Monday, November 07, 2005

Rob Birdwell Jazz Solo Clips

The following are some audio clips of my Jazz solo work. It can be a challenge to play something "new" on the spot - especially with tunes that I've played time and time again -but that's part of the fun and craft of Jazz! Even though I'm playing with intent, I'm usually as surprised as anyone at what comes out. Much depends on my mood, the energy of the space we're playing, whether or not the audience is actively engaged, and how tuned in we (the band) are to each other. I'm not sure these particular solos represent anything significant for me (I suppose I've played better and certainly worse!), but they do at least represent some of my recent moments and honest attempts and expressing musical ideas through improvisation - enjoy!

Stella by Starlight

In A Mellow Tone

Blue Bossa

Alone Together

The musicians playing on these tracks are John Bliss on Guitar, The Viking on Drums, Mike Rhodes on Bass, J.G. on Piano, and me (Rob Birdwell) on Trumpet/Flugelhorn.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bix Beiderbecke - BIX index

Bix Beiderbecke and the BIX index - A series of 19 recorded audio interviews with musicians, family, friends and associates that talk about his life and times. Fascinating and wonderful. Recorded in the early 70's. Rife with Jazz history. Streaming and downloadable audio - all free.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Blowholes at Majestic


The Blowholes performed at the Majestic Theatre for the Starlight Gala on October 15th, 2005, which was a fundraiser for the theatre and their programs. The performance part of the evening went without a hitch and it was a true joy to perform for the wonderful audience in attendance. Everyone in the band volunteered to do this and worked their tail off to do what was needed to do to pull this thing off. Sam Kincaid's sound engineering really made the band sound great! Robert Crum's photos of the band made us look great!

Naturally, The Blowholes are looking forward to our next performance - let me know when it is because I don't have a clue! Hopefully soon though. I'm hunkering down this Winter to work on some new compositions for the group.

Rob

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

XTET at Sahalie Wine Cellars in Corvallis

This Saturday, October 22, the Xtet will be performing at the new Sahalie Wine Cellars, at the corner of First and Monroe Streets, in downtown Corvallis. This is a wonderful new venue for live music in Corvallis, with a warm atmosphere, a beautiful wine bar, and wonderful food. Come on down, sip a glass of Oregon's finest wines, and enjoy the eclectic musical tastes of the Xtet. We'll be featuring the pyrotechnical percussion of The Viking, the flamboyant fluegelhorn of Rob Birdwell (of "The Blowholes" fame), the gemeinschaftish guitar of John Bliss, as well as the beautifully basipetal bass of special guest Steve Willis. See you Saturday.......

XTET at Sahalie Wine Cellars
Thursday, October 22, 7:30 - 10:30 PM

Saturday, October 08, 2005

ASCAP Award




I received a letter today from ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) informing me that I've been awarded a cash sum as part of their ASCAPLUS Awards program, which is an awards program that provides cash and recognition to 1): active writers in the early and mid stages of their careers, and 2): to established writers whose main activity is outside of broadcast media.

I'm very honored - thank you ASCAP and the ASCAPLUS Awards Panel!

Sincerely,

Rob Birdwell
ASCAP Member

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Leaping the Dunes

I love this scene - the dunes on the Oregon Coast near Newport.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Big in Japan

This site/link in Japan is the source of over 12,000 downloads in only the last month for one of my songs, Beautiful Moments, which is interesting considering it was a tune I 1) have never formally promoted; 2) recorded the same night I wrote the song - a live piano/vocal rendition; 3) intended as a rough demo just to get a sense of the tune; and 4) named WIP.mp3 so that everyone knew it was just a work-in-progress! (I've since decided to adopt the WIP.mp3 file as a placeholder for my advertisement of the moment - for obvious reasons!)

Occasionally I see a pattern of interest for certain mp3 files downloaded from my site, but usually nothing dramatic. Until tonight.

Apparently, I'm big in Japan.

Once a year or so I look at my site's statistics provided by my host...it's usually the same deal over and over. Endless searches for trumpet fingering charts, lots of virtual trumpet links, surprisingly little action on my Real Trumpet offering (surprising to me because I feel Real Trumpet a more substantive and useful product), and of course only a smattering of evidence of interest in my songs, compositions and arrangements..except for the ones that have remotely provocotive names (e.g., Big Girl - yes, the "Live" version is number two on the most downloaded list for this site - gee, I wonder why? But Little Man - a song for my son - isn't even on the radar).

