I had some luck in locating an Acer desktop computer (new) with Windows XP Professional,
with a reasonable price tag of just under $500. This means being able to revert back to the original setup I had in
my studio that was the most productive. I have most things in place, as of today, and after reloading a ton of samples,
I'll be ready to resume composing.
I'm also close to full readiness to be available for copyist projects.
Byron and I spoke yesterday and, hopefully when he returns from a family visit in Denver, he'll hear something about some
pending projects. Quite honestly, some extra earnings to offset the costs of recovery would be welcome.
mostly, I'm anxious to get back to composing. There are a few projects I have in mind. I also spoke yesterday
with my friend Swany about another project featuring Icelandic narration. Voluspa, our first effort of about a
year ago, has been relatively successful wherever Swany has promoted it. That piece remains the longest composition
I ever finished, being a little over an hour long.
I was able to record the Geneva Jazz Ensemble in a live concert
for the Batavia Park District on June 24th. After editing the 92 minutes of audio I recorded, I got things
down to a seamless 19 track album. I made a single copy and sent it to Tony Giugliano, my good friend and tenor sax
player with the band. His reaction was interesting.
It's interesting when you hear yourself recorded for
the first time. It's usually very revealing and brutally honest. Like photographs, sound recordings don't lie.
But this is a good thing. It helps you to identify what you like and don't like about the performance. Other things
become apparent as well. For instance, chatter that goes on between songs seems innocent enough to the players, but
when you hear it on the recording, it suddenly becomes something you realize you should have kept to a minimum, and quieter.
Tony sent me an email after he heard the CD, pointing out these very things that he also recognized. He was
critical of his own playing and sound, which he said would improve with a different mouthpiece. Players, like Tony,
use this listening process as a tool to identify what needs to be changed. One of the more inciteful comments was how
loose and banal the performance was in general. He said that at rehearsals, the band doesn't really rehearse, they
just play. There's a big difference.
There is truth in the old joke..."How do you get to Carniegie Hall?....practice,
practice, practice!" But, going beyond that, it needs to be productive practice where the band strives to improve
their sound, including getting tighter. By that, we mean playing as a unit; beginning and ending together, not scattered
starts and stops.
The best sounding bands have achieved this tightness. We are accustomed to listening
to music that is professionally played and recorded. We hear it all around us; radio, TV, concerts, etc. When
that professionalism is glaringly absent, you notice it at once, and are usually critical of what you're listening to.
So, to think audiences are sympathetic because yours is an amateur band, may not be true. They have certain
expectations when they listen. Any band must be aware of those expectations and try to meet them. It will be interesting
to see what happens next for the Geneva Jazz Ensemble. The players are doing this for fun. Improving your playing
means working at it with a degree of discipline. You've got to make a commitment both as an individual and as a group.
Well, as the 4th of July weekend fast approaches, I hope to visit the new Modern Wing at the Art Institite in Chicago.
My wife and I are members and, along with our son and daughter-in-law, will check it out. I hope that somewhere in all
the artwork on display, I will find a spark of inspiration for some new music. It should be fun.
visiting my website.......Prov
I love the term "cautiously optimistic". It's like you won't commit
to an outcome, good or bad. I usually hear it in the context of some government or military statement, which typically
precedes a disaster of some sort. Well, I'm going to use this term to describe my tenuous relationship with the new
As of this morning, everything seems to be working. All my kids are playing nice together,
as my wife likes to say about all the paraphenalia in my studio I try to coordinate. Having lived with this expensive
nightmare too long already, I am skeptical. I am "cautiously optimistic". I desperately want this to
be the stable state of things I've been striving for, but....well you know.
I'm very happy to say we're back on
for recording the Geneva Jazz Ensemble on June 24th in Batavia. I'm getting all the required gear together for that.
I have to hook up to existing equipment, so there's variables I can't foresee. But I'm "cautiously optimistic"
(I'm starting to like this phrase).
What should come out of this is a recording of the concert I will burn to CD
and make into a podcast that I'll post here on my website. It should be good. You know, the worst gig ever is
still better than your best day working. The jury's still out on the possible copyist gig for Byron. If things
stay as they are, I can do it, but it's Byron's call.
Anyway, it's good to be back up and running, at least for
now. But I'm cautiously optimistic.
You know, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....JAWS!
