Breathing In Music

November 11, 2010 at 2:02 am | Posted in Concert, Digital, Review, Vocal | 1 Comment
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Breathing, in music, is critical. Just ask any singer. I’d dare say that you could probably ask any musician, or for that matter – any human. Breathing is absolutely critical to life; it is also particularly important to music. Go ahead, google it – if you must. Wind instrument players have special techniques of breathing to play notes indefinitely. Guitar players and violinists use good posture and specialized breathing practices to play at optimum efficiency.

Breathing can also be bad in music. When? When it is done by audio processors (compressors), unintentionally. 

That seemed to be the case tonight, at Comerica (formerly Dodge) Theatre. Unintentional breathing. Irritating breathing. Maddening to me. I looked around, and figured I must be the only person noticing it. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying the Celtic Thunder show. Why wouldn’t they? The performers are attractive, and fairly talented. It is a pretty set-design (if a bit too artificial and contrived looking); with the requisite chemical fog/dry ice fog, and hazers fired up to accentuate the moving lights.  The voices are clear and bright, compliments of the state-of-the-art headest mics, capable of picking up a dying breath and projecting it to an audience…and “there’s the rub”, folks.

Whenever you take something as pure and recognizable as a human voice (or a violin bow drawing across a string) and electronically process it, there is a problem. The problem is the human ear. It is very good at picking up anomalies. How those anomalies are addressed by the human brain varies between individuals. Some people, like me, will dwell on them and get irritated. Others, like my beautiful girlfriend, will notice them but not realize that is why they just “can’t get into” the show. Still, others will seemingly not notice/care and will go about clapping, cheering and giving standing ovations. Maybe it is because the last group is 12 years old and was raised on mp3 files and compressed audio; or they are from the generation prior to “hi-fi” and assume that’s how it is supposed to be. Maybe they are just in shock, and awed, from seeing a modern moving lighting fixture cut through chemical haze with its dichroic colors and “totally cool” beams sweeping the stage and audience. I dunno… but I digress.

My point is that breathing in music is essential. Singers do it. They have to. The stringed, acoustic, instruments do it. They have to. The drums do it. They have to. That is how acoustic instruments work. They vibrate air. That is how the impressive speaker system hanging from the ceiling works. It vibrates air. Music breathes. Plain and simple.

My gripe, in this case, is with the electronics and the people that run them. Electronics do not breathe. They don’t interact with air; not like an instrument does. To them – breathing is bad. Breathing is a side effect of being set wrong. If your ears hear “breathing” or “pumping” that your eyes can’t physically correlate to a person – something electronic in the chain is not set properly.

Today’s sound engineering for live shows like Celtic Thunder is incredibly complicated. There is a lot of technology between that violin player at the back of stage, or the singer at the front of stage (wearing a headset mic), and the people in the audience. Sometimes that technology has quirks or problems. I get that. Problems like electronics audibly “breathing” is caused by a setting measured in milliseconds. For that problem to exist for almost an hour into a show is appalling. It is either caused by an electronics unit being faulty, or more likely; by that unit not being set correctly.

I applaud Celtic Thunder for their efforts and performance. The performers have talent. The “violin girls” are very talented. Too bad they aren’t featured a bit more. Too bad most of the string section was buried in the mix for half of the show. I wish I would have seen this show sans technology, and somewhat-cheesy theatricals, at some natural ampitheatre. It’s probably a great show acoustically and unscripted. Unfortunately, tonight that show got buried by the behind-the-scenes electronics I love so much not being transparent.

Once again…I must quote George Lucas and his THX division…”The Audience is Listening”.

Dave Britton of Britton On Guitar

October 22, 2010 at 2:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back in the 80’s (eighties) there was a guitar player in San Diego. Well, there were a lot of guitar players in SD, but Dave was …well…Dave Fricken Britton.

The audio here was recorded at Adams Avenue Theatre (then known as Rogo’s) back in the day. Sorry, its only sampled at like 96k, and involved some questionable recording techniques as all good bootlegs do – anyway, without his permission, but I hope his blessings – here it is.

Lust Never Forgets – Britton

 

Is Prop 110 a Conspiracy?

October 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Posted in Blogging, Politics | 2 Comments
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There are a lot of people arguing FOR Proposition 110 on the Arizona ballot this year. There are exactly zero (0) arguing AGAINST it, in the official ballot booklet.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at it from a different…perhaps conspiratorial… angle.

