Tag Archives: Practicing

Band-in-a-Box 2010 for Windows

PGMusic announced today that they are out with the latest, greatest version of BinaB for Windows (no new Mac version yet). Nothing really “whoa” in this version, other than if you upgrade from the previous version you can get ALL the RealTracks. Some of the highlights of the update I found interesting are:

  • Plug-in mode….generate tracks and drag and drop them into your DAW like Sonar, FL-Studio, and ProTools. Kinda cool.
  • 3x faster generating RealTracks and freezing of tracks (so they don’t have to be generated again)….finally!
  • RealTracks support Shots, Holds and Pushes….finally
  • Double time/Half Time support for RealTracks
  • 999 undo levels

Best deal for previous owners is the $139 USB hard drive “UltraPlusPAK” or the “EverythingPAK”. You really don’t want to download it. I did…it was painful. Band-in-a-Box is a great program, on any platform for people wanting to practice changes, songs, or even use it for composition. I couldn’t count the times I’ve used BinaB generated drum and bass parts (and sometimes piano) for arrangements…..

Santa says go get it!

Pitch Primer For The iPhone/iTouch

The Apple iPhone/iTouch software market is amazing. Games, tuners (like the great Strobe tuner). Even AutoTune things like I Am T-Pain.

Now, there is the Pitch Primer for the platform. It is amazing. Transcription tool? Sure it could be. Amazing practice tool? YES! Amazing idea? YES! It is easiest to see a demo of it. Things that I’d like it to do would be EXPORT the audio you recorded (several other iPhone/iTouch programs can do this). And it would be killer if it would export things as a midi file. Or Music XML file.

Amazing product. Get it now while it’s $4.99.

Boots Randolph’s Rock And Roll Saxophone

Boots Randolph’s Rock and Roll Saxophone – Techniques and Fundamentals for Today’s Players by Boots Randolph and Mike Shannon is 63 pages that try to show you how to play rock and roll like Boots. Not that Boots playing could in any way be condensed down to so few pages.

The first part of the boot, about 20 pages, deals with scales. Major, minor, blues, dorian, mixolydian, in thirds, fourths and arpeggios. Nothing new. Then the book moves into long tones, and has a little discussion about how tone/ear training is important. It is worth reading.

Page 30 on out gets into the stuff you wanted to know, how to play Rock and Roll saxophone like Boots. The book goes over Growls, Slap tonguing, Throat trills, pops, and vibrato in addition to a bunch of other things. There are some excellent examples of what these sound like on the CD. Then there is an excellent discussion about altissimo, and how to do it, when to use it, how to practice it, and Continue reading Boots Randolph’s Rock And Roll Saxophone

New Version of Band In A Box Starts Beta Testing

This was posted yesterday on PGMusic.com.

We’re looking for current users of Band-in-a-Box 2007 to help us test some of our latest features. In order to qualify as a beta tester, you must be:

  • A current user of Band-in-a-Box 2007 For Windows.

Seems the Macintosh version will languish another year without an update (yet again). Wonder what is going to be in the new version. Last year, they introduced RealDrums into the program. This year? I don’t know, but lets speculate a little.
Continue reading New Version of Band In A Box Starts Beta Testing

Interesting iTunes Alternative

I came across Create Digital Music’s discussion of Native Instruments BeatPort SYNC. It has a lot of interesting features such as:

  • Two-deck mixer with manual/automatic crossfader
  • Pitch control
  • Time-stretching and tempo detection, for smooth crossfades even if you don’t know what you’re doing (or you’re, say, folding laundry or cleaning your studio and want the software to DJ for you — it happens)
  • Rip and burn CDs
  • Access external devices for browsing and backup
  • iTunes library integration (no playback support for DRMed tracks, though meta-data will appear)

For me, the time-stretching function would be welcome. Currently, if I need to slow something down, I have to drag it out of iTunes into Transcribe. That works well, but being able to do it within the program would be so much easier.

Alas, I wasn’t able to test it as it loaded fine, but proceeded to try to analyze my iTunes library, which, in it’s current size, could take days to do. But, this might be a good alternative to people who need pitch and tempo controls and like the iTunes type interface (who wouldn’t??)

Sightreading Jazz by Bob Taylor

First off, I need to apologize to Bob Taylor. He sent me this book a while ago. Months ago, and I just plain got busy. So, finally, here is a review of the book.

