuff that can be bar code read, programs like Delicious Library rock. However, if you have stuff that is NOT bar-coded nor have ISBN numbers, this program is pretty much useless for you. I think if this program could create a printable bar code and increment it, that would make the program 50 times more useable. Or even if it printed a UPC for items (like Books) where the UPC isn’t found. Then this program would be an elegant, functional organizer.

Pro Tools M-Powered

I came across this yesterday. You can now get Protools if you have M-Audio‘s line of interfaces. This is totally cool. 32 Audio tracks, and it ships with 30 plugins. Wow!Downside, it’s $350. Upside, cheapest M-Audio interface is about $99. Still, for the power of the software, this is a huge value. I’d still like to see Digidesign just offer the software for sale to use with any interface. There are so many excellent interfaces out there, including Mackie, MOTU, and Tascam. I think if Digidesign knocked the price of Protools LE down to $299 and have it work with any interface, they could have something going.

Jazz Oboe – Yusef Lateef

yampol writes “As long as we’re talking about doubling on oboe, let’s talk about jazz oboe. The first player that comes to mind is the amazing multi-instrumentalist, composer, educator, band-leader Yusef Lateef. His Eastern Sounds and Three Faces albums made a very strong impression on me. Check out the track “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” on the Three Faces album.

Anyone else have a favorite jazz oboist?

–Todd”

I don’t recommend the album with Bob Cooper and Bud Shank. They did an album that was jazz flute and jazz oboe. Bob Cooper played Oboe. I couldn’t bear it. I love Bob Cooper in Bob Florence’s band, and in solo albums, but his jazz Oboe….unbearable to me.

Update: 04/22 18:25 GMT by E :You know, I posted this story, and low and behold iTunes decided to put 2 of those Bob Cooper/Bud Shanks songs in my Random Selections Smart-Playlist. I still think Jazz Oboe is not cool. Hopefully someone can point me to something to change my opinion.