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February 28, 06
Another round of auditions
Finished another grueling day of auditions for the Philadelphia Orchestra yesterday for the Principal Cello chair. Tiring, exhausting, but nevertheless a tremendous privilege and honor to accompany some fantastic players for one of the most important positions in the classical music world!
My tablet pc performed wonderfully - but in those high-pressure circumstances, i always try to come extra-prepared. Here's what i brought for the auditions:
My primary Tablet PC, the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5022D
My secondary Tablet PC, a Fujitsu Stylistic ST5010D
My new battery double battery charger
Two extra extended-life batteries
My 60-gig portable USB hard drive (i'll write up a review on this device soon>
2 Delcom Footswitches - a main footswitch, and a backup
My carpet runner patch - i set it out during the first audition under the piano on stage and left it there for the rest of the day - miraculously, i remembered to pick it up at the end!
I synchronized the cello repertoire libraries on both tablet pc's and kept the backup turned on and running throughout the auditions. I equipped both Tablet PC's with the extended life batteries, and used the battery charger to keep 2 regular batteries at full capacity. It turns out that i was able to plug into an adapter between auditions, effectively extending my one battery all day - i thought i was going to have to switch batteries half-way through, but the cycle of playing/charging between sets turned out to be more than adequate for keeping the battery charged.
The applicants had to draw numbers for random ordering, so i created copies of their repertoire and renamed them according to applicant number. That way, even if i had 4 or 5 copies of the Dvorak cello concerto for example, i could make separate markings for each person that wouldn't overlap anyone else's - truly tailored parts! Now THAT'S something you can only do with digital music! In one instance, it turned out that the Orchestra was only requiring the beginning and ending coda of a work - no problem there, just used Adobe Acrobat to cut out the unnecessary chunk of music in the middle so that the page turn went instantly from the beginning to the end. The work was needed again in the final round, but this time in its entirety - so, i simply switched back to my original copy, replacing only the marked pages. I can't imagine what a headache this would've been if i had been using paper music...
I kept the footswitch connected to the tablet pc all day long, and only removed it once during our lunch break to reboot the machine (just for safety). I'm going to write up an article about some of the USB issues that seem to occur when plugging and unplugging the footswitch - sometimes, in certain circumstances, the footswitch device driver hangs and won't activate. For safety's sake, i just kept the working pedal connective and active throughout the day, which helped me avoid that potential problem.
LOTS of oggling from the applicants (handed out a good number of business cards inviting them to this website!), as well as the jury when the screen went down - actually had a moment on stage when i was fielding questions from the Orchestra jury about the tablet pc - how much does it cost? where do you get them? etc. etc. One applicant mentioned that this would be a fantastic tool for orchestras - watch out for an article i'm posting on something specifically with that in mind; it should pop up here within the next day or so.
Overall, a great day - exhausting, but great. My brain's so tired i think it will melt...but can't let that happen yet, got another concert to play tonight...sigh...till next time, i'm keeping the batteries charged!
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February 27, 06
Hardware Review: The Justice Visions Portable Scanner Camera (PSC)
Reviewed by Barry Brahier
Vendor: Justice Visions
Platform: Windows only
What is it?
The Portable Scanner Camera (PSC) is a scanner unlike any I've seen. No flatbed, no cover, no moving parts, just a camera mounted on a stand. The PSC is about 18 inches tall and connects via USB 2.0. It weighs 420 grams (about a pound), folds up to store in a pouch, and doesn't need a power supply.
I'm old enough to remember when libraries didn't have copiers (or my hometown library was just really behind). If you wanted a copy of something, you either hand copied it, or arranged to have the library staff photograph it for you. You got an 8x10 B&W glossy of whatever it was you were interested in. What they used was a still film camera mounted pointing straight down. It's called a copy stand and they are still used today. The PSC is essentially a copy stand, except it is digital and ultra-portable. Think about capturing high-quality images of documents anywhere you can bring your notebook/TabletPC. If I would have had this when I started my grad degree, I could have paid for it with the money saved on photocopying journal articles. Go to the library, get the journals, set up the computer and PSC, and capture away.
