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Archive for the ‘Music’

Thursday evening at Bluesfest

July 10, 2009 @ 12:02 By: gordon Category: Music, Out and about, Photography

012 I hadn’t been planning on going to Bluesfest, but a call from a friend changed that. I hopped on a bus and made my way to Lebreton Flats where I met up with my friend. We listened to some amazing improvisational electronic music from Holy F*ck for a while before heading off to see Ana Miura.

019 Watching and listening to Ana, it was clear that she was singing from the heart. Her music was warm and full of rich tones and she even played one song on a ukulele that she’d made herself. Very talented and a likely addition to my iPod in the near future!

Once Ana finished, I made my way to the main stages. Metric was about half-way through their set when I showed up, so I listened to the rest of their set while I munched on some mini-donuts I bought from one of the vendors.

044 The last act of the night was Ben Harper and Relentless7. He played a mix of guitar and slide guitar while singing a great selection of songs, including  a cover of Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie. Wow!

All in all I had a great time at the Ottawa Bluesfest and I’m thinking of going to a few other nights because it sounds like there’s a bunch of great performers lined up.

I took some pictures of the various shows I watched and put them in my gallery. I haven’t gone through them with a fine toothed comb, so you’ve been warned. 🙂

WordPress 2.8

June 11, 2009 @ 10:28 By: gordon Category: Music, WordPress

WordPress 2.8 was released earlier today. Upgrading to it was a very painless process. Basically, backup the database, click the upgrade link in the control panel and follow the instructions. It took longer to backup the database than it did to do the actual upgrade.

Eat. Sleep. Ring.

June 06, 2009 @ 19:18 By: gordon Category: Handbells

Ring To The World, the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers‘ biennial handbell festival has been taking place at Carleton University the last couple of days. This is the second time in recent history it’s been held in Ottawa and this is the fourth or fifth Festival I’ve gone to in the almost 30 years I’ve been ringing bells.

There have been workshops on all sorts of things related to handbells from sessions for beginners to workshops on techniques such as four-in-hand to solo ringing to conducting to composing. There was even a workshop on the ergonomics of ringing. I signed up for a number of workshops, but I only ended up going to three of them. One was on change ringing, another was sight-reading some new music and the other was on advanced conducting techniques.

In addition to the workshops, there are a number of festival choirs, split up by the level of experience of the ringers and the difficulty of the music. The bell choir I usually ring with is in the bronze level, which is the highest level of the larger groups. I’m also ringing in the gold choir, which is doing a pair of quite challenging pieces. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the person leading the gold choir (and the bronze choir, too) is Tim Waugh, who wrote a number of the pieces.

Because the gold choir is made up of people from all over this is the first time many of them have played the pieces. (My regular choir had copies of the music so we ran through it a couple of times prior to Festival.) Thus, I’ve been doing a lot of ringing. Thursday evening, we rehersed for a couple of hours. Friday, I rang for about 6.5 hours, including the workshops. Today, I’ve rung for about 5 hours so far and the final concert is to come. So, I’ve been through the ringer. (Pun intended — substitute your own bell joke if you don’t like it.)

But there’s been more than ringing. After the practice yesterday evening, there were some step dancers who did some amazing tap dancing.

And then the Maria Hawkins Band was introduced. Maria Hawkins has visited a lot of schools over the years in support of an anti-bullying campaign. She’s also performed with a number of famous artists, too.

So, she started singing and interacting with the audience and at one point she said she needed an A. Well, someone grabbed an A off one of the tables. Then she said she also needed a C and a couple of other notes, so I went and grabbed a C5 while other people grabbed other notes. And then we jammed on Mustang Sally and some other songs. And we rocked!

I bet that’s the first time someone’s jammed with a D3 bell!

It’s about 20 minutes to showtime, so I’m going to post this and then start getting ready for yet more ringing.

