Software for Musicians

FINALE PRINT MUSIC 2014 for quickly creating customized notated music.

There is the old joke – “How do you stop a guitar player from playing? – The answer “You just give him a page of sheet music.”

Unfortunately it is just so true. Most amateur, and a sizeable number of professional guitarists, cannot read music.  Not only that, they often take great pride in their inability to read musical notation. Just think about that! Is there any other profession where professional practitioners would take pride in their inability to master a basic skill set ? Who has ever heard of say, an actor, who can’t read. Just think about how professionally limiting that would be for an actor. How would he or she learn their scripts? Would they have to get some one to teach them the parts and try and memorize the entire performance. Just imagine the nightmare of rehearsals. And for each new play or script the whole process would begin all over again. In the very early days of Greek Drama that may not have been a problem. There were the classic plays that once committed to memory could be trotted out year after year without any real need for change. Present day rock/pop musicians are in a some what similar situation. Once you have the classic rock repertoire down pat you can roll on year after year without any need to develop or change. But the other side of that coin is to just think about the limitations that imposes on one’s repertoire and possibilities .

I confess that my ability to sight read has been limited. Throw me a piece of sheet of music with a simple melody line and I have to laboriously work my way through the piece and commit it to memory. As I have grown older and my appetite for new and interesting music has out stripped my ability to memorize new music it has become imperative that I find a better way expand my repertoire. That means I need to improve my sight reading skills to the extent that I no longer need to memorize every piece of music I want to play. I want and need to improve my reading skills. Perhaps not to the level of interpreting a symphonic score but at least to be able interpret and perform music at a reasonably professional level. This is where Music Notation Software comes in. I used a program called SONGWORKS for a few years. It was cheap ($60) and clunky. I have been aware of the SIBELIUS software for years but the cost put that out of my reach. FINALE is a competing piece of software that also has a flagship version that is functionally competitive with Sibelius. It is also is some what expensive. FINALE has another product called FINALE Print Music 2014. This is a down scale version that is both affordable ($120 from Amazon.ca) and very easy to learn. My experience with SONGWORKS was probably a good primer for the FINALE product but I suspect any musician could get a handle on the software in one or two weeks. The notation entry is fairly intuitive, with lots of options to produce sheet music or a score that when printed looks and is very professional. Transposition of music from key to key is a breeze. Transposition within a key is also very quick and simple. Have you ever wonder how a piece of music would sound a third, fourth or fifth, etc, higher or lower? No need to wonder any more. A few clicks of a mouse and there it is. There is the option in the software to harmonize music in the fashion of Band-in-a-Box. There is a playback feature with a bank of sample sounds that enables you actually hear the music. The canned sounds are not the greatest but I suspect that there are opportunities in the software to access more realistic sounds. For melody lines I tend to just use the Flute or Oboe selections. The guitars are okay but the mandolin is horrible.

In the past I have had my printed music stored in a zillion three ring binders and the task of finding an older piece of music has always been problematic. But once you have notated the music with FINALE it is always there in an organized directory on your computer. Similarly, word processed lyrics can be treated in the much same way. If you need a hard copy, for whatever reason, just print it as required. Alternatively, transfer the files to a Tablet. Although not the complete answer there are advantages to this approach. With an appropriate clamp a tablet can be attached to a microphone stand and all your music is just a finger tap away. A thing to note is that FINALE Print Music 2014 files can only be read with the original software. It is possible to install that original software on a tablet. The license allows you a month of full use before the license needs to be activated. That doesn’t really need to be a problem. I do all the entry and editing on a desk top computer then transfer a copy of the files to the tablet for practice and performance. Even when the license has not been activated on the tablet it is possible to view and playback the files and that’s all one needs from the Tablet. You won’t be able to edit or save the altered file on the tablet but those functions are more easily done on the desk top.

