Categories
General

Not about music

This article is intended only for single women, never married (or widowed), no children, and not in a relationship. If that isn’t you, please do yourself a favor and respect my wishes and don’t read any further. This isn’t meant for you to read.

Sep 2019 (I’ve lost weight since this photo)

Hello. My name is James. I always believed that I would get married, have children and have a wonderful life with my family. I know I would be a terrific husband. I always believed that my music, my career, and my personality would flourish and provide me with all the financial needs and wants I could imagine. I never had a desire to be rich and famous, only to be rewarded for my musical abilities and who I am as a person. With a few exceptions, I’ve done pretty well, better than many. From everything anyone has told me I am a world-class musician in the top percentiles of talent and ability. These opinions come not only from the musically illiterate but also from top music professionals.

Starting in High School and continuing into my adult life I have had a number of healthy relationships with women. A few were long term and seemed headed toward marriage. Unfortunately, I have never reaped the rewards of my musical talent and abilities. As such, money always got in the way of any woman I dated wanting to marry me. All of the women I met wanted someone who would do all the work and make all the money and give them what they wanted. I never met a woman who had money of her own, was willing to help support the relationship financially or someone who could help me fulfill my potential and allow me to meet our financial needs.

Year after year, even decade after decade I made just enough income from my music to keep going. My efforts were rewarded with more income as time went by, but never quite enough. Even so, I had no reason to quit being a musician. But, I never could make enough income that any woman would be interested in me. That takes a tremendous toll on a person to the point where they give up trying to find a wife or they give up trying to improve their lives. Why should one keep putting forth the effort to accomplish something when all that effort never seems to do any good? In my case, by my late 30’s, I had pretty much given up on trying to find a wife. As time went by I started doing less and less to try and increase my income because, without a wife or family or the prospect of it, I had enough money to survive. Some would debate whether I was just “alive” or actually living.

At a concert I gave in 2019

As old as I am now, getting married and having children of my own (no adopting), is probably little more than a pipe dream. I am realistic enough to figure that there is little hope whatsoever of growing old with a spouse and children. I’ll grow old alone. Even so, I am unable to suppress the desire I have to get married and have children. It isn’t only a desire, I feel as though it is something that should happen. I’m young enough that I would see my children graduate from college. I would be raising children when some people are thinking ahead to or are retired. Even so, I believe this is the path that is meant for me, even though it seems highly unlikely I will ever accomplish it.

All of that is an introduction to the main point. (I’m usually not this wordy or depressing, but I think it was necessary). I want to find a wife, get married and have our own children. I’m in my 50’s. I’m overweight but have gradually been losing weight. (I’d like the chance to explain my weight issues before you dismiss me as unworthy). Other than my weight I have no significant health issues. Men in my family live into their late 80’s, early 90’s with minimal health issues. I don’t make enough money to support a wife, never mind a family. I do have a considerable number of intellectual properties in my name that could potentially make millions over the years. (I have over 1,000 sheet music copyrights and have released 14 albums). Perhaps you know a way to exploit those?

I live in rural Florida not near any significant population center. I am open to moving anywhere in the English speaking world, with some exceptions. I am a professional musician, a pianist and organist. I’ve worked in church music most of my life but I am not a religious fanatic. I am a nationally published composer and arranger. As a result of my own online publishing efforts, my titles have been bought on every continent in the world, except Antarctica. I also teach piano and music lessons. All of the parents of children I’ve taught have been amazed at how patient I am with their children. A few parents have even said they were surprised I wasn’t married and thought I’d make a great husband. I also know a lot about computers and advanced office type software.

I am looking for someone who is single – that means never married – or is widowed – who has no children of her own (of any age) and is young enough to have children (and of course wants to have children). I know that means a noticeable difference in age. Since I do not have the financial means to support you and a family, you would need to be able to support yourself and any children, or know how to quickly turn my talents into some significant income. As long as you don’t have a problem with it, I have no problem with the woman in a relationship being the one that provides for the family.

I would like to find someone who is a good communicator, good at resolving conflicts through immediate discussion, affectionate, not too outgoing and has some common interests with me. The more you like music or have musical training, the better. I’m not looking for a supermodel but I do want someone I find attractive. It would be my intention to do as much in the relationship as I can to focus on you. I don’t ask for as much as I’m willing to give.

To find out more about me, you can visit the rest of this website. You can also find me on twitter and facebook.

I hope I’ve given you some reasons to inspire you to contact me. I believe the discerning woman, the type of woman who would find a life with me to be wonderful will make the effort to contact me sooner than later.

The best way to get in touch with me is to use the contact form on this website (should be in the upper corner, possibly in a pull-down menu). Leave a message and ask all the questions you want. Better yet, make a video of yourself telling me a bit about you and why you responded, along with questions. Post it on YouTube or another video service – make sure to mark the video as unlisted – and include the link in your message via your contact page.

I hope to hear from you soon

Categories
General Music Software

Komplete 13 Ultimate Collector’s Edition

My story of ordering it and installing it (and a few comments about the software).

I routinely update, or is it upgrade (?) Komplete from Native Instruments. I almost immediately went to the website to pre-order it as soon as it was announced.

The product page said nothing about the possibility that some libraries/programs would not be included on the hard drive. In fact, the ultimate edition page says “If you choose a physical copy of KOMPLETE 13, instruments, effects, and additional content comes on an HDD. Choose a download version, and your software becomes available right away via Native Access – your one-stop hub for easy product installation, registration, and updates.” Nowhere does it say that some products won’t be on the HD.

After the fact I did find a page, buried on the website that says “Certain products may require additional free downloads.” But that hardly means that entire programs or libraries will require full downloads. But back to ordering.

The order page had two pull-down menus, one for delivery – shipped or download only – and another for what type of product – upgrade, update and first time purchase. I definitely wanted it shipped to me as I have a very slow internet connection. I made sure to choose the shipped product option first. Then I selected the “upgrade” option.

