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Everything posted by Notes_Norton

  1. Bernard Purdy did a lot of drumming for Steely Dan and I consider him one of the best. Nice grooves, tasty fills, always supports the song, never overpowers it, and always makes it better. The Royal Scam album is a good testament to his talent and taste. The reason I shifted from drums to sax was I wanted to play melodies. Then keyboard and guitars because I wanted to play chords. Then the hardest instrument for me of them all, vocals, because it was so hard to find a singer for the bands I was in. I could still play drums, but I'd have to woodshed to get my chops and stamina back up. Notes
  2. Getting schooled drummers is sometimes difficult, but rewarding. I was in a band with a guy who went to the U of Miami (great jazz school). Not only could he play softly or loud (carried a variety of stick sizes) but also was great with brushes. If that wasn't enough, he could play vibes but rarely took them to the gig (too heavy and bulky). My first instrument was drums, and I used to sit behind the kit in a band where the drummer was a very good singer. It was nice to put him up front and I enjoyed a song or two on the drums (but I wouldn't want to do it all night). Notes
  3. I guess I'm a traditionalist. Everybody's job in the band is to support whatever voice or other instrument is singing/playing the melody. Rhythm section should be rhythm. That doesn't mean bland, but to listen to the lead and make sure what you play supports the lead. Anybody playing fill-ins or counter-melody should strive to make sure whatever they play makes the melody voice sound better and never-ever try to compete with the melody or overpower it. But there is more than one right way to make music. Notes
  4. Indeed. My weakness is vocals. I'm adequate and she is fantastic--world-class. Plus she plays rhythm guitar and synth. And even better than that we get along fantastically. 24/7 wouldn't be too much time together. Notes
  5. Regarding karaoke tracks. A lot of duos and singles use them. The problem is that they are recorded music mixes. They sound dead compared to a live band, but if you mix your own, you can sound more like a live band. I do my own tracks and exaggerate the groove, pump up the snare, bass and other essential groove instruments, and our customers tell us we sound like a real band. One even asked how we sounded so much more live than other duos (and hire us once a month in the slow season, at least twice a month in the high season, and for the big-money dates like New Years Eve, Valentines Day, etc. I'm lucky to be able to play drums, bass, guitar, flute, wind synth, keyboard synth, and sax. Notes
  6. I think the iPhone sound meter app would be the most accurate since the iPhones are all made similar. But for Android, if you have an LG, Samsung, or whatever and which model it could vary widely - I wouldn't trust it. Besides you can get a decent meter for about $50. BTW, drummers can play with smaller sticks, and not be so loud --horn players can play at appropriate volumes and without mics if needed. The last 5 piece band I was in played at yacht and country clubs and during the dinner set, we were at 65db on the dance floor, and later during the dance sets we averaged at 85. (Guitar, bass, drums, e-piano, and sax). Being able to do this gave us a lot of very good paying gigs. An entire symphony orchestra can play at ppp levels. A pro musician should be able to control his/her volume to what is necessary for the audience. If they are playing louder than 85dba and you want to risk losing your hearing, it's your personal choice. But IMO you shouldn't be hurting your audience. On the other hand, if they want it louder, it's their choice. That's just my opinion though. Insights and incites by Notes
  7. Every musician should own a sound pressure level meter. Anything over 85db set at A weighting and Slow response means you need ear protection. Anything over 85db when it reaches the audience is harming heir hearing and do you really want to harm the people who come to listen to your music? Insights and incites by Notes
  8. I used to belong to a blues society. I would go to the jam sessions, play sax on the first set, and leave because the volume escalation of the guitarists simply got too loud even for my 25db musician's ear plugs. There is more to musicianship than just playing well. In a band setting the musician must listen well too. That includes playing to complement each other and always to support whatever voice or instrument is singing or playing the lead at any particular time. The idea is for the band to blend with each other but not be as loud as the lead. If any musician in the band can't do that, IMO all the chops and timing in the world won't make him/her a good musician. Notes
  9. Notes_Norton


    Thanks - and ditto
  10. I consider myself lucky to be able to make a living doing music and nothing but music. I've had two 'day jobs' in my lifetime. I wanted to see what normal was about. Telephone Installer Repairman (when phones had wires) and Cable TV Field Engineer. I found normal to be sooooooo overrated. I still played music on the weekends during these two experiments. The only time I got slightly burned out was on a cruise ship. I worked for two lines, Carnival (3 years on a 3 week with options contract) and Celebrity (two months). I enjoyed Carnival but Celebrity had us working 7 nights a week. Without that day off it was eventually difficult to remember if we played that song for this weeks cruise or last weeks cruise, and by the end of the 2 months the spirit needed a rest, so we didn't renew. We still did our best every night, after all the passengers weren't the problem. A week later the spark was back. I get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in between do what I want to do and love to do. That's one definition of success and it's also one definition of freedom. Insights and incites by Notes
