Tag Archives: Guitar

Chewing Fedora

I guess it’s time to eat my hat. Apple did come out with a pro laptop. Didn’t think that one would make the cut quite so early. Kudos to Apple for keeping that one under wraps. The new rumor of a Mac-powered HDTV plasma display was kind of exciting – I only heard about that one the day before, but it sounded awfully tempting.

What I don’t get is the branding change. PowerBook has been such a dominant brand name – why change it. Isn’t MacBook kind of dorky?

Also interesting: The initial release of only a 15″ model. Will we see again the ultra-portable 12″ or the Cadillac-sized 17″ units?

Most interested to know how apps such as Dreamweaver, Zend Studio, Photoshop, and Fireworks will perform via Rosetta, or if they’re going to be native any time soon. Other apps that aren’t so processor intensive won’t worry me too much, but I gotta code fast and not wait all night for basic graphics processing.

Love the MagSafe Connector power management. I just munched a connector to a power cable yesterday. I’ve been through several of those power supplies due to mishaps, and almost lost a PowerBook or two…

About the Optical Digital Audio: Finally a real portable PowerBook oops, I mean MacBook Pro digital recording studio possibility. I have a goal to rig a machine for recording digital audio directly. This is great. I would seriously would like to use a PowerBook as a mobile mixing board for recording Yingwen’s student recitals and my own gutar and double bass solos. All I want is a good stereo mic with a nice boom stand and some bonehead software to run the recording and convert to MP3 or AAC.

I love the inclusion of the remote. Instant presenter platform. Saw Keynote in action today again too – I’m impressed with it, and the combination of the two is very compelling to someone like myself that does a lot of training and presentations. Add in the inclusion of the iSight camera right in the body of the machine and you might be able to do some interesting stuff over the interent. Something like: (slides + video + wifi) - cables = happy_presenter.

Wow – no more PowerBook brand name then eh? Weird.

Just one more thing…

And the most interesting Apple development of all for today? Apple’s website now requires a browser maximized at 1024 x 768 pixels. Eeentresting…. Gotta push people to upgrade to those bigger better screens I suppose…

Fantasia on classical downloads

Recently I had been looking for a recording of the Fantasia for Gutar and Piano by Mario Casteluovo-Tedesco. I was able to find numerous references to the work, but every site I tried listed these CDs as being out of print, or at least out of stock. Not a popular item, I’ll admit. It was not listed on the iTunes Music Store either. But it was listed as available for download at a site that I had never heard before: eClassical.com.

I was impressed. They have an extensive collection of rarities that go far beyond what I’ve been finding at the iTMS. The download came to me as an MP3 compressed at the higher quality 160kbps rate, and I had my two movements of the work downloaded instantly for about a dollar and a half.

The Fantasia is a gorgeous work that seems to be not terribly popular — probably due to the somewhat odd paring of guitar and piano — but it’s one of these gems that shouldn’t be overlooked. Obviously the pianist is going to have to love playing pianissimo; that is the predominant dynamic in the work and definitley anything above a mezzo-forte is going to render the guitarist nothing more than a harmonic suppliment. But for a masterful guitar and piano duo, it has got to be the star chamber work for the very limited repertoire that this combination has available.

Happy New Year

I can’t believe it is just hours away from 2006 already. Looking back, 2005 was one of the best. I spent my first year at my dream job, moved into my dream home, practiced a respectable amount of music, completed some study on CSS and PHP, and watched my kids grow up. Dylan began walking and talking, and is hitting his terrible twos a tad early, while Max has been progressing very well and enjoying his preschool activities. Yingwen is fully booked for piano teaching for 2006, and she has a waiting list. Not bad.

One of my long-term goals, and I’m talking decades at this point, was to get the notes for the G minor Violin Sonata by Bach under my fingers on the guitar (transcribed for the instrument in A minor). I found a Bach folio of lute works while browsing bins of old sheet music at Lark in the Morning in Mendocino, California (or were they in Fort Bragg then?) way back sometime in the mid-1980s. I never really got serious about playing classical guitar though until exactly one year ago when I finally went and purchased an instrument. After one year of having the guitar and practicing regularly, I have that piece memorized, as well as most of the Lute Suite No.1 in E minor learned.

