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Is this the future for corporate video music?

Film composer Jeff Rona released a music library composed specifically for film trailers and television promos. Jeff has scored a number of feature film and won a couple of awards. So, intrigued, I quickly scanned a fair number of the tracks and I must say I am highly impressed. This is not your run-of-the-mill electronic plinky-plonk library music. Jeff and his co-composers used real orchestras, choirs, instrumentalists and a top notch film music recoding engineer on this library. So are we going to hear this music on every film trailer in the future? Or even worse....:

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Take your coaching or producing to the next level

Ray at mixing desk
That's me on the right
Recently, I spent an entire weekend locked away in a recording studio, recording a number of songs with a local amateur ensemble. Later that week came two intense afternoons of mixing. After listening to our preliminary results, I am impressed with what I heard. After all, these are not trained musicians, and the challenges I set them were substantial. Last week they set up a presentation for themselves that I sadly could not attend, but their own reactions were great as well (pride, a feeling of accomplishment!). Now its of into the next stage: mastering, the making of a video and the public release in September. Throughout the project my role has changed: first the preparatory meetings, then writing the arrangements, next assisting at rehearsals as a co-conductor. And finally (in recording and mixing) as producer which is what I want to explore in a somewhat larger perspective here:

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Upgrades: Bliss or Blues?

Finale logoI have funny thing with upgrades: most software I use is open source software on Linux (I use Ubuntu) and often upgrade programs as soon as a new release becomes available. But there is one exception to my 'upgrade policy' though. A BIG exception. Most of my 'working' hours I spend with Finale (the only reason I still use Windows). I rarely update that one: when I get used to a version I don't like to change it because I have a need for speed in my main application. Plus: most of my notation needs are fairly modest, so I don't really need to keep it at the cutting edge. Besides incremental upgrades often have too little to offer. But after a few years these little features start to add up. So today I bit the bullet and upgraded Finale for the first time in 6 years. Boy, was I in for a surprise, and not just pleasant...

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Pity the poor spammers...

in

Them pills
Lately, this site has been a heavy target for comment spam. Since the site uses a challenge-response system, it is very likely that the comments are posted by humans rather than spam-bots. But the spam-filter here is quite effective, so almost all spam-comments are removed immediately. And the very few that do get through are quickly weeded out by hand. From the site's logs I deduced that there are only a few people posting these comments. And as these people are obviously "regular visitors" to this site, surely by now they must have seen that their comments are removed almost the instant they post them? So this got me thinking:

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So this is what J.S. Bach looked like...

in

reconstructed bach...or so they say. Modern forensic techniques were used to reconstruct his face from a scan of his skull. I know a number of murders have been solved by these techniques, so it is conceivable that Johann Sebastian Bach really looked like this (after he took his wig off...). But it made me wonder: do I care? Does it change anything in my perception of, or appreciation for his music? Does knowing this add any value? No. At least not for me. But it does make me wonder about the visual connection to the great composers and musicians. Why do we want to know what they looked like in the first place...

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I'm just a soul who's intentions are good...

...Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood"
The internet is a fast medium. Information is instantly accessible. It encourages you to do a lot of things at the same time. It can be a real source of inspiration. Also anything you write is instantly available to the whole on-line world. And this can be a source of trouble. If you're doing a lot of things in rapid succession, you sometimes forget to check for accuracy. You try to convey something, but because you forget to check, it ends up all wrong. If you're attentive (or lucky), you can minimise the damage and get your original intention across after all. If you're not..... Read my comments on This post on Liz Strauss' blog for an example... Liz's post itself by the way is great as well, so be sure to read that too.

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Is my work accessible?

reading levelSometimes I like to just sit back and enjoy reading some of my favourite blogs to see what's happening. And almost always I run into something interesting or thought-provoking. This time it was Scott Spiegelberg's "birthday post" that displayed a widget about the reading level required to understand a blog. The level shown here is for my blog, for Scott's you need 'Genius-level'. I must say I'm quite pleased with the level required for my blog. Why? Read on...

