Nuevobasso

music tech blog

SuprGlu your digital life together


A really interesting meta idea that just caught my attention is SuprGlu. This is a really interesting new Web 2.0 service that allows you to pull much of your digital content floating around into one page. You give SuprGlu some blogs (Blogger, Xanga, LiveJournal), photo sharing sites (Flickr), and social bookmarking sites (del.icio.us, Simpy, Digg) that you use. Give SuprGlu your user name (no passwords required) and the service will pull your content from all of these sites and serve it up in a template of your choice. Basically, you create your own really stylish meta-blog with all of this information. The SuprGlu page even allows comments for each individual post. It really is a new blog created out of the content from your various sites. The Flickr and del.icio.us content is even given a blog post title by SuprGlu. Very slick!

It may not sound as cool as it actually is–you really need to check it out for yourself. Here is my SuprGlu page:

http://jasonheath.suprglu.com/

As you can see, SuprGlu gives you your own unique URL that can be accessed by anyone. Rather than visiting Blogger, WordPress, Flickr, Digg, and del.icio.us, people can go to this one page and see all of this content neatly rolled into one page.

SuprGlu gives you a decent variety of templates. This is a new service, and I hope they continue to expand and add more features. I would like a little more in the way of customization (although you can edit the CSS) and to be able to pull in other feeds as well. It would be really neat to create a page from a group of bloggers, or material from me and my fiancee, for example.

All of the information that SuprGlu is from publicly accessible RSS feeds. It is kind of scary to realize how much data about a person is freely available once one starts using services like Flickr and del.icio.us!

September 3, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a 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 Problogger.net. 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

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 Polyphonic.org 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

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

Catalysts & Connections

I just added a really excellent music education blog to my Blogroll.  It is called Catalysts & Connections, and it covers all sorts of topics in the field of music education.  Check out a recent post hereEvan Tobias is the author of the blog, and he also maintains an excellent Blogroll.  Check out his blog!

August 26, 2006 Posted by | Blogging, Education, Music, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shostakovich Festival on WFMT

Chicago’s classical music station WFMT is having a Shostakovich Festival this month. Shostakovich’s birthday week itself will contain the most Shostakovich programming, but the whole month will feature his music. WFMT program director Peter Whorf wrote this recently on the Chicago Classical Music blog:

I’m very excited about what we’ve put together to celebrate the 100th birthday of Shostakovich in September. The entire schedule throughout the month features the complete symphonies, operas and concerti of Shostakovich, as well as commentary from the composer taken from the Friday, September 29th special, Shostakovich Speaks. More on that later…

Read his complete post here. Also, check out this photo gallery for some great shots of Shostakovich throughout his life. This should make for some great listening. I will definitely be tuning in. You can listen to them online at WFMT.com. The radio station also has a blog which is definitely worth checking out.

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Music, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last holdout bands join iTunes

Wired News recently put out a story on some popular artists who only now agreed to sell their music on iTunes. Here is a quote from the story about why certain artists think online distribution is bad:

But the artists argue online distribution leaves them with too small a profit. And, they say, iTunes wrecks the artistic integrity of an album by allowing songs to be purchased by the track for 99 cents. Some bands, such as AC/DC have released albums on other, more flexible sites, but not iTunes.

“We’ve always thought certain artists put out albums that aren’t meant to be compilations with 50 other artists,” said Ed “Punch” Andrews, manager for both Seger and Kid Rock. “We’re hoping at some point albums become important again like they were in the past 30 years.”

There are other reasons bands avoid cyberspace. In some cases, various parties that own or control older music catalogs can’t agree to a distribution contract. Others have avoided the internet altogether out of piracy concerns. (Most online stores, however, use rights-management technology to protect against unauthorized distribution.)

It is my understanding that Apple gives record companies a very large percentage of each individual download. Record companies have started to renegotiate contracts with artists (since legal online distribution took off) to give even less to the artist. Many artists that were making the equivalent of 30 cents per song sold are now making only 10 cents.

It is not online distribution that is hurting artists but rather the greedy tactics of record companies. Many recording musicians make substantially more distributing their music themselves rather than dealing with a record company. Michael Dean (formerly of BOMB) is a great example. Put out your own music, offer some tracks for free from your band website, put some tracks out on the Podsafe Music Network, and sell your music through CD Baby (thereby getting into the iTunes music store). Who needs a record contract?

August 24, 2006 Posted by | iTunes, Music, Tech, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jazz Practicing Resources

I just discovered a great educational resource for jazz musicians–I am surprised that I haven’t seen this site before. PlayJazzNow.com distributes play-along MP3 files for jazz practicing. They have tracks for drummers, bassists, vocalists, horn players, pianists, and vibraphonists. Here is the page for bass materials, and here is a example of the ii-V-I sequence chart.

