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!

In The Xmas Mood

I did this last year. Resurrected it, and cleaned it up a little. It’s a bunch of Christmas Songs put around In The Mood. Score and Parts for Big Band (5 Saxes, 5 bones, 4 trumpets). Enjoy!

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RIAA Being Counter-sued Under The RICO Act

An Oregon mom is fighting back. She is suing the RIAA for being in violation of the Oregon RICO Act in addition to ‘fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of “outrage”, and deceptive business practices.’ She is also demanding a trial by jury.

The Rico ACT. Basically, I think the RIAA is guilty of Extortion (as they sue, but demand a settlement. None of the suits have gone to trial). It could possibly be guilty of price-fixing. My problem with these RIAA lawsuits is that they are vague. They really prove nothing. They have not done a criminal investigation with any law enforcement agency (to my knowledge). All they have been doing is gathering IP addresses, making assumptions, and then suing.

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.

Oleg Strap

About two months ago, I purchased a Oleg Strap to replace my Ray Hyman strap.

The Oleg strap is VERY COMFY. Very. It’s leather, and padded, and feels great. Blows away those Neotech straps. However, the cord adjustment drives me nuts. The one thing I loved about the Hyman strap was the easy ability to adjust to the right level right away. I can’t seem to do it as easily with the Oleg. Ok, it’s nitpicking, but, that’s my only complaint.

If your looking for a great, durable strap, get the Oleg strap.

Another Brecker Article

The A.P. has another article about Michael Brecker up.

"Brecker, who gave his last public performance in March, had written and arranged the music for a new small ensemble album before he was sidelined, but that project has been put on hold. He will be returning to Sloan-Kettering next week for a second round of chemotherapy and is taking an anti-inflammatory steroid to relieve his muscle pains."

After reading Lance Armstrong’s book about his fight with cancer, Chemo sounds terrible.

Update: 08/25 19:26 GMT by E :Here is another article. Man, it sounds bad. Hang in there Michael!

RIP Jey Clark

From Steve Goodson:

"Jey Clark, owner of Saxology in Berkeley, Ca, passed away last night after suffering a massive stroke on Sunday. I have no other details at this time, but the information was confirmed this afternoon in a conversation with his friend. Jey was a long time friend, a frequent visitor to my home, played his ass off, and made me laugh. I'll miss him."

Once upon a time I tried out some mouthpieces from him (when he ran Four Winds). I believe I have a vintage Berg Larsen alto mouthpiece I bought from his shop over ten years ago. Good guy to deal with as I remember.

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?”

EWI Buying Advice

Professor writes “Advice needed: I am an alto player who would like to buy a MIDI wind controller. I read Scott Wilkinson’s May 2001 Electronic Musician piece, which was helpful but provides no buying advice for the uninitiated (and is out of date). Does anyone know where I can try out and/or buy these various controllers (EWI, WX5 or Softwind Synthophone– or the new EWI Brecker was playing recently). Any advice on which one to buy, where to try it, and where to buy it would be greatly appreciated. (I’m on the East Coast). Thanks.”

From what I can tell, the one Michael Brecker has been playing is current is a prototype from Niles Steiner. The Akai 3020s are being produced, but are still hard to find. And it’s really it’s own instrument, as it requires some practice to get used to and sound good on. The best solution right now seems to be the Yamaha WX5 coupled with the Yamaha VL70m. Some sites to check out are:

Michael Brecker Needs Your Help

I received this from Mel Martin.

FROM: Susan Brecker
SUBJECT: Michael Brecker needs your help.


Dear Family and Friends,


My husband, Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS
(myelodysplastic syndrome), and its critical that he undergoes a stem
cell transplant. The initial search for a donor (including Michael's
siblings and children) has not yet resulted in a suitable match.
Michael's doctors have told us that we need to immediately explore ALL
possible options. This involves getting as many people of a similar
genetic background to be tested.


There are some important points to understand concerning this process:


1. The screening involves a blood test only. It can be done very
quickly either at a marrow donation center or at a LOCAL LAB. The cost
is anywhere from $40 to $75 and your insurance may cover it. (In NYC,
you can call Frazier, at the NY Blood Bank, at 212-570-3441, and make
an appointment for HLA typing. It costs $40.00.) Check with your
local blood bank, or go to http://www.marrow.org to find the donor
center nearest you.

There is a lot more in the email. Read on for more. Poor Michael. Hang in there man!

Update: 07/29 20:52 GMT by E :I’m planning on visiting one of these centers next week. I need to make a trip out to Berkeley to have my new Oboe looked at (I already put a little crack in it :-()

Here is the WHOLE thing again

FROM: Susan Brecker
SUBJECT: Michael Brecker needs your help.


Dear Family and Friends,


My husband, Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS
(myelodysplastic syndrome), and its critical that he undergoes a stem
cell transplant. The initial search for a donor (including Michael's
siblings and children) has not yet resulted in a suitable match.
Michael's doctors have told us that we need to immediately explore ALL
possible options. This involves getting as many people of a similar
genetic background to be tested.


There are some important points to understand concerning this process:


1. The screening involves a blood test only. It can be done very
quickly either at a marrow donation center or at a LOCAL LAB. The cost
is anywhere from $40 to $75 and your insurance may cover it. (In NYC,
you can call Frazier, at the NY Blood Bank, at 212-570-3441, and make
an appointment for HLA typing. It costs $40.00.) Check with your
local blood bank, or go to http://www.marrow.org to find the donor
center nearest you.