  11. I'm a little late to the party. We had a delightful Christmas Gig yesterday for well over 100 crazy French Canadians spending the winter down here in a RV Resort. It was a blast. So I'm wishing you all a health, happy, and prosperous new year. Notes
  12. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" because I love hearing Leilani (wife & duo partner) sing it. "Silver Bells" because it's fun doing a call/response duet with her. And for the dozen or so others we play every year, I'll miss the holiday gigs, with the festive spirit. Of course, coming up is Valentine's Day and then the annual Patty Parties. :D Since our audience is of mixed religions, we don't do any religious songs, only the secular ones. We feel in this situation it's better to be inclusive than exclusive. Insights and incites by Notes
  13. The karaoke folks at my fan's Elk's lodge didn't come in costume. Too bad, it would have been more entertaining. As a pro, I wouldn't sing at a karaoke bar or night. It's unfair to the amateurs. But your post put ideas into my head about costuming. If I weren't a pro I could: Dress up like a werewolf an sing Guess Who's "Clap For The Wolfman" A space suit and sing the Byrd's "Mr. Spaceman" A super hero costume and sing Johnny 'Guitar' Watson's "Superman Lover" Black and white stripes to sing Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff" One of those half male/half female costumes and sing both parts of "Baby It's Cold Outside" or any Louis Prima / Keely Smith tune The possibilities are endless But besides for the fact that I'm a pro and it wouldn't be fair to the amateurs, in reality, it would simply be too much work for the amount of fun I'd have. Some things are better off to live a fun life in the brain, but never leave ;) Notes
  14. ...Karaoke... Phil, the more they drink, the better the singers sound. They've omitted the 'competitive edge". :D We have a fan who sings karaoke at an Elk's lodge. He is a good fan, comes out to see us almost every week, and has done so for years and years. He invited us to his karaoke night so we went. The thing I noticed besides for all of them being untrained singers -- is that they all wanted to sing slow songs. I guess they don't realize that slow songs are harder to sing well than the fast ones. Anyway our fan did OK, weak breath support but good pitch and acceptable expression. Actually better than most. That's a good thing because I was afraid I would have to lie in order not to hurt his feelings. Karaoke competes with us a bit, because it's amateur, free entertainment in places that used hire bands. Karaoke Jocks - that's what I call singers who buy karaoke tracks and sing along, not telling the audience they are karaoke tracks, and not inviting the audience to sing, are competition too. They pretend to be bands in a way. They often undercut live bands because they haven't the investment in learning to play instruments nor the expense of being a musician; a computer, mic and porta-PA is all they need. ... ... Blues ... ... We used to have a blues society here in which I was a member. The founder died, the former secretary tried to keep it going for a few years, but it slowly faded away. We had blues jams once a month, and the house band was paid a fair wage, so I had no qualms about sitting in. There are no blues clubs open in our area. ... ... Open Mic ... ... Around here, open mic nights are actually more plentiful than gigging band nights. Sad, but true. Some nights there are 4 or 5 going on, and we even have them on Friday and Saturday nights. Fortunately I'm no longer in the bar business but the yacht club, country club, and retirement community end of the biz. It pays well, it's a huge market here, and moved over to that market 29 years ago. It's served me well. ... ... Geezer Talk ... ... I feel sorry for the younger musicians. They don't have the gigging opportunities I had when I was young. Between DJs (which the young dancers prefer), Open Mic Nights, Karoke, Football Night, Comedy Night, and so on, there are not many places where a young musician can gig and make a living at it. Back in my day (read that with a creaky voice) we walked 6 miles to school in the snow - strike that -- singles bars hired band 6 nights a week. Everything from a Holiday Inn up to Show Clubs also hired bands at least 6 nights a week, some of them two bands per night. TVs in bars were only small dozen bar stool taverns, not night clubs. Playing disco was considered inferior and cheap. And any musician who was at least decent could gig if they wanted to. We toured the US states just west of the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean and from Canada to Florida playing college towns. Cover songs, people buying us drinks, and enough pretty girls that were attracted to musicians to make my life delightful in every way. Eventually we became the opening act for major stars in concert while their hits were Top10 on Billboard. Ah yes, now I'm with my wife playing for people our age. When we started this market, they were all at least 20 years older than us. Now it's the same grey hair and glasses, but instead of wanting Glenn Miller, they want Eric Clapton. And we say, "What are these old people doing listening to OUR music." :D Life is still delightful. I wake up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in between, do what I want to do. That's success, and that's freedom. Notes