Sightreading Jazz is a 130 page, spiral bound book that addresses jazz sightreading. Being able to come to a musical situation, and play stuff for the first time with a high degree of accuracy is an essential skill. Bob Taylor’s book focuses on sightreading jazz music.

The first part of the book gives you some history, things to look out for, counting rhythms, swing rhythms, articulations, and accents. The second part is where the meat of the book begins, the Rhythms. 2 and 4 bar rhythms. Mr. Taylor recommends practicing these with one pitch, or two or three pitches that you pick out, or using a scale (going up or down as the notes go by), or an arpeggio, or two octaves, or using thirds. Whew. PLUS, you can do the rhythms across the page, down the column….and upside down (just kidding).

Actually, upside down come in the next section, where Continue reading Sightreading Jazz by Bob Taylor

Vade-Mecum of The Oboist

There are a number of books out there that are for Oboe that have been adapted for Saxophone. Ferling’s, and Rossari’s books would be two examples. Another great book to check out is “Vade-Mecum of The Oboist” by Albert J. Andraud. The 200 page, over sized book contains 230 selected studies (some from Ferling) and Orchestral excerpts to hone your skills. Though it is for the Oboe, it works great on saxophone. This book does not pull any punches. It starts hard and keeps it there.

For those looking for some technique etudes, this book will not disappoint. 9/10 (1 point deducted for the oversize of the book which I don’t particularly care for).

Pimped Out Studio

The idea, which I have had for years, was to have a digital studio where I didn’t go through reams of paper every year. I finally did it. Using an iMac, and it’s video spanning capabilities, I made a digital music stand. While the technology has been there, the costs were way too high. The costs for this was around $650+/-. $70 for the VESA Mount, $100 for the Conga stand, $300 for the monitor, $25 for the iMac video adapter, $120 for the USB foot pedal, and $6 for the plastic cover and connectors (Tap Plastics rocks). A year or two ago, this would have been a lot more. A year from now, it will be less. That’s technology for ya.

Pictures and more inside……

I have a lot of songs that I have done on Finale and on PDF, enough to fill a 3 inch binder. In fact, I have 5 such binders that I have tried to store copies of the songs so I wouldn’t need to print them out if I wanted to play them with a student. One problem with this system is finding songs. An Index? Well, I suppose, but it is a pain keeping it up to date, and flipping though a huge 3 inch binder is not fun. Plus, the Manhassette stand won’t keep raised with a full 3 inch binder on it. Then there are page turns. It was just a hassle.

Now, with the all digital setup, I can load a song up, display it on the other screen. Simple. No printing. If it is multiple pages, no problem, the 22″ monitor handles it with no problems. Three pages? That is where the foot peddle comes in. I have the X-Keys programmed (using iKey) to advance to the next page if I stomp on the right of the peddle, back a page if I stomp left, and in the center, it toggles one or two page mode. I can also do the same stuff using PDF files. So, anything I’ve scanned in I can view in the same way. It works very well so far.

The other thing is SmartMusic. It’s easier to use, though SmartMusic does not do two pages. Though it does seem to work alright if you flip the monitor around and put it into portrait mode.

Continue reading Pimped Out Studio

Neff Music Approach Note Velocity Studies

Every month, I make it a point to buy new music. New music including books in addition to recorded media. I have quiet a backlog of things to review. So, first up are Approach Note Velocity Studies.

I’m not sure when I found these on the net, but Steve Neff’s Approach Note Velocity Studies are pretty darn neat. For $10, you get 90 some pages of great sounding chromatic lines that you can use on Major and Minor vamps. You can incorporate them into other chord progressions as well, such as blues, rhythm changes, etc. If you own the Joseph Viola Chord Studies book, these patterns are similar to those 16th note lines at the end of each chord study. I have also seen patterns like these called neighboring tones or approach tones in other books.

There are two volumes, Major and Minor. Both are great. Check them out.

Band In A Box 2007

There are a couple of programs I always update when a new version comes out. Finale, Digital Performer, anything from Apple, and, of course, Band in a Box. Yes campers, a new version of Band in a Box is out for PC. 2007. The Mac version, sadly, is still languishing in limbo at version 12. Though there was a message from PG Music about this in their forums and they said a new Mac version was “A high priority”. Yeah.