If you don’t have Google Earth installed – you should. Click the link to download it directly from Google. Then, you can follow along in this exercise.

Prop 110 – Arizona State Trust Land Exchanges

_________What your vote will mean__________

A “yes” vote shall have the effect of authorizing the sale or lease of state trust land without auction or advertisement in order to protect military installations and operations. It will also allow voter-approved exchanges of state trust land after public notice and hearing if the exchange is related to either protecting military facilities or for land management purposes.

A “no” vote shall have the effect of retaining current law regarding the sale, lease and exchange of state trust land.

______________________________________________

Let’s poke around at what military bases might be in jeopardy of encroachment, and need some land traded in order to protect them. After all, that’s what the proponents of this proposition say it is for. We will focus on Davis Monthan Air Force base in Tucson, because it is big, and has a decent amount of State Trust Lands in its vicinity.

Open up the AZ Parcel Viewer, located here:
http://sco.az.gov/website/parcels/viewer.htm

Hit the Button, near the top, for EASY SEARCH (popups must be enabled)
Select Township
T16S R15E
Zoom to Township

That will zoom you into an area just south of I-10. you can zoom out a bit to see the air base just north of I-10. It will also create a selected area that is light pink – that’s not the pink I refer to below. After zooming out you will see the base in dark pink.

Turn on Land Ownership in the Layers on the right side by putting a check mark in the square. That will color the map according to who owns it.
Pink=Military (Davis Monthan Air base in this case)
White=Private Owner
Light Blue= State Trust Land

Now ask yourself…”Who owns all that white land just south of the air base?
Lets open Google Earth to find out.
Search for Business:
IBM Tucson, AZ

That should answer that question. (It should come up as selection A – double click it to zoom in and see their campus. The air base is just above it)

Now ask yourself…”Why would IBM care about any land adjacent to their existing campus?

I refer you to Paragraph 1, Sentence 2 on Page 20 of the following document (note title of said document):

THE GEOTHERMAL POTENTIAL
OF THE ffiM PLANT SITE AREA,
TUCSON, ARIZONA, T15S, T16S, RI5E

http://www.azgs.state.az.us/publications_online/ofr/ofr7918.pdf

There ya go. The way I read the proposition, it would allow the State to sell that Trust land to them directly, without advertisement or auction. No independent financial analyses. No public hearings. No highest bidder. IBM just names a price, and they can buy it.

As it stands now, the state can lease that land (and apparently is), or they can sell it at auction, to the highest and best bidder.

Why would they come up with a proposition that requires massive transparency and accountability in order to exchange the land, for other equally valuable federal lands; when they don’t have to provide accountability nor transparency if they decide to sell it privately?

Hey, this is just my thought. Do what you want this information. Take some time, while your map is color-coded as above, to browse around the parcel viewer and see what military bases might be in danger. You are looking for pink areas, surrounded by light blue areas. Check Luke Air Force base in Phoenix. Fort Huachuca outside of Sierra Vista. Note that the yellow areas are BLM lands, so they don’t apply. Green areas are forests. White areas are privately owned (that means there are already commerical buildings or housing tracts there).

Leave me some comments below, or hit me up on twitter @therealcyber5, and let me know what you think about this article.

Paramore? @YelyahWilliams. Hell Yeah, Hayley Williams.

September 16, 2010 at 2:20 am | Posted in Audio, Concert, Rock | Leave a comment
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All I can do is hope that Hayley Williams (known to me mostly as @yelyahwilliams on twitter) reads this.

This is an empire in the making, folks. Really.

I’ve been looking forward to this concert for a long time, and it finally arrived.  Why I looked forward to it, I’m not sure. The songs aren’t on my Ipod, the vids aren’t faved by me, I haven’t had the tunes drummed into my head via radio airplay…I just don’t own this music, yet. However, something inside me kept nagging that this was the concert to see at Dodge Theatre this year. (Frequent readers know I have season tickets to Dodge courtesy of a @LiveNation twitter contest)

Well, I can sum up this concert really fast. GO SEE IT. It’s the Honda Civic Tour 2010. Honda tossed some money into a tour that kicks ass. Period. Mind you, I’m not a car-show kinda guy, but I know Honda has “done their time” in the trenches of promotion, and they understand PR costs cash. Apparently, they also know what good money vs bad money is. Paramore headlining a music tour with their (Honda’s)  logo emblazoned everywhere is great money.  Bottom line.