They are AMAZING. I always wanted to have my students sight-read from the 1928 edition of Rudy Wiedoeft's Advanced Etudes & Studies for Saxophone
but never dared because it is rare and out of print. My copy was a gift and is in tatters. You can see the page lying ready to be imaged, the JPEG (544KB) captured by the PSC, and the TIFF image (32KB). Note the terrible condition of the page and how the TIFF is significantly improved. Default settings were used on both images, except the PSC software's masking feature was used on the TIFF to digitally crop the image during scanning.
Click to view the JPEG of the page.
Click to view the TIFF of the page.
FAST! You can grab pages as fast as you can turn the page. The actual "scan" time is almost instantaneous. I timed scanning the spiral-bound notebook I take notes in during interviews. This involved placing the first page, centering it under the PSC using the preview window, clicking the onscreen "grab" button, and then picking the notebook up, rotating it for the companion page, etc. First page took 1 minute, 30 seconds to get right, then the rest of the pages took 9.5 seconds each including the time to pick up, rotate, turn pages, everything. I could never go this fast with a flatbed. Scanning a stack of letter-sized paper with the PSC goes even faster. I timed that at about 1 second/page. Just set the stack under the camera, scan, pull the top page off, repeat. The way the PSC lets you rapidly hand-place originals, scanning an entire book is now feasible. A sheet feed scanner is faster (some can do 100 pages/minute), but not at this price. Besides, you can't carry those with you and would never trust them with fragile documents and they don't do books.
What's not to like?
Unfortunately a lot. The whole out-of-the-box and installation experience is not for the faint of heart and frankly is not acceptable from a $500 item. The install CD is unlabeled and installation can best be described as "fully manual". The hinges on the unit appear to be cheap and too much care is needed whenever the PSC is folded. Please don't try folding this thing up in a hurry, it could break. The little box that stores the USB cable when folded is a complete pain and I discarded it. The base is not heavy enough and I had to add weight. You can see that in the photos.
The manual is so poorly translated it's funny. This wouldn't be such a big deal except you really need it to understand unfolding the camera, installing the driver, and using the software. Nothing about this unit is intuitive when you start. I've used a lot of software since 1981 and never seen anything that combines so many useful and powerful features behind such a confusing interface. From reading the manual and poking around the software, it appears that the PSC can also capture full motion video, but I gave up trying because I couldn't understand how. TWAIN support is coming, but as of this writing I've not been able to get the PSC to work with anything other than the bundled application.
Also, when you use a flat-bed you get two things that are missing from the PSC: a light-source and guides to keep the document square when scanning. This is not a complaint about the PSC, but an acknowledgment of the reality associated with this approach to scanning. Solution? Get creative. My cheap IKEA halogen desk lamp works fine and I made a guide out of a piece of mat board that was lying around. Make some crosshairs on the mat board, put the camera on the board, take some preview scans to get close and that will get you started. When you're out in the wild, find some good lighting.
The future seems brighter
Craig Justice at Justice Visions has been amazingly responsive and is well aware of all the problems. Hardware developers who are that approachable and can take straight feedback are rare. The new software is in beta and includes TWAIN. I think this product deserves a chance to succeed and will catch on once the issues are fixed (and they are all fixable) and the price comes down.
Did I put up with a lot? Absolutely. Was it worth it to me? You bet. All the minuses in the PSC were glaring the first day or two, but after that I had it installed and knew how to scan with it. Should this be the way things are? Heck no. The minuses are so large (and so is the price) that I cannot recommend the PSC to anyone who isn't a heavy-duty geek or knows one who can figure it out and will teach you. Once installed and you know how to run the software, it does an awesome job.
Tips for using the PSC.
Detail on this review
I have this camera on loan from the distributor, Justice Visions. I requested the loan as part of my research into how schools could capture student work to help teachers be more efficient while building their professional knowledge. Craig Justice, president of Justice Visions, let me borrow the camera with one request: To provide him with no-holds-barred assessment of the entire package. This review was not part of my thinking at the time. When I found Hugh's blog and saw his awesome idea for never having to turn a page of music again, I knew how useful the camera could be and decided to write this review. I talked the idea over with Craig first, he thought it was a great idea and actually insisted the review be "warts and all".