I can't help of think of my friend Chuck who played bass on that famous movie theme....da da da da, etc....you know the theme.
But, obviously, I'm not talking about the water! I'm talking about my Windows Vista based DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
Just when I thought I was operational, this morning Vista refuses to start normally, telling me my audio driver is
at fault. After reciting some Italian expletives at my inanimate and otherwise innocent computer, I realize that's not
going to fix anything. I believe drivers for Vista aren't mature enough quite yet. The drivers for XP, by the
time it got to service pack 3, were solid. I had no audio problems whatsoever.
But such is not the case with
Vista and my hardware and software vendors' drivers and updates. There is this cosmic storm within the system caused
by the myriad of conflicts of code. And I'm on the sidelines wondering what the hell is happening and what I can do
to fix it.
As a direct result of this fiasco, I had to tell my friend Tony I couldn't record the Geneva
Jazz Ensemble on the 24th of this month. I also had to tell my friend Byron that it's questionable if I can do the possible
copyist gig in September for a Christmas Album. The schedule on that will be very tight (12 songs in 6 weeks) and, while
I could do it, I have little confidence my system will remain stable once I resolve my audio problems.
has been a bitter lesson. The advances made in computerized music production are phenomonal, but the vulnerability to
disaster is frightening. I don't yet know the answer, but I'm compelled to find it. Making music is what my life
is all about these days and I need to get back to that place where I was able to do that. The technical problems you
have to solve gets in the way of the creative side of the process.
All I can do is perservere and keep looking
for answers. I know I'll eventually solve this. It's just that I really didn't need this in my life at this point.
But no one ever does. Problems don't wait until you're ready. You just have to rise to the occasion. Ok
I'm rising already! Don't get pushy!
After doing some soul searching, I've decided to take a different approach to
distributing my music. To be sure, there are publishing outlets that actually look out for the composer, but unfortunately
there are many more that do not. Distributing through a publisher, while appearing attractive on the face of it, is
not the best way to go, at least for me.
First of all, I believe in driving it before you buy it. I'm not
talking samples of 30 seconds or so, but full versions of my music, grouped by CD title that can be downloaded for free.
On my Download page, I will group compositions by "CD" to download with the thought of
burning your own CD on your own computer. I even add some album artwork to add the finishing touch.
like it, I've set up a Donate button where you can use Paypal to
donate some money to cover costs. Unless you've been in a coma lately, you know how hard times are at this point.
My music should be available to anyone. That's what I've always been about and that's what I still believe. If
you can, a donation is greatly appreciated, otherwise, it's cool....listen and enjoy.
Now that my studio is back
up and running, I've been continuing the "cleanup in aisle Bob" that is the mess on what files I've been
able to salvage from the crash. I tended to transfer files to external hard drives when I knew the disaster was inevitable.
But I did it without much thought to organizing them, just to get them out of harm's way. Much cleanup and organizing
I am working on a minor piece for string quartet. It started out as an exercise to explore the new
features in Sibelius 6, but is shaping up into something else. This is not a great inspirational thing, just a
"get back on my feet" piece I needed to do.
I've got more things in the works I'll share with
you later. Until then, thanks again for your support.
The reconstruction of my studio, after the system crashed, is now complete.
All elements that were part of my former studio are in place and functioning in the new studio. I'm back writing music
and producing podcasts. All is as it should be.
Several of the elements are new. I have a new audio
interface, a new computer and operating system, a replacement printer and DVD/CD external drive. The biggest change
is Windows Vista SP1. I'm running the 32 bit version of home premium. I was running Windows XP Pro SP3 which worked
well with all the hardware and software I use. But Vista, so far, is working OK.
Another significant change
is version 6 of Sibelius. Thus far, this is proving to be the best version yet, and I've been using it since version
1.2 which I bought about 8 years ago. So I've seen most of Sibelius' version history and this new one is awesome.
So now, it's time to get down to business. I have several podcats to get together and post. I've also
taken Byron's suggestion for a new series of works which I'll tell you about another time. But mainly, it's great to
I've been making some progress in solving my studio problems since my desktop
crashed. I've pressed my laptop into service and, so far, I have all the programs I use to create, edit and master my
music, loaded and working. I even have the update to Sibelius installed, taking it to version 6. And, by the way,
this new version is awesome! It'll be especially helpful for any future copyist work I may consider.
a work-around for my audio interface issues that allows me now to create narration as well as record my music. For now,
I monitor through headphones (not a bad thing, actually) as earlier attempts to get some legacy hardware to work blew up my
speakers. The noise that made caused me to....well you don't want to hear about it.
