music tech blog

Ravinia Festival Orchestra – Gotta Dance!

Last night the Ravinia Festival Orchestra played along with movie classics in Gotta Dance (At the Movies)! under the baton of Robert Moody. Maestro Moody has been the music director of the Pohenix Symphony for the past several seasons. He is an engaging and dynamic person to work with, and he made the production a success for both the musicians and the audience. Scenes from Brigadoon, Singin’ in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Madame Bovary, and An American in Paris received orchestral accompaniment. A particularly engaging excerpt from 2001: A Space Odyssey featured the famous opening of Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra and Johann Strauss’ An der schönen blauen Donau (Blue Danube Waltz).

Except for the overture, the entire concert consisted of musical accompaniment to famous dance sequences from these great musicals of the past. Accompanying film sequences is a very difficult musical task. Accopanying a film is radically different than accompanying live dancers. The film will not adjust to the musicians. Also, many of the musical numbers in these films are incredibly fast. Oftentimes a click track is used for the orchestra in this sort of situation. Musicians wear a special headset covering only their right ear which provides a metronome track sequenced to the film. If a click track is not used the conductor must subtly speed up or slow down the orchestra to keep synchronized with the film. The orchestra must remain completely focused on the conductor and follow his beat completely to avoid a musical disaster. It is quite obvious to the audience when this sort of production gets out of sync. Changing the speed of an orchestra once it gets going can be like changing direction on an ocean liner. Fortunatey, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra was up to the task, and the film and music fit together quite well for the entire evening.

The orchestra played extremely well, especially considering the difficulty of accompanying movie clips without a click track on one rehearsal. Principal cellist Barbara Haffner and concertmaster Robert Hanford played exceptionally beautiful solos during the production. Ravinia is a beautiful setting for a concert. I haven’t been to the festival in quite some time, and I often forget how lucky Highland Park (and all of Chicagoand) is to have this treasure. The setting is great for both audience and orchestra. Looking out at the audience in the pavilion and beyond out on the lawn nestled under all the tall trees makes for a great playing experience.


August 31, 2006 Posted by | Concert Reviews, Music | 1 Comment

A History of Blogging

Anyone who is interested in how blogging evolved should check out a great summary available online from Rebecca Blood. I discovered this post from Darren Rowse of Darren is a professional blogger and maintains a number of different blogs. His Problogger blog is a very interesting read–I check in daily. Here is a quote from Rebecca’s history of blogs post:

In 1998 there were just a handful of sites of the type that are now identified as weblogs (so named by Jorn Barger in December 1997). Jesse James Garrett, editor of Infosift, began compiling a list of “other sites like his” as he found them in his travels around the web. In November of that year, he sent that list to Cameron Barrett. Cameron published the list on Camworld, and others maintaining similar sites began sending their URLs to him for inclusion on the list. Jesse’s ‘page of only weblogs‘ lists the 23 known to be in existence at the beginning of 1999.

Suddenly a community sprang up. It was easy to read all of the weblogs on Cameron’s list, and most interested people did. Peter Merholz announced in early 1999 that he was going to pronounce it ‘wee-blog’ and inevitably this was shortened to ‘blog’ with the weblog editor referred to as a ‘blogger.’

Read here complete post here.

August 31, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Great new bass book by Peter Tambroni

I have mentioned this before on my blog, but double bassist Peter Tambroni’s excellent new work An Introduction to Double Bass playing is now available. I highly recommend this book. It is a well-crafted and intelligently conceived resource for beginners, experienced players, teachers, and parents.

Peter has been a clinician for many years at the Whitewater Winter Bassfest, which I coordinate. He is a truly outstanding teacher (see his recent teaching award here). I have some older posts about Peter. You can check them out here, here, or here.

This new book is available from, which is a really cool publishing site. The books from this company always look really good, and Peter’s new book is no exception. You can get it with color photos, black and white photos, or as a PDF e-version. All teachers who have any interaction with bass players at all should get this book–it will prove to be very useful.

Check out Peter’s excellent bass website for more information on this and his many other projects.

August 30, 2006 Posted by | double bass, Education | 2 Comments

Hurricane Katrina and the Louisiana Philharmonic

Today (August 29) is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and it is valuable to take time and reflect on the state of New Orleans one year later. Visit the Hurricane Katrina Pictures blog for more information on the state of affairs one year later. The Louisiana Philharmonic, which was not in fantastic financial shape before the hurricane, lost its home last year to the hurricane. Many arts organizations throughout the nation opened their arms to help the Louisiana Philharmonic, including the New York Philharmonic (see story). Several Louisiana Philharmonic musicians came to Chicago after the hurricane last year to find work.

This recent post is a recollection from LPO cellist Ann Cohen about what it was like for the musicians of this orchestra to struggle and come to terms with the aftermath of the hurricane:

August 29, 2005 — the newest of infamous days in US history. Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, leaving great destruction throughout the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coasts. We had been through hurricane evacuations before. No big deal; you pack for two days, you grab your instruments and head north, east or west to wait it out. Although we didn’t know it immediately, this time was different. It had started out the same; we seemed to have dodged another storm and we all prepared to return to New Orleans and the opening of our 15th season. But then the levees failed and we watched in horror as the water rose, the holes widened, and the city of New Orleans went under water. For days we watched the pictures that showed the world the incredible destruction of one of America’s great cities, the awful personal toll on the people who had remained, and the images at the Super Dome and Convention Center. It was unimaginable.

