Technology and modern Musical Marvels
Hello readers, thanks for visiting Blake's Blog. It has been way too long since my last post.
The summer of 2019 has come to a close, autumn is here, temps are falling. I shall be more consistent with my blog posts moving forward. I have a lot to say and share...
This post is dedicated to longtime friend and former bass student Tedd Calhoun. I have never known a single person who has supported my bass playing like Tedd did. He attended a lot of my gigs and came to so many shows at Q's Pub, even when there was nobody else there. Tedd was a loyal student, friend and fan, and gave me positive encouragement throughout our relationship. He had someone take our picture back in the 90's and we called the photo "Blake and Tedd's Excellent Adventure." I will miss you Tedd, hope you're having a most-excellent adventure now.
On to the blog topic...technology and how the developments in equipment and peripherals have improved the experience of performing music. There are still plenty of musicians who resist any type of change whatsoever in the tools of the trade. Mostly, these sorts of people are ignorant and afraid to evolve and change and grow with technology. These stubborn luddites don't want to consider doing things differently than the way they've always done them. I see it a lot still, alas... Where would we be if we still only utilized medical, scientific, automotive and postal service from around 1920? We wouldn't be enjoying the current modern conveniences of smart phones, GPS, email, and high-def television with CGI movies.
Just because these aren't the 'good old days' doesn't mean they can't be the 'great new days'.
It's hard to rank the following tech advances in "order of importance" as they are ALL great...
1. In-Ear Monitors (IEM)
If you watch musicians and singers perform on tv or live in-concert these days, they are all wearing in-ear monitors. We call these "in-ears" and they are the best development I have witnessed in my 40+ year career. Unlike the old days where the musicians on stage were at the mercy of poorly-mixed monitor speakers (or no monitors at all!) now each musician/singer can hear everything exactly as they like.
I have played 1,000's of gigs. It sucks to be on a stage where the band that is excruciatingly loud. Guitars tearing your head off, kick-drum breaking your sternum, vocalists screeching like wounded banshees so loudly that you suffer permanent hearing damage... Those days are behind us.
In-ears protect you and your ears from bandmates and p.a. systems that are too loud and/or sound just plain gross. Using in-ears, a performer can move around the stage and always hear their own mix without ugly monitor feedback. On most of my performances I get to control my own mix throughout the gig using a mixing device or my iPad or iPhone....
2. iPad and music apps.
The introduction and development of the iPad for musicians was a godsend. There are countless areas in which the tablet is favorable to using a paper chart. It's easier to edit and make notes or changes to a pdf chart than on a paper chart. You don't need to attach a clip-on light bulb to an iPad. You don't need clothespins for windy gigs. It also looks much better to not see everyone struggling with paper charts on a gig. I have thousands of charts on my iPad, yet it never weighs more even as I increase the number of files. The apps that are available are too many to mention, but some invaluable apps include tuners, mixers, metronomes and music databases. The 'Real Book' which is a gigging musician's staple has been replaced with the 'Real Book app' which allows for changing song's keys and even generating a play-along accompaniment track for practicing. It is way better to use this app than to use the 'doorstop' that is the old paper book.
3. Computer-based recording.
There will be grouchy, old-school types who can't embrace modern technology like computer-based recording. Wake up Rip VanWinkles, it's almost 2020! Laypersons don't know about how the music they hear is recorded, nor do they need to know. But musicians these days have a much easier time recording their music and projects on computers than they did in the 70's, 80's and 90's. During those years you were dependent on big, expensive studios to record your stuff. Nowadays I track bass from my own studio and digitally transfer the files back and forth with the client. This is a modern advancement that we didn't previously enjoy in the industry.
Honorable mention to:
Class D power amps and Neodymium magnets, making amps lighter and more efficient.
LED lighting, it looks better, is lighter weight and not as hot. Also Video screens behind live acts.
5-string and 6-string bass technology, better designs and electronics.
Okay, that's enough for today's post. Hope you enjoyed it!
I have a feature performance spot in the Rocky Mountain Bass Slam later this month. Tedd had already purchased his ticket weeks ago for the Slam. I shall dedicate my performance to Tedd that night! Be excellent to each other!