But apparently one of my cryptically named mp3 files (WIP.mp3) is being downloaded thousands and thousands of times - but why this one? Clearly, WIP means something interesting in Japanese. Wish I knew what. Bet I can guess. This I do know for sure: WIP is the title for my next Blowholes tune!

Obviously there's a perfectly reasonable explanation...I mean, no one is THAT interested in my work (ha! besides me)...are they? And it doesn't matter because writing music brings me great joy and satisfaction. Naturally there's a business side to this art and it's nice when there's interest in one's work. But why such interest in a rough demo of a song...intended for a very few to hear...a recorded version of a song I never got around to removing or renaming?!

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I know the truth, which is this: no one is actually listening to my song. The site is just a feeding ground for piranha-like appetites for free MP3s and WIP.mp3 just happens to correlate to something provacative in the English to Japanese translation. Dang! So okay, maybe I'm not so big in Japan after all - just digital fish food for the masses...oh well.

The song is real though...

I loved the tune when I wrote it and am still do; I like the shape, mood and lyrical intent - harmonically there are some interesting things happening too. Its harmonic underpinnings are rooted in Jazz but there's clearly a "pop" thing going on as well. It is understated with bits of sophistication and that's a nice space. The lyric is a poem to the past; to friends far and away now...to dreams...fantasy reflections, and if I'm honest, it's a song to the me of another when. I never got around to producing this song they way I still hear it... I wrote a little arrangement for a small group and we tried to perform it one night in the lobby of the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis for a benefit. Turns out I forgot to transpose the Alto Sax part when I printed the part (that was a "moment"), but I do recall performing it somehow. And at least one singer in the local area asked me for a lead sheet and permission to perform it, which of course I happily gave.

In the song's chorus there's a reference to Google (which, in addition to being a gianormous number, is a registered trademark). Wanting to be legit, I emailed their legal team asking for official permission to use the Google name in my song...I'm not certain I ever got a response, but at least I tried - so the lyric stands until they decide to sue me...sue me...what can ya do me? I won't hold my breath!

Finally and for the record (and especially for all my dear friends and fans in Japan, whoever you are) here's the lyric to Beautiful Moments, my penultimate work-in-progress or whatever WIP means in Japanese:

Beautiful Moments Words and music by Rob Birdwell

When the moon is out tonight
I will pause at the sight
And reflect on the times
We shared long ago

When the night lark is singing
I will sing right along
And try to recall
That old melody we wrote

I can Google your name
But I won't find a trace
Of those beautiful moments
From another time and place

I can hold my breath
Till I'm blue in the face
Still those beautiful moments
Are elusive as grace

When the sun is on the rise
I will rise up and shine
Slip inside my space suit
And fly far, far away

To Venus or to Mars
Either one will do
See the Earth from the other side
The other side of you

I can Google your name
But I won't find a trace
Of those beautiful moments
From another time and place

I can hold my breath
Till I'm blue in the face
Still those beautiful moments
Are elusive as grace

Thought I saw you in a passing car
Headed west on Hollywood Boulevard
What ever happened to old you-know-who?
Yea times are pretty strange now,
Whatcha gunna do?

When the moon is out tonight
I will pause at the sight
And reflect on the times
We shared long ago

When the night lark is singing
I will sing right along
And try to recall
That old melody we wrote

I can Google your name
But I won't find a trace
Of those beautiful moments
From another time and place

I can hold my breath
Till I'm blue in the face
Still those beautiful moments
Are elusive as grace

I can search for your name
But I won't find a trace
Of those beautiful moments
From another time and place

I can hold my breath
Till I'm blue in the face
Still those beautiful moments
Are elusive as grace

(c) Copyright 2008 Rob Birdwell / BirdwellMusic.com
All rights reserved...even in Japan.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Artist Share

Wow! Artist Share is really something special - check it out!

Ever want to study the score(s) of active (working) composers, arrangers...people who are writing and working with some of the best musicians in the world? Well, I sure do! And now anyone can. I should mention that there's usually a fee involved - but the fees scale; in other words, there's usually something for everyone and the fees (per artist) are reasonable and well worth it in my opinion.

