Saturday, April 30, 2016


The Jethro Tull version of Bach's Bouree is one of my musical touchstones. It was the first thing I'd learned on the flute (at least the melody I mean). And as much as television shows like HBO's Vinyl exude raw hatred for Tull, the jazz version of the bouree is absolutely brilliant.

And that brilliance would be completely absent if it weren't for the bass part. Glenn Cornick was an amazing player and the bass solo does one of the things one does not normally expect from a bass solo: it's musical.

A kind of study of theme and variation, using the counterpoint to the melody as the starting place (which, c'mon, that's awesome), the bass part actually goes into freaking chords. Chords, man. Chords. Chords on bass are notoriously muddy.  But Cornick, genius that he was, created a whole subject/answer jazz/rock classical/modern simple/elegant part with this piece.
The simple/elegant part of it makes it surprisingly tricky to play.
The best tab I can find for it is on Songsterr.  Some of the positions, however, seem suspect to me. There are some jumps which seem unnecessary and looking at videos of Cornick playing it, he doesn't seem to be playing it that way.
But it's a good start. And tablature is not a terrible way to read either. There are some time things which confuse me somewhat. But I'm getting over them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Universal Robotics

One of the finest plays of the 21st Century. And no, that's not hyperbole at all. This play will change your life. If you're out-of-town, come into town and see this.
This play is going to sell out so you're going to want to buy tickets right now.

UR Constructivist PosterV3
Gideon Productions presents
at The Sheen Center:

Universal Robots

Written by Mac Rodgers
Directed by Jordana Williams
June 3–26, 2016
Black Box Theater
Offering a compelling alternate history of the twentieth century, imagining the invention of the robot in 1921 and chronicling the shocking consequences of that invention, Universal Robots is part science fiction thriller, part political allegory and part love story masterpiece written by Mac Rogers and produced by the award-winning theater company Gideon Productions.
The Great War has just ended. The fledgling Republic of Czechoslovakia boasts a thriving artistic community. At the center of that community is Karel Capek, a celebrated playwright and a passionate advocate for all his newborn nation can achieve. But this brave new world arrives faster that Karel could have ever expected when a young woman walks into his life with a strange mannequin in a wheelchair... a mannequin that gets up and walks all by itself.  UNIVERSAL ROBOTS offers a compelling alternate history of the Twentieth Century, imagining the invention of the robot in 1921 Czechoslovakia and chronicling the shocking consequences of that invention right up to the present day. Part science fiction thriller, part love story, part political allegory, UNIVERSAL ROBOTS is a fast-paced, riveting story of war, faith, art and technology that culminates, in the words of NYTheatre's Martin Denton, in an "edge-of-your-seat finish equal to the best storytelling of stage and screen."
GIDEON PRODUCTIONS crafts gripping plays that explore human grace and darkness, through the kaleidoscope of popular genre forms and other cultural touchstones. We reject the notion that thrills are cheap or that big ideas are boring. We explore what’s strange about being human and what’s human about being strange, using thrilling entertainment as a delivery system for challenging stories that take on religion, sexuality, politics, compulsion, popular culture, and the often strange bonds that tie people together in a rapidly changing world. We honor the time our audiences and collaborators devote to our productions and seek to deliver the utmost quality in experience and content.
Cast announcement here.
Info about the Sheen Center here.
Special Performances:
Thursday, June 9 - Interpreted for the Deaf
Sunday, June 12 - Family support, Teaching artists taking care of kids.
Wednesday, June 15 - Interpreted for the Blind.

Upcoming Performances


Fixing Samplitude

So of course I'm last-minute scrambling to get a feature film out the door and... Samplitude crashes on bounce-to-disk
This is my preferred screen layout. Note that when I click on the mixer it sits atop everything but the transport controls and meters. As it should.