If you need a new digital camera battery
then keep in mind that you can buy batteries
nowadays that might serve you well. Also, make sure to recycle your batteries
rather than just throwing them away, just as you would with a laptop battery, because batteries shouldn't just be thrown out when battery recycling can take care of them.
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Auditions - Futurama
After listening to 90-100 audition applicants (or up to 300 in the case of the vocal and opera department!) it can be extremely difficult to get a clear picture of how a group of similar-sounding applicants differentiate themselves, even with a video camera capturing the process. Here are some thoughts on how OneNote
might be a powerful tool to aid auditions in the future:
OneNote has the amazing ability to timestamp an audio or video recording with your notes. I was at a recent scheduling meeting and tried out this feature with OneNote for the first time; i was absolutely amazed at both the simplicity and the power this feature presents. As you write your notes, OneNote invisibly keeps track of "when" that note is entered according to the recording. All you have to do to review is to move your pen alongside the beginning of the note sentence (or note flag) and small speaker icons appear, indicating the time stamp that's been associated with the note. Click on it, and you hear the exact point in time when you wrote that note down...stunning!
Imagine having every applicant's file printed into OneNote for the audition - run a webcam, then you simply transcribe your notes digitally alongside the file. You'd be able to instantly link the association between the applicant's file, the webcam video, and your notes all together in one seamless application.
As you're going along listening to your allotted quota of 40 applicants that day, along with your handwritten notes you'd put down a note flag, such as a question mark, or perhaps an exclamation mark indicating a positive approval - OneNote can take your flags and create an instant summary view, making it extremely easy to quickly compare flag groupings. So, let's say you've marked 15 of these applicants as 'questionable' with question mark flags - once they're digitally grouped, it would be a simple matter to jump to each file and video marker to quickly see/hear the 'questionables' side by side, allowing for an instant comparison...what an amazing tool that would be...
Check out Warner Crocker's post on how he's using OneNote combined with a webcam to interview actors for his theater.
I may try this technique out in lesson/master class settings in the future. I already have plans to use my HP MP3130 digital projector to visually display the music score and annotations from my tablet pc - perhaps the score could be 'sent to' OneNote instead of being annotated from PDF Annotator or Windows Journal, allowing for a simultaneous video capture...wow, this opens up some amazing possibilities. I'll try to post a heads up when my next master class is scheduled that allows for this technique.
These are just pipe dreams - but wow, what a dream...
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Potete leggere l'italiano?
Check this article out! I was just interviewed by an Italian Tablet PC website, www.tabletpc.it
! Is the internet awesome or what?
Oh, can't read Italian? Neither can I!! So - after visiting the article at tabletpc.it
, copy the URL (the "http://www....address header at the top of your browser), go to AltaVista's online Babel Fish Translation applet
, then paste the URL into the "Translate a Web Page" box, select the "From and To languages" in the drop down box below, click "Translate", and enjoy! Well, sort of...it still comes out a bit clunky in the translation...no, make that, "REALLY clunky"! Computerized translations still have a loooooong way to go...if i get enough comments from readers, i'll post the english version of the interview here, so let me know if you'd like to see it! Check out this Bablefish sentence translation:
"To find a reader digital them of?tato music easy, while to find a voltapagina?tato automatic rifle much difficult one. "
Automatic rifle? yikes, i'd better curb my violent tendencies when it comes to page turners! Hahahaha!
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February 25, 06
Conductor Rehearsal with Maestro Eschenbach and Jeffrey Khaner
Last night i had a conductor rehearsal with Maestro Christoph Eschenbach, conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra,
and Jeffrey Khaner
, Principal Flute of the same,
working on the Christopher Rouse Flute Concerto. What is a 'conductor rehearsal'? Simply put, it's where i play a reduction of the orchestra score on the piano to 'simulate' an orchestral runthrough. It's a great way for the conductor - and soloist - to see where potential trouble spots might be for ensemble, timing, musical flow, etc. before working it in front of the full orchestra, which helps to save time and make the rehearsal more efficient.
