Friday, April 28, 2006

Practice, Practice, Practice

From the June 2006 (it's June already?!!) issue of Acoustic Guitar these tips for practicing (abbridged)
1. Block off your practice time
2. Set a goal for the day
3. Keep a journal
4. Warm up first
5. Use a Metronome
6. Do it every day

Here I go:
1. Sometime after dinner
2. Find my tuner
3. That's what this is
4. It's 70 inside at the moment, close enough
5. I know I had one, I just haven't seen it for about a year...
6. Ehh, maybe tomorrow

Mark Geary performs Volunteer

Mark Geary opened for The Weepies last night at Club Passim. I didn't think I'd heard him before, but when he started playing Volunteer I knew that I'd heard that song before. Very nice song.

At the end he even does some looping, and a song that has a bit of a Beatles song in it (I've Got A Feeling) can't be all bad!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

John Gorka

John Gorka played at Club Passim last Sunday, April 23, and it was a great show. Though I wasn't really familiar with his music prior to the show, I've heard his name around a lot; just didn't quite know what he'd done. So it was cool to catch him live and see what it was like.

I really enjoyed the show and he has some great songs, just two highlights; Mean Streak and People My Age which is a hilarious little number about growing old. John has a great stage presence; very amusing and light hearted, but a dynamic performer.

And he plays a Martin.

The audio on this is a little light due to the camera used to record it, and because I was off axis from the front speaker.

John Lennon: Back From The Dead Part II

No, I didn't see it, but Stephen Colbert talked about it on his show last night. He said that John Lennon's message was 'Peace, the answer is Peace' or something like that.

Stephen wasn't so sure what John meant, so he immediately took out his own after-life communication device and 'spoke' to the spirit of John Lennon. Seems that John really meant 'piece' as in 'getting a piece of the action.' Turns out the afterlife is kind of expensive.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Logic Express

I've been playing with GarageBand, but even after installing 1GB in my iBook, have been a little annoyed with it's performance. I mean, I think GarageBand is perfectly fine for me features wise; it's just annoying to have it stop recording after only three or four minutes with only one track.

Apple also sells Logic, and Logic Express. Logic is a high-powered audio creation and editing tool, while Logic Express is somewhat in between GarageBand and Logic. Some people on the web report that Logic is more efficient - less of a system pig - than GarageBand.

You can even download a trial version of Logic Express, though I found the link on another web site rather than found it on Apple's site, itself.

So I'm going to give that a whirl and see if it really is a little smoother than GarageBand.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

John Lennon: Back From The Dead With A Great New Diet!

From what little I know of John Lennon, I think that the last thing he would do is communicate from the other side via a pay-per-view event, but that's evidently the case:
A controversial television seance airing on Monday will claim it has reached the spirit of John Lennon, but viewers will have to pay $9.95 to find out what the peace-loving Beatle has to say.

Then again, maybe the rates are cheaper, or maybe he would do it, just to screw with us.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Justin King

Pretty amazing playing!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

How Do You Pronounce Takamine?

Like the word Porsche, it appears that I've been pronouncing it all wrong.

Takamine is pronounced:

tah -- kah -- MEE -- neh

The word means "high ridge" (as in "mountain ridge") and is taken from the name of a mountain (Mt. Takamine) located in the Gifu Prefecture where the company is located.

GarageBand Tutorials

I've been messing around with GarageBand since:

a) I already have it
b) it seems to work!
c) it's not that complicated

and I just came across the Apple Tutorials for it, which makes it even easier; trust me, it's not as obvious to use as you might think/wish that it was.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

World's Worst Songs

Ken Levine started a list of the Worst Songs of all Time. I don't agree with everything on the list, but most of them I do!

4/31 UPDATE: Another worst songs article at

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Holophone H3-D Microphone

Is it a space probe from Star Wars? Or some new robot? Maybe a shaker? Nope, it the Holophone H3-D microphone, a 5.1 multi-channel surround sound microphone. This is described as 'economical' as it will be priced at $1,695. Their H2-D Pro microphone costs $5,500.

What's it do? Well it outputs multiple channels, and provides a surround sound image. You need the ability to record all those channels at once separately (a drag if you only has a USB interface or a low-cost recorder.) What's it's application? Ummm...well I'm sure it has some application for live recording, though novice that I am, I can't help but think that you have a lot more control if you mic things separately.

The astute amongst you will notice that this image is a 3D model. Their microphones do exist though; at least they have pictures of their H2-D on their website.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lost In Vermont

I'm in Vermont, staying with friends for a couple of days.

