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Archive for April, 2010

Former EM Editor Teaches Technology in Ghana

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I recently heard from former EM associate editor Dennis Miller (in center of photo at left), who is also a professor of music at Northeastern University in Boston. Dennis, who for years was a key member of the EM edit staff—and our go-to-guy for all things Windows—emailed me to let me know that he’s been spending the current school year teaching music technology, animation, and more in the West African country of Ghana. Miller told me that some of the major music manufacturers, including Cakewalk, Native Instruments, and Sony, have donated software to the project. Here’s a description that he forwarded to me of his role in the program:

Former Associate Editor Dennis Miller (a 10-year EM vet) is living in Kumasi, Ghana where he and his wife are living and teaching at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Miller is focusing on music technology and animation in his classes at the Center for Cultural and African Studies, an interdisciplinary center that also offers courses in music theory, sound engineering and keyboarding, as well as traditional African dancing, drumming and drum making. “The Center serves students across the entire campus, though it doesn’t have any majors of its own,? Miller writes. “It is also the site where many foreign groups come for courses and workshops in the traditional performing arts.?

Miller’s courses use modern music software, much of which was donated by its manufacturers. “I reached out to a number of companies and got tremendous support from Cakewalk, Native Instruments and Sony, all of whose software are part of the curriculum. Cakewalk, for example, donated a copy of its top of the line Sonar Producer Edition 8.5 to every student in my classes, and Native Instruments gave the Center 10 copies of Reaktor, which I installed in one of the multiuser labs. I’ve also been able to show the students state of the art audio-editing techniques using Sony’s Sound Forge; they really enjoy working with the built-in effects.?

Miller notes that the Center is trying hard to give students experience in music production, but the attempts are not without problems. “The entire country suffers from an energy shortage, and the lights and power are likely to (and do) go out at any time. My courses pretty much rely on electricity; there’s only so much I can do on the white board.? Losing power is especially a problem when Miller is covering animation topics – he received a large number of licenses of Synthetik’s Studio Artist, a multifaceted program that includes painting and image-processing capabilities. “It’s a real pain when we’re watching an animation and the projector shuts down. I’ve lost a lot of class time that way.?

Miller will remain in Ghana until June, 2010, when he will return to the States and resume his activities as head of the Music Technology program at Northeastern University in Boston. He is blogging about his activities in Ghana, which, in addition to his teaching, include taking courses on Kente weaving and African drumming and working at a children’s’ home on the outskirts of town.

You can follow his blog and also read a post on his work at blog.cakewalk.com/northeastern-university-professor-teaches-sonar-in-ghana/. More information about the Cultural Center is at cass.knust.edu.gh/.

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Ned Mann Produces Album Despite ALS

ned_mann.pngA poignant press release came across my desk that I wanted to share with you. Ned Mann, a studio bassist, engineer, and producer has just produced a jazz album, despite the fact that he has ALS and can’t use his hands anymore. To control his computer during production, he used special technology that tracks head movements. (He mixed and did post-production on the album’s tracks.) The resulting two-CD set, Finding My Way Home is available at CD Baby, and the proceeds go to ALS research.

The CD features appearances by a who’s who of jazz and session greats including Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Will Lee, and Chuck Loeb, among many others. While it’s a very sad story, it’s also pretty inspiring to see somebody with that much stacked up against him overcome his disability and produce this project. It makes our everyday problems seem pretty trivial in comparison.

Here’s the press release:

PRODUCER/MUSICIAN NED MANN FIGHTS LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE
WITH THE RELEASE OF ‘FINDING MY WAY HOME’

All-Star Album Features Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Will Lee, David Mann, Chuck Loeb and Rufus Reid United in Fight Against ALS, visit www.helpnedfightals.org

NEW YORK/SAN DIEGO: Music and inspiration — always a powerful combination – have joined hands in an amazing new way for Ned Mann and music fans everywhere.

For years, Mann was a major player in the New York City music scene, as an in-demand bassist and engineer/producer. But then ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease – struck in 1999, taking away his mobility and his career seemed finished.

Today, with the beautiful new jazz double-album Finding My Way Home, Mann and his band of believers make a defiant stand against ALS. Volume One features musical luminaries including Randy Brecker, Will Lee, and Chuck Loeb playing inspired contemporary jazz. Volume Two showcases Mike Stern, David Mann, and Rufus Reid swinging standards in a mainstream jazz setting.

Equipped with new adaptive PC technology, Mann has accomplished a 21st Century feat with Home, performing all mixing and post production duties on his computer using SmartNav, a system that gives him full control of his mouse via head movement.
“The gift of music reappearing in my life inspired me to help others,? Mann says. “I produced these all-star sessions to raise funds and awareness for ALS research. The support from the musical community has been truly amazing, with everyone from musicians to studios generously donating their time, talents and creativity. This project has been a true blessing for me, keeping me positive, focused and surrounded by great music. It shows that as long as one has hope anything is possible.?

All profits from Home will be donated to the ALS Association. Although there is no treatment today that halts or reverses ALS, new methods, such as stem-cell research, offer hope and the possibility of an eventual cure.

Ned’s brother David worked tirelessly on the project, helping to coordinate recording sessions in NYC and then sending the digital music files to Ned for mixing and finishing at his home base in San Diego. The result is an album that breaks new ground in its combination of art, technology, and sheer strength of human spirit.

“It is a rare joy to make music simply for the love of it,? David Mann reports. “All these great musicians were celebrating their love of music, but also their love of Ned. This joy and love comes through in the music. We hope that people are moved by it.?

Finding My Way Home CDs and downloads are available from CDbaby, and (coming soon) downloads from iTunes, AmazonMP3, and Rhapsody.

Please visit Ned’s website at www.helpnedfightals.org for more information.

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The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.

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