2. Your blood typing information can be posted on the international
registry, if you choose, where it would also be available to others in
need of a transplant. BEING ON THE REGISTRY DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO
DONATE, it just means that you may be ASKED to do so. You can take your
name off the registry at any time.


3. Should you be selected as a potential donor for Michael, please
understand that there have been tremendous advances in bone marrow
transplants and the term itself can be misleading. Bone marrow
donation is no more invasive than giving blood. Stem cells are simply
harvested from your blood and then transplanted to Michael.


4. A match for Michael would be most likely to come from those of Eastern
European Jewish descent. If you or anyone you know are in this category
please make a special effort to immediately get tested. Ultimately, you
would be doing something not just for Michael, but for so many more who
are in a similar situation as my husband.


5. You are now part of our internet-based drive for donor testing. If
everyone who receives this can motivate a bunch of their friends to get
tested, and those friends then forward this email to get their friends
to get tested, we will have rapidly expanded the pool of potential
donors. I urge all of you to get tested AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.


Any local blood center/Red Cross center can assist in organizing a
drive for Michael, although it would be desirable if you can get a
large group, e.g. a synagogue, to sponsor it. Should you have any
questions about this, please don't hesitate to get in touch with
Michael's management office at 212.302.9200 or info@michaelbrecker.com.


Thank you so much for your love and support.


We are so grateful.


Susan xo


__________________________________________________ _____________
Michael Brecker is 56 and an internationally renowned jazz musician. As
a result of his harmonic innovations, Michael is among the most studied
contemporary instrumentalists in music schools throughout the world
today. Michael has played on hundreds of albums with artists ranging
from Herbie Hancock to James Taylor, from Paul Simon to Frank Zappa to
Quincy Jones, Chet Baker and Bruce Springsteen---and on and on. As a
leader and co-leader of The Brecker Brothers (with Randy Brecker) and
Directions in Music (with Herbie Hancock and Roy Hargrove), Michael has
received 11 Grammy Awards ,more than any saxophonist, ever. For further
information, go to http://www.michaelbrecker.com


Best Regards;


Mel Martin

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 😉

Michael Brecker’s Health

I heard on the Wind Controller Group that Michael Brecker is suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome, which is:

"Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) refers to a heterogeneous group of closely related clonal hematopoietic disorders. All are characterized by a cellular marrow with impaired morphology and maturation (dysmyelopoiesis) and peripheral blood cytopenias, resulting from ineffective blood cell production."

Reading on, it does not sound good. More information is here about the disease.

Louis’s website has more information.

Recover quickly Master Michael. And read Lance Armstrong’s book about his fight with cancer. It is an inspiring account.

Update: 07/03 03:37 GMT by E :Mike Mainieri’s site has some more info.

Update: 07/15 05:19 GMT by E :Michael Brecker’s website is saying that Michael is taking a year off to recover. There is info there to send well-wishes and what not.

Garritan Personal Orchestra

I recently bought the Garritan Personal Orchestra as part of a group buy. If you haven’t heard this program, listen to the demos. Good stuff.

Anyhow, I’ve played with it a while, and I feel I can write a review now of it.

First off, you need a LOT of processing power. The requirements in the manual list this:

  • Mac OS 10.2.6 or higher G4 733Mhz
  • Windows Pentium 4/Athlon 2.8 Ghz or better.

Ok, so, knowing this, my 933Mhz G4 was NOT going to run this program. I already knew this from the get go. I prepared my Athlon 2.5 Gigahertz PC to run it (though it is under specs). Defragged the drives, added more memory, and got a M-Audio card. So, the system has 1 gig of ram, a fast 80 Gig hard drive, and Windows XP service Pack 2.

I decided to try a couple of things with it. I loaded up Kontakt player, and loaded up some patches. I chose a string section consisting of the “wet” versions of Violin 1, Violas, and Cellos on channels 1, 2 and 3. I then loaded up a Trombone Section patch, a French Horn patch, and a Trumpet patch. Not a lot of stuff I thought. I played back an arrangement I was working on.

Sound wise, these patches sound great. The strings are awesome. When I layer them with the Strings on my Roland XV2020 and SC8820, it sounds great. The trumpets sound a LOT better than either module’s trumpet patch. The french horns, layered with the other two modules, sound great, as do the trombones. I was in midi-heaven.

Then, I hit a section where, by my counting, I asked the Garritan program to do something I did not have enough processing power for. 3 notes sounding in the Trombones, 3 in the French Horns, 1 in the Trumpet, and 6 notes total in the strings (2 for each, in octaves). It pretty much brought the processor load to 100%, and effective killed the sound generation until I did a ALL MIDI NOTES OFF command.

What does this mean? It means that I need a faster PC to use this program effective. Pentium 4, 3.6Gigahertz or faster. Dual maybe. Dedicated to JUST sound. No virus crap, nada. Just Windows, and a blank, defragmented drive.

My only gripe is that if you use the Kontakt player as a STAND-ALONE, you can’t save all the instruments you loaded. Hopefully an update will fix this.

This program is great, but you need the power to use it. Horsepower. Don’t try it with a G4. G5 might work great, I don’t have one (yet 😉 ). But if you are looking to augment your setup. To take it to another level, get this. Go to Fry’s or something, throw together a FAST PC, get an M-Audio 4096 or something, and enjoy!

9.5 out of 10. .5 deducted for the stupid stand-alone Kontakt player