The website then displayed a message under my choice saying I was eligible for the “update” option. Are you confused yet? I chose the “update” as it was cheaper. Without noticing it, the website changed my delivery option to download only – something I did not want.

As I went to the next page it probably said download only, but with so many companies I deal with providing physical copies and download at the same time, I didn’t notice the change on the next page or two. Yes, it was my fault for ordering the wrong delivery option, but the website should not have changed my choice in the first place.

When the product was released (October 1, 2020) I got email saying that Komplete 13 Ultimate Collector’s edition was available to download. Again, so many companies allow you download your order even when they are shipping it to you. (PG Music, makers of Band in a Box is one that comes to mind). So, I ran Native Access and saw about 30 new products that weren’t installed. When I saw the huge download size of some of the files I was glad I would be getting a hard drive with them on it.

After getting some of the small libraries I tried downloading a few of the larger (under 8Gb) files. I had to start them at 11pm and hope that the download didn’t fail overnight. Some did fail, some didn’t. I’d often had to retry a failed download in the morning. Once I start doing things that require using the internet during the day – like teaching piano lessons – I have to stop the downloads. After about two weeks I got the bulk of the files I was willing to put up with the nonsense of baby-sitting downloads.

I was surprised not to get any email telling me the HD had shipped. NI is good at providing tracking info.

I contacted support and they said that I had only ordered the download version. Since I had already started downloading products they were unable, due to their activation system, to ship me a product. I find that hard to believe and told them so. I mentioned my mistake in a tweet. The online NI Support person offered to give me direct links that should be faster than using Native Instruments. I also had the possibility of someone with a 100Mbps connection downloading the titles. Problem is they live 100 miles away. (My internet speed is never faster than 3Mbps).

I would think a company would be nice to the customer and realize they made a mistake and ship them the product. After all, it is the same content and price for either. Why they were so reluctant to fix my mistake I found to be a poor example of customer support.

I did send the person the links, but one was wrong. They sent me a thumb drive with all the titles I had yet to download. Even at that speed it took them about 4 hours to download. I got the thumb drive on October 23.

After a few weeks of their messages never getting to me – I think AT&T has way too aggressive a spam filter in place – I got a message saying that the issue was considered solved. It was not, in my opinion, solved. Apparently they had offered to send me a HD but I never got that message. I replied stating some of my issues and that I would take the HD offer.

So, 29 days later I finally get the HD I thought I had ordered in the first place. All is good, right? You would think so, but no, not for me.

Remember earlier I said the website said nothing about entire libraries or programs not being shipped on the HD? They only said that “Certain products may require additional free downloads.” That’s a far cry for me from having entire libraries or programs not on the HD.

Some of the major libraries not included are:
Cremona Quartet (4 string instruments, each about 27Gb in size)
Arkhis
Guitar Rig Pro 6
Super 8
Butch Vig Drums.

There may be more, but those are the ones I could easily determine weren’t on the HD.

I have spent days, no weeks of on and off again downloading to get the 30 products that were new to me in this version. I still have the Viola to download. I’m looking at 30+ hours so at least two days, if not three just for one instrument!

I like Pharlight, Straylight, Arkhis, Mysteria and even the Butch Vig Drums. I don’t do much cinematic, but the first four products listed are great for that. At first I didn’t think I’d need another drum library, but the Butch Vig drums have a good sound and the interface and ease of use is good. I forget if it was Straylight or Pharlight, but when using it in my DAW (Reaper) and automating the X/Y parameters, I got a fair amount of glitching on some patches. If I used the mouse to do the same exact movements, no glitching. That’s the only odd thing I’ve noticed so far and it was only on certain snapshots.

The Cremona Quartet instruments are extremely nice. For anyone doing any classical music or anything that demands solo strings, I do recommend it (although to be fair I’ve yet to download the viola or try the cello).

If I had known that the shipped version did not include so many libraries and programs I would not have ordered it. And I certainly would never have ordered a download only version.

For people like me in rural areas, the internet providers, particularly AT&T, have ignored us completely. The technology here has not changed since 2003. I’m stuck on DSL which has never been faster than about 3Mbps and the upload is barely 500kbps. What is ironic is that the entire neighborhood has fiber optics at the street. Unfortunately what I think is our switching office, or at least the DSL equipment is a box buried in the ground about 2 miles away. Why they can’t upgrade to fiber I don’t fully understand. Please comment below if you do (besides that it would hurt their profit margin). I pay about the same for 3Mbps as someone who has 100Mbps via a cable modem.

I would like to think that maybe the Space X Starlink satellite based internet will be nice if it ever becomes available in Florida. But, the nearly $100 a month and $500 up front costs that current beta testers (Oct 2020) have to pay may be out of the price range of the typical rural user. Supposedly by Fall of 2021 we might see service available here. Maybe the cost will go down. (Ha-ha).

I think music software library companies are spoiled by high speed connections at work and don’t realize that not everyone has a high-speed connection. I would love to see companies like Native Instruments offer their products, all of them, on physical medium. I’d be happy if they put the content on a thumb drive and mailed it to me in 1st class envelope (properly padded – 4 sheets of letter size paper folded works just nice). I’d even return the thumb drive if they wanted me to.

Anyhow, if you are thinking about buying a shipped version of Komplete 13 Ultimate Collector’s Edition, be aware that you’ll spend a lot of time downloading products.

Categories
General Reaper Recordings

Mixing in Mono – my recent experiences

Update: Be very careful where you put your metering plugins when mixing. It turns out I had Insight one step before the final mix. As a result, my mono mixes are now about -2 to -2.5db softer than the stereo sounds, not the same as the article below says. This is acceptable, though not ideal. The sections about compression and maximizing are still good things to do in your tracks, particularly if, as in my case, the instruments are overall not loud but do have extremely high peaks from time to time. Any advice on how to get mono and stereo mixes to exactly the same level would be appreciated. Above all, this post is to emphasize the need to make sure your mono mix sounds as good as your stereo mix, even if it isn’t always as loud.

