Category Archives: Articles

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

Sheet Of The Week – As It Was (Harry Styles)

Ok, I had some time to do some songs. Here is one of them.

  As It Was by Harry Styles for Eb Instruments (101.6 KiB, 3 hits)
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  As It Was by Harry Styles for Bb Instruments (101.0 KiB, 0 hits)
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Search for the best Pedal Accessory

There is a huge need for a simple, yet effective pedal that every sax player needs on their pedal board. That is a microphone preamp with FX loop. There are several out there, but saxophonists really need something more. What if they also play a wind synth but want to use their pedals with it?

The solution I found was using the Eventide Mixing Link. Except the problem with this is that you cannot separately adjust the gain on either input. So say your mic needs to be at 1 O’Clock, but the wind synth needs to be at 4 O’Clock? You’d have to adjust the levels, and hopefully remember to do it again when you switch again. And how do you mute the microphone? You can’t really (unless you get a passthrough on/off plug or something).

There is another pedal by Zorg called the HornFX Blow! While it looks great, it doesn’t have any sort of ability to address the problem.

Enter the Elite Acoustics EAE StompMix 4. This is a very interesting pedal that is also a mixer. It looks like it would totally allow you to have a stereo effects loop, stereo output, and two microphone/line inputs. Very interesting…….

What Is A Decibel?

You hear the term, dB. Decibel. But do you really know what it means? Here is a GREAT post about what it is.

The first thing to understand is that zero decibels does not mean silence. Instead, it refers to the quietest sound that humans can hear, which is roughly equivalent to the sound of a mosquito from ten feet away. All other decibel levels are multiples of this reference intensity.

ethanhein.com

Yet Another Sax “Enhancement”

There are a LOT of “sax enhancements” you can buy. Some, like ones made by Oleg, are great. I have used the Oleg palm key risers since the 2000s. Highly recommended. These type of enhancements fix a functional issue with the saxophone.

Then we get to that are…..well……..subjective. The weighted screws, the “tone tablets”, and the Klangbogens of the world. Do these work? I have no idea. Perhaps. I’m not really keen on blowing a lot of $$ to find out. Some of the theories on how they work seem rather suspect.

However, I did come across this tonight, and this actually makes a lot of sense to me. The Mr PS is a little half circle you put on at the TOP of your saxophone neck pipe. That little “dead” area before the cork starts. The area that essentially should be a small “gap”. You put either a metal one or a plastic one there, and then you have a transmission source from the vibrations of the mouthpiece to the rest of the horn. Now that actually makes a lot of sense to me.

Here are some videos about it here.

Saxophone in an Acoustic Live Band Context

Interesting take on using effects pedals. A lot of guys are using that Intramic which is a little water resistant mic that you put IN the neck of the sax, but non-destructively. A lot of horns in the 70s, they drilled out a hole in the neck and put in a pickup.

Why you’d want that? Prevents feedback, and bleed from other instruments. You learn more about it here, and check out HornFX’s YouTube channel to see him use it.

Anyhow, I’m not sure I like this pedals used in this video. Not really my cup of tea, but it’s interesting none the less.

How Michael Brecker Reinvented the Concept of Jazz Hero

Found this article by Ted Gioia. A must read.

Tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of Michael Brecker’s death at age 57. That gives me a good excuse to reassess his legacy. The release of Bill Milkowski’s new book on the saxophonist was another useful prod, providing me with additional information and insights.

I hope the essay below raises Brecker’s reputation a notch among critics—although it’s safe to say that saxophonists have long known what a formidable presence he was on the horn.

I note with regret that Brecker never got named a NEA Jazz Master, and only made it into the Downbeat Hall of Fame after his death, when readers (not critics) voted him in. Even today, you won’t find Brecker in the Jazz at Lincoln Center jazz hall of fame. None of his recordings are included among the hundreds honored by the Library of Congress in their National Recording Registry. And his name is conspicuously absent on many other honor rolls and ceremonial lists.

Why is Micheal not a NEA Jazz Master?? This is not right. I don’t think I knew much about him other than he played this ripping part on Michael Franks song “Dr. Sax”. This was back before the internet, and you had to BUY physical media to listen to stuff. I actually saw him perform at the Shoreline back in….1989(?) I think. He was NOT the headliner, that honor goes to Spyro Gyra, a band I did know and really liked. Also featured was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. But it was really the Michael Brecker band that simply blew my mind. And he also did his thing when he would loop things on the EWI…..just amazing stuff. I think my friend and I left well before Spyro Gyra finished. We had already witnessed God-like talent and everything after that was….meh.

The Best Multi-Effects Pedal For Sax – Line6 HX Stomp

During COVID lockdown in 2020, I bought some music gear. Hey, it was “the end of the world” or whatever. I figured I had some time to learn some things and play with some stuff. One of the things I bought was a Line6 HX Stomp.

I can’t say enough things about this pedal. It works amazingly well. It sounds great. If you received some Holiday money and want to get into effects, I highly recommend it.

If you want a DEEP DIVE on this, and I have mentioned it before, but HornFX on Youtube has EXCELLENT VIDEOS on it. Like his channel is criminally under subscribed to and his HX Stomp videos have less than 200 views. WTF!!!