As a result of this,
I have posted my third podcast this morning, which included narration and music together, like it's supposed to be.
The stats from the Libsyn site (who hosts my podcasts) are encouraging. They have slowly been increasing over the last
few days. I hope, with the new podcast, they'll continue this trend.
I still consider the work-around as
exactly that, not a permanent fix. I still need to purchase a good USB audio interface capable of 96KHz 24-bit fidelity.
I have one in mind made by M-Audio. They are owned by Avid who has acquired Sibelius, so I believe compatibility is
designed in. That will happen next week.
Please visit my podcast site at http://composerprov.libsyn.com to find and download my podcasts. Unfortunately, the embedded player is not the best, but if you right-click your mouse
on the podcast file and choose Open, you can play it on your own computer. Otherwise, choose
Save to download it direct.
Thanks for your support! I do this for you......Prov
It looks like I will continue to be plagued by problems in my efforts to reconstruct
my studio and get it operational. I still don't have a compatible audio interface that will allow me to do everything
I need to at 96KHz at 24 bits. I think I know what I need but I can;t get it yet as I ran out of bread.
posted another podcast but without any narration, as I can't record using a mic quite yet. To say the least, this is
very disheartening and getting me depressed. I live to create music and have become so accustomed to using Sibelius
on my computer, that anything preventing this is a very big deal to me.
I did manage to reload my main
programs, including Soundforge, Sonar, CD Architect and, of course, Sibelius. I have all three of
my printers working and my Receiver/Amp, Mini-Disc player/recorder and External CD burner.
All that's missing
is a supporting sound system. I've tried some older systems I had laying around, using new drivers downloaded from the
respective websites. Those not only did not work, one caused my speakers to blow out! When that happened, it scared
the hell out of me!
I'm finding that Windows Vista works differently than Windows XP, in terms of a setup for a
DAW (digital audio workstation). I wasn't planning on becoming a Vista guru, but it looks like I need to really understand
it so I can use it more effectively. XP was no where near as "fussy".
But, if I'm going to get
back in business, I'd better get more involved with what it's going to take to achieve this. Even if this means trying
to figure out Microsoft's Vista puzzle.
One more thing about my podcasts at http://composerprov.libsyn.comthat you should know. The player they have embedded, SUCKS! You're better off downloading the file and playing
it on your own equipment. Everything involves trade-offs....but why does there have to be so many?
Well, the inevitable has happened. It's said that it's not whether your
computer hard drive will fail, it's when. For my studio, it's now. This, of course, creates a myriad of problems.
Fortunately, I also have a working laptop with a copy of Sibelius loaded. I also have a few external hard drives that
holds a tremendous amount of files; these are still available.
But the primary hard drive is toast, and all the
programs, files and samples it held. The second hard drive was internal. Although its content wasn't affected,
it will require all sorts of machinations to bring it to life. My pro audio setup was also internal to the computer
and cannot be used with my laptop. So I need to buy an audio interface for the laptop that is capable of pro quality
sample rates (96kHz at 24 bit).
Also, the failed desktop had several USB ports to connect things to, like my printers,
keyboard and mouse, and midi interface. Since my laptop only has two ports, I need a multi-port hub to connect everything
to....another cost. And, of course, all this requires things be laid out differently in the studio, so I have to move
things around and clean things up.
So what's the lesson learned? Well, there's a few lessons actually.
First of all, expect and plan for the inevitable. Back important files up, like samples, scores and audio files, plus
other pertinent documents, graphics, etc. Set up the studio for easy access to everything you need to get to in case
This saves going through a tear down and rebuild of the studio. Mine is in a small room,
which makes for a tight situation. Space is at a premium, so efficient and ergonomic lay out is essential; but it must
also be functional and enable me to compose and process the music I create without impediments or hindrances.
any musician who has a computer-based studio, I say be prepared, stay in tune (no pun intended) with how it's working and
be proactive about preventing this kind of disaster. That's probably the greatest lesson learned for me. I wish
I'd heeded it before this happened.
But I will be back up and running with new scores, more podcasts, more recordings and,
finally, music as usual.