I've been particularly inspired by Maria Schneider's site and her artistshare offerings - her lectures share insights into her various approaches to composing and arranging, which range from a sometimes whimsical approach (free flowing, uninhibited, dreamy) to her ability to articulate the nuts and bolts behind the inspiration, and analyze and evolve those musical nuggets into musical creations that are simply top drawer!

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans and Other Areas Hit by Katrina

Thanks to everyone who donated to the humanitarian relief effort at Bombs Away (Corvallis, Oregon) last night (Thursday, September 1). The XTET performed and John Bliss took the lead for the collection effort and did a terrific job! When we completed our evening of Jazz the total donations were $257 in cash and checks. And the donations didn't stop there as John reported even more the next morning. Every penny donated will go to the American Red Cross to assist in efforts to help the people who need it for the hurricane relief effort.

The XTET performed many tunes that we ordinarily perform (Jazz standards and some originals) but under the circumstances we wanted to pay tribute somehow, some way...so as it turns out, many tunes took on our own somewhat limited take on a "New Orleans" flavored sound. We opened with a blues - that much I do recall. Did some Ellington. There were Cajun rhythms throughout tunes that don't normally have them. I cried (or tried to) with my plunger and did my best Sachmo imitation with a straight mute. We even played "When The Saints Go Marching In" which was preceded by freely improvised and mournful intro - if nothing else, the offering was sincere and we tried to do what we could in one of the ways we love - making music. Only a smattering of folks heard us - but what folks they are!

At one point I was asked (casually) to say something about New Orleans...well, I honestly didn't know where to begin or what to say. What could I have said? I've never visited the city, but always wanted to. Only in books, articles, movies and music do I know of that land. But what a fascinating place - and what an amazing history, not just for Jazz and music, but for all of humanity. Maybe I could have shared a silly adolescent dream...

I've always dreamed of visiting New Orleans, to be able to leisurely see the sights, meet the people, learn the history from the residents themselves, enjoy the food...and maybe best of all, take in some of the wonderful music...my dream goes so far as to imagine myself joining in on some jam sessions, and actually holding my own....only to have Wynton himself join in - he'd slap me on the back and say, "not bad, not bad..." - then he'd slyly whisper something like "but you best keep on workin' in that shed - still a ways to go yet!" - but we'd laugh and get on great. He'd blow everyone away and it would be a blast. So many stories and experiences would be shared - so many new friends...my silly little New Orleans dream.

[And here I choose to edit out some of my various "reality" ramblings - there was something about day-late presidential photo-ops...a need for basics and simply doing the right thing at the right time...but I'm not sure I can articulate anything that is close to coherent at this hour - perhaps another time - the Major of New Orleans (C. Ray Nagin) seemed to sum it all up very well.]

When I heard Wynton Marsalis was performing (along with many other fine artists) on a tribute (NBC) I tuned in. I had my trumpet in hand but it didn't touch my lips since I was pretty much in awe of the power of what was being said - and what I know Wynton was saying to the world. Could anyone else hear what he was saying? I heard it tonight. It was unmistakable.

Also performing: Harry Connick Jr. (what a performer! must buy more of his stuff!) Aaron Neville (very moving!), Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and other backing musicians - well done!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Blowholes at da Vinci Wrap

The Blowholes on the Shady Stage - da Vinci Days 2005! Click to see the QuickTime Movie excerpt!



John Bliss - Guitar
Andy Nelson - Tenor
Jim Guynn - Alto
The Viking - Drums
Rob Birdwell - Trumpet
Cheryl Leckie - Tuba/Bass
Mike Bevington - Trombone

It was fun to play at da Vinci Days. I especially enjoyed hearing all the other musical acts too!

Thanks to all our family and friends for being there - that means so much!

The brief QuickTime movie clip is not exactly the most flattering sound or picture quality, but at least you get to see how we all groove and move! Ha!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Preparing for da Vinci Days - Blowhole Style

Preparing...what have I forgotten? Must remember clothes pins for the stands - it will probably rain too, but I can't control the weather...or can I? Got the t-shirts, festival passes...need to get some more parking passes for everyone in the band or figure out how the loading/unloading stuff will work...borrowed a 50" x 11" piece of wood from my neighbor - it's light and somewhat sturdy - it will serve nicely as my music stand extender. (The charts are long and page turns were ill-conceived!) Going to paint it some funky shade of blue from an old can of paint I found in the basement - will duct tape it first (wouldn't want it to look unprofessional!)...it's slightly ridiculous to need such a wide stand...oh well!

