Tag Archives: Bad

Superscope Elevation (Stay away…..zombies!)

So I get the Jamey Aebersold jazzbooks emails. In their latest “Economic Stimulus Sale!” one, at the bottom something got my interest. Elevation Software play-along offer. Hmm…sounded interesting. So I decided to go to the site, www.superscopetechnologies.com and check it out. Downloaded the demo for Mac…..and then the disappointment happened.

$149 for this piece of crap? That is all I can really think of after using the demo. Let me list the disappointment for you shall I?

1. Drag and Drop works….but not for AAC (m4a files) formatted files. So, anything that you get off of iTunes or perhaps have already ripped into AAC format (which is BETTER than mp3) won’t work with the program.
2. The IMPORT dialogue box is NOT mac like at all. I dunno where they got it, but it looks like a Linux box. So, I don’t have access to my sidebar favorites, nor can I use my Default Folder program to navigate to my files.
3. The program crashes like it is in a demolition derby. I mean, I maybe got it to work twice correctly. And I’m still on 10.6.8.

So, why would I spend this much money when programs like The Amazing Slowdowner, or Transcribe! can do what this program does at half the price. And they don’t CRASH! And support AAC files.

People, avoid this software at all costs. AT ALL COSTS. DO NOT GET IT. STAY AWAY. Imagine it is Zombie-fied and going to eat your brains if you download it.

On a side note, I kind of wish Jamey Aebersold would release his play-alongs in a APP format that includes the books and a way to slowdown/speed up, record, and put the songs in other keys. I think Aebersold is missing and/or has missed the boat in this. Instead of selling physical CDs and books, embrace technology. Make an iPad app that has say volume 1, with the tunes, with a metronome. That perhaps you can drop out the piano and bass or whatever. That you can change the pitch and speed of. That sells for the same price in the App store. You’d sell more, and you would ditch the printing and cd costs. The 30% or something Apple would take is easily less than what it actually costs to make the books, cds, and do the packaging.

ASCAP Wants To Be Paid When Your Phone Rings

First, they went after the Girl Scouts to have them PAY for singing songs around a campfire. Now, ASCAP wants you to PAY for a public performance of a ring tone. Yes……my mind too hit the brick wall and splattered upon reading this too. Have we become THAT concerned with money? I think it is fair game to require people who are MAKING money performing an ASCAP song to be required to share some of the revenues. But Girl Scouts? Cell Phone “performances”? Seriously?

Microsoft Enters The….Music Accompaniment Making Department

I’m not quite sure what to think of this. Though it does/can use Band in A Box, the demo video rather disturbs me. Visions of Sanjayas popping up all over the place is something even the late Charlton Heston would have a tough time conquering.

This software, from Microsoft, has great little sliders for Happiness and Jazz. No EMO slider? No rock? What?

Here is another article about this Microsoft “research”.

And We’re Back….

No no, it was not some sort of FBI raid, or something that took us down. It was signing up for AT&T’s new Uverse service under the impression that you could keep your existing DSL line (on another number other than what Uverse was going to be installed on). Well, that was NOT the case as the DSL went down on December 11th. After a few calls on the 11th, and 12th, on the 13th someone from AT&T informed me that you cannot have Uverse and DSL coming to the same residence even though they are on different phone lines. So, I cancelled the Uverse service (not all that great anyhow), and the next 2 1/2 weeks began my struggle with AT&T to get them to activate the DSL again. They promised the following Tuesday, 18th, which they missed and said that Friday the 21st it should be up. Nada. Then on Monday the 24th, someone finally saw that there was some sort of Uverse hold on it, and cleared it, and Thursday the 27th was the date to get it up. No. The tech who came out on the 27th finally went to bat for me, and today, the 31st, the internet is back. Whew. What a pain. AT&T is getting a nasty letter from me, and the PUC is getting one about this as well.

Two good things came out of this whole mess. One good thing though was that I discovered Google Applications. There is a way to host your email there. That is huge, and it filters out a ton of spam. Previously, email was being served by this server, and I got all the strange spam and stuff. The other good thing was that I really, really relied on my iPhone during this. Even on the Edge network, I was able to connect to my daily sites, email, etc. In fact, I seem to miss the whole browsing with your fingers thing now……though it’s nice to have it hook up via WiFi now.

Louis Armstrong’s Trumpet Used As A Fruitbowl?