Jeff and i worked on putting the Rouse together for a few weeks beforehand - it's an incredibly complex piece - gorgeous, heartbreaking, terrifying, surreal, haunting - if you're in Philadelphia on March 2, 3 or 14, you absolutely MUST come to the Kimmel Center to hear this performance. I don't want to give the story of this piece away yet - i'll leave that for Mr. Rouse and Jeff to do that in person (i'll share what i learned after the performances...i challenge you not to break down in tears once you hear the performance, knowing what it's dedicated to...) It is remarkable to see how works like the Rouse concerto can magnify social commentary to a visceral experience for all participants, performers and spectators alike. Jeff sounds phenomenal, and it's always an honor to play for Maestro Eschenbach (he calls my Tablet PC the 'magic box')
Here's the link to the Philadelphia Orchestra website, detailing the performance dates and ticket info.
See the concert!!
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What would discussions of auditions on this site be without a look at some of the tech involved? Here are a couple of pictures of what's been used during the preliminary rounds of the violin auditions at Curtis:
This is the piano i used with my trusty Fujitsu Stylistic Tablet PC - so nice to see the piano uncluttered with boxes of music books! Can you see the material that the Tablet PC foot pedal is sitting on? I used to affix a gel 'sticky pad' with super glue to the bottom of my foot pedals to help them grip the floor and keep them from sliding around, but over time the pad starts to collect dirt & dust and lose its adhesiveness. I found a simple solution at Home Depot: anti-slip carpet runners! They're cheap, come in fairly generous rolls, and are perfect for cutting up into squares, keeping the foot pedal in place on the floor, and rolling/folding up compactly in my Wenger portfolio bag.
Here is Sonja Wangensteen, one of our harp students who is helping out with the auditions. She is holding a Korg
Master Tuner, a device we use to save time and keep the auditions running smoothly. Before the auditions begin, we calibrate the tuner to the pitch of the piano. The auditionees only tune their instruments outside
the room right before their auditions - that way they don't have to add to the audition time with tuning in front of the adjudicators.
This is my Samsung i730 PDA Phone
, running a version of Windows Mobile, with service provided by Verizon. This puppy has a slidout thumb keyboard and is packed full of useful tools. One feature i've using pretty heavily these past few days has been its embedded EVDO wireless broadband capabilities. I've been able to check my email while waiting between applicants (they alternate between playing with piano and playing alone with not piano accompaniment), as well as use a mobile form of Remote Desktop to get directly to my office computer directly whenever i needed to get info from my database.
Finals on Saturday - congratulations to the finalists, and good luck!
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February 24, 06
Auditions: The Fear Factor
As i was alternating between accompanying the violin auditions all day yesterday and today, i started thinking about all the stress and anxiety that are a part of so much of a musician's life, from the earliest student years throughout the course of a professional career.
Using my trusty Samsung i730 PDA Phone, i surfed the web (between Sibelius and Tchaikovsky concertos) using the built-in EVDO broadband wireless connection via Verizon (that service ROCKS) and did a little research on articles that address how best to cope with the stress and anxiety of performance.
has the best article of the bunch, so i'm placing it first on the list. I was just advising some students recently to take a similar approach when preparing for some big competitions. Instead of pretending that they're not afraid and trying to deny their fears, they should instead try to practice making themselves as SCARED as possible! Try to recreate the fear in your mind as vividly as possible and purposely try to mess yourself up the more you can simulate the anxieties that run through your mind during stressful performances, the more readily you can call up those feelings, the more you'll start to realize that you not only have an "on" switch for them - you can just as easily start to turn them "off"! There will always be a rush of adrenaline, but hopefully you can learn to come to a point where you use that extra energy as an effective tool, rather than being held mercilessly under its control.