  15. Karaoke is pretty much the same but for singers instead of instrumental musicians.
  16. The way I see it is that with so many places having open mic nights, there are fewer places for that musician at your proverbial blues jam to find a paying gig. But then, I grew up when 5 or 6 nights per week was average and it was easy for competent musicians to find gigs. I feel sorry for young musicians, as they don't have the opportunities to be a career musician that I did. Fortunately when the night club gigs just started to shrink, I moved into the Yacht Club, Country Club, Retirement Community, market, it's big here in South Florida. We've been a duo since 1985 and have never hurt for work. I'll go sit in with my friends, only if I know the house band is getting paid a fair wage. But that's just me. Notes
  17. I'm not the arbiter of what's art and what's not, so I respect your opinion. Notes
  18. I dislike open mic nights, as they exploit musicians. The owner and/or manager gets paid The cooks get paid The bartenders get paid The wait staff gets paid The bouncer gets paid The food and drink wholesalers get paid The person who sweeps the floors and scrubs the toilets get paid The musicians play for free Now the person who scrubs the toilets is important, but what the open mic musician is saying is that even the toilet scrubber is more important than the musician. In my area it's become a trend and we have Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday open mic nights in places where IMHO pro musicians should be playing, and in most cases where actual pro musicians used to play. It's exploitation. I'd rather see someone pirate a CD to a star that has enough money than to take a gig away from a working musician who is struggling to make the mortgage payments.(Don't do either, it isn't nice) I know I can't change that. As long as someone is willing to work for free, someone will be willing to use that person instead of hiring someone else. And they bring their friends who spend money. Me? If a place hosts an open mic night, I boycott that place. I won't go in the door - ever. I know that won't hurt them, but it makes me feel like I am not participating in keeping my fellow musicians out of work. I mostly play yacht clubs, country clubs, retirement complexes and private parties so open mics don't affect my business. It's a good market down here in Florida, and I drifted this way when the clubs cut back from 6 nights a week to 4 nights a week. I can make in 2 days what I used to make in 5 or 6. I have to schlepp gear every gig, but that's OK with me - it's good exercise and I don't have to pay a gym fee to lift heavy objects ;) Now if there is a jam session, and the core band is getting paid a normal gig fee, I see nothing wrong with sitting in.I used to belong to a jazz/blues society and I'd sit in often. Years before that I was in the host band in a jazz jam. We got paid our regular fee. And playing for a charity you believe in is fine, as long as it isn't a commercial venture in disguise. If everyone else is getting paid instead of volunteering, I'm not volunteering my time. And every couple of years we play for free in the VA hospital about 60 miles away. We play in the nursing home and in the area where the wheelchair bound vets live. I was 4F when I tried to join, so it's my way of saying "Thanks". I've met some really nice people there. I know I'm not the sole arbiter of ethical behavior, but I find it against my personal ethics to patronize a for-profit place that exploits my fellow musicians.