I didn’t practice the double bass with as much consistency as I would have liked, although I did practice way more guitar than I expected, and to be fair I did practice the bass a lot in spurts. It is a less resistant path to pick up a guitar and start working on something while the baby sleeps, as opposed to picking up the bass and getting everything set with the music, bow, rosin, metronome, etc. So one goal for 2006 is to spend a little more practice time on the bass – If I can get in a consistent bass practice session in each night then I’ll be very happy. On top of that, I need to find some venues for performance. I have been playing a lot of music “in the lab”, relearning my instruments after a long break, and it’s time to take some of the theory to the real world. Public solo performance is a skill in itself.

Another 2006 goal is to continue the exercise thing that I started back in November, but again with more consistency. I have a treadmill now in my office, and it’s really easy to prop up my PowerBook on a music stand and start watching DVDs during the workout.

One goal that is a bit newer this year is to start with some serious composition and arranging. I’m about halfway done with the first movement of the Bottessini Concerto No.2 arrangement for guitar accompaniment, and have sketches going for a prelude for piano and a string quintet. My aim is to complete the above three items for 2006, and re-orchestrate the variations on a theme by Grieg that I did back in 1986 that won me the Dave Brubeck scholarship award.

Book-wise, I have on my stand three PHP books and one inspirational book written by an old friend (more on that one later.) I’m just about to finish one of the PHP books on security, and the other two are on more advanced concepts. Let’s call this goal “always have a book open”. I also want to try to read more non-geek material for a change. In ten years, I think I read only one book that wasn’t about code or computers, but I used to read tons of novels back in the day. That’s the thing with being an obsessive personality in a technology career: You always feel like you have to stay on top of the trends, and any new book on something interesting winds up in the queue on my nightstand. My thinking the past several years has been: “If it’s not going to help me with my career, then I don’t have time right now.” But now I think it’s time to introduce a little balance in my reading curriculum.

I think that should do it. A bit of playing music, some exercise, and four compositions. Let’s see how we do…

Historic church with beautiful acoustics

Nice article about my aunt and uncle’s efforts to preserve one of the last buildings left from Preston Ranch – it’s church:
Cloverdale site testament to religious leader, healer

The acoustics in that church are supreme for classical and folk instruments. The room is 100% seasoned wood paneling, giving it perfect resonance with the instrument. The church itself is quite cozy and very beautiful inside. The old Seth Thomas clock in the tower there has been running since I first saw it in the 1970s, and it’s an amazing piece of machinery.

The ranch mentioned in the article is a place where I spent many weekends and summers. It was there that I began studying flamenco guitar with the great Chris Carnes – although I’ve mostly let the flamenco chops slide in lieu of more classical technique lately. I should do something about that one of these days, but I have too many hobbies and responsibilities as it is…


We are all moved in to our new pad. Oh my god my legs are tired, my arms are sore, and I am so totally exhausted.

View from my loft.I finally have a dedicated practice room/office space. I have my desk set up, my bass in the corner and the guitar next to it. I’m set up in the loft, technicaly a 3rd floor, and it has a nice view of the Tassajara and Diablo foothills. I can hear the kids having a screaming contest down in the kitchen on the first floor. It’s a nice, distant, faded sound from up here… 😉 This is a great spot to practice ��� nice and quiet, can keep the instruments out at all times, a desk for things like metronomes and rosin, a bookshelf full of my music and books available at arm’s reach, and my computer for writing little practice timer scripts and for blogging about it all. And a nice view for inspiration. I can really get some practicing done here…

The backyard is cute. It is laid down with flagstone and has a nice little pond with goldfish. Not koi mind you – just nice tiny little goldfish. I think the koi would quickly outgrow the size of this pond.

Max has his room all set up now. I put together his bunk bed and Yingwen set up all his shelves and toys. It looks really cool actually ��� the kid has his own damn walk-in closet.

The living room and formal dining area are right there as you walk in the front door. We have the piano set up in the corner and are thinking about a new dining room table set.

Damn, it’s good to be home…