Grand Choeur Dialogue for handbells

May 13, 2008 @ 08:59 By: gordon Category: Handbells, Music

At the “Bells In Spring” handbell concert held the first weekend in May at Rideau Park United Church, I had the unique privilege of conducting the world premiere performance of Kevin McChesney‘s arrangement of Grand Choeur Dialogue by Eugène Gigout that had been specially commissioned by the ringers and friends of the bell choirs for our director, Marcia. There were two bell choirs, a pipe organ, timpani and cymbals.

I contacted Kevin last fall and said we wanted to commission a “Big” piece of music in recognition of all the time Marcia devotes to the bells that would take advantage of the two bell choirs and organ at Rideau Park. Almost immediately, he suggested an organ piece called Grand Choeur Dialogué by a French composer named Eugène Gigout. I listened to a version of it available on iTunes and gave him the go-ahead. A few weeks later I received an email with complete arrangements for 3- and 4-7 octave handbell choirs, organ, 5-piece brass, timpani and cymbals. (I thought it would take a couple of months, at least!)

The piece itself is basically a conversation between the two bell choirs and the organ. It starts off with the first bell choir playing for a few bars. The second bell choir and the organ respond supported by the timpani and cymbals. The first choir replies with a slight variation and so on. There’s an organ solo in the middle of the piece after which both choirs play together for most of the rest of the piece. The end of the piece is a big grand finale with the bells, organ and cymbals all playing together.

We gave the cover page to Marcia at Christmas with the title, composer, arranger and all other identifying information removed and told her we’d be performing it at the concert in the spring. Starting in January, we chased Marcia out of the weekly practices promptly at 8:30pm and practiced it for about an hour.

It was worth it because we rocked. I don’t think I’ve ever heard our choirs sound better than we did that evening. Special thanks to Maxime Philippe and Andrew Harris for playing the timpani and cymbals that added so much to the piece.

And, of course, thanks to Marcia for the staggering amount of time she devotes to the bells.

Hey Songwriters Association of Canada: I DO NOT AGREE!

February 21, 2008 @ 02:11 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Music

The National Post published a story on Wednesday about a proposal by the Songwriters Association of Canada, to collect $5 every month from every Canadian Internet subscriber. In return, you would have the ability to download as many "illegal" music files as you want. Their theory is that this would make sites like iTunes unnecessary because it would be legal for people to pirate music. They’re proposing an amendment to the Canadian Copyright Act they’re calling the Right to Equitable Remuneration for Music File Sharing.

If adopted, this would allow the lobby group to collect $500 million to $900 million per year. Compared this to the music industry’s own estimates of losses due to piracy in Canada of only $118.8 million and you’ll realize they would be collecting a minimum of almost 5 times as much money as they’re losing.

We’ve been paying 21 cents/blank CD since January 1, 1999. It goes to the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) who then distributes the funds collected to the various societies that represent authors, performers and those who make sound recordings. Those societies are the Canadian Mechanical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), the Neighbouring Rights Collective of Canada (NRCC), the Société de gestion des droits des artistes-musiciens (SOGEDAM), the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada (SODRAC) and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). (linky)

In 2005, Micheal Geist blogged about Tariff 22 in which SOCAN seeks a 25% levy on iTunes and other music download services and 15% for webcasters. You should read his article that appeared in the Toronto Star.

SOCAN even proposed a download tax of 3.1 cents per individual track and 1.5 cents per track on a complete album that are bought online.

There are other surcharges, too, but I’m not listing them here.

I’ve gotten used to 21 cents/blank CD and it’s below my annoyance threshold. I don’t go through a huge amount of CDs, so it doesn’t really affect me. Whatever.

But, $5/month crosses the line. I buy my music legally from iTunes. I don’t use peer-to-peer programs to illegally download music. I am not a pirate.

I have two Internet accounts: one for my broadband connection on which it is feasible to download music because I have the bandwidth and a second that I use for dial-up access when I’m on the road or at the cottage, which it is not feasible to download any large files, let alone music. So, I’d pay $10/month or $120/year for doing nothing wrong.

You can view the Songwriters Association of Canada’s proposal on their website. There’s a box on the form that you can fill out and submit by clicking a button labelled "I Agree". Please do not click it! Instead, send an email to advocacy@songwriters.ca and tell them how you feel about their proposal.