Last night we went to see Cabaret at the Northern Stage, a small professional theater in White River Junction, VT. I'd never seen Cabaret before (live or the movie) so it was really exciting to see it. The production was really good. I hesitate to say that it was "better than expected" since that suggests automatically that I wasn't expecting much. The production was excellent, the actors all great, and even though I don't think I'd put Cabaret forward as my favorite show, I definitely enjoyed it and was really glad to see it.

Unfortunately, the last performance is tonight, so you missed it!

Today stopped into Hanover Strings which is the local musical instrument store in Hanover New Hampshire. It's a small store, and it has breadth more than depth, but still was interesting to spend a quarter hour looking through. Bought a book of Dave Matthews Band Music. They had an iControl, a USB controller that works with GarageBand, which I hadn't seen before; . Not sure that it's worth the $150, but still interesting. The guy behind the counter was kind enough to let me open the box and nose around for a second.

And to complete the 'i' report, my friends have the Altec Lansing inMotion speakers for the iPod. The sound isn't too bad; not as good as Apple's seapkers, but then it's half the price.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Another Thought On Digital Beatles

Reading the report on The Beatles going digital, I see the following note:
Neil Aspinall, a former Beatles road manager and managing director of Apple Corps, was a witness in the company's trademark lawsuit against Apple Computer.

He said that the company was digitally remastering the entire Beatles catalog, which would pave the way for selling the songs online.

Which got me thinking. Remastering? Really? Or do they just mean compressing? Are they really going through and remastering the recordings? I thought they did that once for the CD release? Could a remaster done now (about 20 years after the CD remastering) be any better than the CD remaster?

I'm guessing that yes, advances in technology and all that, they might do a better job. Though I have to wonder how much you will lose when those remasters are compressed to go out over the Interent.

But what I find really curious is that, reading Geoff Emerick's book, he says several times that he doesn't like the CD recordings because they magnify problems in the original recordings. Wouldn't a digital remaster done now just make it even worse? Or will the digitally take out all the noise? And if they alter them so much, then aren't we getting away from the original recordings?

In other words; if The Beatles never made a Dolby Digital 5.1 release of Sgt. Peppers is it okay to do it now? Or is it like colorizing old Black & White movies?

Beatles Join The Revolution

It seems that The Beatles are going to join the online revolution and start selling there music digitally through The Internets. Oh goody! I can buy their catalog a third time (to go with the vinyl and CD copies I already have.)

Or maybe not. I can already put my CDs on my iPod.

But it is interesting that they are finally going to put their stuff online.
You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Here There And Everywhere

I'm a big Beatles fan, and I've read a pretty large number of books on the Beatles. So many that I pretty much have given up on looking at any new books that have come out. But, the other day I was at Barnes & Noble and came across the book Here There and Everywhere by Geoff Emerick. Emerick was the balance engineer for a lot of the Beatles recording sessions, and this book documents those sessions, along with a few other details of his career.

I'm about 1/3 of the way through this, and it's really great. Emerick must have kept a diary or have a photographic memory (or perhaps access to the original studio tapes have refreshed his memory) as the book is amazingly detailed. Lots of stories from the recording sessions; really interesting things about how songs came together and the recording effects used, as well as rememberances of things that happened; from the day that fans ran riot at Abbey Road, and recording Strawberry Fields, to how the Beatles interacted with each other, and with other people, including the session musicians that were brought in. It's great stuff.

This may even replace my previous favorite Beatles book; The Beatles: Recording Sessions, the Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes 1962-1970 by Mark Lewisohn. While that book is very detailed about the sessions, it lacks the more personal details that Emerick adds.

So if you're a Beatles nut, definitely pick this book up; you won't be dissapointed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Like To Hit Things

It's percussion day at The Guitar Apprentice!!

That's what happens when you talk to a drummer. You start talking about drums and percussion and drummers you've seen and songs with percussion you like and they start telling you about crashes and rides and you start thinking "That almost makes sense!"

And it seems like everywhere I listen, I hear drums.

On NPR today:
All Things Considered, April 11, 2006 · The Junkman makes music with mailboxes, saw blades, frying pans and beer cans. But he has also composed two pieces for Twyla Tharp and performed with both Eminem and the Louisville Symphony.

Now the Junkman has written a full length spoken-word opera based on the Nordic myth of the Viking god of war, who also happens to be the Viking god of knowledge. Odin calls for 10 percussionists, a cast of six and a chorus of 24. It will be performed at New York University in April. Andrea Shea reports.