Here are links to two more articles on performance anxiety and musicians' health:
"The Effects of Stress on Music Performance" by Tracey Temple
Musicians Health (www.musicianshealth.com) by Dr. Jameson - looks like a terrific resource for a variety of health issues affecting the musician.
Drop me a line and let me know if you can recommend any more links!
Remember, it's not brain surgery - it's only music! You won't kill anyone with a wrong note, so relax, do your best, and go on!
Best wishes to all of you!
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Foot pedals for turning pages
One of my staff pianist colleagues brought in her Motion Computing M1200 into my office to take a look at it - apparently the foot switch suddenly froze up during some of her rehearsals. Yikes, that's not good! If there's one vulnerability with USB foot switches it seems to be that the drivers have a tendency to lock up if you're not careful to clean out the memory cache. I recommended that she reboot her machine at least once a day. For regular maintenance, an excellent program to run is CCleaner
- it does a fantastic job of cleaning out registry junk and leftover file fragments that tend to clog up system memory; it's a staple program that i run daily, and especially before important events like recitals or master classes. Best of all, it's free!
Boy, that old M1200 brought back some memories - my first true slate tablet, beautiful form factor, great performance despite the age of the unit...i also remembered how limited the viewing angle was, as well as how hot the back of the unit gets when it's powered on for a while! Felt like it could almost melt the varnish off of the piano music rack! This was the unit that i sold to the school, as they saw how useful it could be for other staff pianists. If i were a rich man (la da da da da dee dum...) i'd buy tablet pc's for every staff pianist, every student of the school...maybe someday...
My colleague still uses the first foot switch that i started out with, the X-keys Foot Pedal made by P.I. Engineering.
Maybe someone could verify this, but this foot pedal looks identical to the type used with transcription software
- prices vary pretty widely for these puppies, making me wonder if the X-keys software - called Macro Works
- is compatible with these other hardware pedals... (more)
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February 23, 06
The next few days are going to be a grind. For those of you in the classical music-know, this is audition season - auditions for schools, summer festivals, competition acceptances, etc. If you've been following this blog, you'll recall the Greenfield competition that just wrapped up last week (congratulations to the winners! a nice little bonus is the fact that i accompanied both of them :D
The season began in fits and starts in January, but now it's in full swing, especially with the granddaddy of auditions (in my personal schedule book, anyway) - the Curtis violin auditions!
I won't blog about any applicant's performances, good or bad - i will just focus on the technology i use to help me get through 8 hour days of nonstop Tchaikovsky's, Brahms, Mendelssohn's, Sibelius', and other such warhorses of the violin literature. Just a quick word to any applicant who may be reading this blog: rest assured, in 2 years of daily usage, i've never had my tablet pc's fail during performances, rehearsals, lessons, or auditions. Also, please know that i will be doing everything i can to help you play to your best ability - the greatest joy for me as an accompanist is to make sure my partner is comfortable and completely free to express themselves musically! The more assured you are of what you want to do, the easier it will be for me to simply follow and support you. Good luck!
Back in the old days, youngun's, i used to carry several boxes of music over to the main building in preparation for the auditions - heavy, awkward, (i think each box of music weighs around 10-15 pounds at least...) and a scramble between every applicant to find the next pieces buried in my piles...the annual run to the library to dig up copies of concerti that i didn't have in my collections (there always seems to be at least one surprise every year...)...yep, audition time - quite a grind.
Here's a picture of the boxes of music (and that's not everything!) that my Tablet PC now replaces during the auditions.
...here's a picture of my (physical) music library next to my office so you can see how i organized it.
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February 22, 06
Thoughts on Music Notepad
Amazing, the power of the Internet - in particular, the humble blog! A day or so after i posted that article about the Music Notepad program
, i received an email from one of the program's developers! He was curious as to why i thought major notation programs like Sibelius
should incorporate ink-based input. Here are some of my thoughts:
1. The Sibelius and Finale keyboard (both musical and numerical) interfaces are fantastic when you have all the equipment in front of you, but there are times when it would be nice to have the experience of composing the "old fashioned" way, particularly when you are in situations away from a fully-equipped studio, ie: composing during transit, on tour, etc.
