Friday, December 30, 2005

Gig Vignettes

A few vignettes from some recent gigs:

I noticed recently that I have been offered food/fed at every gig I've played for the past few months. Unusual, but appreciated. After one recent gig, I got a call from the client. The affair had been held at a local restaurant, and she'd offered me a meal which I'd declined. She called the next day to apologize for the fact that I hadn't been fed, even though I'd turned down the food when she offered it. She said she'd felt preoccupied with the affair, and thought that perhaps if she'd offered again, I'd have accepted. Nice!

Played a gig for one client we'd played three affairs for in the past. The music requests at those events, as in the pre-job prep conversation for this gig, was Klezmer and Carlebach. At the beginning of the gig, the client comes over and tells us: "play the usual! Some Beatles, Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel." So, we played what they wanted, but it was quite different from what we'd expected to play.

Got a last-minute call from a client who was a little embarrassed to say that he'd been give a relatively low budget for music for this affair by the other side. We've gotten calls before where its been obvious that there were some "family issues" and we try to accomodate when possible. Since we were open that evening, we took the gig. The client came over several times during the affair to compliment the music. At the end of the affair, he came over to thank us, and informed us that one of the other sets of parents (there were several) would pay us. Shortly afterwards, someone came over, thanked us, and handed over a check for the agreed upon amount. We packed up and stepped back inside to chat with a friend for a moment. When we got back out to the parking lot, we noticed our original client standing out in the cold where he had been in the process of calling us on his cell phone. "I know it's not much" he said, handing us some cash, "but I really appreciate your doing this for us. The music was just what we'd wanted."

At a recent Bar Mitzvah, the sign-in book included the following bit of wisdom from one of the Bar Mitzvah boys' peers: "You're a teenager now! Chicks will dig you! Mazal Tov!"

Played a long chagiga for a dormitory yeshivah high school. Three and a half hours of absolute energy. Taking a short break towards the end of the gig, we spoke to the menahel who, looking at the boys who were still bouncing around the room, commented: "You have the easy job. When you're done in half an hour, you get to go home. I have to put them to bed!"

Maoz Tzur - Nusach Nadverna

Here's a scan of the text I was given for the Nadvera version of Maoz Tzur. Of particular interest is the extra verse at the the end. The rhyming of "chatoai u'p'shoai" with "hashlishi" is forced although visually it looks as though it should work. Also, note the alternate ending to the penultimate verse, "Chasof".

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Big Cover Up

Got a fave Jewish LP cover? Hippo and Campus want to know about it for a book project/gallery exhibit. They've posted some covers from LP's by the Barry Sisters, the Rabbi's Sons, and Theodore Bikel (among others) on their blog.

12/29/05 Link Dump

Mirty is contrasting Hebrew and English versions of Maoz Tzur.

Hirhurim comments on "Pop Goes The Hipster Bubble", an article in this week's JW about the recent hipster revival.

George Robinson has assembled his year end J-music roundup.

There are a number of music-related letters to the editor in this week's Jewish Week including one from NY's Funniest Rabbi and one from the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater's Zalmen Mlotek.

LIFE-of-RUBIN points to some free mp3 downloads on vocalist Ohad Moscovitch's website. He also informs about the perfect Chanukah gift: A Jewish Houswives CD!

Shira went to a Shlock Rock concert and says:
f you’re fortunate enough to have an opportunity to attend a Shlock Rock concert, run, do not walk! Take your kid(s), grandkid(s), niece(s), nephew(s), your neighbor’s kid(s), yourself, your spouse or your boyfriend or girlfriend, your best friend, the "morning minyannaires" and the whole gang from shul/synagogue. Take your chevruta/learning partner, your classmates from shiur/Jewish religious studies or Ulpan/Hebrew class. Just go!

Never in my life have I had so much fun on, you should pardon the expression, xmas eve.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hirhurei Chanukah

Hirhurim posts some thoughts on "Mi Yimalel" and Debbie Friedman's "Not By Might, Not By Power".

12/27/05 Link Dump (w/value added mp3 link)

Hadassah Magazine covers Downtown Jewish music. Via the KlezmerShack.