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Music industry discovers: downloads = sales!

speaker
Photo © by: Leon Brooks
I've written about the changes in music distribution before (here and here). And it seems like the music industry is (finally) catching on to this changing landscape as well... After years of sueing up- and downloaders of music they seem to have acknowledged that downloading is actually a feasable business-model! It "only" took the massive succes of Apple's iTunes (a computer company, remember?) to wake them up...

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Big Band Close Formation presents new songs

dancing
Photo © by: dekay
In September "my" big band will present a new addition to its program: ballroom and latin dance music. During our gigs we often received requests for ballroom or latin dance music. Given the current popularity of dancing and the fact that many big bands were also dance bands, we decided to add this to our program. So a while ago I started writing new arrangements of some well-known dance tunes. During the summer these new additions were rehearsed and now we're ready to get them on the road:

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Can music change the way we think and act?

Occasionally I browse the search queries that bring people to this site, and the question in the title was one of them. It made me think a little bit more serious about this: can music really change the way we think and act? Obviously, I believe it can, because otherwise I wouldn't have written the post on Howard Shore's music. And I'm not the only one who thinks so: "Of all the fine arts, music is that which most influences the passions, and that, therefore, which a legislator should do most to encourage. A few bars of moral music, composed by a master hand cannot fail to affect the feelings, and have much more influence than a well-written book about morality, which convinces our reason without altering our habits." (Napoleon Bonaparte). So, obviously, there is some effect, but how does it work?

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What if Google mixes up with Digg?

Sometimes trying to find something through Google can be a frustrating event. Some search terms deliver more spam than useful results, making sifting through the list a tedious chore. Other times Google doesn't come up with any results at all, so its off to Yahoo, Answers and whatnot. Now what if users could cast votes on their search results like on Digg? Or even better: the search engine tracks the useful (=used!) links itself? Aftervote claims to do just that! So, is it time to say goodbye to Google? Well, maybe, but I'm not sure yet...

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Predicting the future? No thanks! Or...

I was just browsing around the internet a bit today and came across this post about a 14 year old boy imagining in 1901 what America would look like in 2001. This made me think: in 1901 the changes were not as quick as they are today. Take computers for example: at 42 I'm a bit of a veteran, using computers since 1976 or so, but even in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined the way we use computers today, or the impact they're having on our daily lives and our communication. And even our social life: sadly, for some people computers have turned into their only social life... So how about making predictions for 2101...

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Changing music distribution, part 2

A few days ago I wrote about changes in cd distribution. But of course that is not the biggest change the music industry faces. Digital distribution (iTunes and the like) are taking over physical distribution fast. According to data from Nielsen SoundScan, reported by the New York Times, digital download outsold traditional cd's for the first time in 2006. And I (very safely...) predict that this is only the beginning. People are no longer buying albums, but single pieces instead. This makes some sense of course. I own some albums with one good song and nothing else worth listening more than once. But...

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Do you take McCartney with your espresso?

Both Variety and Reuters reported on Starbucks signing a record deal with Sir Paul McCartney. A coffee shop publishing cds. In a time of declining cd sales. And it can be quite succesful. In the Netherlands, drugstore "Kruidvat" recorded all the works by J.S. Bach in 2000 (Yep, I bought all 184 of them...) and it was a big succes: over 10 million cd's sold worldwide. Deals like this, things like Napster, iTunes, etc. make it clear that the entire music industry is changing. Changing fast. The traditional outlets are losing market share very fast. As the succes of the Bach edition (and later Mozart edition) show, there is still a large market for traditional cd's. So why moan? Well, I think there's a darker side to it as well...

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Harry Potter goes green!

I stumbled upon this announcement by Reuters today that 65% of the first printing run of "Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows" will be printed on FSC certified paper. Boy, is the environment hot these days! While I agree that action should be taken to preserve our planet, I also noticed that it is used as a marketing instrument as well. And looking at the prospective buyers of the HP novel, I think this is a brilliant move! (Hey, they've got me blogging about the book...!) I'm no expert in the publishing industry, but a quick roundup on the 'net suggest that generally around 30% of books is printed on FSC paper, so this is quite a step ahead. On a different 'note'...

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