2. It would be fantastic to see ink-based music pedagogy developed with programs like the Music Notepad. Counterpoint exercises, ear training, having the student write answer down in 'traditional' notation rather than 'point & click' would be a valuable learning/teaching technique. Wouldn't it be cool to have interactive music notation flashcards that are easy to create and use? I think the Music Notepad engine has that potential.
3. Music Notepad could be to full-featured programs like Sibelius and Finale what PDA's are to desktop computers: mobile interfaces for capturing and working with information, which can be easily synchronized back to their larger software counterparts (ie, Windows Mobile's versions of Pocket Word and Pocket Excel syncing back to Office XP/2003's full versions of Word and Excel). In fact, that would be a fantastic development, a full-featured PDA version of Music Notepad that would be designed to sync back files compatible with Sibelius or Finale for final touchups...
4. Going back to #2 a bit - seeing my kids play with my tablet pc's Art Rage 2
drawing programs and the complete ease with which they interface with the computer via the tablet pen makes me think that children first and foremost would benefit pedagogically - it would be a great first step to teach them to notate in your program first, then 'graduate' into keyed entries via programs like Sibelius & Finale when they're ready.
Being as mobile as many musicians need to be, it's sometimes difficult to find time to sit down with a fully equipped home studio setup to compose via keyed entry. Granted, it will always be much faster than inputting by pen, but i think there are different advantages to programs like Music Notepad, mainly: convenience, ease of use, and mobility, the ability to write legible music notation anywhere.
Programs like the Music Notepad, in a way, could bring the poetry of musical composition back into the digital realm...here's hoping that the original developers can push Music Notepad into a more robust application, while maintaining the simplicity of its interface!
Here's a note from the developers:
"If you would like to send feedback regarding your experiences with The Music Notepad program, click here.
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February 21, 06
Upgrades to the homefront
Well, the home folks have been grumbling about the front door for months - the cold weather made the dead bolt virtually unmoveable, making it extremely difficult to lock or open...our house is close to 20 years old now, so the door's hardware was original and showing its age. So, a quick run to Home Depot - original plan was to get a nicer looking (and operating) upgrade, sticking to the original mechanics of the deadbolt...then, voila! I see the Kwikset Powerbolt 1000, keyless home access system! Cool! How could i resist?
Installation was a pain, more because of the cold weather than the actual unit itself - it actually came together pretty easily, just wished i had warmer weather to do the chore. I tried to avoid using the template for drilling in screws, but soon found out that it always pays to read the instructions - had to disassemble, be a good boy and drill as instructed, and then all was well with the world of doors and locks.
System works great! You enter in your code - you can have 2 different numbers if you like - there's an auto lock button as well. Kids were pretty excited about the new system, Mom-in-law and Wife rolled their eyes at my insatiable appetite for toys with batteries...hee hee
Oh, and i fixed the toilet too...stopper chain was too short, picked up a new one and readjusted everything...just goes to show that even classical musicians can have some handyman skills when they're really forced to!
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My next piano will fit in my pocket...
Just saw this posted on jkontherun
- it's a new patent for a foldable keyboard
- check out the site, they have a freaky cyber-dude giving an automated sales pitch (this is a form of programmable 'bot that's used a lot in advertising - actually pretty cool, maybe i should get one for my site...hm...)
To tell you the truth, a fold up keyboard just doesn't get my goosebumps up...it still looks bulky, and it kind of reminds me of a MalletKat
, a kind of modular electronic xylophone (betcha never heard of one of THOSE, eh? Go listen to/see John Adam's "Death of Klinghoffer" opera - there's a whole story with this one that i'll save for a later blog...)...
Now THIS, on the other hand, is something i can get excited about...does anyone remember that Star Trek (Next Generation) episode when Capt. Picard falls in love with some scientist lady? They both sneak up into one of the jeffreys tubes and play a little musical duet - Capt. Picard on a little pipe, and the lady plays a - ta-daaaa- roll up piano! Hilarious...