I use FINALE in conjunction with two data bases of traditional tunes. THE SESSION https://thesession.org/tunes has just about every traditional tune in as many versions you could possibly wish for and it also has a lot of background information on sources, recordings, composers and artists. JC’S ABC TUNE FINDER http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/cgi/abc/tunefind is another useful source.

http://balkanarama.com/charts.htm and http://voluntocracy.org/Music/tunes.html are useful sources of Eastern European melodies. I am sure there are a lot more out there. I am still looking for Middle Eastern and Turkish data bases. Of course a little surfing of YOUTUBE often turns up some interesting tunes that you can search the databases to get the notation of the tune. Type the notation of the tune into FINALE and use that as a learning tool. The down side to all this is the shear number of tunes that will end up on your tablet that are just begging you to practice, polish and move into your repertoire.

So that is my recent experiences with FINALE Print Music 2014. It is a piece of software I can readily recommend. It is available from many on-line sources but the cheapest and easiest is probably Amazon.ca. For $120, plus taxes and no shipping costs it could be on your doorstep in three days.

 

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Quotes of the week

There’s an old joke that goes: Why did the Canadian cross the road? Answer: To get to the middle of the road. Likewise (so they say), if you cut the average Canadian open you would find two words engraved on his or her heart. One would be “moderate”. The other would be “nice”.

and also

Stephen Harper didn’t do “nice”. His default setting was “nasty”, and he positively revelled in it. He was a control freak who instinctively tried to hurt and smear those who disagreed with him, and in his government even the time of day was a state secret.

These are from a recent column by Gwynne Dyer

 

The Trials and Tribulations of a Musician

A LITTLE VOODOO – Contemporary Blues, Centre 64, Saturday October 17, 2015, 8pm. This is the third concert in the fall Jazz and Blues Festival series.

Everyone would like to play music but for a potential musician the first step is deciding to actually go ahead and do it. First step is to get hold of an instrument, take some lessons and start practicing. Then there is the whole process of developing a professional skill set to make it all worth while. It is supposed to be fun, and it often is, but as the old saying goes “10% inspiration, 90% sweat”. So it isn’t as easy as some people imagine. Then there is the search for musically compatible partners to maybe form a working band. By this time you and your musical partners have been playing for years and the aim is then to develop a really tight group sound. And, of course, if you are a rock/blues musician you have “to have the moves” for an on stage performance. At last you have arrived. The sound is tight, the moves groove, but lo, everything is not quite as it should be. It all starts to become a little to rote and stale. Even in the most popular and successful bands then comes a time when every performance starts sounding the same. The music has all been done before and even the banter in between tunes sounds just a little bit too rehearsed.There are no surprises and, often that is exactly what the audience wants, but musically it may not be that satisfying. But then along comes A Little Voodoo (Ron Burke – lead guitar; Tom Knowles – bass guitar; and Rob Vulic – drums) a Blues / Rock outfit whose avowed aim is to go beyond tight and loosen it all up a bit. Risk is the name of the game and the result is “real live music”. The last set list Ron put together was back in the 90’s so the performances are coming out of the air and everybody has to be on his toes. This Calgary band was a real treat for a Kimberley audience that may not have been used to loud, in your face blues/rock music that owed a lot to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Hendrix and the like. Never-the-less they took it in their stride and obviously enjoyed the opening tune with the refrain “I’m tired of living hand to mouth”. What followed was a night of exciting music that included a stellar version of Donovan’s (remember him, a soft sell folkie from way back in the 60s) of Sunshine Superman. There was nothing soft sell about this version!! Not to be outdone by all that came before in the evening the band finished the night with a lesson in constructive feed back. At the end of which Ron finally left his Epiphone guitar standing in the rack while it continued to echo its way through its feed back riffs. To help those riffs reverberate in your mind’s eye here are some images from the evening.

367. Ron Burke  112. Tom Knowles   300. Ron Burke  200. Rob Vulic 216. Rob Vulic308. Ron Burke    320. Ron Burke   312. Ron Burke  100. Tom Knowles   106. Tom Knowles   104. Tom Knowles212. Rob Vulic242. Rob Vulic   355. Ron Burke   227. Rob Vulic353. Ron Burke

348. Ron Burke  360. Ron Burke    362. Ron Burke002. Voodoo Header

I hate to sound repetitive but the Stage 64 / Centre 64 organization have scored top marks again. Another sold out show, another stellar performance and mucho thanks to the organizers, sponsors and volunteers.