Jewschool posts an mp3 of Israeli band Yeladujazz's splicing of Brubeck's "Take Five" with the traditional Chanukah song, "Sevivon". Sagol 59 raps. Fun! Is this available here?


Here are some disappointed comments by someone who's heard an advance copy of Matisyahu's forthcoming album, "Youth".

House of Joy has thought of an interesting solution to the fact that her observance of Kol Isha prevents her from performing in public. The answer... performing in, er, women-only clubs.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Tomorrow's Jewish World Review Today

JWR's Binyamin Jolkovsky emails:
Could you please post this link?

It's to a three-hour music special that I'm running tomorrow. Most of the songs are in English. Frummie alert: Has kol isha.

It can, if you are interested, be posted immediately.
Here ya go!

Chanukah Link Dump

Heichal HaNegina has a Chanukah Niggunim Roundup.

Here's a page, "Chanukah Songs, Hanukkah and Maoz Tzur", that has info and sheet music.

Here is some Chanukah Sheet music.

Here is some more Music for Chanukah.

The perfect Chanukah gift: a signed Chevra T Shirt.

SerandEz is covering the Lander College Battle of the Bands. Here's Part II.

Hirshel was at the Helfgott concert.

From the mailbag...

Marion Lignana Rosenberg forwards a link to her blog. She's named the Brave Old World CD, "Song of the Lodz Ghetto", CD of the year for Newsday.

An embarrassed musician writes:
Hi, I stumbled upon your site while searching for a way to voice my opinion on the absolute hypocrisy in the Jewish music biz. I was in eichlers (just to buy candles, really) when I heard the theme song for the lord of the rings movie!!! Mr. Shwekey has blatantly stolen the opening to the movie theme song, and then married it to one of his awful songs!! These guys then have the audacity to print on the CD the standard YOU ARE A HUGE FREAKING GANAV IF YOU COPY ANY OF THIS CD. What the HELL???? Do these guys see the hypocrisy?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Your Health w/ Dr. Blog in Dm

Swiss researchers:"Playing digeridoo cures snoring!

Via Roger L. Simon.

Lakewood Chanukah Fundraiser

So, this year the Lakewood Yeshiva sent out a CD fundraiser entitled "Nigunim L'Chanukah - Songs for Chanukah." As you would expect, none of the four music tracks are Chanukah songs. The tracks -- all Shabbos songs-- are the Regesh versions of Rachem Al Tzion, Kah Ribon, Yedid Nefesh, and Good Shabbos. Judging by the cover, it appears that the minhag in Lakewood is to burn three-stringed violins on the sixth night of Chanukah. Perhaps this minhag evolved out of the wedding takanos limiting bands to a maximum of five pieces, which resulted in fewer gigs for frum violinists. We'll have to see what the Ta'amei Haminhagim says about this.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

J-music Link Dump

Over at 4 Sons & Sons, Tam is dissing Chanukah songs:
Ok, I'll ignore the non-existant war on Christmas being waged elsewhere and focus on what's really important: Why I don't like Hanukah and why Pesach is far superior. We'll take this point by point:

The songs: Pesach has Had Gadya, Ehad mi yodea, Avadim Hayinu, Dayenu, the list goes on and on. What does Hanukah have? The Dreidel song. Idiotic drivel! Mi yimalel is a great song, but it's odd to hear religious folks singing such an anti-religious song so joyously. A while ago I heard someone explain that the song takes various verses from Tanakh that praise G-d and changes the words around so it praises the Jewish people instead. Very neat idea in the abstract, but as a religious guy myself I'm uncomfortable with that.
Shalsheles has posted sheet music for songs off of Shalsheles III and Shalsheles Junior.

Over at the Jewish Music Blog, Aryeh critiques the Sameach Music Podcast new "60 second Music Review.
Here are some quite hilarious quotes from this weeks "review" of Pi Shnayim (at 21:40 of the podcast): "Has anyone seen the 'great hit album' Pi Shanyim", "It's such an amazing album, with songs composed by 'the great' Yossi Green", "The vocals are arranged and conducted by 'the one and only' Gideon Levine", "It's a great album full of great music and the vocals top it off with. . . phenomenal voices"....Of course Sameach Music can do whatever they want with their podcast, but I feel that these "reviews" cheapen the albums by not even attempting to describe what makes them unique.
He's updated the post to include a response from Sameach.