Moving on. Band in a Box (BinaB) is an incredible program and a great musical tool. It has been for years. The new 2007 version has some interesting features, and well, does leave me wondering about the future of the program…

First off, when you have a program such as BinaB, it has had just about everything one could want since, um, 2004’s version. Version 2007 is billed as having 50 new features. Let’s list them: Continue reading Band In A Box 2007

Jazz Saxophone Duets by Greg Fishman

I had rave reviews of Greg Fishman’s “Jazz Saxophone Etudes” book. I really like the tunes in that book. They are melodic, sound great, and are idiomatic of good jazz solos. The concept of including two CDs (one for Alto, and one for Tenor) was, well, fairly obvious (yet no one else does this, ie: Snidero’s Jazz Conception books, or Mintzer’s Etude books).

So, in the mail the other day, I received Fishman’s latest creation, Jazz Saxophone Duets ……

Yup, it’s as good as his other book. There are 10 duets. Two versions of each. One version is for two like instruments, such as two Tenors, or two Altos. The other version is for Alto and Tenor (Alto on the top line, Tenor on the bottom). Each “Duet” could be an etude that could, perhaps should, have been in Greg’s other book. The tunes sound great.

Oh, and they have a rhythm section accompaniment track as well. Did I mention this book contains three CDs. One CD of all the etudes done on Altos. One CD of all the etudes on Tenors. And one CD of all the etudes Alto and Tenor. And on each CD you have the Duet with both parts played, just the top line, just the bottom line, or just the rhythm section (which is on all the tracks). How cool is that?

Two little complaints. First, when I ripped the CDs into iTunes, all the CDs showed up as the Tenor version. That was a pain. Also, the Artist column didn’t make sense, and I had to change that. Second, I kind of wanted another couple of medium tempo tunes. There are 5 tunes that are metronome 200 or above, One ballad (mm=69), one near 200 tune (mm=192). So, that leaves three tunes at mm=126, mm=132, and mm=152. I think if there were two more tunes in the 130 to 160 range, this book would be a perfect 10.

In all, this is a very cool duet/etude book. It’s for advanced intermediate on up players. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Update: 11/12 07:14 GMT by E :Greg Fishman emailed the following:

"Since the three CDs are all almost exactly the same length and same number of tracks,
i-tunes thinks they're all the same disc. I tried correcting this many times by submitting the correct info for each CD separately to the CDDB database, but it didn't make a difference. After several weeks of trying to get the i-tunes database to see the difference, I just stopped trying. This is not my fault or the book's fault; it's just an i-tunes glitch, but I know it's a pain.

Regarding the medium tempos, I did have two more tunes planned, but due to the format of including four versions of each duet, I ran out of space on the CDs. As it stands, the CDs are 74+ minutes each. It would have meant including more CDs or cutting some of the faster duets. I ended up simply picking what I thought were the best duets."

Yes, seems the CDs are indeed filled to the brim. However, the first thing I did when I got the book was add them to my iTunes library. Makes one wonder if it even makes sense to include audio CDs anymore. Why not just a data CD that has the tracks ripped in high quality MP3 format?

Beyond The Horn – Backgrounds

Yes, you knew it was coming. Backgrounds to practice Walt Weiskopf’s great new book, Beyond The Horn. A lot of these are based on “standard” tunes. A couple are original chord changes. All of them are very challenging to play with the Etudes out of the book. It’s different, it’s fun, it will bust your chops for sure. Enjoy!

  Beyond The Horn Backgrounds in Band-in-the-Box format (10.5 KiB, 21 hits)
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Beyond The Horn

Walt Weiskopf and Ed Rosenberg, have released a great new book, Beyond The Horn. It is more of a follow up to his great Around The Horn book. The 246 pages are filled with Octave Displaced Triads, and a bevy of Octave displaced minor, melodic minor, harmonic minor and a bunch of other modes. Plus, there are some etudes based on original and standard chord songs that incorporate the material studied throughout the book in them. The funniest title, for me, was “You’re Modern” which is based on the chords to “I’m Old Fashioned” by Jerome Kern. Get it?…..get it? Aw, nevermind.

They forward in the book says that the material was tried out with a captives from the Eastman Music school. Supposedly no students were injured in the testing….though it doesn’t say that…..

All of Walt Weiskopf’s books are must haves in your library. His Around The Horn, “Coltrane – A Players Guide To His Harmony, Intervallic Improvisation, and Augmented Scale In Jazz are well written, easy to read, concise books every saxophone player should have. This book gets a 10 out of 10.