I don’t know about you, but this is disturbing:

Matt Mullenweg, lead developer of the open-source WordPress blogging software, last night celebrated a $25 million “bonus” from investors by purchasing a $1 million Louis Armstrong trumpet, which he plans to use as a fruit bowl.

There are a lot of things a trumpet used by Louis Armstrong could be used for. A Fruit bowl is not on my list. In fact, why not donate the money to some worthy foundation? Or maybe set up a scholarship program in the bay area for music? There are a lot of things you could do instead of buying a historic instrument and using it for a fruit bowl. Seriously. And $7 million for a house? Hope the tech bubble does not burst again….

The Sordid Tale Of Guardala

It is sad that one of the great makers of mouthpieces and horns has messed up everything. From a Newsday Article:

“David Guardala is sort of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the saxophone world, according to federal prosecutors and some of those he is accused of swindling.

As of yesterday, Guardala was in a Frankfurt, Germany, jail fighting extradition to Long Island to face 12 counts of fraud. The charges were in an indictment unsealed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.”

There is a little history in the article as well. He was the maker of Mouthpieces in the 80s and part of the 90s. His line of Saxophones was great (I used to own an Alto, serial number 766). Dave, what happened?

SmartMusic 10.1

One of my favorite whipping boys is SmartMusic. This program could be so great, and yet, MakeMusic seems not to want to put that little extra polish on it. Case in point, the latest “update” to SmartMusic is a large download, some 95 Megabytes. Took some time to download. Here is what is listed as being “new”

  • Compatibility with SmartMusic accompaniments created in Finale® 2008.
  • Support for Windows Vista.
  • Improved Clarinet assessment.

I emailed MakeMusic’s tech support about the first thing a while ago, when Finale 2008 came out. Never heard back. Figures. Well, at least they didn’t wait nearly a year to update SmartMusic to read the SmartMusic files generated from the latest version of Finale (last time, it was August 2006 when Finale 2007 came out, and not until April 2007 when SmartMusic could read the SmartMusic files generated by Finale 2007).

Ok, new stuff. Continue reading SmartMusic 10.1

SmartMusic 10

MakeMusic, after much hype, delay, and then more hype, has finally released SmartMusic 10 in April. This is really what the program should have been from the get go. There are a lot of great Concert Band, and String Orchestra music on the screen selections. There are a few Jazz Band ones as well. The program is Universal Binary for Macintosh, meaning it is really responsive.

The short review of this is to get it. If you can get it for the $25 a year subscription price, it is a huge value. There are tons of great tunes, exercises, and other things in there.

However, the promised “60 New Titles A Month” has not materialized as of yet. And there are some bugs need to be addressed….

The New Stuff

In the previous version of SmartMusic a lot of the arrangements were installed when you installed the program. Now, SmartMusic downloads what it needs. For people with fast internet connections, that is great. For people on Dialup….you have my sympathies. Though, on the flip side, once you have them, you don’t need to download them again.

This is also true of the Pro Audio backgrounds. One of the new features of SmartMusic 10 is the inclusion of professional background recordings. So, instead of a midi rendition of a Jazz piece, you now get a great sounding real version of the song. But…..you need to download it. For dialup users…..well, that could be a time consuming thing. Once you download them, the recordings seem to be stored in a SQLlite database as MP3s. I’ve tried out a lot of the Concert band and Jazz Ensemble ones. Very nice. Recording quality is excellent. You can also select whatever part you want to play. So, you can play Oboe parts, or Clarinet 2, or Bass Clarinet, or Drums. Very cool and fun stuff.

Music on the screen. The previous version of SmartMusic had a very limited amount of music on the screen. There were a dozen or so classical pieces, the Alfred Jazz stuff, Wynton Jazz stuff, and the exercises. SmartMusic 10 has a ton of music on the screen. ALL the pro audio selections have music on the screen.

There are some things to track student assignments and stuff. I really am not interested in that, so, I did not try it.

The Bad Stuff

First, content. MakeMusic is promising Continue reading SmartMusic 10

SmartMusic 10 M.I.A.

For months, MakeMusic has been saying SmartMusic 10 is coming. The amount of hype they have been making is akin to Microsoft and it’s “new” Vista operating system. MakeMusic hasn’t even updated the current version of SmartMusic to handle files generated by Finale 2007 which was released way back in August. To create files, you need to have 2006 still installed on your computer.

The other day, I received a packet from MakeMusic. I was shocked. It looked like SmartMusic 10 had been release. Alas, it was not. Instead of spending money getting the stupid program out, they chose to spend quite a bit of money to continue the “hype” of the vaporware SmartMusic 10. This packet probably cost $10 to put together. Perhaps more.