Rokhl has started a KlezKamp blog.

Alexander Gelfand pens an article on an attempt to make Sephardic music hip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Digital Audio on Dead Tree!'s Peter Kirn has authored a comprehensive guide to, natch, creating digital music. He's set up a website about the book, "Real World Digital Audio" here. Shouldn't it be an e-book? The book comes with an accompanying DVD with over two GB of sound content, instruments, and software tools.

Amazon has it here:

Comment This Out!

Some Commie links for ya'll...

Here's a review of the recent Battle of the Bands at YU.

Tani Palefski profiles Rashanim for the YU Commentator.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Peeps Are Out In Force!

Is it just us, or have there been an inordinate amount of "peeps" showing up at recent gigs?

Thursday night, we had the "Yoidi and Ben Bag Bag boys", the "professional singer who insists that the chosson 'wants me to sing'", a caterer with 'tude, the Yomim director, the program director, and the "gimme free stuff kids". Oh, and a grumpy grandfather of the bride who, on his own initiative, tried to send the band home an hour early so that "everyone will finally go home".

Last night, we had a painless gig, which was well-earned after Thursday's character-filled event.

Wonder who we'll meet at today's gig!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dylan's An Eidim!

Gary Rosenblatt profiles Peter Himmelman in the Jewish Week.

Joining the Party

A Simple Jew is Chassidic music blogging here and here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

12/13/05 Mini Link Dump

LIFE-of-RUBIN has a link to a free Amazon Download of Matisyahu's song "King Without A Crown."

Mark at Beyond BT writes "The Day the Music Revived".

Monday, December 12, 2005

Klezmer New Year's Plug

Drummer Aaron Alexander writes:
Here's a little info on a New Year's Eve party we're putting on at Makor. If you could mention in on the blog we'd appreciate it.

Dear Friends, Colleagues, all

I'm writing to invite you to our New Year's Bash at Makor! (Dec. 31st)

Aaron Alexander's Midrash Mish Mosh at 9PM
Aaron, David Licht - drums, Frank London - Trumpet, Merlin Shepherd - clarinet, Greg Wall - saxophone, Alex Kontorovich - clarinet/saxophone, Dan Blacksburg - trombone, Jay Vilnail - guitar, Mark Rubin - bass

Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars at 10PM

a Klezmer Jam Session around 10:45 or 11 (bring your instruments!)

and then The Boys of Balagan Boogaloo w/DJ Shotnez take over at 11:30 into the morning.

There will be an open beer & wine bar from 10 - 12 (free with entry) and free champagne at midnight. Upstairs there will be a showing of the film White Heat, poetry readings (slams?) and a chance to win a trip to Fiji (whoo hoo!)

Advanced discount tickets are available for Klez Kamp or Klez Kanada attendees (thru Aaron or Frank).
Tickets at the door are $75 pp
Advance are $65 pp or $100 per couple.

Advance w/Klez Kamp or Kanada attendee status - $50 pp.

Hope to see you there!!
We can't make it, but that's a great lineup. So, if you're going to attend a New Year's party in the city, skip the Ball and check out some interesting Jewish music instead.

Sibelius Vs. Finale Part II

Well, it took longer than I expected it to, but here’s the second part of my Sibelius series. The first part can be found here. If you haven’t yet read it, please take the time to do so first. This part covers the features we’d promised to cover as well as some miscellaneous odds and ends.

Dynamic Parts
One of the hyped new features in Sibelius 4 is dynamic parts and the feature is terrific. I've done a number of arrangements and I love not having to extract parts. It works exactly as expected; edits to the score are simply automatically done to the individual instrument parts, which can be viewed and printed by selecting them in the parts window. In my experience, the only tweaking the parts then needed is slight adjustment of a few layout issues. These were small and involved inserting a system break or two and adjusting the location of some text.