Whether you are new to audio mixing or a veteran you’ve hopefully heard people say that you should always check your mix in mono. How come we need to do this? I discovered that a Zoom meeting I was providing music for was only setup for mono audio and even if the meeting is in stereo, all recordings of Zoom meetings are in mono. There are also many venues that only play music in mono including restaurants and clubs. Expect also that some of your listeners will be hearing their music on phones or tablets that only have one speaker or poor at best stereo playback.

Listening to your mix in mono can also point out weaknesses in your overall mix. In some cases a mono mix will result in instruments getting lost or buried in the mix, sometimes due to phase cancellation. Variations in phase, like when you take two sine waves and shift one 180 degrees so you don’t hear anything, as you go from 0 to 180 you will still hear a tone, but it will get softer and softer. Examination of your master track with various metering plugins (there are many free ones) can show if you are suffering from phase cancellation. Some areas to look for are phase variances between snare mixes above and below the snare; overdubbing of the same part with different settings or effects; stereo wideners and synthesizer type instruments that have a lot of processing applied.

My problem was that the mono version (as I found out from the recording) was 3db to 4db softer than the stereo version and softer than voices on the recording. As some people will point out, it is not unusual at all for the mono to be a bit softer than the stereo, but 3db is noticeable and more importantly the mono mix wasn’t as good as the stereo. The recording I was working on was a one instrument stereo track, a virtual software instrument piano, with various processing on it in the instrument software.

The solution I came up with was to get rid of any processing I didn’t really need in the instrument (like a stereo widener), put a compressor (Native Instrument’s LA-2A emulation) on the track aiming for about 4db in reduction, then a maximizer (I used Ozone 9) to aim for -15LUFS which seems to work best for me in Zoom. Each recording, whether with one instrument or many, will require adjustment to the compressor and maximizer settings as no one setting works for all situations. Right away this made a positive difference.

I frequently “freeze” my midi based tracks to audio so I can work only in audio and also so I’m not tempted to spend forever tweaking the midi parts. Next I found that cutting off some of the really low frequencies (below 60Hz) with a gradual (around 12 db/octave) slope as the first thing in the audio processing helps. Exact frequencies for the HPF and the “Q” will depend on the instrument. Excluding these lower frequencies helps the compressor to focus on musical elements rather than low frequency rumble. Don’t use a HPF at 60HZ on an organ, kick or electric bass, instead aim for below 40 or 50Hz, if at all. As to the compressor I used for one of my recordings, since the NI LA-2A emulation has no attack/release or ratio settings and its own HPF, I used the Peak Reduction to set the compression and didn’t use an EQ HPF prior to the compressor. While I like the LA-2A emulation, I also used the built-in ReaComp compressor in Reaper (my DAW of choice) with a 4:1 ratio and 300ms release with everything else being pretty close to the default. I found that it worked pretty good too, but I do have to say the LA-2A emulation requires less thinking and tweaking.

(See opening paragraph for corrections to this paragraph). For the final check before rendering to the stereo file that will be used for the Zoom meeting I listened to everything in mono and stereo along with an LUFS metering plugin (I think the free Insight plugin from iZotope). Exact LUFS levels happened between stereo and mono in some recordings and those mono mixes that didn’t were only about 0.2db softer than the stereo. I hope this helps or is at least interesting. I would double check everything I said before taking it as gospel. If you have any corrections, suggestions or other methods for making sure mixes are good in both mono and stereo, please comment below.

Categories
General Other Website News

Musicians and the Pandemic

Musicians Need Help too

Our hearts go out to anyone suffering from the current virus worldwide. Virus or not, there are always people worse off than any group of people I might mention. Right now musicians are already suffering.

You can help out by listening to their music via streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music (iTunes), and Amazon Music. Big name groups probably don’t need help. Instead, try to listen to people who you have not heard before. The artists make money for every song played. Also consider purchasing a track or album. If an artist has a donate button on their website, consider making a donation. Links to get you started are listed below.

If the pandemic continues very long, the economic impact to everyone could be severe. Musicians, at least the lesser known musicians, the truly independent musicians, whether teachers, church musicians, local performers or composers/arrangers are already suffering.

As a church musician, I no longer have a congregation to play for. (We do not have the financial resources or equipment to try and do live services over the internet). It is still up in the air whether I will continue to be paid. If not, nearly 50% of my annual income is gone.

Few musicians perform entirely by themselves. Even a concert pianist has support personnel. Currently there are practically no music performances for live audiences and only the big name performers, who probably don’t need any help can manage concerts via the internet. Most performing and teaching musicians will be unable to effectively do things over the internet.

Teachers can’t teach as effectively via the internet as in live settings. Recording studios, even home studios are no longer operating. And there are many more things negatively impacting musicians.

In my situation thanks to a terrible ISP (AT&T) I have a very, very slow DSL internet connection (never more than 3Mbps!) so what I hear and see is never ideal quality. *BUT IT WORKS* So, while the idea of doing things over the internet is a great ideal, the infrastructure, at least in rural America simply does not exist so far as anything of high quality is concerned.

Here are some links to get you started:
Spotify (Listen for free)

Apple Music (iTunes)

Amazon Music

And of course I can be helped with every piece of sheet music you buy or by taking music lessons over the internet.

Everyone stay safe. Wash your hands often, avoid crowds, don’t go anywhere unless you have to. If you are sick, think you are sick or someone in your household is the same, stay home.

Categories
General Music Theory Piano Lessons

Slurs, ties and phrases

Let’s talk about slurs, phrases and ties. As a long time piano teacher, I find many students, even advanced players get confused.