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Remembering Phil Woods – DownBeat 2015/10/02

Remembering Phil Woods – DownBeat Posted 2015/10/02

Phil Woods, a trail blazing bebop saxophonist and an NEA Jazz Master, died Sept. 29 in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He was 83.

The cause of death was complications from emphysema. Woods, who had battled respiratory problems for years, announced his retirement from music on Sept. 4 after a concert at Pittsburgh’s Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. That Sept. 4 concert was a tribute to Charlie Parker’s album Bird With Strings. It was, perhaps, a fitting conclusion to the career of an alto saxophonist who was deeply influenced by Parker. But Woods developed his own voice and subsequently became one of the most revered alto players of his generation. Over the course of his illustrious career, Woods toured with jazz icons such as Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Clark Terry and Benny Goodman.

Born Philip Wells Woods in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1931, he began playing saxophone during childhood. As a young man, Woods studied improvisation with pianist Lennie Tristano, and he studied classical music at The Juilliard School in New York City. In 1968 Woods moved to France, where he formed the European Rhythm Machine and composed music for Danish and Belgian radio. Upon his return to the United States in 1972, he recorded the seminal albums Images (1975, with Michel Legrand) and Live From The Showboat (1976), both of which won Grammy Awards. One of Woods’ most well-known solos was on Billy Joel’s 1977 hit single “Just The Way You Are,” which earned Joel two Grammy Awards. Woods also played on recordings by Paul Simon and Steely Dan.

Other albums in Woods’ discography include Dizzy Gillespie Meets Phil Woods Quintet (1987), All Bird’s Children (1990), The Rev & I (a 1998 Blue Note date featuring Johnny Griffin) and Man With The Hat (a 2011 collaboration with saxophonist Grace Kelly, to whom he was a mentor). Woods topped the Alto Saxophone category in the DownBeat Critics Poll seven times between 1970 and 1980.

In a January 1982 cover story for DownBeat, Woods reflected on his career and the origin of his style: “Jazz has been good to me, it really has, but I would hate to think that any young man would feel that by copying the Phil Woods sound he could have the same life and career. I never began by imitating. I began by trying to become a musician and an alto sax player. I never thought I sounded like Charlie Parker, though he was an inescapable shadow in the ’40s or in the ’50s, if you were a sax player. You couldn’t be a musician without having his licks pop up. And without Louis Armstrong, we wouldn’t have any jazz licks at all; Bird would be the first guy to tell you that’s the truth.”

In addition to his contributions to jazz as an artist and bandleader, Woods was also a jazz educator who frequently worked with college students at institutions such as DePaul University. Woods was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2007. In a 2006 interview with the NEA, Woods described his first saxophone lessons: “I got a teacher by the name of Harvey LaRose and that’s where my life changed because I was going for lessons and I was faking it. I wasn’t practicing, but I’d go back the following week and I could play the lesson. Now if I’d had one of those more or less straitlaced teachers, he might have said, ‘OK, kid, you’re faking it.’ Mr. LaRose said, ‘You’re using your ear to play music. This ear thing is your most important gift.’ He realized that immediately. Mr. LaRose played alto clarinet, violin, guitar, piano—taught all of those instruments, repaired all of those instruments—and arranged with the local big bands. He … recognized that I had something to say on the saxophone because he drew me in. Within three, four months I was hooked. I loved it.”

(Note: DownBeat will publish a tribute to Phil Woods in our December 2015 issue. To read a DownBeat 2007 interview with Woods, click here. To read a review of Woods’ performance at the 2013 Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, click here. )

This is Phil Woods in mid-career before his chronic lung disease forced him to use canned oxygen on stage just so that he could play.  He literally performed right up to the end. He announced his retirement September 4 and died September 29th. Remarkable eh!

