Sunday, May 31, 2009

The HBO Dance

A testament to the power of music, and specifically the classic music that accompanied practically every HBO movie for 20(?) years. What a profound and interesting phenomenon.

For more background, watch this video on the making of the HBO Feature Presentation introduction sequence.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Aretha Franklin - Today I sing the blues

Via Baby Grandpa comes a fascinating bit of music history.

The sum of the story is probably better told by Ile Oxumare, but I'll summarize quickly here:

One of Aretha's first labels tries putting her voice into several genres of music - 'molding the artist' if you will - but, ultimately, Aretha switches labels and goes on to huge stardom.

This first label then takes this earlier recording, strips all the music, and re-records with 'up-to-date' styles, using some actually talented musicians in the process. The result is this album.

Tracks 2 and 4 are really treats. This is something you're just *not* going to hear anywhere else. A few megabytes of disk space is all you need.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Vendor Client Relationship

So true.

via DangerousMeta.

In the wild: Lindsay Wagner Meditation Music

Earlier this year, I was approached by producers at Allplanet Interactive to create some "Enya-like" music for a CD project they were working on.

Not knowing who the end client was (but I do trust the folks at AP), I submitted some samples and a bid sheet, thinking they'd simply license a few existing music library tracks and be on their way.

Instead, I received a phone call from Lindsay Wagner (yes, *the* Lindsay Wagner), asking if I'd be willing to compose music to accompany her guided meditations, creating an incredibly unique, signature collection for her.

Umm, YES!

Five weeks later, after countless emails, phone calls, late night listening sessions, and unknown quantities of chai tea, "Open to Oneness" was approved for manufacture, and is now available via her website.

This collection represents a different sound and style than any of my six existing listeners may be familiar with, and it took a bit of opening of my own mind and heart to compose. I encourage you to open your own heart and mind and give this collection a spin.

Blast from the Past: Simon Wilkinson

Years ago I was a regular in a community called FutureProducers. Another member was Simon Wilkinson, aka TheBlueMask. I recall thinking rather highly of his work, and made a point to bookmark him.

Time has passed, and though we've fallen out of touch, I checked in with him today to find that he's had some great luck, with one of his cues being placed in national promos for FOX's seminal series, "24."

Congrats, Simon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Retailing MP3's on Amazon

Anyone retailing their music on Amazon? I found a service called CreateSpace that will apparently help get one's Amazon store online, but I want to know if anyone else is using it and how they feel about it so far. I'd love to think people out there would buy tracks (for listening, not licensing) - maybe even enough to buy some groceries.

What say ye?

In the wild: Library cuts

MovieSet is using a couple cues from my music library as beds in their ongoing behind the scenes film blog.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Help: Electrical Problems

I need some help from the electrical and journeyman geeks out there. As previously documented, I'm having some ongoing electrical issues in my office/studio. It seems whenever a switch is thrown, either in my unit or an adjoining one, a noise spike of some kind travels down my electrical wires. The momentary glitch is sufficient to cause my audio system to drop sync, resulting in annoying (and time consuming) digital noise.

I really need some insight here. Theoretically (and this has been tested in a basic way) the power systems in each unit are physically isolated. I cannot see how this can be the case, because I can document voltage spikes when a neighbor flicks a lightswitch on and off. Shutting off overall power at the junction box seems to indicate the systems are indeed isolated.

At some point, these lines are physically connected, I just don't know where. But it has to be in such a way that a light switch (or in some cases, ceiling fans) causes a noticeable spike/dip in line noise/voltage in an adjoining system.

What can I do to mitigate this???

Photo by ajft.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In the wild: Not As Good As You Think

NAGAYT Final Trailer from Nicholas Tucker on Vimeo.

This is the trailer for Not As Good As You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School, a doc project that commissioned an original soundtrack from me. I accepted an invitation to see the doc's San Francisco screening, an experience that can be harrowing for any artist (if they care about their work). In my experience so far, the 'exec' screening is maybe a dozen people, more if there's cast there too. Imagine my surprise when I see almost two hundred people in attendance (on a Tuesday night!!). I was happy to see the attending audience respond well to the screening - I may have heard clapping, too.

A few interesting things I learned tonight:
  • Renting a theater (sometimes called "four-walling") can be inexpensive...from just a few hundred dollars (ok, so it's for Wednesdays at ten in the morning...) to a nice pile ("thoouuuuuusands" intones the manager) for a weekend or holiday night.
  • When screening in said theater, ALWAYS have a 1/8th stereo-to-RCA cable.
  • Amtrak really needs to have people with better English skills piloting their coaches around. I got love for my lately-naturalized brothers and sisters. Welcome to your new home! Repay the kindness by making sure your English is game-tight when it comes to the responsibility of dispensing specific information (like, bus departure locations grrr!!!?@$@?) That way, I'll never stand you up, Amtrak.
  • Amtrak is absolutely the BEST way to travel between Sac and SF (the Capitol Corridor).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This song is for you

This Song is for You (mp3)
(c) 2009 Jeremiah Jacobs
All Rights Reserved.

Guitars by Jeff J Findley.

Reviews in the comments. If you want to post on a site that needs a shorter URL, use this one:

Photo by steena.

Students can license music too

Photo by: Brent Weischel

As I'm watching the demo-reel channel on Vimeo, I'm struck by how many members are using unlicensed (obviously!) music in their demo reels. I'm all for having emotional attachments to music, and can even empathize with the impulse to pay a kind of tribute to those works by incorporating them into my own. However, I'd like to see more directors reaching out directly to composers and musicians rather than simply co-opting a favorite Radiohead song.

In my opinion (and I'm willing to hear other voices here) a director looking to establish a unique impression on viewers is better served with completely original music, versus something better known. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I think it's in everyone's long term interests to establish productive artistic relationships. It's also easy - the days of artists being unreachable are long gone.

What say ye, directors and producers? Do you prefer to obtain music without interacting with musicians? Too much time/work to produce? License?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Brain Dump: Digital noise with SONAR Producer Edition

da boardI'm still having issues with digital noise (or static, depending on how you interpret the sound) and dropout on my SPDIF connection.

I know for a fact I've got serious electrical problems, and I'd love to be able to afford a power conditioner just to see if that solves the problem. My Yamaha synth (M08) seems to be stable - it appears the EMU 0404 USB is the problem child. I did recently update the hardware drivers for the EMU, but that has not changed its behavior.

The main symptom is digital noise (static, or crackling) that occurs randomly during SPDIF recording (done in realtime from the keyboard...). It seems the EMU unit is dropping digital sync for some reason - my suspicion is noise in the AC power. The killer is I can't hear this until I playback the recorded track.

Usually, I just cycle the power on the synth and the 0404, and I can continue recording without problems....until the next AC pop comes over the lines...

..but this is really annoying. And time consuming.