  19. I've found that if you want to make a living playing music Play what the people want to hear Play the songs at the right time so they have the audience has the best possible time Play at the volume that is appropriate for the gig Never, cancel, show up late, or take long breaks If the place is jumping play a little extra, skip a break, play a little late if it's OK with the owner Play for the house or the entertainment purchaser. Put yourself in his/her shoes and do what you would want if you hired the band Dress appropriately and be friendly and easy to work with Do your best whether there is 1 customer or 10,000, and always strive to be better than your competition It's works for me since 1964 and I've never been out of work unless I was between bands or turning down gigs for an annual vacation. Insights and incites by Notes
  20. Even writing you own styles has it's limitations. Sometimes you can nail a song with a BiaB style, other times you can't even get close. If you have MIDI sequences, and they are saved as Type 1 MIDI files, you can mute a channel. When I write backing tracks for my duo, if I want them to sound less generic, I either write from scratch or use Band-in-a-Box for only part of the song (usually comp parts that don't need to be exact). More details are here http://www.nortonmusic.com/backing_tracks.html What I like about MIDI over audio is that they are thousands of times more flexible via editing. There is just so much you can do with MIDI that is impossible even with the latest audio tools like Melodyne. Notes
  21. Popularity and are are not mutually inclusive. McDonalds is the most popular restaurant in the US - does that make it's cuisine fine art? One in twenty American homes owns a Thomas Kinkade painting or print - but you won't find him hanging in any fine art gallery hanging next to a Rembrandt, Singer-Sargent, Dali, or any of the others. I don't think either McDonalds or KinKade could be considered fine art. They are perhaps the most popular in their field. There's art, craft, and kitsch. I think what we pop music folks do is more fine craft than either art or kitsch. It's somewhere in the middle. To equate what we pop and jazz players/composers do to what composers of great symphonies do sounds a bit pretentious to me. I'm a damn good sax and wind synth player, a decent singer, bass player and drummer, an adequate guitar and flute player, and a hack keyboard player. Every year I was in school I sat first char all-state which is rare for a tenor player, it goes to an alto by default. I write excellent aftermarket styles for Band-in-a-Box judging by the comments and repeat business I get. I practice my craft and was given a gift of talent (Thanks Dad!). Do I consider myself an artist? Nope. I'm just a pop musician lucky enough to make a living on my own terms doing music and nothing but music. You may disagree as there is no definitive answer. Notes
  22. Glad you're well. I too was concerned. I thought you might have gone to the dark side or something. Notes
  23. That sounds great, but by the time you get to Step 3 (above) I'm already done. I can take my right hand, type 1 to a few letters and I'm done until the end of the song when hit Enter. 2 seconds unless it's one of those songs that start with blue or love. Then it might take 3 to 4 seconds. If I want "September Song" I type S E and my hand is back on the sax, wind synth, or guitar. Plus some of my songs are not words and chords but music notation. Different tools for different uses I suppose. Notes
  24. I was fine with TOP, but they were lost in the dust bin of memory until you mentioned them - thanks!
  25. Depends on your definition of art vs craft. I have a very high definition of art, perhaps too high. There are some great pop songs in many genres out there and I enjoy many different types of music from 3 chord blues to symphonies and a lot of genres in between. But when compared to what some composers do with great symphonies, the gap is way too large. Example: I played Dvorak's 9th symphony in school. I love the piece, owned 3 different copies of it (wore out an LP), bought a CD, heard a better version on the radio and bought it. I've heard it live a half dozen or more times, the best version being from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. After hearing it thousands of times I can still hear something new. A couple of years ago I was listening, and in the fourth movement Dvorak took half a main theme from the fourth movement, spliced half a main theme from the second movement on it to make a new melody. He took the part of a theme from the first movement, made a bass line out of it and a snipped of a main theme from the third movement as accompaniment. And it sounds so natural that after hearing the symphony hundreds of times and being able to sing along with that part, I never actually realized what he did. Now IMHO that takes great art and even the great cuts from The Moody Blues, King Crimson, ELP, ELO, Yes, Beatles, and others can't come close to that level of art. I may love the music, think it is artistically crafted, the playing is phenomenal, and everything else can be superb. But to me it's still craft. It can't compare to what Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, DeFalla, Saint-Seans, Prokofiev, Amirov, Shostakovitch, Mahler, Janacek, and so many others created. I play sax, flute, wind synth, guitar, bass, drums, keys, and vocals and have had the good luck to have played with or warmed the stage up for some of the biggest rock artists in the history of the genre and a few top jazz men too. When I think of those symphonies, calling myself an artist just seems like I'm inflating my ego. I'm a damn good musician. Like I said, perhaps my standards are too high, and I am not the supreme arbiter of art and taste so feel free to disagree. Insights and incites by Notes
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