Computers and Music
Monday, January 31, 2005
I've created a new web page for the Computer-Music research idea that I'm planning on exploring. It's called J.A.M. Tech which stands for Journeys in Advanced Music Technology. The idea is to use Yamaha Disklavier pianos hooked up to the Internet to automate the process of creating high-quality, recorded piano music (it's kind of like a remote-controlled piano recording studio).
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Says Norwegian jazz singer Beate Lech,
'I try and lift songs to an ecstatic maximum so that when the beat is pumping neither the band nor the audience can stand still, they just have to move to the music, dance. Then I just fly over the top with the melody. When I perform live we loosen up the songs, more jazzy perhaps, decide on the spot when to play the verse or the chorus, we feel free to lift the songs or moderate the songs where it feels natural. My role is more than that of a vocalist, I like to participate in the progress of the songs.'
Beate collaborates with bassist Marius Reksjo in the group Beady Belle, described as "one of the freshest new sounds to come out of the left-of-field music underground of Norway" by their label, Jazzland. Beate's music is so jazzy, yet has a real modern throb to it, combining influences from many genres including pop, techno, drum n' bass, and ambient.

Some links for Beate Lech:
Listen to their new track "Bella" (MP3 Download).
More music samples.
Her Beady Belle project Homepage.
Her Biography at the website of her label, Jazzland.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
I was just playing around with my keyboard and created some sounds that I call "Strange Song". It's just a study in colours and isn't really all that rhythmic or anything. It's actually in 5/4 but goes all over the place. But I thought I'd post it here anyways just because I can! (Click here to listen to Strange Song).
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
LA based Tierney Sutton is a jazz vocalist who "sings like an instrumentalist". As Richard Scheinin writes in the Mercury News,
Her voice is flutelike, her intonation perfect, and she improvises clean lines that build rhythmic tension. She often creates that tension -- and underscores a lyric -- by riding reiteratively on a single note, as if she were double or triple tonguing it on a horn, all the while shifting its coloration slightly, the way a horn player does with trick fingerings.
Scheinin's article talks more about Sutton and her band, who have been together for 12 years. Tierney Sutton's web site has some beautiful audio samples from her recent albums. However, they are tantalizingly short. I really like the glimpse she gives into her rendition of the tune, Emily, on her CD "Dancing in the Dark" (listen here). Also, her version of "Fly Me To The Moon", on this same album, shows that she is not afraid to stray into some more contemporary harmonies and arrangements, even though much of her music recalls the style of Frank Sinatra.
I've updated my Food Diary, where I occasionally post some recipes and photos of food that I cook.

Featured today is a Fresh Spinach Salad with Tomato and Mushroom (pictured below), as well as Beef Tortellini with Tomato Sauce, Beans, Broccoli, and Mushrooms.

Saturday, January 22, 2005
I've updated my piano practice page with recordings of my piano practices from the last two months.

Why do I do such a crazy thing, you ask? Well, I initially thought that I would do it because it didn't cost me anything, and it only added a couple of minutes onto each practice to setup the computer. And I think it is kind of cool to see what I was practicing, say 10 months ago. I've also got comments from people all over the world who have found my practices interesting. That's what I find the most enjoyable, that by giving away my non-polished music I am helping to contribute to the alternative media / music community on the Internet.

The practice from today: I have listened to twice already and I actually find it pleasing to listen to, as well!
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
If you're interested in learning about recording, I suggest you pick up a copy of the book "Recording Tips for Engineers", by Tim Crich. There are very few books where experts in the field of recording have taken the time to write down all the little tricks and techniques that they use to make something sound professional. Here's an interview with the author, Tim Crich.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
From Sheet music for Super Mario Brothers music. Enjoy!
Friday, January 07, 2005
I found a very good article which gives an introduction to the audio mastering technique of using "Audio Compression". Note that this is different from "data compression" which is used to create MP3 files. Audio compression is a kind of "gain transformation" that is done on an audio signals, that every single piece of music played on the radio today has used.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Time for a mini music recommendation:
Just listened to the song Red Sky from jazz guitarist Pat Metheny's album "We Live Here", released in 1995. It's an awesome example of how a repeated pedal figure in the bass can keep your feet in the ground while Pat solos off into the stratosphere. It's also beautifully mastered (as all Pat's stuff is), with excellent stereo imaging and separation. Highly recommended.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Time for a pro audio equipment and music review: I just had a chance to review some Behringer Truth B2030A Reference Studio Monitors in a home studio. They are priced under $500 CDN, and are apparently a clone of the more expensive (industry standard) Mackies. I was very impressed with the very linear frequency response. By far the most interesting stuff to try playing on them has been Medeski Martin and Wood's album Uninvisible, which is an example of some very aggressive studio work, that really tests the boundaries of these monitors.

I was also able to use these monitors to compare the mastering techniques of some different piano trio recordings: Bill Evans (Explorations), Now He Sings - Now He Sobs (Chick Corea), Anything Goes (Brad Meldhau), The Kenny Drew Trio (Kenny Drew).

The differences are immediately obvious: Chick Corea has the most "in your face" and arresting piano sound of all of them (maybe it's more compressed?), but it still blends really well with the group, and seems dynamic enough. Originally done in 1968, I suspect it was remastered when re-released in August 1990.

Bill Evans's work is from 1961 and sounds the most like it was recorded on analog - his piano has a softer tone that is almost a bit muffled. But it's the classic Bill Evans tone.

Brad Meldhau's sound (2004) is the most laid back, and the least compressed (his performance has the biggest dynamic range) - he really knows how to play soft with a lot of discipline. I hope it's the case that jazz mastering engineers finally have started to realize that a lot of jazz fans are now equipped with fairly high-end stereos, so greater dynamic range is possible. At least Brad Meldhau's engineers have!

Kenny Drew's doesn't really compare in terms of the recording quality - there is a higher amount of noise, but that recording was done in 1953. But his performance is, of course, amazing (I love the track "When You Wish Upon A Star").
Monday, January 03, 2005
Drummer Reuben Hoch leads a group called the Chassidic Jazz Project, which combines traditional Jewish music with jazz and classical influences.
On their web site, Hoch describes two different audiences which can appreciate this music:
Those completely at home in the world of Jewish music appreciate the group's new perspective of classic Jewish music.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jazz lovers recognize the authenticity of the seamless integration of Jazz and Jewish culture.

Warning! This is not "Hava Nagila" or the Klezmer music your "Bubbe" [Jewish Grandmother] grew up on. This is an entirely new genre joining multiple musical influences in an innovative way.
You may find it very interesting to listen to clips of this new style of music (click here to listen). When I listened, at first it sounded like many different types of music were layered on top of each other in a haphazard way, but then after a few moments I began to hear how everything fits together in a cohesive whole.

Reuben Hoch is performing in New York this week, January 8 and 9 at Kavehaz, January 10 at Smith's bar. He will be with his other group, a trio called "Time". See this press release for more details (such as the address of the clubs).
Thoughts of an aspiring jazz musician and computer programmer.

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