Beethoven’s Ninth Video

Videographer Valdas Katovas recorded our spring concert, a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and Greenville Chorale. This video is the entire fourth movement. You can occasionally see me on the front row of the Chorale, next to the tympani and behind the trombones. Beethoven No 9 from Valdas Kotovas on … Continue reading Beethoven’s Ninth Video

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne

To Joy

Joy, thou beauteous godly lighting,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire drunken we are ent’ring
Heavenly, thy holy home!

Thy enchantments bind together,
What did custom stern divide;
Every man becomes a brother,
Where thy gentle wings abide.

Be embrac’d, ye millions yonder!
Take this kiss throughout the world!
Brothers—o’er the stars unfurl’d
Must reside a loving father.

–Friedrich Schiller, 1786

Last night the Greenville Chorale joined forces with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  The 9th is one of my favorite pieces, and I’ve had the privilege to perform it once before.  Last night’s performance, though was one of the most stirring I’ve ever experienced.

For the Chorale, the piece came together fairly quickly.  Many of us were familiar with the music, but also the chorus doesn’t sing that much in the concert.  We’re only there for the last half of the last movement of the piece – about 20 minutes worth. Bing Vick often let us out of rehearsals early, which was a nice change of pace.

However, that is a VERY challenging 20 minutes.  First there is the range.  The piece is written at the extreme upper vocal range for all parts.  I can’t think of another piece that has the basses singing a high F as many times and as long as this one does.  Then there was the tempo set by Maestro Tchivzhel – fast, then blindingly fast.  We had to squeeze a mouthful of German syllables into such a fast pace that I don’t think any of us got all of the words correct, even in the final performance.  Oh, yeah, they had to be on the right pitches and at the right dynamic, too.  It was a bear. Continue reading “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne”

She Blinded Me with Science

Thomas Dolby

Last night Laura and I went to see Thomas Dolby at The Handlebar. It was the first band we had seen in a long, long time – a great show, and a throwback to our college days.

Dolby is currently touring the country in his “Time Capsule Tour.” The show features lots of steam-punk kitsch, and a mocked up “time capsule” in which visitors can leave a “30 second message for the future” (basically a webcam uploading to YouTube.) The time capsule is a mini camper tricked out with steam-punk accoutrements.

TD Time Capsule

Thomas Dolby at Handlebar

Continue reading “She Blinded Me with Science”

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space

St George from Choir Loft

Sunday afternoon the Greenville Chorale Chamber Ensemble presented its annual concert at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The concert was entitled “Sacred Music for a Sacred Space” and featured sacred music by contemporary composers. The pairing of music with venue was well-planned, and somewhat modeled the liturgy that might be followed in a traditional service.

Saturday morning we had our dress rehearsal in the cathedral, and I brought along my camera to get a few shots of the interior. I started with exterior shots…

St George Exterior 1

…then moved to the interior to photograph the stunning mosaics above the altar.

St George Interior 1

St George Interior 3

St George Interior 2 Continue reading “Sacred Music for a Sacred Space”

iPad as Effects Processor

Bell Sound Waves 1

So far we’ve looked at iOS devices as digital audio workstations, notation readers and scorers, and as musical synthesizers. This time we’re going to take a look at the devices as effects processors.

The phrase “effects processor” is a catch-all term that refers to just about any way that sound is manipulated before its amplified, recorded, etc.  This could be as basic as adding reverberation to make it sound like your in a large auditorium instead of a small recording studio, or as complex as auto-tuning, looping, or otherwise radically altering the sound.

Effects devices typically took two forms.  There were rack-mounted devices that controlled EQ, compression, reverb, delay, etc.  Then there were performance devices.  These were usually geared toward guitarists, and included the Fuzz, WahWah, Flanger, and distortion peddles.  Now a whole range of effects peddles can be found.  Rack-mounted effects are still important in studio work, but most of those effects can now be found on performance devices themselves, such as keyboards, etc.