How can I describe this to you? If you have read my previous reviews; you know I tend to applaud the musicianship (and denigrate lack thereof) whilst leaning towards documenting the technicalities of a show. I try to convey whether a show kicks ass or sucks ass;  giving kudos or criticisms to those behind the scenes.

This show kicked ass. Technically? Yes. Moving lights, check. Smoke, check. CD-quality audio, Check.  Cool video, hi def and lo-def, Check. Risers and interesting layout, check. Crisp highs, discernible vocals, and thundering bass, check.  Pyro, check. What didn’t this show offer from a technical standpoint? Damned if I know.

Okay, technicalities aside – was it any good? Ummm, have you seen Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and Joan Jett? Imagine if those 3 were to have a crazy love child (yes I know there are problems with that – you are imagining, remember?) Imagine she grew up to front a band. Now, picture that she happens upon a bunch of guys that can play some rock songs really well, and can also play a fantasmagorical acoustic set. Imagine that they are down with things like couches being brought onstage during the set. Imagine that all that is set to awesome lighting with killer sound. Now, try and keep the goosebumps from happening.

Here’s the deal – I don’t know what to tell you… if you are on the fence about seeing this show, I can verify that the openers are worth listening to for sure. New Found Glory made me want to set up a show with them and Black Flag. They are a hot band. Tegan and Sara are like any Canadian group I’ve ever seen….great. The musicians from that country are unstoppable. I did not see the opening band, so can’t give an opinion.

This show rocks, beyond belief. See it. I can’t say much more. All of the stops are pulled out. Paramore Brings It.  Honda is a great sponsor of this tour (no, I did not get paid to say that).

(unfortunately my trusty phone decided to save all my photos as 320*240 images so I wont bother to upload those – lol)

Paramore rocks. I will buy their stuff. You need to hear them and see them. MAny reviewers say Hayley is a firecracker; She is more of a fuse that just doesn’t stop burning.  My reveiw in a nutshell? Paramore is my new favorite band (not counting Queensryche).

International Healing Cathedral

August 30, 2010 at 2:38 am | Posted in Architecture, Church, Latter Rain Movement, Religion | 2 Comments
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This is a photo essay of a church building in Phoenix. It’s architecturally unique. Not sure if services are still held there, but it’s been here quite awhile. It used to be ministered by Rev. Franklin Hall, and then his wife Helen after his passing,  judging from what I can find on the internet.

There is a bit of information on the ‘net regarding Rev. Hall, but not much about this church building in particular. I looked around at the sidewalks and paved surfaces, but nothing offered up a date of construction.

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Slayer. Megadeth. Testament.

August 28, 2010 at 11:38 am | Posted in Audio, Concert, Metal, science | Leave a comment
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This won’t be my typical review. You have to approach a review of these guys the same way you experience the shows, in my opinion.

This isn’t classic rock. It’s not jazz. This is Heavy Metal. Really, Really Heavy Metal.

As we took our seats at Dodge, Testament thundered onstage. I mean thundered. I couldn’t get a look at how many subwoofers lined the stage due to the number of people in the pit, but I’m guessing close to a zillion. The dual kick drums blazing at about 220 beats per minute kept the amplifiers lighting up red during the entire set, of that I’m pretty positive.

Testament was tight. Really tight. It was literally walls of sound pummeling us at machine gun rates. You know that feeling of walking into a supermarket and getting that blast of air on your head? Think of that initial blast happening over and over, three to four times per second. That was Testament.

Megadeth on the other hand was a bit different. The best way to describe them came from the mouth of a girl I’d say was maybe 22. “They are the scientists of metal.” I couldn’t put it any better. The intricacies of Mustaine’s guitar fury and the depth of his poetry are…well, intricate and deep. He’s a scientist. He’s a scientist that is so metal that he was kicked out of Metallica for being too metal! That’s fuckin’ metal!