The most effective way to become a fluent jazz musician is to get some face time with other musicians. Play-alongs simulate this experience and allow musicians the opportunity to work on certain tunes, chord sequences and patterns by themselves. This sort of work is necessary to really develop jazz chops, and it is the sort of work that would be very difficult (excruciatingly painful for your otherband mates) to do with other musicians. Working with play- alongs allows a developing (and expert) jazz musician infinite repetitions on a given sequence. Having developed fluidity and jazz language chops with the play-along tracks enables the musician to open up, experiment, andcommunicate once he or she gets into a live situation, rather than honking out lame lines.

Working with play-alongs is also a valuable exercise for classical musicians. I also use tracks like this in my own teaching, and I recently created three podcasts consisting of MIDI-generated practice tracks for double bass players:

Jason Heath’s Double Bass Scales – Practice Tracks

Jason Heath’s Double Bass Solos – Practice Tracks

Jason Heath’s Double Bass Orchestral Excerpts – Practice Tracks

These tracks of mine serve a valuable need (learning how to play in tune and in time), but it is a different need than the tracks available at PlayJazzNow.com. I’d encourage any jazz student to check out this cool site. I have added a permanent link to PlayJazzNow.com on my music links page.

August 21, 2006 Posted by | double bass, Jazz, Music, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

WordPress.com versus the new Blogger

Earlier this week Blogger unveiled its new Beta version. I have been playing with this service and am extremely happy with the new features Blogger is unveiling. Blogger, originally created by Pyra Labs was one of the pivotal fores n the explosion of the blogosphere over the last several years. Originally a tiered service with free and paid versions, Blogger was acquired by Google in 2004. Since its acquisition the feature set of Blogger has languished while new offerings such as WordPress.com have entered the scene.

Blogger and WordPress are both attractive options for those looking to set up a blog. These services eliminate the need to find a host and install blogging software. Because these are hosted services, you have less control than if you host your own blog. Both services differ in what they limit and to what degree.

WordPress.com is the free, hosted version of the popular content management system WordPress.org. WordPress is an excellent, feature-rich blogging platform. The full feature set of WordPress is only available if you install it with your own web host (the software itself is free). Many (if not most) professional blogs use Wordress as their content management system.

Here is an example of an old Blogger blog
Here is an example of a Beta Blogger blog
Here is an example of a WordPress.com blog

Both Blogger.com and WordPress.com are extremely straightforward to set-up and use. I think that Blogger is slightly more user-friendly than WordPress.com for the novice blogger, but 15-30 minutes of reading and tinkering with WordPress is all that is really needed to get going. Blogger.com is also a little more easily integrated into cell phone, camera phone, e-mail blogging, and the like, and is probably a slightly better choice for personal bogs and total beginners.

WordPress features include static pages, categories, an extremely powerful editor, and many other features. Pages are a way of keeping static HTML pages within the dynamic blogging interface. This can also be accomplished with Blogger, but it is a hack and not as useful. What I do in Blogger to create a page is make a post or (cannibalize an old post from months ago), and link to that post from a static part of my blog. Look at my age here for an example. The links in the navigation bar are all links to old bog posts which I then use as content management pages. This works, but it is a hack and not nearly as slick as WordPress’ built-in pages feature.

Blogger is more useful than WordPress.com if you like to tinker. WordPress.com limits the number of templates you can use and has a somewhat (but not fully) customizable sidebar. Blogger gives you complete control over your template. You have total access to the HTML and can basically do whatever you want. Any sort of add-on, template sidebar structure, navigation and the like are yours to tinker with. This is also possible if you use install WordPress on your own server, but the freely hosted WordPress.com currently does not allow access to the HTML.

The non-techie (or at least non-tinkerer) will not really care about this feature. WordPress.com’s templates are really superb, and I think that they tend to look much better out of the box than Blogger templates. You can however, tweak Blogger templates to look pretty much like WordPress templates–it just requires some technical knowledge.

The new Beta Blogger really changes things up. Blogger has lifted many features from WordPress.com while still allowing access to the HTML (coming soon). It is unclear right now whether the new Blogger will support multiple pages like WordPress, but the sidebar is now widgetized like WordPress and categories are supported (Blogger is calling them “labels”). You can drag and drop sidebar widgets quite easily (a huge improvement over the old Blogger). The publishing scheme has been reworked and changes/new posts appear instantaneously (no more spinning triangle of death). Here are some more features according to the Blogger team:

A lot of folks have been wanting to use new features like Labels but with their existing template. Or there are folks who are looking for more fine-grained control than offered with the new Layouts system.

Fortunately, it’s always been part of our plan to introduce a new Edit HTML system for Blogger in beta. This system will not only let folks have the degree of customizability they desire, but it will let you create templates that are customizable with the Layouts system. Right now we are finishing the first version of this system and will be introducing in the “days not weeks” timeframe.

I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to move my blog over. Hopefully this will fix the rendering problems that my blog (and tons of other Blogger blogs) has in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

check out Jason Heath’s Bass Page for more information

August 19, 2006 Posted by | Blogging, General, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | 13 Comments