Gino Robair is former editor of EM

Archive for November, 2009

Jump or Die!

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Ringo Starr (from the film clip for “Rain?).

That’s the phrase composer/saxophonist Anthony Braxton uses when he talks about going onstage and sight-reading his highly complex charts. Like a paratrooper dropping behind enemy lines, you have no choice but to play in a take-no-prisoners way. The band and the audience experience the music for the very first time together. There are no second chances in that environment.

Artists of the caliber of Braxton, Cecil Taylor, and Tom Waits know that exciting music is made when you take musicians out of their comfort zone. For example, it’s common for Waits to roll tape while his players are figuring out their parts, and then keep the sound check rather than have them do a “real? performance. It’s the first-take rule, where the energy and vibe that comes from not quite knowing what you’re doing lends the performance a vitality that you can’t get through comping or multiple takes. It can be messy, but it’s musical.

I bring this up in light of Douglas Wolk’s commentary “The Death Of Mistakes Means The Death Of Rock? on NPR.org. The article is about a topic that many of us have thought about for years: that technology can be used to suck the life out of music if it’s overused. It’s a complaint that is as old as technology itself, and there is some validity to it. However, it’s not something that we can suddenly blame on Pro Tools or Auto-Tune. more

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Gino’s Big Adventure: Building a Personal Studio, Part 1

One last look at the garage, the morning of demolition.

One last look at the garage, the morning of
demolition.

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

In doing our part to stimulate the floundering US economy, my wife and I have decided to rebuild our garage. It wasn’t such a hard decision because the structure, which dated from the late ‘50s and had an in-law unit attached, was somewhat flimsy and heading towards uninhabitability. And, frankly, it’s a great time to do a remodel: Because of the building slump, it’s easier to get uninterrupted work from tradesmen.

The in-law unit has been my studio for the past 10 years. However, during the coldest days of winter and hottest days of summer, it was impossible to spend much time in there because of the lack of insulation. (Running a large fan or heater while trying to work with audio does not make critical listening any easier.) So my motivation for remodeling was to get a new room that I could outfit as a personal studio, literally from the ground up. And that’s where this series begins. more

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