Thursday, October 05, 2006

from the mailbag...

Marisa forwards a link to a Forward article on "Bronfman's New Holiday Services".

Ron Benvenisti contributes info about his one-man-band setup:
Korg would be my choice only because I use the PA60 for a few years... you tend to get entrenched in whatever you started out with.

The prices for both Roland and Korg will be out of sight though... well over $3000 bucks for each

Roland adds the vocal harmony features like the Korg PA80 and PA1x... Roland 128 voice polyphony yields killer pianos and other sounds, and takes SRX expansion board for incredible strings

Korg adds 120 voices.... and multi-point samples

Again, I've heard people use Korg, Roland, Ketron, General Music and Yamaha and even Casio and sound awesome.

IMHO... if you are adept with some programming, you can do fine with a Korg PA50 - for under $1000 it can also use Triton sounds and styles from the more expensive PA1x (both of which I use in mine) I've heard guys make the YAMAHA PSR-1500 sound pretty good as well - also under $1000). My kids do wonders on a Yamaha PSR-550 which was under $500. I haven't seen anything that will sound exactly right for Simchas right out of the box at any price.

It's good to check out what people are playing and speak to them (during breaks) if you can. Most players are happy to share their thoughts with comrades.

A good PC software package like Kat2000 or EMC Styleworks eases up the programming tasks for the custom work for which you will definitely have to do for the Simcha scene (the canned stuff is pretty useless, except for maybe a starting point if you don't use a computer).

I use a Korg PA60 to which I added a 20GB Hard Drive to store my custom sound programs and styles. I use Kat2000 and EMC Styleworks for the custom work and also supplement the system with a laptop running Steinberg V-Stack which hosts a variety of VST plugins: NI B4II for Hammond, AAS Lounge-Lizard 3 for Fender and Wurly electric pianos, NI FM7 for DX-7s, Arturia MiniMoog, Bardstown Bosendorfer, Steinberg Groove Agent and Virtual Guitarist to fatten the guitars, drums and percussion, Garritan Personal Orchestra for Strings and Woodwinds and Hypersonic and JABB for horns through a Edirol PCR-M-80 keyboard controller and an Oxygen-8 keyboard controller so I can grab whatever additional arrangement sounds I need from the sections of these two added keyboards. It's a versatile, powerful setup - the main thing is it sounds awesome in real-time with every color available nearby. I set up the Korg so that I can also control it from the Edirol.

I like pedals and I use 2 sustain pedals and 2 expression pedals (1 each for each main keyboard). I use the expression pedals for mod-wheel and other effects which is great for strings, horn and synth articulations. I also have the Edirol sliders, knobs and buttons programmed to utilize various effects, filters etc., in real time. Spices things up really nicely.

I never use MIDI sequences and play everything live according to the way I programmed the styles and arrangements in real time. When people come over and say, "Oh it's a Casio and computer", I take my hands off and all you hear are drums.

I use a custom Quik-lok WS-550 stand with 2 tiers (I despise x-type stands - no room for pedals or your feet!)

I patch the stereo outs from the PA60 and the Echo computer interface into a Mackie DFX-12 connected to 2 Mackie SRM-450 biamped speakers.

There are people around who do programming, but I've found them to be a well guarded secret and/or outrageously expensive. I prefer to do my own and once you get the hang of your particular board and a good sequencer package on the PC, it's pretty much smooth sailing and you can do anything you need. I cover most of the new tunes with this procedure, especially the Bar Mitzvah type requests and get as close to the originals as possible in arrangements and beats pretty easily.

Important point: Smooth transitions ala DJ style is paramount these days. Moving from one song to the next or from a Freilach to a hora or vice versa needs a smooth transition through the change. Good fill transitions and adjusting the tempo change manually, adding the new instrumentation gradually also helps smooth it out with no seams.

Hope this helps, gotta finish the sukkah now.......
That's a lot of toys, Ron!

David Reuven writes:
Please assist:

The only keyboard chords I know are C G F Em Am Dm (substituted occasionally with A D ). I transpose C scale up and down.

I am seeking substitute chords for all of the above to add flavor to jewish music.

Could you possibly fill in this chart...even obscure chords to add tastefully from off the C scale would be very welcome...









Your assistance is very appreciated. Please provide address for payment, If required.

Kol tuv from Yerushalayim
Zal responds to Dan T.:
Hi, you really heard what you thought you did...and IMHO, it was far out for so far back....

The Stanley Miller Band's 2nd album was "American Simcha". The tunes were of Jewish origin, but the words were English (half of the album was actually instrumental). We were looking to reach out to more Jews, those who wouldn't listen to the then yubba-dubba or carnival variety of Jewish music of the genre. So, I was asked to write English lyrics to some of the Jewish standards, but I was given free reign to encapsulate the ideas of the songs and not just translate them. It turned out that Stanley didn't feel comfortable enough to sing them, so I was chosen for the two vocal leads (Gesher-Essence, Uvaoo Haovdim-City of Gold),(By the present group, Honorable Mentchen does both of these songs in our expanded lineup)... and the group together did the vocals for one of the songs (Erev Shel Shoshanim).

The album is not presently available in any format, though I am hoping to be able to be involved in its rerelease for CD when I can raid the valuts of Mickey's tape library and rerelease other music from there, many songs of top artists that went unheard even then, and perhaps revamp the 2nd Charvei Chesed album which was never released.

Mickey produced a number of artists, in and out of his home studio back in the70's & 80s, and he still has a few tapes that I'm sure the Jewish listening audience would be interested in. But let me keep you in suspence until we're ready to make a move with them....and I don't think it's going to happen so fast...sorry!

and back to Jewish Rock and the DYB....

Are they (were they) REALLY a Jewish rock band? I think not. Firstly, I would classify them mainly as a Hillbilly-folk, C&W band with (sometimes) Rock and Eastern overtones. As good as he is, Reb. Rosenblum's leads are Country-based. In Ain Anachnu Maspikim, their, perhaps, only venture apporoaching psychedelia, there IS fuzz guitar. Is there much anywhere else? There's some Israeli-fied Motown on rare occasion....some pensive balled-like material...and an overdose of Hillbily, especially in the
pickin'. At least that's the way I perceived them musically.Maybe some of the folks in the band were Rock influenced, but I never heard anyone refer to the live Stanley Miller Band as a Rock band, even though two members were well steeped in that area.