Slurs – curved line over/under two or more *different* notes.
Tie – curved line connecting the *same* note(s) immediately next to one another.
Phrase – a musical idea, often indicated with a slur line over/under many notes or more often, many measures.

Slurs mean to play the notes legato, or to put it into English – play the notes smoothly, connected or without any silence between the notes. How this is done depends on your instrument. On piano, do not lift the finger of the first note until you go to play the 2nd note. In bowed strings, like violin, it typically means to keep the bow going in the same direction. Wind/brass instruments it often means that you don’t tongue between notes. Check with your teacher on the best way to do a slur. You do have a teacher, right? Please tell me you aren’t trying to do this without anyone checking your work to see if it is correct – just because it sounds fine to you doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Example of slurs
An example of slurs

In the entire example above, all the curved lines over/above the notes are slurs, *except* for the D notes in the right hand and the E notes in the left hand in measures 7-8 & 15-16 (3rd beat tied to 1st beat). Those are ties. In all other cases, even measure 5 going into measure 6, the curve line is over/under at least 2 different notes. That’s all there is to slurs. Note that in this piano music example, there are some passages with both stem up and stem down notes at the same time. We call the different directions “voices.” In those cases, the position of the slur makes a difference. For example, the slur in measures 7 & 8 over the high (stems up) voices in the right hand part are under the influence of the slur, but not the low voices.

At the end of a slur it is common to “take a breath” before going to the next note. At measure 22 below in the right hand, a pianist might shorten the length of the  off-beat 8th notes (& of 1, & of 2, etc) ever so slightly. A violinist would change bow directions resulting in a break in the sound. How much breath one takes, if any, is subjective.

Phrase example
An example of phrases

In the above example starting at measure 26, the curved line over the right hand part is more properly called a phrase. A phrase being a musical idea implies that all the notes in the phrase are all part of one musical idea. Whether to play all the notes legato (smooth) as a slur would indicate is more of a performance choice than a requirement. In fact, in this example it is impossible to play the entire phrase connected. Can you spot why not? In measure 27 there are two repeated “G”‘s in the right hand. By definition, repeated notes cannot be played smoothly connected. One has to lift their fingers (or change bow direction, etc.) in order to play a repeated note. That causes a silence between the notes and thus they are no longer connected or smooth.

Ties. In measures 40 to 41 and 41 to 42 are examples of ties. The top note, B on the 3rd beat is tied into the 1st beat. That means play the note on beat 3 and hold the note down until the end of the tied note, in this case the end of beat 1. The F in measure 41, beat one is tied to beat 2. The C on beat 2 is tied into beat 3 *and* into the dotted half note on beat one of measure 42. All the while, there is a phrase/slur line over measures 39 to 42. Both notes in the left hand of measure 41, beat 2 tie into the next measure. In the case of the ties, all the curved lines connect the *same* note(s) to the same note with no other notes between them. Don’t be confused by the slur in measure 34 and 35. The first and last notes are both G in the right hand. Are the two G’s tied? Of course not. Because there are several notes between them it can only mean the curved line is a slur.

I hope this helps. Please comment below.

Categories
General YouTube Videos

Kontakt Player Intro

Kontakt Player
Kontakt Player

In my latest YouTube video I am taking a quick look at Native Instrument’s Kontakt Player. This is a free product that comes with a respectable amount of instruments. It is ideal for anyone getting started with sampling or interested in getting into music technology. I made the video for some of my piano students who have expressed an interest.

The video does show the full version of Kontakt, but the player version is essentially the same. The only major difference is you can’t created your own instruments from samples or edit the existing instruments and a few other restrictions.

Please leave comments here and let me know what future tutorial videos you’d like to see.

Categories
Albums General

New Album

New Album

Album cover

It’s been nearly 3 years since I released an album so I thought it was about time to release a new one. This one is a sampler of various styles of music I compose, arrange or record. Some of it is available in sheet music from my website.

Look for it June 1, 2018 on iTunes, Amazon MP3, YouTube Music, Spotify and more.

I plan to post some details in the upcoming weeks about various tracks.  Please consider buying a copy of the whole album or individual tracks or stream it on Spotify.

Many of the titles are available in sheet music form at his website. Those that aren’t rely too much on specific computer sound libraries to be played by acoustic instruments. Three titles are based on brass quintet arrangements, but of course added to for the recording. One piece is based entirely on the results of fractal math formulas. Another one, the all percussion piece, Very Confused, uses a Beethoven piano sonata as the source rhythm but then highly manipulated. Another piece is based on a 12-tone instrumental ensemble piece. Yet another piece is more like modern trance music, but with James’ own twist. A couple came about as a result of experimenting with various sound libraries. Waiting and watching found its origins from music written on an iPad using NotateMe while in a doctor’s waiting room! While every title might not be for everybody, there is something here that you will like.

Categories
Albums Arranging General Organ Music Piano Lessons Reaper Recordings Sibelius Website News YouTube Videos

May 2018 update

Current news

I’m always looking for subjects to write about here or tutorial to do on YouTube. Please use the comments section to give me some ideas.

I’ve not shown a map of where people are buying and performing my sheet music for some time, so here’s the latest (as of Mar 31, 2018)

I’m making some changes to the music catalog. Rather than offer individual keyboard arrangements, I’m only selling collections. I have 8 piano solo collections available. As time permits I will remove organ solos from the catalog and only offer collections. It is easier to manage collections.

I have no plans for anything on YouTube at the present time. This is for two reasons: 1) Nobody who watches my videos on YouTube has bothered to let me know what they want to see and 2) YouTube no longer allows me to monetize my channel and nobody who watches my videos has donated anything to keep it going.

As always, check the sheet music catalog for new titles. At least once a month, sometimes more often there are new titles.