Effects apps for iOS seem to look more like performance level devices, and this makes sense.  The portability of the device makes it a great alternative if you needs some quick effects and don’t want to lug all your gear with you.  If you’re doing a jam session or just practicing, these are great.  I’m not sure how it would work in a studio setting, though. Continue reading “iPad as Effects Processor”

iPad as DAW

Lpk25

A couple of years ago I purchased a little Akai LPK25 keyboard. I was exploring MIDI sequencing and notation input on mobile devices such like my netbook, and was looking for a quick input device. I was sorely disappointed in what was available inexpensively, and I never seemed to be able to get the keyboard to work with either my netbook or my laptop. The keyboard sat on the edge of my desk for months, unused.

akai-LPK25-front_face-900

When I got the iPad one of the first apps I found was Garage Band. It was cool, but the virtual keyboard on the device just didn’t seem natural for playing. I missed raised black notes.

I had purchased the camera connection kit for the iPad, and found out from several online forums that the USB connector in the camera kit would work connect the LPK to the IPad. This started my first serious delvings into using the iPad as a digital audio workstation, or DAW.  I’ve now had a chance to work with several DAW apps. Here’s a quick rundown with my impressions. Continue reading “iPad as DAW”

Electronic Music Primer

moogrc6

I figured that before I dive into the musical capabilities of the iPad, it might not hurt to define some of these terms and acronyms that I’m tossing around. As with any field, electronic music has its own jargon that can be quite confusing. These are roughly in order of how frequently I’ll be using the terms over the next several posts. I don’t pretend to be an expert, and will probably get some of this wrong, but here goes…

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) – MIDI was developed as a communications protocol in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s. It allows musical keyboards to control other keyboards and devices such as computers, etc.

Even though it was developed thirty years ago, MIDI is still very much in use. Back in the day when computers didn’t have much memory, MIDI was also a very efficient way to create complex compositions. A computer or external sequencer only had to record key-on/key-off, pitch, and duration data. The actual sounds were produced by the external keyboards or sound modules. Other capabilities were added to the protocol, such as the ability to detect velocity, or how hard a key is pressed, and the ability to control various settings on instruments such as sustain, and to trigger events such as changing lighting, changing settings, etc. You could also play multiple keyboards from one controller keyboard, creating thick sounds and tonalities from multiple instruments.

MIDI has 16 different channels, and different instruments can be assigned to various channels. On most keyboards you will find a MIDI in, out, and through port. On many modern keyboards the MIDI signal is now transmitted through a USB port. Continue reading “Electronic Music Primer”

iMake Music

It seems timely that the lowly Commodore C64 was introduced 30 years ago this week. The C64 was my introduction to music technology, and my gateway to the larger world of instructional technology. I used the C64 with a MIDI interface and some very basic sequencing software to control a Casio CZ101 keyboard, a Korg … Continue reading iMake Music

Speed of Lightning, Roar of Thunder

underdog

There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!

When criminals in this world appear
And break the laws that they should fear
And frighten all who see or hear
The cry goes up both far and near
For Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

When in this world the headlines read
Of those whose hearts are filled with greed
Who rob and steal from those who need
To right this wrong with blinding speed
Goes Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

‘Way back in the 1960s Underdog (along with Space Ghost, Spiderman, and the Fantastic Four) was part of may pantheon of Saturday morning superheroes. I loved the opening theme song, and Underdog’s rhyming discourse and over-the-top battles with Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff. I never did care much for Polly Purebred, though.

Of course, the best part of the show was the theme song:


Continue reading “Speed of Lightning, Roar of Thunder”

Music Nomenclature

I was listening to a new music show on my XM radio, and heard the terms “record” and “album” applied to an upcoming release by a new artist.  It caught me a bit by surprise.   I hadn’t heard the word “album” used to refer to a musical recording in quite some time. I don’t … Continue reading Music Nomenclature