Flexi time works great. I was able to easily play in songs, and even more complicated melodies with many tied notes reproduced accurately. For me, this is a much more preferable method to scanning when I need to import a lead sheet, or quick chart and it gets the job done quickly, especially since in either case, the chord symbols and lyrics need to be entered manually.

When I tried Sibelius 3, I was able to successfully import Finale files in ETF format. In Sibelius 4 though, I found that certain Finale ETF files would not import and would consistently cause Sibelius to crash. So, I downloaded Recordare’s Dolet demo, which converts the Finale files to MusicXML files and tried that solution out.

I’ve imported several lead sheets and arrangements into Sibelius after converting them to MusicXML files. Sibelius imported them nicely, and the layout only needed minor tweaking to mirror the original Finale layout. Dolet doesn’t translate the title and composer so those do need to be re-entered. It does translate lyrics. I converted a song from a musical I’d worked on and the lyrics ported fine. Slurs transferred nicely, but grace notes needed their position adjusted. All in all, the conversions worked quite well. This means that I can easily redo any of my Finale files in Sibelius, should the need arise.

The video function is a neat concept. I fooled around with this briefly, and the inclusion of a video player and the ability to mark hit points in the score and compose to them seems quite useful. It also apparently works for mp3’s although this use is unsupported.

MIDI files
Sibelius handles MIDI files just fine. I had no problem opening and editing MIDI files.

In general, I like the way Sibelius handles document setup and layout. There are a few elements that I initially found confusing, but that may much to do with the fact that I was used to Finale’s approach. It is taking me a while to unlearn Finale.

This was the only significant area where I found myself preferring Finale to Sibelius. In general, it seems to me that Finale’s default placement for slurs often looks better than Sibelius’. In Sibelius, I found that the default position of some slurs (usually on pairs of notes a third apart) was too far away from the notes. This is true for both the Helsinki and Inkpen fonts. It’s only an aesthetic point, and Sibelius does let you move and adjust slurs, but I wish the default positioning were more to my taste. Also, I noted a bug that occurs when moving slurs using the arrow keys. (I noted this in part 1). I know that Sibelius is aware of this issue and I understand that it is being addressed in their forthcoming upgrade.

I like Sibelius’ filter feature a lot. It makes it so easy to select all of a given item and modify them at the same time in a way that I was not as easily able to do in Finale. I also like that edits are in real time, so I can see the results, and tweak them, if need be, without having to quit the properties box.

I get better results when scanning standard fonts as opposed to jazz/handwritten fonts, but it is often faster/easier to enter the notes again rather than scanning them. In particular, Photoscore seems to have difficulty with pickup measures. I tried scanning two simple lead sheets from the Dveykus songbook, and I could have entered the songs faster with Flexi-time or step entry. These were simple lead sheets notated in Finale’s default font; it doesn’t get much easier than this. Nevertheless a fair number of corrections were needed. Also, chord symbols and lyrics are not imported. I’d think that the technology could be improved. Finale’s scan feature doesn’t work any better, though, in my experience. Music OCR technology hasn’t fully arrived IMO.

The full PhotoScore Professional (not included with Sibelius) does have many additional features (i.e. importing PDF files), and presumably works much better, but I didn’t buy the program so I can’t provide any impressions.

Klezmer Key Signatures
Sibelius does not currently recognize “ethnic” key signatures, although work-arounds are apparently possible. Since I prefer to notate klezmer melodies in traditional keys with accidentals, this is not a problem for me, but if you prefer to notate klez using “ethnic” scales with sharps and flats in the key signature, this is something to keep in mind.

Repeat signs
Sibelius, unlike Finale, recognizes repeat signs and plays them back in the score. In Finale, I needed to go through a whole workaround to get repeats to play back. The only minor issue I have is that for some reason, when I create a repeat sign at the beginning of a score, Sibelius places it before the time signature. The position can be adjusted afterwards easily. I’m guessing that this is a bug too.