After 15 custom arrangements for a single client I must be doing something right. If you have a beginner/intermediate instrumental group or a church orchestra in need of arrangements, let me know so I can write it for you.

I’m always “playing around” with my various sound libraries and live instruments in my home studio. Look for at least one new album out this summer, if not two.

I continue to teach piano lessons locally and over the internet. So, no matter where you are in the world I can teach you. I can also tutor on composing, arranging, music theory and more. Drop me a note if you are interested.

Categories
General Sibelius YouTube Videos

Sibelius Sound Set Editor Introduction

Sibelius Sound Set Editor

I put together a brief video showing an introduction to the Sound Set Editor and how you can use it to support virtual instruments

Categories
Arranging General Recordings

Results of my contest entry

Did they even listen to my entry?

So, a few posts ago I mentioned that Spitfire Audio was having  a contest that I had entered. The one and half minute video was provided by them. Contestants had to write music to fit the video. It didn’t matter what sound libraries we used, it was “the composition that mattered.” Given the winning entry, which isn’t a bad musical competition, I wonder if my entry made it to them?

Nobody has ever called me a bad looser, but in this case, I just don’t get it. Were they more interested in the mixing/mastering than the music matching the video or what? The whole contest was a bit odd. The entry method was emailing the final audio (a large sized file) which could have easily ended up in their spam folder or deleted. It’s never safe to email something so big. We also had to send a link to our music synced to their video. I did that. They never confirmed whether they got my entry nor did I ever see it (or any other entries) posted on their SoundCloud site as the rules said they would. They also did not announce the winner on their website, but instead at the following Facebook page. Not everyone uses facebook. Here’s the winner:

https://www.facebook.com/SpitfireAudio/videos/10155715880575412/

The problems I have are:

The composition is little more than a 1:15 tension builder. It doesn’t resolve the tension. When I’m looking to buy a sound library, this music doesn’t do it for me.

The music doesn’t fit the video. It in no way enhances or supports the visuals we see. (Some comments on their facebook page agree with me here).

It is so repetitive to the point of almost being boring.

When it switches from graphics to the control room, why no change to draw the viewer, who may have turned away while watching on their phone, tablet or PC, to the change?

When we see a large horn section, I have trouble hearing any horns. The only thing in the video are horns yet there are no obvious horns in the music.

The same thing when we see flutes, trumpets and a timpani player feverlishly bangs on the timpani, we don’t hear flutes, trumpets or timpani. Why not? It would be an excellent way to showcase the product and its multiple capabilities instead of hearing essentially the same thing we’ve heard from the beginning.

When the woman is showed at her computer using Albion, why not give us something electronic? Movie soundtracks aren’t all symphonic orchestra are they?

The biggest thing that bothers me is when she plays a C on her keyboard (after seeing that she has a string sound loaded up) we don’t hear a C, not even a note in the C chord, nor are strings featured. What happened to matching the music to enhance the visuals?

Any how, here is my entry. I know it isn’t perfect. The mixing and mastering need some work and it probably would have helped to layer in some more sounds to what is there. I would really like some comments as to why my attempt was not as good as the winner.

Categories
Church Music General Other YouTube Videos

Concert Band Arrangements

Sorry it’s been since March (nearly 6 months) since I’ve last posted. As mentioned in the last post, I’ve been doing custom arrangements for a client that’s reached about 10 titles. Plus I’ve been working on series called “Any Size Church Orchestra series” of arrangements for church groups that never know from week to week who will be there. These arrangements, now available at my website, are playable by a wide combination of instruments.

But, today I want to feature my Concert Band arrangements. I will let the demo videos speak for themselves. (Please remember, these are demos from computer software and not mixed. I have neither the time to mix them nor money to hire a real band).

PS. If you’re in the Gainesville, Ocala area on October 16, 2016 I’m giving a solo piano concert featuring TV & Film music. It is at 2pm at the Church of the Mediator in Micanopy, FL.

The following YouTube video is a playlist of demos of all the titles I have.

 

Categories
Arranging Church Music General Other Website News YouTube Videos

Monthly (Mar 2016) post

News

I know I’ve been a bit behind in regular posts here and on my YouTube channel. I probably use Twitter more than anything so if you want to know the latest, follow me there. (@JGSheetMusic).

Arrangements

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been arranging some copyrighted material for distribution via SheetMusicPlus. I have some new titles available including “Crazy”, “Hawaii Five-O Theme”, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” and “Fly Me To The Moon.” Mostly for solo piano but also a string quartet. Visit my SheetMusicPlus page to see all I have available.

Custom arrangements

I recently finished a custom instrumental arrangement for a church group in the Houston, TX area. The group consists of ages 11-18 with a few adults. This makes a total of four I’ve done for them. They’ve all been well received. I’m available to arrange or compose anything for any combination of instruments or styles. Drop me a note if interested. Here’s a video of the group playing my first arrangement. Remember, they are beginners.

https://youtu.be/9MVXF_Kw7oA

MIDI files

I continue to provide MIDI files for a Lutheran church to use in their services. I send the files over the internet. They hook their computer up to the organ, select the registration they want, hit play and that’s their accompaniment to congregational singing and also some background music during communion. Any midi capable instrument (piano, synthesizer or organ) can be used to play the files.

Website

I continue to post new arrangements and compositions to my website, JamesGilbertMusic.com

Piano Lessons

Of course, I’m still teaching piano lessons locally. I can also teach via the internet if you aren’t in the area.

Church music

Being a church musician is a great way to have a steady gig as a musician. The small, rural parish church I play for had to give up its choir last November due to only 3 or 4 people (all inexperienced, non-musicians) showing up. But for Easter and weeks leading up to it we had some soloists sing in addition to some extra material from me. I offer consultation on how to make the most of your church music program and/or help in accompanying congregational singing – from a single pianist up to a large praise band or orchestra.

