The Bass Geek - Words about Music, Circuitry, and New Orleans
The Bass Geek

A Weekend Of Heavy Music

I managed trips to Sam's Saloon and the Melody Inn for a large diet of all music heavy this weekend - all the bands sounded pretty good, but I'm glad I had the earplugs at the ready (even if the Cocaine Wolves managed to leave their full stacks at home - a wise decision, given the size of the Mel).  I also enjoyed the sight and sound of a zebrawood Gibson Explorer bass; this thing had a height-adjustable bridge that I'd like to see on other basses.  Kudos to Steve for his new purchase.

The Border's in Greenwood wasn't being particularly kind to me in stocking my titles, although I did manage to see a couple of the books I've edited there.  They're going to have to step their game up a bit.

I met the most recent deadline on the laptop book, so I've got some time now to really go over the score for Victor/Victoria.  As is the case with these shows, we're doing some deletions and key changes that will leave my copy in a pencil-marked mess.  Alternatives are being investigated, because these scores are rentals and have to be returned.


Music in the Square This Weekend . . .

Radio Radio features Orquestra Bravo with both salsa and dancing lessons tonight. Veteran alt-country band Paging Raymond reunites for a special show on Saturday.

Sam's Saloon hosts the Virgil CD release party tonight, along with fellow heavy music folks Llange and Bulletwolf. Sik Sik Nation travel down from Detroit for tomorrow's show, and they're joined by Seat Belt and Save The Radio.

Deano's Vino has Wilson and Company tonight and Doris Davis tomorrow.

I'm not sure how musical it is, but Big Car Gallery has a Closet Sprung Benefit art show tonight.

The fountain is back on now, so we're once again living up to the first part of our name. We still haven't figured out where the "Square" part comes from. It's entirely possible that city planners just wouldn't tolerate "Fountain Trapezoid."


New Podcast Up, and Power To The People! (namely me)

The new IMN podcast is up - download it here or listen to it at the website.

Frankly, I'm just happy to have the ability to listen to any music (or do much of anything related to electricity) at home right now. My wife and I are the proud owners of a new electrical panel, and it's amazing what can be accomplished when all the outlets and such are receiving their requisite amounts of juice. The lights seemed brighter, the fridge seemed colder, and I'm fairly sure that a few birds alighted on the porch and sang the praises of adequate voltage, but that could have been a hallucination.


A look at the Bragg article from another (entirely skewed) viewpoint

Steve Lawson and Seth Horan (a couple of incredible bassists, by the way) brought this Lawson's response tackled the issue already, and I'm okay with the "don't like it, don't put it up there" attitude. Such a decision ultimately rests with the artist and his/her feelings about their music and how it's distributed. Perfectly logical. I can even follow the logic behind Tech Crunch author Michael Arrington's premise that musicians shouldn't get paid for the Bebo deal, since that wasn't part of the original deal. It doesn't deal with the value of the music in helping to drive the site, but strictly speaking, those were the terms they agreed to.

Entirely erroneous, however, is this statement:

Recorded music is nothing but marketing material to drive awareness of an artist.

And how, exactly, does the nebulous concept of "awareness" help the artist survive? Note here that he doesn't make a distinction between sample tracks or entire albums, advanced promos or wonderfully crafted, multi-album projects. In this statement, the entire history (and future) of recorded music is reduced to the importance of Sunday grocery store fliers.

The success of online releases and "pay what you want" pricing is enough to demonstrate that even though, as Arrington states, "recorded music can be reproduced at a zero marginal cost" (although you still have to spend money on equipment and network bills, but that's another story), there is still value attributed to these recordings by both the artist and the fans. The methods of presentation and distribution may have changed, but it's still art (or a commodity, if you want to look at it that way), and it's still valuable.

There's also the fact that recorded music, even in this day and age of highly technical stage set-ups, is capable of producing sounds and effects that can't be made live. It's a different art form, and it has value of its own. It's not a loss-leader for the live performance - it stands on its own and should be respected as such. People may have gone to see Pink Floyd when they got the chance, but they sure as hell didn't throw away their copies of "The Wall" once they were done.

Furthermore, why should an artist be forced to offer personal looks into their life and special promo offers if they have no desire to do so just because somebody declares that their recorded output has no value and that "awareness" is the new commodity? Jandek may be an extreme example, but there's a huge divide between personal and musical lives there. The mystery has even enhanced the fan base.

Arrington's statement removes control of the artist's work from the artist and puts it up for grabs. He may not have agreed with Bragg's sentiment regarding Bebo, but his reaction is a dangerous move towards devaluing musicians as a whole.