No music notation software can be perfect. Scores will always require some tweaking. The two big guns for software notation at this point are Finale and Sibelius, and the end product of both programs will satisfy the typical needs of most composers, arrangers, and bandleaders. However, upon comparing the two, Sibelius scores higher in my book. (Pun intended!) The user interface is much more intuitive and Sibelius’ printed output looks great! I’ve been able to do everything I’ve attempted in Sibelius and in most cases find it to be much easier to use when compared to Finale. In addition, my personal contact with various Sibelius representatives both through Sibelius’ help center chat page and via personal email have demonstrated that they take customer service quite seriously. So, I’ve switched to Sibelius.If you don't have a music notation program and you're trying to decide which to get, I'd reccomend Sibelius. Longtime Finale users may find the hassle of learning a new program more trouble than the potential gain, but even for these, it might be worth considering making the switch in order to avoid the “endless useless upgrade model” Finale has been on. Sibelius has a good crossgrade offer. Just skip one Finale upgrade and you'll be about even!

Amazon currently has it at a good price here:

If Finale wants me back, they’ll have to come get me. And, it’ll take more than their silly incentives; my “free” Finale 2004 T-shirt is still in its original shrink-wrap. I’m done paying for upgrades that don’t provide promised features, less than stellar customer service, and an outdated GUI.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fried/Ohad Concert Blogged

SerandEz reviews last night's Fried/Ohad/Kinderlach concert here, here, and here.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Matisyahu Concert Review

Harry reviews last night's Matisyahu show.

12/9/05 Link Dump

The Onion takes on the RIAA.

The Well-Tempered Blog comments on the controversy surrounding the BBC's planned Bach fest including free mp3 downloads.

Cosmic X is conflicted about going to hear Matisyahu perform.

Heichal HaNegina has posted on the "Niggun of the Week."

Ben Jacobson reviews two reggae releases.

Baraita wants to know what you do with a cantor!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

From the mailbag... special feminist edition!

I received the following email this morning from a female Jewish musician:
After reading your blog all about Jewish musicians, you failed to remember that women exist in the world. I am a Jewish Composer Pianist whose Torah based Healing Music CD's sell both in Israel and abroad, and over the internet as well. After what it felt like reading what you wrote, I feel that you owe us women an article~
Wow! Way to try and promote yourself! Not gonna work, though! For the record, we are more than happy to promote female Jewish musicians.

I thought about posting a series of links to some of my many previous posts on female performers, but I'm not going to waste the time. A simple scroll through recent posts, currently viewable on the Blog in Dm homepage, is enough to debunk this one.

12/6/05 Link Dump

Over at Moving On, Glen Holman posts a song lyric written by his daughter Nechama Z"L when she was eight. Once you're there, take some time to read Glenn's other posts too.

Chaim writes a post titled "My Problem with Jewish Childrens CD's." I'd recommend checking out David Nulman's album "Captain Dovid and the Rebbes of Rhythm. Once you get past the title and the "in outer space" theme, the music and lyrics are quite good. Standout track is "Where Is Hashem?" with sweet guest vocals by Dov Levine. The lyrics come across as heartfelt and sincere rather than preachy. I've added this one to my book for appropriate events.

Yitz is feeling sheepish over at Heichal HaNegina. Hat tip: A Simple Jew.

Menachem Butler writes about 'Malki's Song."

Zackary Sholem Berger posts on Lipa Schmeltzer.

Here's DAATH, a dark metal band inspired by Kabbala.
Daath’s music is an exploration of the negative sides of the human psyche. Using the Tree of Life as a roadmap, their albums will be systematically exploring the adverse side of the tree until they have described all ten of its points, or sepherot.
Via Metal Jew.

The Town Crier thinks that a NY Post article on the awarding of a city contract to a rabbi who embezzled money from HASC is an attempt to discredit the organization soon before its annual concert. I just don't see it.

Personally, I thought the timing of the Jewish Week's article last year was wrong, because they published the story (which was a year old) as the aforementioned rabbi was sitting shiva and shortly before the big annual concert. There was no burning reason to publish immediately instead of holding the story for a week or two. This year's concert is at the end of January, though. I find it hard to believe that there is any subtext here. It's simply a classic "can you believe this one" story about the city handing out mega-dollars to a thief. It's not anti-Semitism and it's not anti-HASC.