Is there anything in the way of tutorials or general information you’d like to see here on this page or my YouTube page.

Categories
Arranging General Website News YouTube Videos

New and Unique music demos

New Music

As most readers of my blog know, I am distributing my compositions and arrangements via SheetMusicPlus Digital. It’s kind of like an Amazon Kindle author self-publishing service for composers & arrangers. They recently made arrangements with the rights holders of nearly 1,000 copyrighted songs to allow someone like me to make arrangements of those songs, without having to get permission. SheetMusicPlus collects payments for the copyright owner. I took advantage of the beta testing phase and tried my hand at 5 different titles. In the month or two they have been available, sadly only two titles have sold, but I’m hopeful as time goes by more people will find out about them and more will sell. The publisher sets the price based on the instrumentation.

You can view all the pieces I have available at my Music Catalog

In alphabetical order.

Awesome God is a handbell arrangement of what is typically a ‘praise’ chorus sung by congregations. Here’s a demo:

https://youtu.be/TJ5htotisr8

Billie Jean, the Michael Jackson hit, arranged in a quasi-classical style for orchestra. I think this would be a great hit with a high-school, college or community orchestra.

https://youtu.be/y5OaNh4d4h4

Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) is the most unique. I told someone about the beta test and they suggested this song. I asked them what instruments I should arrange it for. They said Mandolin, Cello and Drums. So I did. Surprisingly, this was the first arrangement purchased. If I could set the price I’d set it at about half of what it is.

https://youtu.be/rMxNmDEK3DA

The Lord’s Prayer. The traditional Malotte setting. I’ve never seen this arranged for anything but 3 octave handbell choir so I did a 5-octave title.

https://youtu.be/P2WExEQ36os

Sound of Silence. The very popular Simon and Garfunkel piece from the 1960’s. I’ve never found a piano arrangement of this that had any sort of “wow” factor. I’ve tried to add some elements that a piano player will like to play.

https://youtu.be/WU4OOBUcxBE

I’ve had people abusing the comment capability here so I turned comments off. I still welcome comments. Contact me via my website JamesGilbertMusic.com and I’ll post the most interesting comments in future blogs.

Categories
Arranging General Other

Where my music is being used

Map of my music usage

Updated Dec 2015. The point in the northeast of Greenland represents all the sales where people did not give their location.

Here’s a map showing where in the world my sheet music has been purchased via my distributor SheetMusicPlus.com. It only covers from March 2014 – October 2015. I plan to update it a few times a year.

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General Other

Piano Concert results

Thanks for those that attended the movie & TV themed concert I did on Oct 25, 2015. The audience request section was more popular than I thought it would be. I got stumped on a couple of requests I didn’t know.This might become a regular/annual part of our concert series. I was able to “stump the audience” a few times with a few pieces nobody could guess. Prizes were handed out to those who could guess the hard ones. In addition to the audience participation sections I played a variety of TV and movie music spanning the years from Casablanca up to more current titles.

Categories
General Other YouTube Videos

Storm aftermath

A little diversion from the usual. We had a little storm go through the area Aug 3, 2015.  It resulted in the flooding of the building shown at the end of the video. The video is at half-speed from its filming. The music is an original composition & recording of mine.

 

Categories
General Music Theory Piano Lessons

Using iPad apps to learn Piano

Does anyone use the iPad or other computer software to help them learn to play the piano?

I asked this question at my tumblr blog – which I have just to have a presence on tumblr. (Usually I post blog content here and link to it on tumblr, but this time its the opposite).

Read my thoughts on using an iPad to learn to play the piano.

Categories
Albums General Recordings Website News

New Album available

So I have nothing better to do than teach piano, compose music & record albums. Oh, and perform from time to time. And of course, I have no idea how to publicize it (and all my efforts at learning how haven’t worked). Here’s my my 10th album. Variegated Plate.

Categories
Albums Arranging General Other Reaper Recordings Sibelius Website News

Variegated Plate

Wonder what this might be?

Coming soon...
Coming soon…

var·i·e·gat·ed
ˈver(ē)əˌɡādəd/
adjective
1) exhibiting different colors, especially as irregular patches or streaks.
Botany: (of a plant or foliage) having or consisting of leaves that are edged or patterned in a second color, especially white as well as green.
2) marked by variety.

Think definition number 2. Coming soon…….

Categories
Church Music General Organ Music

Organ concerts – behind the scenes

On May 3rd, 2015 I was one of two performers at a 2-organ concert. It is unusual these days to have a single organ concert, let alone one that features 2 organs. The location of the concert was a small church in the small town of Micanopy, FL (population 600). The building can hold a very uncomfortable 75, maybe 100. (Updated 4/20 – The video that was available is no longer available so I can no longer show you a video from the concert).

The 2nd organ was installed on Thursday and modifications were made to the existing organ as well. As of early Sunday morning there were serious doubts whether the existing organ would be working as it should for the concert.

To back up a bit, one should know something about the building itself. Due to the size of the building, a pipe organ of any size that would be practical for the needs of the church is out of the question, so there is an electronic organ in the building. It is a good sounding organ based on sampling technology. The organ also has 2 sound modules attached via MIDI.

The concert itself went very well, in spite of the problems you will read about below. We adjusted the pews (which are not attached to the floors) so that the front half of pews faced on another facing the center aisle. In the back, 3 pews on one side faced forward, the other 3 faced backwards and there was one pew against the wall allowing for a view of the console and feet of the installed organ. The temporary organ was placed across the center aisle as far forward as one could go without getting into the church’s altar area. The idea was that people could see both organists if seated up front and/or just one or the other organist when seated in the back seats.