After taking a look at this software, I'm trying to figure out how to mount a laptop on a music stand without dealing with hanging cords or accidental falls.  I've seen tablets dedicated specifically to sheet music before, but the price was more than quite a few lower-end laptops, so it didn't make much sense to purcase.  This software looks great, though.

I wonder what the temptation to surf the 'net during a symphony must be like?

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I was going to name this post “Bragg-ing Rights” . . .

. . . but I just can't bring myself to do it.  Plus, I'm fairly sure some other music journalist has done that before, even before the obligatory Google search.

In any case, I was reading a NY Times editorial from Billy Bragg on the rights of musicians when it comes to social networking sites.  Of particular note to me was this quote:

The claim that sites such as MySpace and Bebo are doing us a favor by promoting our work is disingenuous. Radio stations also promote our work, but they pay us a royalty that recognizes our contribution to their business. Why should that not apply to the Internet, too?

The fact that this statement re-emphasizes the intrinsic value of the music posted on the site is tremendously important. One might argue that there's some value to the free hosting and networking possibilities provided by these social networking sites, but there's something to be said for the drawing power of these tracks in bringing traffic to the site itself. That's not to discount the value of promotional tracks or "name your own price" sales, but those functions are usually more under the control of the artist than other uses.


Fountain Square Music This Weekend

There's still some shamrocks left in the fountain, even though we've left the holiday far behind.  Time to hear some different music.

Radio Radio has Coolidge and the Last Good Year tonight (power-pop and rock) and the Bottoms Up Burlesque show featuring Creepin' Charley and the Boneyard Orchestra and Atomic Bombay tomorrow night.

Sam's Saloon showcases the punk stylings of Choking Susan, The Slammies and J.J. Pearson tonight. Javelinas and Heavy Hometown take the stage tomorrow.

Deano's Vino showcases Mark Conway tonight and the John Harden Project tomorrow.

For quieter fare, Cognizant Coffee Company features Edie Carey and Mieka Pauley tomorrow night.

That should be enough to keep you busy. I'm going to try to peek out a bit whilst finishing some chapters and doing yet another run-through of the Victor/Victoria score.


New Podcast Is Up and some K-Tel Hits!

Please feel free to download it or listen at the website.

In the podcast, one of the songs we played (taken from the artist's MySpace site) actually went into a commercial about his other releases about halfway through the track.  It was just like the old K-Tel days where the audience would just happen to catch the artist mid-song, and the singer would launch into his or her "Hi, I'm *INSERT NAME HERE*, and I'm so proud to bring you my newest collection of songs, including such hits like . . ."

. . . and then there'd be a montage in soft lighting from different angles.  Real classy stuff.  It's nice to know some old tricks never die.


Vintage Bass Porn For Today

The Bass Of DoomAccording to Bass Player magazine, the instrument illustrated in this picture is the long-missing "Bass Of Doom," owned by Jaco Pastorius. The whole story isn't known yet for what are apparently complicated legal reasons, but more than a few have come out in favor of this being the real thing.

On one hand, I'm sure folks are lining up to look at this like Excalibur plucked straight from the stone, while others are thinking it's just a tool, and the artist's hand who wielded it is long gone. In any case, though, I kinda hope that once the hassles are ironed out, it's still used for music. It may have played an important role in the expansion of the bass guitar as an instrument, but putting it away in a museum (or worse, a private collector's gallery) would be a shame. Above all, it's meant to be heard and played.


A new DNA

You've heard pitch correction if you've listened to music on the radio in the past decade or so.  There's no other way around it.  The technology to "correct" pitches has been around for a bit, and it's somewhat insidious.  You may notice it overtly in some songs as an effect, but more often than not it's used to create a "perfect" track, usually for pop singers who needed to get on to their fashion shoot. 

The wonders of technology makes it available for individual notes in chords now, too.  Direct note access gives this software the ability to pick out notes in a cluster and individually "correct" them.  Now intrepid engineers can go after every last imperfection and get it exactly "right."  From a purely technological standpoint, that's incredible.  The geek in me is thrilled.

The bassist in me wonders why they don't just play it right in another take.  It also looks strangely at the concept of chords, but that's another story.

Forgive the overuse of quotes above, but it's meant to illustrate the subjective nature of this tool.  A lot more goes into a good take than just getting the notes perfect.  This tool would have saved me a lot of time on past recordings (well, not ME per se - see the above mention of chords), but at it's heart it's just another tool.  It has its spots for appropriate use, and there are times where it's probably better left in the box in favor of another take.