HX Stomp Part 1
HX Stomp Part 2
HX Stomp Part 3
HX Stomp Part 4
HX Stomp Part 5
HX Stomp Part 6

3-2-1 Backup Strategy

With the new year upon us, it is a good time to examine how you are protecting your “digital” assets. That being recordings, media, or whatever lives on your laptop, computer, iPad, phone or what have you. I think the article that really lays out how to effectively do this is one by backup service BackBlaze.

A 3-2-1 strategy means having at least three total copies of your data, two of which are local but on different mediums (read: devices), and at least one copy off-site. We’ll use “kitten.jpg” as an example for this scenario. Kitten.jpg lives on your computer at home; it was a picture that you took of your cat in 2012. That’s one copy of the data. You also have an external hard drive that you use for backing up your computer; if you’re on a Mac, you might be using it as a Time Machine drive (and Backblaze loves Time Machine). As part of its backup process, that external hard drive will back up kitten.jpg. That’s a second copy, on a different device or medium. In addition to that external hard drive, you also have an online backup solution. The online backup continuously scans your computer and uploads your data off-site to a data center. Kitten.jpg is included in this upload, and that becomes the third copy of your data.

So, read, and protect your stuff. As someone who has a “day job” dealing with tech issues, nothing saddens me more than hearing that “ALL MY STUFF WAS ON THAT”. 

Brief History Of Music Notation On Computers

I came across this post this morning.

At Scoring Notes, we usually cover the latest products and news about music notation software and related technology. Music engraving, as we all know, dates back well before the computer age. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to forget that the computer-aided portion of the history book spans back a good long time, too. In this article, we’ll summarize that history and explore a few key moments that led us to where we are today in the field.

My first exposure to computer notation was when I used Logic on an Atari ST. My high school jazz band folder had been stolen, and I had to write out a lot of the parts, and decided to try to do it with a computer. It didn’t go so well.

I do have an old Etude book by Dan Higgins from 1982(?) that looks computer notated. I still use that book. I never got to use “Score”, but I did have some exposure to MOTU’s stuff in the 90s, and I think I used Electronic’s Arts’ Deluxe Music Construction Set on something…..

I also remember buying the “Sonata” font for Encore in the 90s (I think 1991/92) for use with Encore. That was when I was working on the II-V-I patterns using an older Mac SE/30. Like I can remember being on page 70 of that, and pasting stuff to new bars, waiting several minutes for it to complete the job, and then having it transpose something, and waiting. Lots of waiting in computers then.

Oh, I DO remember some of the OLD versions of Finale. I know I have disks somewhere for like version 3.5 of Finale, which is like the middle 90s I think. I don’t think I used 2.6.1…….

It’s a good memory lane article…..and interesting to see how the industry evolved.

The State Of Wireless Microphones For Saxophone (2022)

Going into 2022, there are a plethora of wireless microphone systems out for the saxophone. There is the venerable Shure SLXD ($799), GLX ($689) or BLX ($449) systems. These you have to figure out what operating band works for your area. These are also solid, long range, tried and tested systems.

Another system that got traction in 2021 was the CloudVocal system. Their products use the 2.4ghz range, which a lot of new wireless systems are using. They kind of are pursuing the “all in one” thing, with their “receiver” base unit also being sort of an effects pedal (with some basic effects). I’m not a fan of these units. First, it’s as expensive as getting an entry level Shure system (which has an excellent microphone). Second, to use the effects pedal/mixer part, you need to keep it near you. And the mixer needs power. So…..you aren’t really becoming “wireless”. You still are tethered to several wires now (power and output to your band’s mixer).

So, the new entry (or at least new to me) is this very intriguing wireless system from NUX. The NUX B-6 for Saxophone seems like the perfect system that gives you mobility (i.e. wireless) and excellent sound with extreme portability. For $199, from the YouTube video out there, it sounds really good. Plus the case functions as a charger as well.

Now, this system also uses the 2.4ghz spectrum. 2.4ghz might sound familiar because everything wifi used to use that spectrum (and a lot of things still do). But the technology seems to have gotten a lot better, and interference from other things operating in that bandwidth seems not to be an issue. For example, I have been using a set of XVive U4 for in ear monitoring, and have yet to have any interference issues. In fact, 3 other band members are using the XVive U4s now as well. No issues. If you want to geek out about how 2.4ghz and musical stuff works, check out this article.

Though, I did get a 5ghz wireless transmitter/receiver for my EWI, and it works well, it DOES interfere with my iPad. I was at a gig, and using the EWI, and tried to use the iPad to adjust my level in the PA and my in-ears, and the iPad kept disconnecting from the mixer (though it was still on wifi). Come to find out, if the transmitter is like within about 2-3 feet of the iPad, it causes issues with the iPad. Oh well.

One last thing about 2.4ghz. For my band, the wireless system for the mixer is set at 5ghz. The 2.4ghz radio is off. Just to make sure there is no additional “pollution” in that spectrum.

So, if you received some $$$$ for Xmas, and wanted to get a wireless system, I think the NUX system is really the better deal and system. It’s more portable, and just seems a better value for the money.