All posts by ericdano

Using a Different Headjoint

I’ve noticed that a lot of guys who are not “flutists”, ie: they play flute but it’s not their main instrument, use different headjoints to get better sounds. For example, I believe both Guido Fazio and Larry DeLaCruz are using Yamaha student model flutes (plated body, closed hole) with Sankyo headjoints. I haven’t ventured into this area yet, as I’m still using my Yamaha 581 with the CY (I think) headjoint. Though, anyone have any opinions on different headjoints?

EXTREME FLUTE’s New Release, “Scratch It!”

Bill McBirnie writes "EXTREME FLUTE
(A Bill McBirnie Production)
Scratch It!

--As a follow-up to Extreme Flute (A Bruce Jones/Bill McBirnie Collaboration), "Desvio", Bill McBirnie has released his first self-produced CD, "Scratch It!", in which he single-handedly executes every facet of the work from composition and performance through to engineering and mixing. The most striking element of the
production is, of course, his remarkable flute playing which includes performances on the entire family of flutes--C flute, alto flute, bass flute and piccolo."

"The repertoire covers an astonishing range of styles--from the salsa grooves of ?Crescent Wrench? to the impressionism of ?Free Diving?--complete with a host of idioms in between including the be-bopping on ?I?m Confessin?? to the hip-hopping on the title track, ?Scratch It!?

Bill is well known as one of Canada?s finest jazz flutists. However, this production reflects a breadth of ability and proficiency that cannot be gleaned from any of his previously recorded works. Accordingly, this CD will undoubtedly re-establish him as a
flutist of both consummate and comprehensive skill. Indeed, it is conceivable that many listeners will never have heard the instrument played in an improvisatory context with such flair and conviction.

On all levels, whether musical or technical, the quality of Bill?s playing is striking as it runs the gamut from sensuous to funky to dazzling. Both the range of material and the exceptional calibre of his performances yield a result that can be quite fittingly characterized as--EXTREME FLUTE.

Included in the CD are the following selections:

1-Crescent Wrench (4:48)
2-Find Your Place (5:57)
3-Scratch It! (6:15)
4-Canto de Escravo (Slaves Song) (Celso Machado-SOCAN) (3:22)
5-I?m Confessin? (Neiburg, Dougherty, Reynolds-ASCAP) (5:45)
6-Free-Diving (Version 1) (5:10)
7-Soul Survivor (4:31)
8-Canto de Escravo (Slaves Song) (Celso Machado-SOCAN)--Reprise (3:19)
9-Scratch It!--Reprise (3:48)
10-Missing You (4:40)
11-Honesty, Thrift & Industry (7:34)
12-Free-Diving (Version 2) (6:11)
13-Theme From Rocky & Bullwinkle (Frank Comstock-ASCAP) (0:24)
Bill McBirnie--Flutes & Piccolo, Miscellaneous Percussion, Composer-SOCAN (except where otherwise indicated), Producer, Engineering, Mixing
--Phone: (416) 652-1541

Interesting self promotion. Now, the last part has me interested. You seem to have done all this by yourself? Got clips?

Software For Flute Practicing

In the latest issue of The Flutist which I receive as being a member of the National Flute Association, there was an article about software for use in practicing and teaching. Here is a brief summary of it and some additions of my own.

The article, written by Joseph Manupello, is interesting, but has a number of errors. Lets start where he starts, with software Metronomes.

He mentions a program called Metronome 2.5 by Nick Baciu. I haven’t been able to find that program, but I did find a great Metronome/Tuner called Enable Tune 2.6 for windows that, for $19.95, does a good job at tuning and keeping time. For Mac people, there are a couple of Metronome programs. And there are programs out there for the Palm as well. I however think if you are going to practice, get a real metronome. Like the Boss Doctor Beat 66 which is great because it’s LOUD, accents downbeats, and does odd meters.

Mr. Manupello’s next section is on tuners, mainly the AP Instrument Tuner 1.02. It’s an interesting product, and there are similar products available for Windows and Macintosh. Cool, but…..why? Pitch is important, but…..this is insane. He even mentions that one of the things he likes about AP Tuner is that you can run two instances of the program (assuming you have 2 sound cards). Why? Personally, I’m amazed at the $30 digital tuners you can get. The keep getting smaller, and faster. My recommendation, get a Seiko or similar tuner. Makes sense, especially if you plan to play somewhere, like a GIG, where you won’t have your computer around.

Finally, Joseph Manupello gets down to business with taking about Spectrogram. Now, this program is very interesting. You can see visualizations of what you sound like. Compare it with other peoples’. Neat, but….thats about it. I don’t think I’d really use it.

Finally, Joseph Manupello ends with talking about Cool Edit. Cool edit allows you to record, edit, etc, etc yourself and your music. There are other programs as well that can do this, such as Soundforge (which I highly recommend) for the PC, and for the Macintosh, I wholeheartly recommend Sound Studio and Amadeus. Both are inexpensive and excellent programs.

The computer is a great tool, but I’ve found that it is best for recording, and composing/edit/printing music. I’ve found that owning a metronome and a tuner is invaluable. You can take them with you, whereever your playing takes you.

Flutes for Jazz?

suz writes “I have just embarked on the long slow boat to the land of a new flute. I’ve tried several this week; next week it’ll be several more I imagine. A used flute dealer and I had this rather thorough conversation about my playing ability, style and interests, and then he produced three lovely old French-made instruments for me to try. They were good flutes, but the wrong type of sound, I thought (I guess he and I were on different wavelengths). Frank Zappa mentioned that flutists and harpers have a bad look on their faces because of all this cloud and angel music they have to play. I am not playing cloud and angel music, though those French flutes would have been good for that.So my inquiry: I want EVERYONE’s opinion about brands, features, tone, and any other aspect of the instruments themselves as pertains to jazz. Thanks in advance!”