Needless to say, a temporary organ will not be a pipe organ either.  In this case it was what I would call a modern theater organ. The available sounds were not sounds one would normally associate with church music. It was almost like having an orchestra at one’s fingertips. As you might imagine, setting it up and getting it to sound good would take some time.

The existing organ, only installed about 2 years ago, was working fine. However, the initial installation had been a bit of an experiment regarding the antiphonal speakers. The guest organist, the theater organist was also the person who installed the church’s existing organ. He decided, with my approval, to change what sounds go to which speakers.

The organ has 6-channel outputs and we also have two sound modules, one an organ sound module and the other a Korg orchestral sound module. All controlled by MIDI. The organ module had been modified from stereo out to a 3-channel (each stereo) output. We have two sets of speakers (separate channels) in the back near the organ and another set at the front of the church (opposite side from the organ, the antiphonal speakers). We changed the routing of the various outputs of the organ and the 2 modules to different speakers. All of the organ went to the speakers near the organ up on the wall. Some to the top speakers, some to the bottom speakers. (Prior to this, all of the swell went to the antiphonal speakers). The Korg module now comes out of the front (antiphonal) speakers as does the Division B of the organ module. Changing the outputs, which involved many changes to cables, mixers and software configurations ended up taking about 6 hours on Thursday. As we left that evening, everything sounded good, much better than before.

I came in on Friday to practice. I loaded up some presets/pistons and almost got blasted off the organ bench. The external organ module was not being heard from the correct channels and was much louder than it had been on Thursday. It was not useable as it was. On Saturday around 6pm the organ installer/technician is back. We discover that the modifications to the organ module were not working. (At least that’s our best guess right now). We had to re-do the output of it in order to get things the way we wanted. Then on Sunday morning nothing is coming out of the organ module. So, we determine the organ module’s modified outputs are bad and are affecting the original outputs. Fortunately we were able to get it to work for the concert. And it did. The last I’ve heard is he will take the module and repair it so at least the original outputs work. We set the different divisions to mono outputs and routed Division B to the right side that led to the antiphonal speakers. The rest of the outputs went to the left and the speakers by the organ.

As to the program itself, I played the first half and the guest organist did the next half (and then some). It was decided that I would do more traditional organ music. I did a variety of classical music and hymn arrangements. The guest organist did mostly orchestral transcriptions and popular music with a few hymn tunes thrown in, but with orchestral sounds.

For a town of 600, we were quite happy to have the 40 or so people come out to view the program. The audience seems to have really enjoyed it. The church is anticipating a concert series for the 2015/2016 season (Sep through May).

If you are in Micanopy, FL, – a great place to visit to see ‘old’ Florida & where the movie Doc Hollywood was filmed – stop by the Church of the Mediator, across from the Herlong mansion some Sunday morning and hear the organ.

Categories
Arranging General Other Reaper

Cubase DAW evaluation

It is always good advice not to switch to a different DAW if you are comfortable and familiar with another one. And, if you aren’t getting the sound you want from the DAW, spend the time learning that DAW before considering switching. Even so, sometimes it’s worth looking at other DAWs if they have a ‘really want’ feature that yours doesn’t or to get ideas of other ways to do things in your current daw.

So I got a copy of Cubase 6 LE as a ‘freebie’ with another product I bought. I know it’s not the latest version of the software nor is it as feature rich as the ‘pro’ version but the midi score editing capability was enough to get me to try it. I also wanted to see the workflow and if the visual is any better than what I’m using. I even watched some tutorial videos so I wouldn’t be completely lost.

I’m not out to start a ‘my DAW is better than yours’ war’. If you like what you use, keep using it. Unless you’re just starting out, you have too much invested to change now.

In my opinion, the workflow of Cubase is more difficult than my current daw. There were a few midi features that were better but not enough reason to switch. The midi music notation editing feature that I most wanted to see was not good. I’ll take PG Music’s Band in a Box (or RealTracks) notation editor over this any day. (For the record, I use Sibelius 7 to create scores then export to midi or play the midi into my daw).

Not that I was seriously considering changing but I will definitely be sticking to my current DAW along with Komplete Ultimate. The DAW I use is the $60 full-featured DAW that even pro-tools professionals have switched to. That is Reaper.

So, Cubase users, any reason I should go back and take another look at it? What is it that made you decide on it rather than something else? Does the latest version have a better interface and workflow than 6?

Categories
General Music Theory Other Piano Lessons

The piano is dead?

Just an article to get the mind thinking. I’d love to hear some insightful comments on this subject.

Are people learning to play the piano enough to keep the piano going as a popular instrument? Is it becoming like the pipe organ or electronic keyboards/synthesizers, all instruments played by a small percentage of musicians?

Is the future of music in technology? Is music moving to the point where one uses a midi controller (either a keyboard like instrument or a drum pad like Maschine) to produce a loop that is then played by pushing a button on a machine or computer (like an iphone/ipad)? Most music heard today by the majority of people is electronic based music. You may love classical music or live music without processing, but that’s the minority. Even if there is a live guitar player, it is unlikely that it hasn’t been processed by something, whether through an electric guitar amp or a foot pedal or computer based effects. Most TV & film music uses electronic samples (recordings) of instruments. Most live performances, like the large big-name touring artists give have pre-recorded elements as part of the performance. Even the voices are manipulated to make the singer stay in tune. One can half-way learn an instrument, record the bits and pieces, manipulate it in a computer and make it sound like a virtuoso. They then go on stage and play that recording – which I give them credit is something they created – while playing very simple parts. Is the need to learn an instrument really necessary?

If you can put together decent sounding material and play it back through a decent sound system while appearing to perform (like a DJ does), is that not sufficient? Over time as you create the raw material you would naturally become more proficient in your instrument. It would take much longer than in traditional lessons, but you’d still learn. Besides, you can rely on the technology to present a product that people like and that’s what matters.