I started writing lots of little musical bon-bons when I was in Sweden last summer with my family. (I was inspired to try to put together a little on-again, off-again ensemble after hearing a concert in the park by the Benny Andersson Orchestra - what a great songwriter and composer!!) Anyway, I scribbled and scratched and clawed my way through the writing process which I so much love. A little ditty by the lake in Sweden turned into "Swedish Beach Party." Further explorations in the Autumn lead me to draw from a funny confession from my mom (a true beauty) a couple years ago which inspired "Grandma Was A Go-Go Dancer." Our sweet little puppy dog (who has chewed up several cables and at least one important mute of mine!!!) inspired "That Is Not A Chew Toy" - and there are others too, all with their own story, sometimes personal, sometimes random, with many more on deck in sketch form or simply in my head - other day. Saturday we'll perform the first nine. Come listen!

Here's our set list for da Vinci Days 2005!

Rob

Monday, July 04, 2005

Peace Is Patriotic

Peace Is Patriotic words and music by Rob Birdwell

Just a little song to sing
On the fourth of July
A simple tune with simple words
So give it a try

You can play it slow
Or play it fast
But either way the sentiment
Is bound to last

'‘Cause everybody knows
Peace is patriotic
Everybody knows
Love is all we need

(Jam, Sing, dance, repeat as needed...)

Copyright (c) 2005 Rob Birdwell, BirdwellMusic.com

Download the sheet music to "Peace Is Patriotic" as a PDF.

I encourage anyone who wants to perform this song for private/non-profit events to please feel free to do so - I only ask that you contact me when and where you performed it. Additionally, I'd love to hear a recording of your live performance (nothing fancy!) so record it if you can and send me a link! This is a simple sing-along song for everyone to sing and perform, regardless of musical ability. Simple percussion, gazoos, a guitar or two, voices...even a Flugelhorn, etc. will all work fine. Thanks. Rob Birdwell

For commercial use and/or commercial licensing of this song and/or the lyrics, please contact me.




Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blowhole Badge of Honor

"The Blowholes" is a Corvallis, Oregon based band (instrumentation: trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax, trombone, bass/tuba, guitar & drums). There are currently about 20 folks around town wearing these buttons. These are the pioneers - an elite and brave group! (Well, okay...they were actually given a FREE "I'm a Blowhole" button!)

But now you too can get your very own "I'm a Blowhole" button!! By wearing this button, you're saying something profound...you're making an important statement...and, well, if nothing else, you're at least creating an opportunity for some very interesting conversions...all that for only $1.35 (plus shipping)!! Wow! Order yours today!

Friday, May 27, 2005

What's In A Name - The Blowholes

Here's a little background for those of you interested in how and why I came up with the name "The Blowholes" for my all original Jazz septet:

It's all about the music...

First of all, when you play Jazz, especially in a free-form combo setting with multiple horns (jamming and/or simple lead sheet tunes) you're often arranging on the spot. As one soloist works through their choruses the other horn players listen...and sometimes background riffs are suggested (through whispers or other body language with the other players) to add interest and give the soloist and rhythm section yet another element to work with or against.

These lines might take the form of a simple "1 2 do-dot-do, 2, 3, 4 | 1, 2.do dot do..." or "do--, do-bop...2, 3 4" etc. Simple one or two note ditties that can be easily harmonized on the spot. These lines are spontaneous, stylistic, and simple and they can sound great and add interest and excitement at any given moment. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't - that's part of the challenge of being spontaneous.

Several times over the past couple years I've suggested more simple, sustained lines instead of punchy lines that attract too much attention. Free pads. "Goose eggs" or whole notes. So it's not uncommon for me to suggest, "let's blow whole notes" (under the soloist) - this is almost always effective because some interesting harmonies can be developed at random - all by blowing whole notes....blowing wholes....blow wholes...blowholes.

So the more I considered and researched the word "blowhole" for a band name (or "The Blowholes") the more I became convinced that it was a natural fit for a horn-based ensemble:

  • 5 of the 7 players are quite literally blowing (Trumpet, 2 Saxes, Trombone, and sometimes Tuba)
  • The horns all have bells - or holes - that's where the sound streams forth!
  • Even the guitar and bass have holes - they're called f-holes (really!)