This is the solution from tech support:

Please make a reset of the Samplitude programsetting
System Options (Y) >
Option Administration
First load the Samplitude standard Preset from the Preset field.
Tick Audio/MIDI Settings, Visualisation Settings and Window positions
Click on Restore settings and restart program.
Please safe your shotcuts and color options before doing so.
If that doesn't make sense, I made a little video to explain:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Economies of Blurry Costumes Enloudened

The economics of a TV show. (It's not really the economics of a TV show, more general network economics. So. Like that.
Box blur. Is better than directional blur or gaussian blur or fast blur. So says Stu. So say we all.
I just steal all my content from Kevin Kangas.

Scene Sick is a company that makes post-apocalyptic clothes. Like Mad Max-type stuff. Reasonably priced and very sci-fi.
HideAMic is a series of products for putting the Sanken COS11 in clothes. I'm not entirely sure how they work or if they're better than the soft pads with tape on either side, but it's nice to have options.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

EQ's and guitar making

I made a quick and dirty tutorial on using a parametric EQ in Samplitude. This is the first episode of the second season of Sound Design Tips and Tricks for Stage and Screen.

The economics of guitar making. Takeaways:
  • All mass produced guitars really are of about the same quality: they're all made by the same machines no matter what country they're produced in
  • Cheaper guitars have to go cheaper on components for the manufacturer to have a prayer at netting a profit -- making it vastly more economical for the end-user to simply drop in new pickups and the like on inexpensive instruments
Open Air is a library of open source impulse responses.  Because. Well, yeah.

Monday, April 11, 2016

EB-0 review

So I got an EB-0 bass. Here's my Conversation with Ethan about it. Well, it's what Ethan has to say about it at least.

EB-0, huh? Never been a big fan, but I suppose Jack Bruce's opinion ought to be worth something and he certainly seemed to like them. Or, at least, he did until he got a deal with Warwick....

Mike Watt likes 'em, too, but he modifies them, like, a LOT*, and only likes the ones from around 1963 to 1967. To me, they always balanced funny, the pickup placement made for a muddy tone and the necks were usually too skinny for me. On the other hand, Gibson's been making them, in some variant or other, since 1962 or so which means there's somebody out there who likes them enough to buy them.

*Watt typically removes the original pickup and covers the hole, then routs a new hole and mounts a humbucker right at the midpoint between the bridge and neck (like a P-bass). Sometimes he also adds a preamp, sometimes not. He only uses them live, preferring a long-scale bass for recording. Says he likes gigging the EB basses because of their light weight and short scale - easier on his hands and back now that he's "less young". It makes sense: he plays very long sets, still tours incessantly and is now, I believe, over 60. He's also a very physical player.
Normally, he records with a Moon J-Bass. I'm sure the vintage police would cringe at what he's doing to mid-'60s EB-0s and EB-3s, but he's making his living with these things and has no concern whatsoever about their vintage status. One of his faves during his fIREHOSE days was a '50s P-bass routed for Gibson Thunderbird pickups.


After all is said and done I think I don't even care either way about the DiMarzio pickups. The Epiphone EB-0 is just a very nice instrument out of the box. Update: Short version: I like the Thomastik-Infeld JF324 strings, the Hipshot bridge just doesn't work for me.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Broke Bass

So, I went out on a limb and a bought an Epiphone EB-0 even though I haven't sold my Squire 5-string Jazz bass yet.
I ordered it from Sweetwater but unfortunately it arrived with a gouge in it.

Now, the fact is that I'm likely to put some sort of nick or dent in the guitar within the first 20 hours or so of my owning it. But at least if that happens I'm the one who did it. Not a person at Gibson or Sweetwater or whatever (the packaging didn't look damaged, I suspect it was damaged while being placed in its box.)
So presumably I'm getting a new bass tomorrow via FedEx, along with a shipping label to send the broken one back.
Then I'll make a couple videos -- one with the bass stock, one with a new pickup, new bridge, new strings. I guess that's one video multiple scenes or something.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Sound Things Today

Here are the service manuals and such for the AKG HSD271 headphones with boom mic. Mine has no audio in the left ear and I have no idea why.
The Strymon Big Sky seems like a pretty cool reverb pedal but what I really like is the piece of music they recorded for this demo.

Sweetwater has a pretty good summary article on line arrays. If the inverse square law ticks you off, line arrays may be for you.