Slayer we saw from a different perspective. Literally. Since I had shown up with my tickets that were issued back at the beginning of the year, before the tour got postponed, apparently LiveNation had resold the seats. It was an honest mistake. I had even checked with the box office manager at Dodge a few weeks beforehand and was assured I was good to go. Apparently not. Right before Slayer came onstage, two people showed up with tickets for our seats. The box office quickly remedied the situation by putting us one section over. Dead center stage, eye level with the Araya. Sweet.

Ahhh…Slayer. What can you really say? It’s loud. It’s brutally honest and in your face. It pounds at you faster, I think, than Testament. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 bpm. I think when Slayer is onstage the earth wobbles just a bit. They are really in their own class of metal. You would know that if you were at a Slayer show by looking at the crowd. Close to ninety-eight percent of the people in attendance are wearing their Slayer shirt, or one of them. Not some Slayer shirt they bought at Hot Topic a week ago, but one that they got twenty years ago and there is most likely a story that goes with it. You can bet on that.

So, to sum up. It was Great. Heavy Fucking Metal. What else is there to say?

Oh, yeah…thanks to Dodge/LiveNation personnel for the awesome seat upgrade!

Scorpions at Dodge Theatre

July 28, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Posted in Audio, Concert, Metal, Review, Rock | 2 Comments
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Scorpions CrowdAs you can see from the quick cell phone shot here, the Dodge was completely “sold out” for the Scorpions final world tour. Every seat was paid for;  almost none of the ones on the floor got used, as people chose to stand up and rock all night.

You just can’t sit down when the Scorps are on stage.  They come out all guns blazing and stay there. In true metal style, all the tried and true crowd pleasers were in effect.

Smoke machines intensified the visual impact of the moving Martin lights while James Kottak pounded the skins atop a drum riser that lifted towards the stinger-shaped lighting trusses overhead. Pawel Maciwoda stood atop his bass cabinets and created a thunderous bottom end. Rudolf Schenker laid down the steely crunch guitar while Matthias Jabs skillfully cut through the thick air like a titanium drillbit sinking into a block of aluminum. Klaus Meine effortlessly laid his unmistakable German voice right atop the layers of metal music pouring from the speakers overhead and the crowd went wild.

These guys have been putting on world class rock shows for decades, and they never disappoint. Ever. From the state of the art sound and lighting systems, right down to each members slight changes in ensemble throughout the night, every detail just adds to the total overall impact of the spectacle. It might be stereotypical, but it seems to me that Germans are really great at getting details just perfect. From the custom made Dommenget guitars to the concept of putting LED video screens everywhere on the stage – its a well-designed package.

You might wonder if this level of detail is necessary in a metal show. In the case of the Scorpions, absolutely. Everyone in attendance knows the songs. They know the words and guitar notes from this year’s album and the album from 25 years ago. They are singing those songs while Klaus extends his microphone into the crowd, and following every note played by Matthias and Rudolf on their own personal air guitar. That gives everyone plenty of time to notice things like videos of speakers playing superimposed over speakers actually playing, or bright little rings of LEDs surrounding a laser-sharp beam of projected light even if they only take it in subconsciously. The ability to lift a drummer high in the air is an absolute necessity, in my mind, if you really want to drive home a crowd-participation drum solo. Yes, details matter.

They played all the hits, they played stuff you know and love but forgot that you know and love. They played a couple that you don’t yet know but will soon enough love. Since we are in Arizona, they played that one too. Complete with video of the state flag, the state motto and they even got some footage of the drummer out in the desert somewhere. Once again, details matter.

As I mentioned, many of the guitar screams you know and love were provided by axes custom made for Matthias and Rudolf. Other riffs were courtesy of the familiar Flying Vees , Explorers and Strats.

As for the drums, I stopped by the sound booth and peeked in to verify that some things just haven’t changed in 20 years. Those definitive kick and snare drum sounds are still being provided by some trusty ol’ Wendel Jrs.

Bottom Line: Details matter. Germans make good stuff. Scorpions rocked 25 years ago. They rock now.

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Tesla opened the show, and sounded great. They played their hits amidst a solid set of hard rock. The new stuff from the album Forever More sounds just as good as anything from The Great Radio Controversy or Psychotic Supper, which were both dipped into during the set. In fact, I even noticed that Edison’s Medicine features a theremin, a fact I was unaware of until last night.

Bottom Line: Hair metal is always fun. People love concert T-shirts, miniskirts, guitars and drums.

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