The Big Think

November 15, 2005

Ear Training

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 5:55 pm

In my job I often have to transcribe acapella music. I’ve developed a pretty good ear over the last 15 years and don’t often come across a piece of music that stymies me. When I first started arranging it seemed like every piece had something challenging or unknown in it. Something that I heard and told myself “gee, I have no idea how I’m going to do that”. Each piece was a learning experience. Over the years as I’ve arranged more pieces (I passed 1,000 several years ago) and got more comfortable with the process I stopped getting nervous about what I was going to be handed. Orchestral? sure thing. Rock? Easy. Disney/Show tune? Piece of cake. Country? Yawn. It’s been a long time since I’ve been, for lack of a better word, scared by a tune.

That ended this week. I have had to transcribe a blazingly fast acapella 6-part R&B monster that has had me in fits. I just finished it today and it has taken me a grand total of almost 15 hours to transcribe 79 measures. That works out to just under 9 minutes per measure. By way of comparison I can normally crank out an acapella arrangement in an hour or two. Sometimes much quicker if it’s simple and short. 15 minutes? Not unheard of. But this one has been a monster. This has been the kind of tune that I never thought I’d finish. My ear could only handle 8-12 measures of dense harmonies before it checked out for the day and I had to move on to something simpler.

The end result? I’ve had to simplify a few parts because, well, the original artists aren’t really singing notes- more like vocal approximations. I doubt the group that I’m doing the arrangement for could do it without the simplifications. But it sounds great and I’m very happy with the results. And I’m especially happy to have this one behind me.

Sorry I can’t mention the song. It’s for Sing and there’s always great secrecy around songs and themes. I don’t think any of the group members even know or care that I have a blog, but it’s best to be safe. Barry does read this page, but like me he likes to be surprised by the stuff that he doesn’t arrange.

Fingers crossed… I really hope they can pull it off. It’ll be awesome. If they try and fail? I don’t want to think about it.


Filed under: Bandwidth Speed — jasony @ 12:13 pm

Cox must be feeling the pressure to treat its customers well. SBC has been digging up the neighborhood for the past two weeks installing new fiber for their DSL services (only $14.95/month!). It’s been a bit of a pain, but the workers have been good about replanting grass and generally keeping the place looking okay. Well, as good of a job as you can do when you dig giant 6′ deep holes in people’s yards.

Anyway, Cox must have realized that they’re soon going to have mass defections if they don’t do something about their service. We’ve been consistently getting between 100k-500k on our so-called “high speed” cable modem for a couple of months now. Complaining hasn’t done anything to fix the problem.

Lo and behold yesterday they sent work trucks to our neighborhood to upgrade the system. They’re doing something to the cable box in front of everyone’s house, and the service guy who came out this morning to check our connection (again) said that they’re upgrading more of the equipment.

And here’s a bonus. I was told that our old modem was slowing down because it was old technology that had been orphaned by one of the many recent “upgrades”. (you know- the ones where they say “your maximum speed has been upgraded from 2mbps to 1000TERABITS/SECOND!” and then you read the small print that says *”speeds not guaranteed”). The modem would have to be replaced at our cost (about $70) because we purchased the original.

The service tech this morning took a look at our old modem and commented on how old it was, then said he’d go ahead and replace it with a new one no charge. Right now we’re getting 3.7mbps. Finally!

Chalk it up to the pressures of competition, but I sure wish Cox would treat its customers well when they don’t have competition breathing down their necks. Sure, it costs time and money, but you’re eventually going to have to do it anyway. Why not make your customers happy and do it when you don’t technically have to?

A Little Robert

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:54 am

Bailey is going to have a brother! Congrats to Robert and Amy.


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:45 am

This is a pretty damning video. (.wmv)
I’ll admit that the current party occupying the White House doesn’t get it right all the time, but it would be really nice to see a loyal opposition that didn’t ignore the historical record.

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