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LOCALS Coffee House – The first of this season

004. Locals HeaderLOCALS COFFEE HOUSE Saturday October 3, 2015, 7:30 pm at the Studio / Stage Door in Cranbrook.

Fall must be well under way if LOCALS and the HOME GROWN MUSIC SOCIETY are getting ready to kick off the season. LOCALS is the first out of the gate with a line up of fresh young talent, new performers and old regulars. On the bill for this show was 11th Avenue Stopover (Beth Crawley – vocals and guitar, Doug Crawley – percussion and Rod Wilson on Cittern) and their brand of traditional songs and tunes from mostly down east; Dawson Rutledge is a fresh new face with an original approach to a one man 100. Dawson Rutledgeband configuration. He plays guitars, sings and uses foot pedals to play the Cojon (Peruvian Wooden Box drum) and muted tambourine; The soft edged (for this show) rock quartet Every Other Tuesday (Lou Wiliams – guitar and vocals, Wes – lead guitar, Adrian – Djembe and Reiner on electric bass. Bill Renwick (Guitar and vocals) once again156. Every Other Tuesday graced the stage with a bracket of his original songs that always leaves a wisp of Neil Young hanging in the air. Stellar vocalist Shauna Plant has hooked up with the relatively new performer Ian Jones (guitar and vocals) for a very 228. Shauna and Iancountry flavored bracket of duets that was almost breath taking. And, last but not least, a bunch of young performers (Sarah – Red Heads Rule, Sheldon, James, Harry and Dawson) under the banner of Lucas Hanny and the Fable Hoppers  demonstrated that there is a musical life outside the confines of rock and roll. Their particular mix of guitars, vocals, Cojon, Ukeleles and fiddle are some what in the tradition of Cranbrook’s run-a-way success of a few years back – The Good Ole’ Goats. To keep everything on track the MC Carter Gulseth alone was worth the price of admission. Here are some more images from another great evening of local music.

102. Dawson Rutledge  114. Dawson Rutledge   118. Dawson Rutledge   112. Dawson Rutledge 178a. Lou Williams  158. Lou Williams and Adrian   154. Wes   172. Adrian and Reiner  208. Bill Renwick  224. Ian Jones   230. Shauna and Ian   232. Shauna Plant  244. Shauna Plant  300. Lucas Hanny and the Fable Hoppers  304. James  326. Dawson  308. Harry or Sheldon  310. Sarah  328.  342. Saeah 

And the many personas of the Master of Ceremonies Carter Gulseth. 040.              046. Carter Gulseth  048. Carter GulsethSo that raps it up until THE GROWN MUSIC SOCIETY steps up to the plate with their Coffee House in Kimberley’s Centre 64 on Saturday October 24, 2015.

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Making God Laugh – Dress Rehearsal

Cranbrook Community Theatre – Making God Laugh full dress rehearsal at the Studio Stage Door in Cranbrook. Wednesday October 7, 2015, 7:30pm.

MGL family A play written by Sean Grennan, Directed by Trevor Lundy, starring Melodie Hull as the mother Ruthie and Michael Prestwich as her husband Bill; Gina Martin as daughter Maddie, David Booth as older son Rick(y) and Woody McGuire as Father Tom, the youngest son.

Movies are about the wham, bam, bang factor with lot of action an unlikely plot twists. As a general rule, films do not emphasize inter-personal relationships and character development. Of course there are exceptions, but I think the general rule applies. Live theater does not lend itself to spectacular car crashes, chases, sinking ships and space Opera cliches. As a result plays tend to have more elements of  human relationships. That is the case with the latest Cranbrook Community Theatre production of Making God Laugh. Here, without giving too much away is the synopsis of the play – “Making God Laugh follows the lives of Bill and Ruthie and their three adult children through more than 30 years of holiday gatherings. Sometimes uproariously funny and other times very moving, the play examines all of the facets involved in being part of a crazy, messed up, but mostly normal, dysfunctional family.”

Tickets are available at Lotus Books and at the door for October 9, 10, 14,15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24 performances at the Studio Stage/ Door in Cranbrook.