I recently came across a beautiful sign from somewhere in Hawaii(I saw it on the web) advertising "The Blowhole Cafe" which featured an animated blue whale - it looked like a very respectable place. The sign was very annimated with a nice variety of blue color tones. If we ever have a logo, some type of "musical whale" might be cool. Whales are amazing creatures - whales have blowholes.

Blowholes are also found on coasts, the result of the sea's relentless pounding away at the rocky shore which creates, over time, tubular openings in the rocks where sea water enters at a high velocity causing periodic steam-like eruptions. These ocean/rock blowholes are dramatic and awe inspiring - they're fun to watch too. Unpredictable, powerful - no two blows are ever they same...much like the making of music.

Blowholes, be they the blowholes of whales, the blowholes of ocean/rock formations, or my musical term of "blowing wholes" to affect a mood - these are things of beauty and the foundation of my belief in what "The Blowholes" represent: musical, natural, slightly irreverent, at times majestic, at times humorous...definitely an endangered species...and hopefully something special.

So go ahead, infer some sort of crude or negative connotation from a name; go ahead and make the juvenile jokes - we've probably heard them (and have our own)...or better yet, don't.

Instead, recognize that we're musicians attempting to breathe life into abstract ideas. We're trying to produce our own waves of sound that flow from one place to another. And who knows where these "waves" go - to the heart maybe? The mind? The soul?

The true spirit of "The Blowholes" can be found within the music and especially the performers who are doing their best to create something out of thin air.

I'm a blowhole and proud of what the name means for me. After all, a rose by any other name...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Blowholes to Play Da Vinci Days 2005



Come see and hear "The Blowholes" perform at da Vinci Days, Saturday, July 16 at 5-6 PM on the Shady Stage.

The Blowholes are a 7-piece ensemble that play all original music and features Rob Birdwell (Trumpet, Flugelhorn), Jim Guynn (Alto, Flute), Andy Nelson (Tenor Sax, Clarinet), Mike Bevington (Trombone), John Bliss (Guitar), Jeff "The Viking" Morre (Drums), and Cheryl Leckie (Bass, Tuba).

Our music is a blend of many styles and the arrangements of original material strive to strike a blance between tight ensemble writing and free solo sections (everyone is featured somehow, someway) - you'll hear lots of Jazz/swing with touches of latin, rock, funk and even some 60s style go-go! da Vinci Days is a wonderful festival and we're looking forward to performing.

You can catch "The Blowholes" in action on Thursday May 26 at Bombs Away Cafe (Corvallis- we'll be the XTET from 7:30 PM and then morph into "The Blowholes" around 8:30 PM or so. (This will actually be our first public appearance!)

Formed in early February 2005 we've been in the woodshedding a bit and now it's time to share the sounds and work out the logistics of playing live! Should be fun!

Rob Birdwell

Monday, April 25, 2005

NPR : Dave Holland, Working Some Big-Band 'Overtime'



NPR : Dave Holland, Working Some Big-Band 'Overtime'


I had the pleasure of listening to the Dave Holland Big Band perform. Wow! What an experience! This will definitely reverberate in my own arrangements...I loved hearing the fabulous execution of some really challenging but highly accessible (whatever that means) music. Was moved by the settings Dave creates for his players to express. Background lines and supporting elements added so much - a great deal of craft on all levels. So much invention...and those meters...funny thing was I didn't think about meter much at all while listening (just had a vague sense that what I was hearing was really being played well) - was mostly mesmorized by the harmonic lines and flow...and of course the terrific soloists.

At this particular gig (Eugene, Oregon...April 10, 2005 at The Shedd) Dave and band took the stage - he mentioned that it had been a rough day of travel (having to plead his case to bring his bass on the plane) but that seeing everyone in the audience made it all worth it. He also mentioned before that by the end of the evening we'd know each of the players much - and boy was that spot on! After the end of the night, each and every player had had a memorable moment (or two or three...) to shine in some extended context. I'd love to honor all the players with some affectionate note or two, but a line or two on a select few will have to suffice for now:

Robin Eubanks - for his solo work and composition Mental Images. What a treat.