I ask this because my main livelihood is as a piano teacher, apparently a career that is going the way of the dinosaur. I was shown an article in an actual printed paper (Gainesville, FL Sun 1/3/2015 issue) that said that Piano sales are way down and that fewer & fewer parents want their kids to learn piano. The reasons apparently vary between the appeal of learning computers and technology (eg video games) and the, in my opinion, misguided idea that team sports is preferable to music. I’ve lost many a student to sports and it always seems to be the ones that really should stick in music that go off to sports. It makes me wonder if I should switch to teaching how to use drum machines, music notation/composing software, home recording, etc? Would parents or potential students be more interested in that?

I could write volumes on why team sports is not as good for kids in the long run as taking music lessons. I can’t help but think of the quote from “1984” that goes “Films, football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult….” I would paraphrase that to say “Entertainment, alcohol, gambling and above all else, sports captured everyone’s attention so controlling and manipulating, misleading, spying on and taking advantage of society was easy.” (Entertainment being things like Films, TV, YouTube, twitter, etc.). But much better authors than me have pointed out the fallacies of focusing on sports for children. Unfortunately, the parents making the decisions about music lessons don’t listen or don’t care about those facts.

Even if sports were not a big distraction for children & parents, would the side of technology that makes it far to easy to produce music that sounds good be sufficient reason for people not to take serious music lessons? What should a piano or music teacher do if the field of learning a specific instrument is dead or dying?

Comments, ideas? Please share.

Categories
Albums Arranging Church Music General Recordings Website News

Website update

Website update

I’ve made some major changes to the website in the past two months. Visit JamesGilbertMusic.com to see all the changes.

More free music

In the process of getting rid of collections (see below), I decided to move several titles to the free category (listed at the bottom of the music catalog pages). As an example, all of the instrumental hymn improvisations are now available for free.

Singles – no collections

Most print publishers sell music in collections. Multiple titles contained within one book. Overall it is cheaper per piece for the customer. But, in my experience, the collection contains to many titles I didn’t want to buy but were forced to. When I first started the website, I only sold music as single titles. A little over a year ago (I think) I switched to collections for most everything. Thanks to your feedback, I’ve learned that online customers just want to purchase a single title.

Almost everything on the site is now available as a single title. What collections there are will disappear soon to be replaced by singles.

Albums, singles, EP and audio recordings in general

I’ve been an active contributor to SoundCloud and have announced my uploads via Twitter, this blog, facebook and the like. However, on the website, all I had was a link to my SoundCloud page. Those are mentioned on the website’s main page, but nowhere else. I’ve updated the sheet music catalog to include those in the listings with links to the two sites. For most of 2014 my recordings have only been available via online sources other than my website. For various reasons that is best for me and will continue to be that way. Those include Amazon, Spotify and Apple Music as well as various online streaming sites.

New titles

I’ve added several new titles to the sheet music catalog. Click on the New Titles icon to see all of them.

Categories
Arranging General Other YouTube Videos

My first look at Komplete Kontrol

Komplete Control is software that allows Komplete 9 & Komplete 10 users the ability to find sounds in one central location.

So, I just got it and put together a video showing some of its main features.

See the video

Subscribe to me on YouTube to keep up with my latest videos like this.

 

Categories
Albums General Other

How do you listen to music

Please let me know in the comments or on twitter how you listen to music.

Listening to music

Why I’m asking this question.
I noticed in my collection of computer “junk” that I had a speaker system of a powered sub-woofer and three speakers. They were from a 2006 era computer. The sub-woofer is good, but the other speakers are not high-quality. I couldn’t remember why I wasn’t using them with my current system other than I have some nice near-field monitors. (But they don’t do low end well).

I hooked the system up and they sounded nice. The low end was a dramatic improvement over my current setup. But, after about 20 minutes the speakers started crackling and making a lot of static. Due to the unique (proprietary?) way the sub-woofer connects to the other speakers, I can find no way to use the sub-woofer without them. So, I’m back to just my near-field monitors and good over-the-ear headphones for listening and mixing.

I really liked hearing the low end in the music I was working on. I would like to get the sub-woofer to work with different speakers, but I can’t. This all got me to thinking, how do you and people you know listen to music? Is a sub-woofer commonly used?

Few listen to live non-amplified music

Most people will listen to music via some sort of speaker/amplifier system. Unless you regularly go to live performances of non-amplified instruments – which I do recommend – then you are listening to music via a speaker. I’d like to know what type of speakers you listen on. No, I don’t want to know models or brands, just general information. You may listen in various locations. I want to know what the most common speaker setup is for you.

Speaker listening possibilities

Here are some possibilities. Do you listen only in your vehicle? Do you only use ear-buds? Do you use the computer speakers that are in your laptop? What about over the ear headphones? Do you use the speakers that came with your computer desktop? Do you listen to the speaker of your phone or tablet? Do you listen through a home stereo or home theater system? When listening on stand-alone speakers are the largest speakers big (10 inches or more)? Are there multiple speakers within the speaker cabinet? Or maybe you listen via some other speaker setup?

To sub-woofer or not?

What about a sub-woofer? Do you listen to most of your music via a system that has a sub-woofer? (That’s the ‘point 1’ in a 5.1 or 7.1 system). What do you think of your music when you have to listen on a system without one? When I record or mix music, should I assume most people don’t listen on a system with a sub-woofer and not worry about mixing so it sounds excellent on a system with one? Although I try to mix so my music sounds good on all systems, I’m wondering as a result of this experience whether I need to spend so much time trying to perfect the sound for all systems or focus on the ones that most people listen to? Of course I’ll always strive to sound better on as many speakers as I can, I could save time by not spending so much time working on trying to please all speakers out there.

Any thoughts or comments are welcome here or via my Twitter account @JGSheetMusic

Visit my website JamesGilbertMusic.com for details about my sheet-music, recordings, piano lessons and more.