Let us examine the contents of this “hype” package….

First Continue reading SmartMusic 10 M.I.A.

BMG “Jazz” Music Club

I am part of the BMG “Jazz” Music club. I very rarely buy things from them as they charge you up the *#?@#^& in shipping, and it ends up being not all that cheap. I tend to get most of my stuff off Amazon.com used.

Today, I received the BMG Early Spring 2007 Catalog. Not a SINGLE mention of Michael Brecker on it. Nada. They do have, on page 18, Michael’s “Wide Angles” Album. No promo box about him. Nothing. Instead, they are peddling yet another Coltrane album called Gold on page 19. On page 3 they have a big box with Mindi Abair. On page 9 they have Richard Elliot. On page 13 they have Marion Meadows. No Brecker. Not even an insert about it. One would think they could, in addition to Checks Unlimited insert, the Build the Ultimate DVD Collection insert, and the BMG Music store insert, they could have put in a Michael Brecker special or something. I might have actually have bought something from them then. It makes one wonder what they will do when Sonny Rollins or some other titan dies. Are they going to ignore the event and feature the likes of Mindi Abair instead?

I am disgusted with BMG now. I am writing them a nasty letter and canceling my account with them.

Update: 05/04 16:11 GMT by E :I got another BMG thing in the mail. They are featuring KENNY G? What the Hell? Amazing. The “Jazz” club featuring Kenny F@#*$*% G……

The 50 Worst Artists In Music History

Blender.com, a great music music site, published a great list in 2003 of “The 50 Worst Artists In Music History“. While I don’t agree about #16, Oingo Boingo, I do agree with #4, Kenny G.

"Hated equally by jazz and rock fans, Kenny Gorelick's limpid instrumentals and obsequious cameos helped turn the soprano sax solo into pop music's most feared cliche. He started his career with fusion hack Jeff Lorber, and his 1986 album, Duotones, established a steady market for anodyne, minimal background music, an aesthetic that reached its zenith in 1997 when "The G" set a world record by holding a single note for 45 minutes.
Appalling fact He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a degree in accounting.
Worst CD Classics in the Key of G (Arista, 1999)"

They also have some interesting comments about Jazz Fusion

"It's a rule of thumb that any music that uses jazz as a prefix will make you want to saw your head off in boredom (see also: jazz-funk, jazz rap, jazz house). But none is as wearying as the genre that thought what rock really needed was month-long bass solos and time signatures Stephen Hawking wouldn't understand.

Cut them some slack, they did publish a fairly good jazz list a while ago. They did nail the Kenny G thing though, I’d have put him as #2. And a newer list would have Paris Hilton and Ashlee Simpson I’m sure….

Windcontroller Group (Group Think)

Over this weekend, I got into this heated argument on a Yahoo group about Wind Controllers. I was interested in perhaps getting a new EWI 4000 to supplement my practicing. I said in one post that I thought a lot of the people using the controller as a sax made it sound cheesy. And, honestly, the sounds do sound cheesy. And I stated that you should try to be a sax, or a flute at all because it just doesn’t sound right. Wow. The little people on that list blew up, calling my statements “stupid”, calling me “bipolar” when I said that the Garritan Jazz Band sounds sound good (but not good enough) and slandering me about everything under the moon. The moderator, Matt at Patchman Music decided to just remove me from the list without any explanation. Nice moderating there guy.

I thought it was really interesting that these guys have deluded themselves into thinking that playing a flute patch, or sax patch sounds as good as the real thing. One gem, was posted by this german guy “We emulators must have come very close to the “real thing” otherwise they wouldn’t feel to threatened and be so passionate about preventing emulation”. I totally don’t agree. You are doing a disservice to the music community. Whatever happened to tone? Isn’t tone the most important part of someone’s playing? If you are proficient on wind controller, why not just play the real instrument then? There is not much of a leap from EWI to clarinet. Why not just play it as it’s own instrument with it’s own unique sound?

Group Think

Ah, anyhow, the little group there seems to think not. Thus I got bounced, though people who slandered me seem to have been allowed to continue to post. I think the wind controller players are limiting themselves if they do emulation, or even think it sounds a “believable” substitute for a real instrument. Steps Ahead would not be on my iPod if Brecker was using a flute patch to play all those songs.

But what do you all think? EWI as a substitute for a real instrument? As it’s own entity (ala Brecker)? I am totally for the latter, and opposed to the former.

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?