Well, check out the website for the Roll Up Pianoman
- i can't tell which video is more bizarre, the one for the 'foldup keyboard' or the one with the hysterical family members elated over their new rollup keyboard that gets tossed into a kitchen drawer when they're done...
Now, don't laugh...i may actually get one of these things...
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February 20, 06
Putting a Tablet PC System together for Musicians, Part 5: Music Readers and Annotators continued
I forgot to mention in my previous article the results of high resolution scans. When I first thought about using a Tablet PC as a music reader, I was concerned about image quality on a smaller screen – even with a 12.1 inch display on my Toshiba M205-S810, it still meant a slight shrinkage in visual real estate, so I wanted my music to be as clear as possible.
My first scan was of my old Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 score – if I remember correctly, I used the Color Photograph (24 bit color) setting and got the following result:
Beethoven Hi Res Example
The image quality was much, much better than I had anticipated – almost too good, as I saw every paper crease, pencil smudge and tear mark on the page!
Unfortunately, high image quality comes at a cost: speed. I don’t have benchmark numbers, but it seems that high res scanned images tend to take at least 3-4 times longer to change pages, and that gets compounded depending on the size of the score. It might not make much difference if you’re only dealing with 3 or 4 pages in a given music file, but if you’re talking about a typical sonata or piano concerto with 50 pages or more, then the page turn delay can be even more significant.
Contrast (the difference between the dark and light portions of an image) can also be a factor – as pretty as that Beethoven score looks, it can be a bit problematic when reading from a tablet pc screen that has glare issues, due to the photographic ‘paper-like’ image quality that picks up the shadows from crease and fold marks. In a practice room or lesson studio, you might not notice any problems, but on stage with direct lighting you would want your score to have a reasonably good contrast to cut through the glare that affects any reflective material. (more)
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Putting a Tablet PC System together for Musicians, Part 4: Music Readers and Annotators
In our last article, we looked at scan and image settings for getting your paper music into a digital format. Before we talk about the various programs for opening and annotating these files, let's compare some different image types from both downloaded and scanned files.
First, here are some sample pages from CD-based and online libraries that seem to scan in low resolution Black and White/fax compatible settings. Note that these two links will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open them.
CD Sheet Music
Not too bad, eh? I tried to select examples that showed high density activity with lots of notation - when you open them in Acrobat, these files are very legible. The problem is, how can you notate them like pencil to paper?
***UPDATE (10/18/07) At the time of this article's writing, PDF Annotator
was not really up to speed as a viable PDF reader/inker program. Now, however, the current version of PDF Annotator is hands down the best program for image quality, reading, annotating in digital ink AND text, and speedy page turns. I no longer use Windows Journal due to its inherent graphic limitations (you can read about them after the break). As most online vendors and libraries offer their scores in PDF formats, no conversion is necessary to read the files natively (although you will occasionally run into editing restrictions which will not allow you to save your ink markings on top of the original files). (more)
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New Skin - RSS Feeds - Hurrah!
Wow! What a week this has been! Now i know that flavor of insomnia that they call, "blogging!"
As i stated in one of my comments, it's felt like i've been rushing to clean the house for hundreds of guests - i just purchased a few domain names last week and already this site has been drawing a lot of attention! Thanks to everyone for welcoming me so graciously into the blogging community! Here i am with a couple of improvements to the site that i was struggling with just a few days ago:
a new SKIN! Woo hoo! This puppy was amazingly difficult to configure, but i think well worth it for the added column!
at the request of a very generous visitor, i just added (i think) RSS feed capabilities to the site. Let me know if this works or doesn't work for you, and i'll tweak as necessary
Things i still need to rack my head over:
finishing my "Getting Started" series for musicians wanting to incorporate Tablet PC's - lots more to cover to get the basics down
setting up an automated events calendar to show all my upcoming concerts, lectures, master classes, etc.
a picture gallery to post publicity pics, as well as fun pics of family and travels
getting some software to make video demonstrations of tablet pc software - i used a trial version of SnagIt a while ago and put it away, but now i think i need to purchase a copy given all the software i want to review for the guests of this site...
several parents have been approaching me for more info on educational software for the tablet pc - my middle school son has his own Tablet PC, and it's been a tremendous tool to help him develop better study habits - LOTS of info to share there!
more, more, much much more...but to bed i must go, lest i be tempted to blog all night long...