Duane Eubanks - a fantastic solo on Mental Images! Really loved the pacing of his playing. Shows a great deal of thought even in a fast past spontaneous moment.

"Sasha" - (more on this once I get my liner notes) - beautiful solo work. He can do it all and then some!



Chris Potter - I really enjoy his work with Dave Douglas too...Chris' ability to take a solo to a "place" (don't know how else to describe it) is amazing to witness.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Random Jazz Musings

...and so the two Jazz men exited the trailer park, horns and cheat sheets hastily packed away, and drove west, into the sunset, leaving behind what would eventually come to be known as their definitive musical legacy.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A Cowboy Called Lightning - Composer Plug

A Cowboy Called Lightning - If you're a small theatre company looking for a fun & original musical play, consider "Cowboy" - I was presented with Dorinda Clifton's script in 2002 and got lazy. Then I got busy on it...then I got lazy again. But at some point I'd realized it was done - I'd finished the 39 or so short musical cues I set out to write. It was originally a play...the musical version retains the spirit of her play with the addition and integration of several musical numbers. It's truly a musical play.

After composing was completed (sometime in 2004) I put together a very quick demo (with me doing all of the voices; not ideal but it was usually late at night or very early in the morning when I did it - had to get it done!) - but ya know, it works. I could plead for you to "suspend belief" and hear beyond the raw composer demo, but I won't! (But please, please do!)

Anyway, if you are looking to do a show and don't have a lot of dough (ha! or especially if you do)...then (punch line please...) this is the show for you. Suitable for a diverse cast of beginners or pros, "A Cowboy Called Lightning" will be an entertaining show for all audiences.

Contact me for more information on obtaining a script and a complete CD of the musical numbers.

Production materials currently include:

* Complete Script/Lyrics
* Complete Vocal/Chorus score with Piano, Bass, Drum/Percussion parts.

Additional ensemble parts (Clarinet, Flute, Violin, Cello, French Horn) can be added provided performance dates are set at least 4 months in advance.

All materials herein (c) Rob Birdwell (Music) and Dorinda Clifton (Story, Script, Lyrics)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Blowholes - our first sounds

The Blowholes audio teaser: Frumpy (MP3 excerpt) - here's a brief sampling of our "Blowhole" sound, recorded live on April 11, 2005. Made up of talented musicians from the Corvallis, Albany, and Philomath, Oregon areas) and formed in early 2005, The Blowholes are (I think) something special. Most of us have and continue to gig together under various band names, yet the formation of The Blowholes gives us a unique outlet for original material (no fake book or head charts on our stands, thank 'e kindly) and showcases a great rhythm section as well as a "front down" horn section (rather than being relegated to relentless "backup" duties all the time).

The compositions and arrangements I've written are specifically for "The Blowholes" - these vehicles allow for a good deal of ensemble invention as well as ample opportunities for improvisation and stretching out. Naturally, I look forward to writing tunes that bring out the best in each of the players. All in good time.

We certainly look forward to performing for you in the near future.

The Blowholes are:

Rob Birdwell – Trumpet, Flugelhorn (Music Director)
Jim Guynn – Alto Sax
Andy Nelson – Tenor Sax
Mike Bevington – Trombone
Cheryl Leckie – Bass, Tuba
John Bliss – Guitar
Jeff "The Viking" Morre – Drums

For booking and/or additional information, contact:

Rob Birdwell
www.birdwellmusic.com

Sunday, March 27, 2005

OSU Arranging Course Home Page

This is the initial home page for the course. I will be adding materials and notes as we progress.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Composer Tools

Composer Tools - hey, what more could a composer need? Seriously, these mini "Flash" components (a 61 key Rhoads, a metronome that, well, sort of works, and a music duration calculator) might come in handy.

I'll expand on the Rhoads functionality for sure - would like to add in a simple way to play back a chord progression. But hey, it is what is is for now!

Enjoy!

