Monthly Archives: March 2013

Automating Music Training

automator example

My personal philosophy as far as to my music journey is that one has to put in the time in a consistent manner basically every day to get better. It follows that time is precious and since most of us don’t have much time it follows that every second count. So time fuddling around for sheet music and other learning resources is a waste of time. Sure if you are just working on one piece of repertoire or one aspect of your music self this is less of an issue. However, I have at least 6 burners on between the different styles of music I want to be able to cop, composing and sound engineering.

I use technology as much as possible to keep everything I need at my fingertips. Recently I decided to adopt that strategy to the use of music training dvds. I wanted to quickly be able to get any specific dvd up and running bypassing going back to my closet where I store my learning materials. On the mac I accomplished expediting this by using too utilities :

  1. Disk Utility
  2. Automator

Disk Utility allows me to create a .dmg file from the DVD media which I can then mount later. In other words the mounted dmg will behave just as if it was running from the DVD drive.

Automator then allows me to define a set of steps to mount and start the DVD player. I also have a Automator script for stopping and un-mounting the DVD.

So I now can easily and quickly use Spotlight to put on any of my music training DVDs. Of course, this all is stored on the Mac’s hard drive which means that  you can take along anywhere i.e. on your Mac notebook or Mac Mini.

Windows has similar third party excellent tools for accomplishing as much. Check out AutoHotKey for automation and Daemon Tools for virtualizing the DVD media. Of course , I should also mention the very excellent Launchy which works just as well as Spotlight on the Mac.

Scaffolding Metheny

I like notating music that I’m working on i.e. sequencing with the goal of switching out the parts for live performances by no other than me and where I can. That means mostly bass and guitar but depending some keyboards and sequenced drums.

Here’s an initial bass and guitar sequencing of two passes through the melody of Pat Metheny’s So May It Secretly Begin.


melody 2 ends

Learning the Conga

melbaycongasOne objective of mine is to become self sufficient from a music production / prototyping perspective. I should be able to compose / produce / engineer a tune without anybody else’s assistance.  Now I don’t mean that I will have the skills both musically and engineering wise to create the ultimate finished product but that I should be able to create a very good sounding reasonable demo which I can then take to the next level if the tune warrants it and if I can finance it.

Either one is very fortunate to have both lots of music friends and or lots of available cash to spend  time in a studio or you don’t. I don’t.

To that extent and because of the music I like to play and hope to compose I have added another project to my list which I’m entitling “Hand Drums”. My first goal in that project will be to work myself through Mel Bay’s The Tomas Cruz Conga Method.

Here’s a blurb fron Amazon where I just purchased the book and accompanying DVD.

In Volume I, Tomasito reveals the time­-tested conga method which he himself studied with “Changuito” and other master congueros at the ENA conservatory in Havana. Volume I starts at the absolute beginning and is designed for the person who has never touched the congas, but is also of great value to the advanced player who wishes to understand the foundation and rudiments of the approach that has allowed the ENA and the other Havana conservatories to consistently turn out so many world class congueros each year.

Volume I begins with simple exercises to develop technique and systematically works its way through rudiments and recursos for use in solos and fills and basic rhythm patterns such as Salsa, Cha-Cha and Bolero. These are presented using the unique Step by Step DVD Method, which enables the student to learn the patterns by watching the DVD and imitating Tomasito as he builds the patterns stroke by stroke. This, combined with a special type of notation designed to be simple for those who don’t read music, results in a conga course that really works, rather than just another reference book to add to the bookshelf!