At any rate, TTC is following this story.


Sameach Music has pulled Ushpizin from their website:
We regret that the distributor in Israel which was legally licensed to sell this film, made an error in selling this DVD to outlets in the U.S., we have pulled this product off our site.
Please check back in the coming months, after this film has ended it's theater run, it will be officially released here in the U.S. If you see this DVD being sold elsewhere in the U.S. please report it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

From the mailbag...

Menachem writes:
I have finally discovered what scarred me for life as a kid back in the 80s. It wasn't catching a late night screening of Nightmare On Elm Street or anything that remotely obvious - it was listening the sweet music of our beloved Country Yossi. Last year, Country Yossi's albums were released on CD, and what with all the bashing of his magazine on various Jewish music blog sites, I decided take a trip down memory lane and purchase these albums that I had so loved as a kid. One song in particular definitely traumatized me to this day: "These I Remember" from the album of the same name "These I Remember". The song goes through, in graphic detail, the horrific slayings of famous rabonim throughout history (Rabon Gamliel, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Taradion). Lyrics such as "Rabbi Shimon - they raked his body with combs of iron" and Rabbi Yochanan Ben Taradyon who - whilst being burned alive - "was wrapped in the torah from which he had been teaching and his chest was drenched in water to prolong the agony". May I remind you that we're talking about Country Yossi here, music aimed at 7 year old kids!

On a related note, was this really necessary?: (from the song "Cholent") "...If I had my way I'd ship it all the way, and drop it on the Arabs, they'd be gone in a day".

PS. I am a big fan regardless :-)
E is upset about this composition credit for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight":
CHECK THIS - HASC - A Time For Music 18 (XVIII) - A Chai Celebration - SAMEACH MUSIC ABI MLEIBT - COMPOSED BY LIPA SHMELTZER! (and we all know that composed don't mean the lyrics)
Adapted would be a better description, I'd think.

Update:Sruly at Sameach emails
Sorry - it has been revised. Thanks for pointing it out. No harm was meant, I'm the one responsible for that, I thought it would have been understood that Lipa didn't compose “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, he only composed the changed song lyrics. I should have been more clear, It has been updated appropriately. If you see anything else, or have any other suggestions, feel free to e-mail me.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Dinnerstein and Goldberg

Meant to post this last week...

Went to hear pianist Simone Dinnerstein perform Bach's Goldberg Variations at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. It was a superb performance. Dinnerstein's touch and musicality were breathtaking. The New York Times gave the performance a great write-up. Here's the Philadelphia Inquirer's take which includes a link to a short audio clip of Dinnerstein performing the Aria the variations are all based on.

12/4/05 Link Dump

Here's The Shaigetz on Matisyahu.

Here's Lazer Beams with a profile of former heavy-metal bassist Robbie Ludwick.

Wendy Shalit has penned an Ushpizin review for OpinionJournal.

A Simple Jew has a guest post of thoughts on a recent Chazzonos experience.

The Rabbi Saw Red!

The following interaction took place at a recent gig we played, where the rabbi was trying to move the proceedings along while the guests were still chatting and indulging at the buffet.

Rabbi: We are now going to bentch!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Rabbi: Bentching is starting RIGHT NOW!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Rabbi: No one is being forced to bentch! But we do ask that you remain quiet!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!
Guests: Yap, yap yap!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Only Shmorgs!

Tired of having to stay for the whole shebang when you just want to go for the shmorg?

Tired of hearing “im yirza Hashem by you” when all you want is more Duck L’Orange?

Tired of missing the carving stations because 37 shadchonim are hanging onto your tux?

Tired of spending $1,000 for a dress in "her favorite color" and never wearing it again?

Tired of missing the waiter with the little hot dogs because you had to sign the ketubah?

Tired of being invited to JUST THE CHUPAH???

Be tired no more, you are invited to the YL’s Just Shmorg!

Everything you always wanted from a wedding without the wedding!

No shadchonim, no im yirzha Hashem’s, no ketubah, no chatan’s tish, no chupah…

Black Tie Preferred