Good night, folks! See you tomorrow! (more)
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February 18, 06
Video of Tablet PC Recital Debut
Here's something fun: i just got permission from Di Wu
, a recent Curtis graduate and phenomenal pianist, to post the video of our performance of Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 (she plays the solo part, i play the orchestra reduction), which took place in Field Concert Hall at The Curtis Institute of Music
on Oct. 20, 2004.
Can't view the clip? Download the player plug-in from Microsoft
Pretty cool to have a video documentary of my first public performance using a Tablet PC as a music reader and page turner, eh? Unfortunately, the view from our remote camera at the time had only one angle, which doesn't really show a good view of my Toshiba M205-S810 (you can barely make out its profile on my music rack), and you can't see the foot pedal at all - at the time, i was using a 3-button foot pedal made by P.I. Engineering called the X-Keys Foot Pedal
. One button was programmed to move ahead (PgDn), another button was programmed to move back (PgUp), and the third middle button was used as an "Escape" key (to get out of full screen view, i think).
The video clip is just the tail end of the entire concerto, the third movement ("Presto"). Here are two versions of the same performance, one in low resolution (100 Kbps Windows Media format)
, the other in a slightly higher resolution (256 Kbps Windows Media format)
If you want to read something funny, see the video first, then click on the "read more" link! (more)
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February 17, 06
When tech tanks...
Thanks everyone for your patience as i learn the ropes of coding a website. Had to resort to some drastic measures to restore the templates, and lost some links in the process...hopefully after tonight's recital i can spend a few hours getting the site cleaned up and more "presentable" to all my new guests. That visitor counter is really starting to jump!
A good lesson learned today: backup, backup, backup. Unfortunately, it's usually only learned AFTER you've lost something...but hopefully, i'll remember to treat my new website just like i treat my digital music library. The good thing about having 3 tablet pc's (my main machine, my on-site backup, and my off-site home machine) is that i'm forced to keep their files synchronized every day. Microsoft has a great free application that i use everyday called SyncToy.
I make a habit of keeping ALL my files in one folder - My Documents - making backups much easier. I keep a mobile 60 gig portable hard drive with me at all times in my computer bag - SyncToy can recognize which files have changed, moved, been renamed/deleted, etc. and update only those files that need updating. (more)
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February 16, 06
February 15, 06
February 14, 06
This is more for my own blog 'to-do' list of articles i need to post before announcing the arrival of this 'reconstructed' site to the world:
1. Music and the Tablet PC - what is a Tablet PC and how can it help the classical musician?
2. Music and the Tablet PC pt. 2 - Setup
3. My Toolbox - working descriptions of the tech tools i use in my daily job as a professional musician
4. Reviews, reviews, reviews!
a. Scribbler 2100
b. Fujitsu Stylistic ST5010 and ST5022D
c. Toshiba M200
d. Motion M1200
e. Pocket PC/PDA Phone: Samsung i730 (running on the Verizon Network)
5. Working diary - unique situations where tech has come to a musical rescue
6. Discussion: What are the advantages of a Tablet PC over a traditional PC for the musician?
7. Cutting edge: enhancing classical performances with multimedia triggered by Tablet PC's/projectors
8. E-music: finding (and linking) great places to buy and download music for tablet pc's
9. Scanners: scanning hardware, software and techniques to get hardcopy music into digital formats
10. Thinking within the digital box: innovative ways to manipulate music in the digital domain
11. Oh, yeah, i happen to play the piano sometimes - gotta start thinking about performance practice issues, master class techniques, travel tips, audio/visual recording techniques, stories from the stage, info on upcoming concerts...wow, and i thought my plate was full BEFORE brainstorming on this...
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February 13, 06
February 12, 06