Here are the images from the Dress Rehearsal:

THANKSGIVING

114. Ruthie - Melodie Hull  102. Bill - Michael Prestwich  108. Madie - Gina Martin  110. Maddie and Ruthie  116. Maddie - Gina Martin  120. Ruthie and Bill  122. Ruthie - Melodie Hull   140. Ricky - David Booth   142. Maddie - Gina Martin  146. Thomas - Woody McGuire144. The dip  152. The Dip    138. Ruthie Hull  158. Gina Martin  162. Maddie and Ruthie   164. Maddie - Gina Martin  166. Maddie - Gina Martin170. IntermissionCHRISTMAS

200. Madie - Gina Martin   202. Bill - Michael Preswich  206. Ricky - David Booth208. Madie and Ricky  214. Ricky - David Booth216. Bill - Michael Prestwich220. Farther Tom - Woody McGuire218. Madie - Gina Martin  224. Ruthie, Ricky and Madie226. The Family  228. Ruthie and Bill 232. Ricky - David Booth   234. Ruthie - Melodie Hull  236. Ruthie and Ricky  240. Ricky - David Booth   244. Madie - Gina Martin  246- Ricky - David Booth 248. Ruthie - Melodie Hull  250. The family 

252. Intermission

NEW YEARS CELEBRATIONS AND THE IMPEDING CHAOS OF A “Y2K” MELTDOWN

302. The family at New Year    506. Ricky - David Booth508. Ricky and Ruthie  512. Ruthie -Melodie Hull  510. Ricky - David Booth514. Bill - Michael Preswich   518. Father Tom - Woody McGuire   526. Madie - Gina Martin530. Ruthie - Melodie Hull   532. Ruthie - Melodie Hull   534. Ruthie - Melodie Hull 540. Madie - Gina Martin     538. Father Tom and Ricky542. Madie - Gina Martin  544. The Family Portrait“EASTER” AND RECONCILIATION

600. Ruthie - Melodie Hull  602. Bill - Michael Prestwich  606. Madie and Bill 610. Rutie and Bill    614. The family622. Madie's Monologue  632. The family paortrait  634. encore 012. Header 2

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Tyler Hornby B3 Trio at Centre 64

TYLER HORNBY B3 TRIO, Centre 64, Saturday September 26, 2015, 8pm. This is the second concert in the fall Jazz and Blues Festival series.

500. Tyler Hornby B3 TrioThe Tyler Hornby B3 Trio is basically a Jazz organ trio with Tyler Hornby on drums, Steve Fletcher on B3 organ keyboards and Aaron Young on electric guitar. They play Bluesy, Funky, rock solid music in the style of the classic Hammond B3 Trios  of the 50s and 60s (a la Jimmy Smith).

304. Steve Fletcher

To play an organ as a professional musician is a tough gig. Maybe not as much now as in days gone by. But in Bach’s day the musician had to have access to a pipe organ and that usually meant a trip to church to play a huge pipe organ in a monumental church or cathedral. Similarly, in the early days of Jazz,  pipe organs were only found in churches and big theaters. Once again “Mohammad had to go to the mountain” just to play. For a jazz musician there was the added obstacle of the mechanics of the keyboard. There is a significant delay from the time the organ key is depressed until the sound is produced by the pipes. “On a normal Pipe Organ the lag from striking the key to hearing the sound is about half a beat behind and this plays hell with a musician’s mind” – Clare Fischer. The great Jazz pianist Fats Waller was probably the first, and possibly the only successful jazz musician to manage to make the pipe organ “swing”. Although, in the late 80’s, Dick Hyman recorded some Fats Waller pieces on the Emery Theatre Wurlitzer in Cincinnati that sound pretty good. By and large Jazz musicians left the pipe 020. Keyboardsorgan alone. That started to change in the late 1930’s when the Hammond B3 Company started manufacturing “portable” Electric organs. Portability is a relative term – the instruments still weighed 400lbs with an additional 100lb for the Leslie speaker. Jazz musicians did start to take notice. Earliest jazz performers included Wild Bill Davis, Sir Charles Thompson, Milt Buckner, and even Count Basie at one point. It was in the late 1950s when Jimmy Smith exploded onto the jazz scene with an engagement at Small’s Paradise in Harlem. This, and the classic Blue Note records that followed, initiated a tectonic shift in the way jazz organ was played. His playing ushered in an era of the classic “Hammond B-3 Trio” of organ, guitar and drums. He used his right hand to play single note lines on the top keyboard console, his left hand to play chords on the second keyboard and his feet to play bass lines on the foot pedals. The whole concept sounds, at the very least, to be energetic, athletic and musically very challenging . On top of that he manipulated the draw bars to emulate the organ stops of the conventional organ. He literally set the musical standard for organ trios. Over the years the instrument  has under gone changes. The original company folding at one stage before it was resurrected by a new company to produce more contemporary versions of the classic Hammond-B3. Modern electronics and programmable keyboards have reconfigured the organ and eliminated the weight problem. The weight of the huge Leslie Speaker remains but it does work well with the light weight electronic keyboards. Still there are musicians like Larry Goldings, Dr. Lonnie Smith  and Joey Defrancesco who still chose to haul the cumbersome Hammond B-3 from gig to gig. In the Tyler Hornby Trio Steve Fletcher gets the job done with two electronic Keyboards, pedals and a Leslie Speaker.

