About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Going High Tech

It's Superbowl Sunday, so of course I spent my evening recording some music.

A few months ago, I wrote about my mild case of G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome). Thanks to a very large music engraving project, I've been able to acquire some new goodies. Since I began taking piano lessons, I purchased a new keyboard, but that's the only instrument I bought. This time, I got my hands on some high tech goodies, starting with an iPad.

My iPad has quickly become an incredibly useful tool for making music. As soon a I purchased the iPad, I bought the DeepDish GigBook app. Over the past few years, my songbook has become pretty thick. After adding hundreds of pages, it's a major pain to carry my songbook to gigs. With GigBook, I can store all of my sheet music in my iPad. I've made it a habit to copy all my songs in Finale and save them as PDFs so that I can email music to other musicians. In addition to my own files, I also have PDFs of about 15 fake books. It turns out that I can export all of these PDFs directly to GigBook. Within minutes of installing GigBook, I literally transferred thousands of songs to my iPad. Now, instead of using a small backpack to tote my songbook, my music library fits in my guitar's gig bag.

What's even more amazing about GigBook is the ability to organize all my music. I've set up separate folders for my own songbook, Tea for Two, InTown Band, Unitarian Hymns, etc. You can also easily organize set lists, allowing you to scroll through the music, song by song, in set order. There are more ways to organize my music that I haven't even begun to explore. You can also write notes, by hand, directly onto the pages in GigBook, which is handy if you need to leave friendly reminders in the music.

The only downside to GigBook is that you can only see one page at a time – not that you'd want to try reading two pages side by side on the small iPad display. If a song is long enough, you're going to have to turn the virtual page, which is not so easy when both hands are busy playing guitar. Fortunately, there is the AirTurn BT-105. This is a rather unsexy name for a handy gadget. The AirTurn is a Bluetooth device that allows you to turn pages with your foot. Very cool.

Oh, but the fun doesn't stop there! I can record music with GarageBand for the iPad. There are some pretty good virtual instruments built in, including drums, various keyboards, basses etc. You can also play directly into the iPad thanks to iRig, and you can sing directly into the iPad with the iMic. While this app doesn't have all the features of ProTools or Cubase, it suits my modest needs, and I'm finding it quite easy to operate. I'm using iPad's GarageBand to help a friend record a vocal demo. I just laid down some backing tracks for her, and then I began recording a backing track of my own for one of my favorite tunes, Little Sunflower by Freddie Hubbard.

None of these high tech toys take the place of real musicianship, but they sure are useful…and they look cool. My G.A.S. is relieved…for now.

1 comment:

  1. With that many fakebooks you really need iGigBook which has indexes for over 60 different fakebooks and lets you search across all of them to find any song in seconds regardless of which book it's in.

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