Basic ear training with Scalar

The initial versions of Scalar were clearly designed for advanced students and professionals. With the latest update, we added basic triads. Ok, we probably should have started with these but…well…sometimes you just excited a write the advanced features first. It’s more fun!

Anyway, to work with just triads press on Ear Training or Practice buttons. While there, press the Settings icon in the upper-right corner. Scroll down a bit and select the triads you want and deselect the other chords.

Now your exercises will be using triads. It’s fun to add more advanced chords to the mix later on and incrementally improve your ear training skills.

Have fun!

iPad support for Scalar and JazzEars

Sure, you could just installed the iPhone version on your shiny, new iPad…but that’s not as much fun as having full support for iPad. So, with a few tweaks to the custom layout code we use – viola! Scalar and JazzEars are now universal iOS apps.

We also added some usability improvements while we were at it.

Scalar now manages ear training exercise configurations on a separate settings pages. Gone are the cool, but a little awkward, zoomable checkboxes.

JazzEars now provides optional bass notes beneath its existing tonal cluster features. 2- to 4-note clusters are played atop a randomly generated bass note. It’s a small change but it makes this feature so much more fun to use.

Happy Practicing!

Listening for Music! And other things

Up until right now, I’ve been rather quiet about all my ventures. I have tended to talk to music people about music, software people about s0ftware but rarely crossed those paths. In my life, those paths converge and diverge on a daily basis. So why not write about it? It could be interesting to those with similar goals or lives. And I can’t really predict what you, dear reader, may want to read about.

So, here it comes…an all-out blog about music and software projects, thoughts on the process and how to live whilst doing all that!

Backup Basic for Musicians

Ho hum. Backup? What, me worry?

The challenge we all face is that the computer hard drive is the most unreliable piece of hardware there is. Sure, SSDs are about to change that but still there is a gamble with storing your precious music in digital form. Heck, there’s a gamble when storing in any medium: paper, CD, DVD or a hard drive.

The best advice I can offer is to have multiple copies of your scores, parts and audio. Not so many that you can’t find stuff when you need it! But it makes sense to have at least the working copies on your work computer, backed up to an external hard drive and also backed up securely on the Internet.

There are many Internet-based services for managing backups. You could quickly search and find a very long list of services. They all have their features and benefits. I strongly encourage you to use something to backup your work.

The risk of losing everything in the event of some natural disaster or even theft greatly outweighs any perceived risk of storing your work on the Internet. Do your homework and make sure that your backup provider is secure and reliable.

At copyist.io we strongly believe that a sound backup is just the beginning. At this point in time, it’s the bare minimum. That’s why we built a very solid foundation for your files. And then took it to the next level by adding convenience and automation features on top of that. Our basic guiding principle is one of figuring out how we can automate as much of the production process as possible. We try to eliminate redundant effort and minimize extra work.

Copyist.io Overview

Here’s how it all works together


Copyist.io lets composers/musicians store their scores and parts in the “Cloud” (aka a secure web server using state of the art technology) and share them effortlessly with others.

The simplest way to share parts with musicians in your ensembles is via the apps we’ve developed for iOS and Android. Musicians can simply login and access the music you’ve shared with them. You can organize the music in to set lists or projects for concerts or sessions. Or simply share ad hoc parts. Whatever is easiest for you.

Our apps include PDF viewers which are usable on the gig. And we also include integrations with other on-device PDF readers. From within our app, you can easily send the PDF to other PDF readers installed on your device. We want to make it as easy as possible to get ready for the gig.

Musicians can also log on to our web site to view the parts directly on their computers. And of course they can download the parts or even print them out to paper.

Copyist. is launching soon!

This is exciting! Copyist.io is launching soon! Please visit us at https://copyist.io to check out the latest developments!

I started this project because I was frustrated with the existing ways to share music (primarily PDFs) with musicians. Previously, it’s been a chaotic, manual chore to deal with e-mail attachment, Dropbox and FTP-like services.

It was bad enough just dealing with my own music and the revolving cast of musicians for each gig or session. But add to that, the flow of incoming music for the other projects I’m involved in…  Well, it was always a struggle to find, organize and remember to bring music along to gigs.

Why? In this modern day of technology overload, surely there’s a better way. Well…ahem…I think I’ve built it! 🙂

Copyist.io is a secure web site (built with the latest/greatest security tools) where we can save off-site copies of our precious scores, parts and demo audio. 

That by itself is a great thing – a backup service that gives you peace of mind that you’ll always have access to your works. But it also organizes and understands the relationships between scores and parts.

And copyist.io also makes it easy to share music with others. It automates e-mail notifications and provides iOS and Android apps so musicians can simply synchronize their music onto their mobile devices.

That last bit might be worth repeating: musicians can simply use our app (on iPhones, iPads or Android devices) and they’re ready for the gig!

That’s just the beginning. I have many more automation features under active development and we look forward to sharing details about those in the near future!

Great! I look forward to serving you!

Thanks,
Tom

Odd-meter improvisation

Trumpeter David Cooper’s blog is really great. Even I, a lowly saxophonist, have enjoyed browsing his musings about trumpet and music. He recently wrote an article about how to approach odd-meter tunes. Since he played on my CD Carswell, he was kind enough to include some propers about that. You can read it here: http://www.allthingstrumpet.com/learning/technique/odd-meter-improv/.

I feel compelled to defend myself and this whole odd-meter “trend” in jazz. I’ve heard a lot of older cats, especially teachers, complaining that today’s students only want to play in odd meters. Basically, they’re saying that the young players aren’t interested in swinging or paying their dues.

I can respect that point of view. We all need to study the tradition. I certainly spent a long time living within the foundations of music by Bird, Diz, Monk, J.J., Sonny, Coltrane, etc.

For me, Carswell and other tunes on that recording are all about “escaping the bonds of Bebop” – specifically, trying to move beyond the musical language from that time.

When I got the gig with J.J. I quickly discovered that no matter how much I might study the Bebop tradition I would never play with the depth that people from that era do. That music evolved within their experience. We, as improvising musicians, must find the music of our time. For me, that’s what this is about.

OW Oshkosh residency

I had a great time working with students at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh in December, 2009. Special thanks to professor Marty Robinson for the great hospitality and for building such a great jazz program. It was delightful to play with the band, chat with the music business class, teach a few lessons and hang with the cats after the concert! The only downside was the blizzard raging outside limited the audience. Those that did attend certainly earned their stripes!

concert photo