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

Recycling Strings

Many bassists (including myself) don't change the strings on some of their basses very often. My main players get a regular rotation, but the flatwounds on my fretless are . . . vintage. When they do come off the instrument, though, they're usually useless to the player. In my case, I usually cut them at the tuning peg for easy removal, so I can't practically return those strings to a bass later. That's why it's good to have viable alternatives to using these strings after they're done vibrating:

  • Recycling them for Mardi Gras throws - as detailed by Benjamin Strange at Strange Guitarworks, you can donate them to be used in beads and such coming off the floats.
  • Recycling them for jewelry - I've actually donated a set to Restrung Jewelry, and a portion of the proceeds goes to the New Orleans Musicians Aid Fund (a WONDERFUL cause).
  • Recycling them for playing - Janek Gwizdala recently promoted a wonderful cause to get strings to those who might not otherwise have access.

No matter how often you change the strings, think about these programs before your strings hit the trash can.


iOS Gets Better Audio Support Behind The Scenes

This announcement wasn't a big deal at yesterday's Apple event, but the support for registered audio streams shared amongst apps in iOS 7 is a huge deal. While it doesn't look like Audiobus or Jack needs to abandon ship any time soon, the possibilities for multitasking and sharing audio between apps seem promising. More plug-ins, more possibilities . . . and probably the need to buy newer  hardware (the new iOS doesn't support all features for anything but the latest Apple hardware). And, of course, my Alesis IODock doesn't support the newest connectors. Feh.

Nevertheless, I think this is the point where the hardware is fast enough and the multitasking availability means that tablets and phones start replacing laptops onstage at a faster pace. Less boot time, cheaper, and the touch interface beats out the need for hauling the laptop around. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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New Google Play

I use Google Play occasionally - it syncs well from no matter where I get my music (Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, Bandcamp, etc.), and I can stream it from my work computer without effort. That said, I'm not sure I'll pay the 9.99/month they're asking for their new streaming/radio service (h/t to Lifehacker). It sounds like it has a decent radio and discovery service, but honestly - I've got a TON of music uploaded to Google Play already, and I still find myself happening across albums I bought and promptly forgot or haven't spent enough time with. Music just isn't water to me yet, I guess. The redesign itself looks good, and the service stopped randomly creating playlists off of random tracks, which is a bonus. So thanks for that - but I'm not subscribing.


JACK Comes to iOS

Currently missing the boat on Audiobus 'cause my iOS devices are too old (time for new stuff, I know - gimme a minute), but here comes news that popular open source audio/MIDI linker JACK is on iOS now.

And it handles MIDI and audio and more here, too.

And it's free.

And it works on my old devices.

Oh, this is good news. Can't wait to see what apps become compliant so very, very soon. The SDK implementation process looks super easy. And that's a good thing. Thanks for saving my old devices!

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All On A Mardi Gras Day

Just some quick notes on this:

  • four tracks of bass
    • slap bass attempting to replicate a bass and snare drum
    • palm-muted and thumbed bass for the bass line
    • some chords in there
    • the lead line
  • I play the wrong instrument to be in a brass band, so I had to make some adjustments
  • I'm a transplant - please forgive any trespasses. I just heard the song and tried to make it work as a solo bass piece
  • Happy Mardi Gras!


Amazon Giving You Free MP3 Storage For Previous Purchased CDs

Oh, hi New Year. How ya doin'? More on bass later - I've assembled a decent looping rig and am working on stuff now. Like I said, more later

TechCrunch announced Amazon's AutoRip service today, basically giving you a central storage area for all the songs you ever purchased in any form from Amazon. That means you can now store your music collection in one of three central areas - Apple servers (for a fee with Match), Google (free for their purchases, to a limit for everything else), and Amazon (basically stuff you bought from them).

Meaning that media matters little anymore. Doesn't matter how you bought it, these three will make it convenient for you to get.

Why? Because they want you to buy from them in the future. They want their place to be instinctual for you to visit and to purchase from.

Seems nice, but we've seen people pull right back for this kind of media before (right, Amazon?). So I still plan on syncing my server to Google Play for mobile use that still leaves copies for my own personal satisfaction at home.

I'm more intrigued by seeing exactly what I've purchased from Amazon. And a little creeped that they remember better than I do.


Audiobus Coming Next Week

iOS devices can be great music-making tools, but the inability to chain the audio signal path through multiple devices hampers usage a bit, especially live. Which is why this app thrills me. It also extends the viability of my 1st-gen iPad a bit, thanks to iOS 5 compatibility.

So basically, this app runs audio through other apps already on the iOS device in specified input, effect, or output slots. I'm seeing possibilities here as an effects processor for audio signal, more tonal options for soft synths, and just the ability to mess things up sound-wise.

It'll be a long week until I can get my hands on this.


To China with You!

Nope, I'm not shipping jobs overseas. However, Wiley Publishing recently licensed my book Teach Yourself VISUALLY Bass Guitar to receive a Chinese translation and publish, expected some time next year. Honestly, I just want to see what it ends up looking like. I'm also hoping for a press tour - not likely, but I can dream.


Vishnu’s Bicycle

Last track on the album, and probably the easiest one to mix. Things just seemed to fall into place for this track, and I love the breezy feel it has. We also managed a pretty good breakdown in the middle, considering we couldn't all have eye contact in the studio. Thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoyed the album (and might even purchase it 🙂 ).


Good Neighbors

Somehow, gathering with a bunch of great people involved in New Orleans music and seeing Victor Wooten at the Howlin' Wolf yesterday got me down a little bit. Not that there wasn't talent, energy, and vibrancy in either place - it was obvious there was a ton of history and passion in what everybody did. But the gathering was the result of club owners and musicians trying to figure out how they can continue playing and performing in a city where labyrinthine zoning and permit regulations make it impossible to successfully manage a live music venue without a grandfather clause. In a place that gave (and continues to give) the world so much great music, it's technically illegal to rehearse in a home or have a poetry reading in a coffeeshop without a live music permit. It's just staggering. And unfortunately, there's a ton of legal work to perform in order to remedy this situation - although I'm an outsider at this point with no knowledge of the system here, I'm assuming this will be a monumental task. But we're talking about laws designed (in the words of one legal expert) to keep rock and roll out of the city - that ship has sailed. This city needs a full revision of zoning and permit laws to at least make it possible to work out live venue and performance rules.

At the end of the Victor Wooten show (which was a typically wonderful affair), he made a plea to just keep the video clips short when the audience inevitably posts on YouTube or other service and not give away the music. Obviously, there's differing schools of thought on how posting the video really affects sales and such (I point you to Steve Lawson for the extremely well-stated counterpoint to this). But it was a sad punctuation on an otherwise fine performance.

Through the whole day, the phrase "good neighbor" kept popping up in several contexts:

  • Bar owners making sure to reduce the amount of trash, noise, and parking issues in their neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood residents respecting the culture and history of neighborhoods they may have just moved into and not working to "Disneyfy" the place
  • Working with neighborhoods to make sure your voice is heard and understood
  • Respecting the wishes and needs of everybody in a neighborhood and being easy to live with

One of the lawyers at the meeting acknowledged her tendency to Pollyanna-ism, and I'm afraid this blog post tends to that as well. But wouldn't being a good musical neighbor go a long way here? Understanding that music is a part of culture everywhere, that it needs to be given room to grow and develop, and that both sides need to foster good relationships here to build on what we have (no need to review the RIAA and the textbook case of how they did EVERYTHING wrong).

Just a thought.