Kaos held our annual recital for our students yesterday at the Assembly Hall. Although the recital is a lot of work for the staff, myself included, it is always a rewarding day. Rewarding because we get to see the students efforts come to fruition through their performance. As a (wannabe) musician it is always inspiring to see the performances from kids, teens and adults of all talents and genres. For them to overcome gitters and perform in a venue in front of dozens of people is very encouraging. The broad range of music and instrumentation makes the recital a diverse and engaging experience. This year’s recital seemed to go exceptionally smooth with few glitches and finer than usual performances.
As most people would know, the recent scheduled Radiohead show in Toronto was cancelled due to a tragic accident when part of the massive stage complex collapsed. The accident claimed the life of Radiohead’s drum tech, Scott Johnson. This was the last show on their North American tour. I ,like forty thousand others, was on my way to the concert when I heard the news and was left in disbelief. In the days after, one is left with a lot of ‘what if’s and ‘how could’s’. What if the band had started the show? How could this have happened on a beautiful, clear and calm night? It’s also easy to get frustrated on not getting the chance to see one of the best live bands.
Collapsing stage complexes have happened in the past, usually at outdoor events when a stage is being modified for a non-traditional type venue such as Downsview Park. However, they are rare and usually the result of unforeseeable circumstances or a freak accident. Radiohead have always tried to push the boundaries with their music, mediums and live shows including the venues they play. I believe this tragedy shouldn’t impact trying to hold these events at outdoor venues, as they usually end up being tremendous shows free from the stuffy and poor sounding confines of a stadium. Obviously something needs to be learned from this, but stopping or banning these shows would be futile.
In the end one is left to reflect on the tragedy, the loss of life, the unpredictable perils of a job someone had done countless times before.
I thought I would do a short blog on the capo. Capo is short for the Italian word capotasto - ‘head of fretboard’ and dates back to the early 17th century. James Ashborn is known to design the first patented capo in Connecticut. The main use of the capo is to raise the pitch of the fretted instrument with the intention of using different fingerings in a certain key than would be played in an ‘open’ position. This can make chord and fingering changes easier while also providing a different tonal character.
There are a few different styles of capos and various different mechanisms used to clamp it to the fretboard. The most common types consist of a rubber covered bar that presses against the strings towards the fretboard while being clamped on the neck with either a strap (‘strap-on’ capo), or by a screw clamp or tension clamp (‘clamp capo’). The size will also vary according to the instrument being used such as a banjo capo, mandolin capo, classical capo (will be slightly longer and flatter than an acoustic capo), electric guitar capo, etc.
Some popular capo manufacturers include Kyser, Shubb, Dunlop, Planet Waves and G 7th.
Summer is the ideal time for the acoustic guitar as it’s great to strum it in the backyard, on the balcony, at the campfire or on the dock. With the growing popularity of the ukulele it seems our summer could become the time of the uke. Hawaii is the birthplace of the ukulele so we associate it with a laid back, easy going attitude in a hot and tropical climate. Because they are so portable the ukulele makes an ideal instrument for bringing on a road trip or packing it for the cottage or camping. They are also a load of fun to play in groups.
We recently received our order of Kala and Makala ukuleles from California. This is a popular brand due to the quality, price point and extensive range in styles. They come in a variety of colours and designs as well as a variety of tone wood choices.
Happy uke playing .. Jay
I recently picked up a used ipad 1st generation to fool around with and have been quite pleased with it. My main application for it will be to record music ideas on the go. I have been researching music apps and was a bit overwhelmed by the choice. The app choices seem to be (at this time anyways) to be catered towards the novice musician or hobbyist wanting to do basic recording with minimal pro features. The other is for the hip hop/dj person wanting to create beat driven songs with loops, synths etc. These programs range from a scaled down Garageband to MusicStudio and Beatmaker. There are a number of great standalone programs for drum machines, synths and dj tools. The problem is integrating these with the host program to put together a complete song. It involves a lot of importing and exporting of files and using multiple programs.
For someone like myself looking for a more pro app with all the recording, instruments and fx built into one app we are out of luck at the moment. This is due to a lack of development and the limitations of the power and technology of the ipad. There are some developers that will be introducing a more sophisticated music app in the near future. These apps promise to integrate pro daw features with VST technology built into the app. Auria is one app that I have my eye on that promises to deliver all of the above. It won’t be long before the likes of Steinberg, Logic and Avid produce similar products.
Looking forward to that .. Jay