Ok, well, where to start. It really doesn’t matter what type of flute you get. It could be Yamaha, Geminhardt, Powell, etc, etc. What is important is the tonal qualities your seeking. Are you seeking a bright tone? Or a darker tone? Then you’d choose a flute that has those qualities in addition to good sturdy keywork, excellent intonation, etc, etc. It really doesn’t matter too much WHAT you play on as long as you like it.Personally, I like my Yamaha 581, though sometimes I wish for a darker, rounder tone. I’m afraid to try a Haynes or Powell or something because then I’d KNOW for sure that the Yamaha I have is not as good. Don’t get me wrong, I like my flute a lot. We have about 30 different stage shows that we’ve done together, along with some recording sessions, etc. It’s dependable, and durable. I just wish it was a little more flexiable.Some day I’ll get a Haynes or a Powell, but I doubt I’d part with the Yamaha.

Sound Quality and the Shrinking Pit

I play in pit orchestras sometimes. And this article was interesting. It’s very true that orchestra sizes seem to be diminishing. Last couple of shows I’ve done have been “abridged” versions, where we have 2-3 reeds (out of 5), 1-2 strings, 2-3 brass, and rhythmn section. Most of the other stuff, if it’s being covered (usually doesn’t get covered), is done with Synths….

Regardless, the author makes some valid points about sound quality.

Perfect Pitch Museum

Do you have perfect pitch? Can you listen to the howl of the wind, and say that it was blowing in D? Or that a two-tone clock strikes in B minor? This site explores the complexities of perfect pitch, which can be tricky, as there is relative pitch, perfect pitch, and absolute pitch. While some feel that it is an inherited gift, frequently encountered in the blind, others argue that it can be learned. There is a reference to the abilities of the young Mozart, which is to be expected, and a story about Ravel, who lost the ability to express his music, although it was still ‘in his head’. Some features, such as the historical fluctuation of concert A would be of more interest to musicians, but the examples in the section ‘Amazing Feats of the Ear’ would engage everyone else. The ‘Definitions for the Musically Disinclined’ is very helpful in this regard.

I personally believe that you can learn perfect pitch.

Moe Koffman Dies

One of Canada’s best known and most respected jazz
musicians is dead. Moe Koffman died Wednesday afternoon from cancer at the age of 72. Best known for his catchy 1957 flute piece Swinging Shepherd Blues, Koffman gained an international following during his career.

Here is another article on his death.

TORONTO (CP) -- One of Canada's best known and most respected jazz
musicians is dead.

Moe Koffman died Wednesday afternoon from cancer at the age of 72.

Best known for his catchy 1957 flute piece Swinging Shepherd Blues,
Koffman gained an international following during his career.

Nonetheless he was for decades a regular fixture at the modest Toronto
jazz club, George's Spaghetti House.

Dave Milbourne, publisher of the newsletter Toronto Jazz, said a friend of
Koffman's confirmed the musician's death Wednesday afternoon.

"Canada has lost a music legend," Milbourne said.

Based in Toronto the city in which he was born, Koffman was admired
internationally for his mastery of the flute. He was also a talented
saxophone player and clarinetist.

A consummate musician, Koffman composed and arranged many of his own
pieces. All the while, he was regarded as one of Canada's busiest jazz
musicians, playing at clubs and jazz festivals all over the country.

Koffman was best known for his catchy 1958 flute piece Swingin' Shepherd
Blues. It was almost four decades later, that he was inducted into the
Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Rob McConnell, Koffman's longtime friend and leader of Canada's well-known
Boss Brass, hailed Koffman as a luminary.

"Moe was a marker for all of us in the music business in the years we were
in it together," he told the radio station CJRT.

He was a perfect example of "how to maintain your strength and versatility
throughout your career.

"He was just a really, really, really nice guy."

Koffman's last gig was with Boss Brass.

Koffman picked up his first instrument at the tender age of nine.

A formidable break in his career came in 1948 after he won a record deal
with New York's Mainstream Records from a magazine contest.

He recorded two records with the music house before moving back to Toronto.

He was a popular soloist who became known for his be-bop jazz style.

Koffman originally named his smash hit Blues a la Canadiana but it was
changed to Swingin' Shepherd Blues by a producer.

He received the Order of Canada in 1993 for his outstanding work and
service to the arts.


Swinging Shepherd Blues, 1958.
Little Pixie, 1958.
Swingin' Shepherd Blues (re-issue), 1973.

Hot And Cool Sax, 1957.
The Shepherd Swings Again, 1958.
Moe Koffman The Swinging Shepherd Plays For Teens, 1962.
Tales Of Koffman, 1962.
The Moe Koffman Quartet, 1963.
Moe Koffman Goes Electric, 1967.
Turned On Moe Koffman, 1968.
Moe's Curried Soul, 1970.
Moe Koffman Plays Bach, 1971.
Vivaldi's Four Seasons, 1972.
Master Sessions, 1973.
Sorcerer's Dance, 1973.
Solar Explorations, 1974.
Best Of Moe Koffman, 1975.
Live At George's, 1975.
Jungle Man, 1976.
Museum Pieces, 1977.
Things Are Looking Up, 1978.
Back To Bach, 1979.
Best Of Moe Koffman Volume I, 1983.
Best Of Moe Koffman Volume II, 1983.
If You Don't Know Me By Now, 1983.
The Magic Flute, 1985.
One Moe Time, 1986.
Moe-Mentum, 1987.
Oop-Pop-A-Da, 1988.
Moe Koffman Quintet Plays, 1990.
Music For The Night: Symphonic, Chamber & Pop Interpretations Of The Music
Of Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1991.
The Moe Koffman Collection, 1992.
'1967,' 1993.