And then tonight on BBC Radio, they have a peice on Brian Eno talking about Tony Allan, an afrobeat drummer described as "one of the world's best drummers."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Drum Solo Anyone?

More Beatles News

According to The Telegraph The Beatles will release a new album to mark opening of a Las Vegas extravaganza with the acrobats of the Cirque du Soleil interpreting the songs.

It's a little unclear what they are doing, though the article notes: "The producers will have access to unreleased archival material, including 200 hours of recorded conversations between the Beatles in the recording studio."

And, another new Beatles set; The Capitol Years, is released tomorrow. I gather it has the mono and stereo versions of the early Beatles albums in the "U.S." format; remember that Capitol released versions of The Beatles albums that were very different from the U.K. releases.

Having grown up with the U.K. albums, I guess I'm not as enthused about the idea of getting the U.S. versions (though I know how disconcerting it can be to be used to a particular track order and have things change on you.)

As to the stereo/mono debate; George Martin (and Paul, George and Ringo) felt that mono was the 'right' way to hear the early albums, and did that for the original CD release. Don't forget that when the albums were first produced, they were only mixed in mono, the stereo mixes weren't even made by them.

But hey, if people will buy it, why not sell it to them?

Classical Mystery Tour

An Internet posting about Classical Mystery Tour caught my attention. It's some of the actors from Beatlmania performing with a classical orchestra at various places around the country.

It looks like fun, so I got tickets for the Boston show!

Here's part of the review:

They came out in the black suits like the early Beatles and as the show progressed, so did the clothing. About midway they came out in the Pepper uniforms and ended as the "1969" Beatles, Paul and Ringo in cool black suits and George in his denim attire. Where's John? Ah, there he comes out last, long hair and the white suit. I laughed out loud. [...]

The show was really a hoot. At first they played a few without the symphony and I Saw Her Standing There really took me back. It ripped! Some of the Beatles songs I'm not real wild about, like Eleanor Rigby and A Day in the Life were really good in concert with the symphony. At the end of A Day in the Life, where the long note is, the crowd clapped too soon. The conductor gave the Lennon actor at the piano a look and they ended the note early. Too bad as I'm sure they were ready to carry it out to it's long end. I am the Walrus was another of my favorites.

There was a great rendition of Good Night, from the White Album with the drummer and symphony doing an excellent job. I'll probably never see/hear that song in concert again ever.

Golden Slumbers / Carry that Weight / The End were my favorites. The guy playing lead on a Tele nailed all the John / Paul / George solos on that one by himself. His Tele was really wild looking and changed color from silver to green when the light hit it. [...]

The final encore was Twist and Shout and the older audience was on it's feet. The thought entered my brain "would John still be playing Twist and Shout if he were still with us?" Not just yeah, but hell yeah!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Making A Guitar Neck

Taylor Guitars has been putting up weekly video clips about guitar building. This week's clip looks at what goes in to building the Taylor guitar neck.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Behringer Brings USB To Guitar

Fender has already shown (but not delivered) a Stratocaster with an Ethernet connection. Now Behringer - maker of all musical equipment cheap - has announced the iAXE393 USB Guitar. Catchy name. It's a Strat-like guitar with USB connection.

I'm a little hazy on what the Fender sends out over it's Ethernet connection (Digital Audio? MIDI? Something else? All of the above?) The iAXE393 sends out audio. I'm not sure that a USB connection would be much use for real gigging situations; so this is really for hom recording and maybe for practice and learning applications. The write-up suggests that included software, in addition to letting you add efects, will let you slow down music that you play along to and other neat tricks.

According to the web page, the iAXE393 includes:
The iAXE comes with loads of great-sounding virtual amps and stomp boxes powered by state-of-the-art modeling software. Jam along with your MP3, WAV and AIFF songs or backing tracks on your Mac® or PC. We even included multi-track recording and editing software so you can record your music on the spot.

Sounds like more fun than a barrel of monkeys. The package comes complete with a USB cable, adjustable guitar strap, three picks and padded gig bag, and WDM and ASIO drivers.

Nothing on price yet, and availability isn't expected until the second quarter. (Also, the computer depicted is not included.)

Happy Birthday My Blog

I've been doing this for a year. My how time flys when you're getting no where.

I Got Memory

My iBook is now sporting 1.25GB of memory. Turns out I didn't put the damn card in right!! :( Anyway, all fixed and on to bigger and better disasters...