Rob Birdwell

Monday, January 31, 2005

ASCII Generator

ASCII Generator


_ _ ___ _
| | | ___ _ _ _ _ | _> ___ ___ | |
| ' |/ ._>| '_>| | | | <__/ . \/ . \| |
|__/ \___.|_| `_. | `___/\___/\___/|_|
<___'

Thursday, January 27, 2005

sequencer - zefrank.com

sequencer - zefrank.com - a cool flash sequencer. A simple but elegant little compositional device. Not it won't replace SONAR, but if you're in the mood for a fun little scratch pad to lay down a groove, try this out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

VSTi Sampling Made Easy with the SFZ format and engine

rgc:audio software :: The sfz format - this is something I've been reading up on and have spent some time dabbling with. The concept is very simple and it really seems to work well. Here's how I'm using it in my "lab":

* Author your various .WAV audio samples (Trumpet, Flugelhorn, weird sounds, etc.) - anything you want!
* Create a simple "sfz" file using your editor to specify the note, key assignments, and lots of other parameter data.
* The sfz format has LOTS of stuff in it, but it can be simple too.
* Download the free sfz player
* Access your or other sfz audio samples via MIDI using any VSTi enabled software tool (SONAR, Cuebase, et al.)
* Enjoy!

On the commercial front, BirdwellMusic.com (me) is looking into ways of providing our customers, students, producers, composers, arrangers, et.al., with empowering tools. Many have been asking for a way to combine the best of Real Trumpet with Virtual Trumpet. Guess what folks - this is it! Obviously, Real Trumpet and Virtual Trumpet are their own things and can't be "replaced" of course! But an easy-to-use audio sample format that enables flexible MIDI access - we'll, that's very cool. And the audio quality and flexibility of the sfx format is extremely powerful.

There are still some nagging questions about sample intellectual property (namely, how do content authors distribute their audio sample libraries to customers while still being able to reasonably protect their intellectual property from being duplicated, replicated, stollen, etc.) - and maybe that's not the point or even an issue for some, but it's certainly a consideration many, including myself, are probably mulling over.

Anyway, I did some preliminary tests with my own Flugelhorn sfz enabled/empowered audio library and used it as a VSTi from within SONAR and the results were fabulous! It will take some work to get it ready for primetime (like I've already done with Real Trumpet), but I've heard the future - and it sounds great!

NPR : Computer Music Program Matches Human's Riffs

NPR : Computer Music Program Matches Human's Riffs - fascinating audio interview about research and a brief history of integrating computers into the compositional and/or performance process.

This is, of course, not exactly news to those who regularly compose and dabble in technology (and what musician today doesn't?). Still, it's still comforting to know that some of the funky far out dreams we have (interactively jamming and collaborating with other musicians, tools that intuitively help us realize our musical musings) are shared by lots and lots of other folks doing research and implementing wild and crazy stuff...neat!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

On Our Way

This composition was written especially for the Early Bird Jazz Band students at Linus Pauling Middle School - these guys get up extra early just for the fun of making music. They are truly on their way! They sound great too!

Here's an MP3 recording of On Our Way (by Rob Birdwell) ~5 minutes long. I did a quick overdub of the Trumpet parts but the rest is all MIDI stuff...so it sounds, er...well, sort of how it should sound...but everyone knows you REAL players will sound MUCH better! With a bit of luck and hard work we'll be ready to perform this as a combined group with the Corvallis High School Jazz Band(s) at our concert, Wednesday, January 26 2005 at 7 PM, at CHS.

Note to players: Get to know the form of the chart (where sections repeat, where to break, where the D.S. goes back to, where the coda is, etc.). There's a LOT of harmony and accidentals in this arrangement! (Welcome to the world of Jazz!) Trust the part - most of the notes are actually right! Practice those challenging parts slowly - you might not be able to play with the recording right away, but DO listen to the recording and do work through it so you can play along. Once you've worked through your part of few times and begin to feel confident, crank up that stereo and play along. Remember, every practice session should be like a performance.

Have fun!

Attention Middle School and High School Jazz Ensemble/Band directors: the full score and parts to On Our Way are available from BirdwellMusic.com - contact me for the details.

On Our Way - MP3 rendition of the Full Score ~5 minutes
On Our Way - PDF Director Score

Difficulty: 2.5 - 3

Instrumentation:
  • Saxs (Alto 1, Alto 2, Tenor 1, Tenor 2, Baritone Sax)
  • Trumpets 1, 2, & 3
  • Trombones 1 & 2
  • Bass
  • Drums
  • Percussion 1 & 2
  • Guitar 1 (Jazz)
  • Guitar 2 (Overdrive)
  • Piano
  • Organ
  • Synth