This concert was a good bookend to the Gabriel Palatchi Band concert in this same venue a couple of weeks ago. Gabriel’s band was a stripped down trio of drums, keyboards and bass (no guitar) and performed music out of a funky Latin sensibility. The Tyler Hornby Trio is more into the classic Hammond B3 groove. Of course the presence of such an outstanding guitarist as Aaron Young cements the basic B3 sound. The band kicked off the evening with Locus,  an original tune by Tyler and followed that with a Sam Rivers ballad called Beatrice. The first set included Larry Goldings Crawdaddy, To See Your Eyes Again (another Tyler original – who said drummers can’t write ballads?) and Aaron Young’s Chisel. By this time one would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to be impressed by Aaron’s superb fleet of fingers and funky guitar playing. We rarely get to see and hear guitar player of this caliber. The band kicked off the second set with Miles Davis’ classic Nardis followed by Aaron’s Rabbit Hole  and Tyler’s Tessla’s Trance. This tune was a slow burner that built up a head of steam. Two more tunes, Alone Together and Tyler’s Big Mountain Bounce followed before the final blow out encore on the classic Charlie Parker’s Billie’s Bounce. So that was it – a nice mixture of original and classic tunes to resurrect one’s taste for the classic Hammond B3 trio sound. Needless to say I spent the following week digging though my collection of Jimmy Smith and Larry Young’s Hammond B3 recordings just to perpetuate Saturday night’s groove. Here are some images from the evening.

606a. Tyler Hornby   314. Steve Fletcher  404. Aaron Young  630. Tyler Hornby322. Steve Fletcher   434. Aaron Young400. Aaron Young   424. Aaron Young  444. Aaron Young300. Steve Fletcher   602. Tyler Hornby  314. Steve Fletcher448. Aaron Young462a. Aaron Young302. Steve Fletcher  357. Steve Fletcher 516. Tyler and Steve 616. Tyler Hornby  637. Tyler Hornby618. Tyler Hornby422. Aaron Young   458. Aaron Young 456. Aaron Young  633. Tyler Hornby  626. Tyler HornbyI am always a little surprised by Kimberley audiences. The Centre 64 Concert series offers up some pretty hard core music that normally, given the demographics of the area, might not be the music of choice for Kimberley. However, as I said, surprise, surprise, Kimberley audiences turn out in full force. Once again this concert was sold out. And, of course, thanks must go to the organizing committee and the volunteers that make it possible.

700. Keith Nicholson - MC

And here is a bonus. I tried to find Aaron Young’s version of the Charlie Parker classic Billie’s Bounce but this is the best I could find. It is a version by the Swedish guitarist Andreas Oberg. This may introduce a new guitarist and give you some of the flavor of the Tyler Hornby Trio’s encore for the evening.

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