Read her complete post here.

August 29, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Favorite Flickr Photos

These are some of my favoite photos from Flickr.  These photos all belong to the 1000 views + 100 favorites pool, of which I am a member (though none of my stuff resembles this).  Check out my Flickr photos here.

August 29, 2006 Posted by | Photography, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

Jazz Showcase losing its lease

Chicago’s Jazz Showcase, the venerable club owned and operated by Joe Segal for nearly 60 years, is losing its lease. It will be forced to move January 1, 2007. The Jazz Showcase has been located at 59 W. Grand Avenue in Chicago (just west of the Magnificent Mile) for the last 10 years. Its home for the previous 14 years was at the Blackstone Hotel on Michigan Avenue. A new home for the club hasn’t been announced yet. One hopes that Joe will keep the Jazz Showcase going–it is the second oldest jazz club in the United States (only the Village Vanguard in New York City is older). Virtually every major artist in jazz since the 1940s has played at the club.

Read this related story in the Chicago Tribune for more information.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Jazz, Music | Leave a comment

My posts are now being distributed through Check out the site (whether you are in the Nashville area or not)–it is full of useful information. You can click the logo to the left to visit the site. If you check out the site you will find my posts popping up throughout the site, along with material from other bloggers, news sources, etc. At the top of the page is a concert calendar for the Nashville area..

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Blogging | Leave a comment

Web 2.0

Nuevobasso Web 2.0-style!  Courtesy of Web 2.0 Logo Creator.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Tech, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Eyespot Rocks!

Recently I have been playing around a lot with Eyespot , the video shaing/editing/mixing application by David Dudas and company. Eyespot was created in 2005 and is really a cool application. Although it has only a fraction of YouTube‘s juggernaut of a user base, Eyespot is definitely worth a visit. You can dump all of your videos online just like YouTube but (unlike YouTube) you can also edit them together to create mixes. These mixes can then either be published to the web or downloaded. Photos and audio tracks can also be uploaded. This is the first browser-based video editing tool that I have come across (if anyone else has found other such services please let me know). It is quite easy to use and extremely slick.

Some restrictions:

  • 50 MB video clip limit – pretty restrictive
  • you can only mix one audio track together per mix
  • only one effect per clip/photo

These restrictions are far outweighed by the innovative and cool features:

  • Magnatune music available within Eyespot for your mixing pleasure
  • can mix photos and clips together
  • can cue up multiple downloads – great when uploading many small clips
  • much simpler titling/categorizing system than YouTube

The site is made with Perl and Ajax and is very slick and straightforward to use. This kind of system will obviously never be nearly as robust as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, but it has enough features to accomplish basic video editing (titling, fade in/out, effects) and is great for creating videos to embed in blogs. I would like to be able to add more than one effect per clip and more than one audio track per mix, but this is a great start. Since Eyespot is still in Beta is is likely that some more features will be coming soon.

Eyespot is a site that seems at first very much like YouTube (only without the huge user base). The video editing and (especially) mixing features are what really set it apart. You can mix your clips, photos, and audio tracks together with anybody else’s public material. This is really addictive and fun once you start exploring. I have created several mixes using my clips and stock footage. The Eyespot mixing program puts some credits at the end of your mix citing everyone from whom you used material. This is a really great feature and is not something have seen in other Web 2.0 applications.

There are also many interesting promotional opportunities for musicians with Eyespot. Put your music up on any mix and you will automatically be credited at the end of that mix. Becoming a participating artist could be a very smart move for an independent band/artist. Contact Eyespot to find out more on becoming a collaborator.

Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur of TWiT.TV interviewed David Dudas of Eyespot a couple of months ago on their podcast Inside the Net. Here is a link to that podcast. I hope that Eyespot succeeds as a viable service–I really haven’t come across anything else exactly like it.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Tech, Video, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

New Podcast Tracks by Bjorn Berkhout

I just added two new tracks to my podcast Jason Heath’s Double Bass Performances. They are both live cuts or pieces that I premiered by the composer Bjorn Berkhout. Bjorn is a member of the Loyola University faculty and is an internationally recognized composer. His music has been performed by the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam, the June in Buffalo festival in Buffalo, New York, and the Omaha Symphony in Omaha, Nebraska. His double bass music is published by the great double bass publishing company Discordia Music, which was started by Chicago Symphony bassist Michael Hovnanian about 10 years ago.

Click here to download Rise

Click here to download Dakota Sleeps

Both of these pieces are written in a stark style. I have known Bjorn for many years now, and during this time I have seen him go through many different compositional styles. Rise reminds me of a minimalist heavy metal bass quartet, if that makes any sense.  I played the first four performances of Rise in a few different bass quartets. It was recently played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra bass quartet.

Dakota Sleeps is an even bleaker piece. The piece was originally called “Stark Beauty”, which is an excellent description. It is performed here with tape and bass, although it was originally written for piano and bass. Check out Bjorn’s website here.  To order his music, contact him directly or visit Discordia Music’s catalog.

August 27, 2006 Posted by | iTunes, Music, podcast, Uncategorized | 1 Comment