Warming Up

Warming Up

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Moving Forward

This blog has been lame for about a month now (hopefully you don’t think it’s been lame for longer than that!). I usually write my posts at night, but for the past month or so, I’ve had some busy nights – stepped-up practice routine, work on some new compositions, work on my house (my list of projects is spiraling out of control), plus I’ve also gotten some new toys that have very time-intensive learning curves. After years of writing out my tunes and other people’s tunes by hand I’ve finally moved into the 21st Century and purchased some music notation software. I am now the owner of Sibelius 7. I also recently purchased (practically brand new from Craigslist) an M-Audio 61 key midi controller keyboard. And the keyboard also comes with Ableton Live Lite 8.

I can’t really believe that I’ve waited this long to buy notation software. I guess with three kids I always figured there was more important things to spend my money on. Like quality eyewear.

But it just didn’t make sense any longer writing out parts by hand. I’m in the middle of composing a suite of music and the prospect of writing out a score part and then having to write out all of the individual parts just seemed like a total waste of time. So I put aside a little bit of gig money from each of my recent gigs, pooled the money, and then convinced my wife that this was a smart purchase for the family. Well, basically I just complained and told her that I was the last musician around who, technologically speaking, was still living in the past century. She bought it. Then I bought it. And now I have Sibelius 7 installed on my computer.

I’ve learned some of the basics and created some horn charts for PhillyBloco, the Brazilian band I play in. I’ve also drafted up some practice routines for my trumpet students – something I was really eager to do. Writing out the same (or at least similar) slurs and scale exercises is really tedious and completely unnecessary in this age of computers. I haven’t yet tried to use my midi keyboard yet to input notes in Sibelius, but I will probably get around to that within the next week. Sibelius 7 comes with a bunch of tutorials that each take a couple of hours to complete. By the time you have completed working through these tutorials, you will have a grasp of almost everything that can be done with in the program. I’m going to work my way through the tutorials and pretty soon I’ll really get the hang of it. Though the learning curve for Sibelius is fairly steep, I’m really looking forward to having this software change my music life!

And like I said, the M-Audio midi controller comes with a license for music software Ableton Live Lite 8. Ableton is a pretty sweet program. I have heard that a lot of musicians are using Ableton in live settings, playing through a laptop as opposed to a board of effects pedals. And specific to the trumpet, I’ve heard that a bunch of Scandinavian trumpet players are using Ableton Live during their concerts. Sounds like a great idea, but when I think about some the crappy bars I play in, there is a fairly high likelihood of some drunken fool spilling a beer on my laptop and then I’ll be out of business on the gig and out of an awful lot of money for a ruined laptop. So for now, I think I am just going to use my Ableton to fool around with and create some tracks that I can play my horn over. And once I get a good handle on my midi controller, I think that Ableton will give me a nice platform to use when composing. Like Sibelius 7, this Ableton Live Lite 8 comes with a fairly steep learning curve. But, also like the notation software, Ableton comes with many built-in tutorials that will help me learn the process and various techniques. I’m pretty excited.

Yeah, I know. This technology isn’t exactly new. Musicians/composers have been using this stuff for years. But it’s new to me, and I’m excited to have moved forward into the modern music world. The key for me with all of this new stuff, is that I don’t let my trumpet practicing suffer at the expense of spending time on the computer/keyboard. But, I have enough gigs coming up that require good trumpet chops so I think I’ll make sure to get my requisite playing in. The toys are still secondary to my horn playing.

Trying to be good – a post tomorrow on some upcoming gigs. Thanks for reading!