August 31, 06
Finding Jobs for Musicians: NEC's Bridge Worlwide Music Connection
One of the premier online databases for job opportunities for musicians is provided by the New England Conservatory of Music. Bridge Worldwide Music
Connections is a free service for NEC's students and alumni; annual subscriptions for individuals runs $55, $75 for institutions. This is a must-visit resource for exploring a wide range of opportunities, ranging from performance-based organizations to administrative job openings across every imaginable music-related field. I would highly recommend this not only for professionals and soon-to-be professionals (ie, doe-eyed seniors quivering in their final-school-year headlights), but particularly for those just beginning to explore their undergrad and post-grad education options. You may run across "non-typical" job opportunities that might otherwise elude the radar of the typical conservatory practice-room hermit!
If you have any stories of unusual musical employment detours, please send them to me and i would be happy to pass them along to our readers!
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April 17, 06
C01U Microphone Distortion Gremlin Solved
At the risk of invoking the wrath of the gremlins i've been working so hard to overcome these past two weeks, i think i've finally solved the Samson C01U USB condenser microphone
distortion issue once and for all. At issue had been the fact that random distortions would affect the recordings made by the C01U microphone, causing the audio to sound like garbled "robots" (i call it the "Cylon
" syndrome - boy, i loved "Battlestar Galactica
" as a kid!) It turns out that the free Microphone Preamp Software applet (or, "SoftPre
" applet) offered by Samson as a driver for the microphone has been the culprit all along. This was meant to operate as a virtual volume control/mixer for the C01U, but it seems to pose some serious memory buffer problems in its operation. Do NOT download this applet!! (currently version 1.0.19 as of this writing) Instead, simply plug in the microphone and let Windows XP take care of operating the microphone directly. Be sure to have Service Pack 2 installed as the latest update to the operating system. While you won't have the nice graphic volume meter to play around with from Samson, you can still operate the input line levels within the Windows Sound control applet. Full instructions for using the C01U without
installing the SoftPre applet can be found here
If you've been struggling with the C01U as i have been on a Tablet PC computer, be sure to immediately uninstall the SoftPre applet. You may have to go into the System Hardware Properties to manually uninstall the USB driver for the Samson C01U as well - if i receive any requests for help on this, i'll post another article detailing how to do this.
So far, 3 out of 3 recordings since Saturday have come up clean (including yesterday's sermon
- at last, a working digital copy!!), so here's hoping that this solution finally sticks. (more)
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March 23, 06
Pocket PC's and Macs
One of the students at Curtis pulled me aside during our Wednesday tea and asked me if i might be able to help him with a "techie" problem. He has an old Toshiba E330 Pocket PC
which came out in 2002 - a perfectly fine PDA, with the operating system by Microsoft. One of the hallmarks of Pocket PC's is their tight compatibility and relative ease of synchronization with Windows-based computers, and in particular, Microsoft's Office line of software (Outlook works especially well with Pocket PC's). In fact, for several years i owned a Toshiba e740, the successor to the e330, so i was pretty familiar with his PDA's specs. He confessed to having defected from the Microsoft empire to the rebel Apple camp, due to his new acquisition of an Apple iBook. Problem is, Macs are NOT compatible with Pocket PC's right out of the box (Palm PDA's, on the other hand, are, but that's another article for the future...) Well, if you know me by now, i ain't too wild about Macs - yeah, they look pretty and have cool lights and all, but i find their overpriced machines and limited software selections a bit hard to justify opening my wallet for (although, if rumors
of their tablet-style computers come to fruition, i may be first in line to snap one up! - and by the way, i do LOVE my iPod...ah, divided loyalties! hahaha)
So, what to do? Give his Toshiba Pocket PC away? Revert to paper-based day-planners?
Fortunately, i was able to come up with what looks like a very viable solution - check out Mark/Space
, which bills itself as "The Future of Mac Synchronization" (although, not having a Mac, i have no way to verify this - if any of you readers have experience with this, please leave a comment and post your thoughts!)
Mark/Space has links to synchronization software for all manner of PDA's, Windows-based, Palm based, as well as for hiptops (whatever they are...) - the main program seems to be "The Missing Sync".
The direct link to the Pocket PC version of The Missing Sync can be found here
An excellent step by step setup article can be found from www.pdagold.com here.
Mark/Space has been kind enough to also post a list of Mac-friendly software for the Pocket PC platform here
I'll try to set up some time in the near future to talk about my experiences with Pocket PC's, which i've owned in one version or another since their first Windows CE grandaddy models appeared on the marketplace (ah, my old Philips Velo...the memories...the hidden "godzilla" easter egg...)
Hope this helps!
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March 10, 06
I've been blogged!
Wow! Check out this writeup from Brian Sacawa
, the Contemporary Music Portal (a fantastic resource for insights into the world of contemporary classical music!) He also has a copy of the article on his main blog site, "Sounds Like Now".
Brian discusses how the age-old dilemna of page turning music (a particularly acute problem when working with contemporary music - he gives great examples of these difficulties
with elaborate paper-based solutions
) simply disappears with the use of a tablet pc and programmable foot switch.
I just posted a comment to Brian's article:
Great blog, Brian! Just for the record, in my 2 years of using a tablet pc day in, day out for all my rehearsals, lessons, auditions, competitions and performances, there has NEVER been an instance where it has 'frozen up' or 'crashed' on stage - i get asked this a LOT!
Not to say that this system is perfect - the Achilles' heel, it turns out, actually lies with the footswitch, mainly the USB drivers, not the Tablet PC itself. Under certain circumstances, the driver can hang and freeze up, preventing the footswitch from being recognized by the computer.
My old Delcom Footswitch (see my website for details) would experience this problem if the USB cable were accidentally removed before properly shutting the driver down, or if the computer was put into standby mode & woken up again without the same driver shutdown sequence.
I worked out a pretty reliable pre-performance sequence to ensure that these driver problems didn't appear on stage:
1. Perform a full reboot of the tablet pc 30 minutes before the performance
2. Plug in the footswitch and activate the driver
3. Confirm that the page turning commands were being properly transmitted from the footswitch by pressing it a few times to test advance the pages
4. (this one is critical) LEAVE THE FOOTSWITCH ATTACHED TO THE COMPUTER WHEN WALKING OUT ON STAGE
5. Test the footswitch with a few clicks before beginning the performance, then return to the first page
6. Pray and Play.
As i've said, i've never had a problem as long as i know what could potentially could go wrong. Hence, i also turn off the wireless antenna, defrag my hard drive once a week, etc. etc. etc. Just as a violinist always keeps extra strings in the case and a saxophone player keeps extra reeds (i assume!), using a tablet pc requires a similar mindset for contingencies and preparations. I'll be posting more articles on USB footswitch driver issues in my blog, but i hope this helps for now.
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