Full Version

Today I spent a few hours in the studio working on the Full Version of vision 2020. I added Robby Rothschild’s cajon and djembe performances to the music. Dance 4 Me sounded amazing with Robby’s percussion and JQ’s trumpet section. Walking Beside U sounded glorious with the percussion and trumpets. Powerful. The working title of Walking Beside U was BLM100, where BLM stood for Black Lives Matter and 100 was the tempo of the piece. Listen to the song again and perhaps the sections of the piece feel different with the overlay of that information.

I really looking forward to hearing the Full Version of the album! Hopefully we can record Char Rothschild sometime this month. Then I should be on track to releasing the Full Version in late January.

Live Streaming

Live streaming reminds me of many other relatively new technologies. Things go wrong and it is difficult to know where the problem lies. Is the dropout the fault of my modem’s connection to the internet? Is it because my internet provider is working somewhere in the neighborhood? Is Twitch getting overloaded? Is the open source software, so popular among streamers, creating the problem? Or maybe it’s just because I am using a laptop that’s nearly six years old. It’s impossible to know. Today, I decided to reboot my laptop as well as the modem. The stream became better after that… but I had also restarted the computer and modem before I began. (shrug emoji)

It wasn’t so long ago that mobile phones sounded horrible. In 1991, the record company Higher Octave gave me a Motorola brick phone for Christmas. I didn’t know what to do with it and rarely used it. Calls were always expensive and they became ludicrously dear when one crossed into roaming territory. Calls were literally like playing telephone, a game that is also called Chinese Whispers. One rarely understood every word in a sentence and had to interpolate the meaning from the information that did come through.

The brick phone lived, mostly, in the back lounge of the tour bus and was only used in emergencies. I continued doing phoners (phone-interviews) using pay phones along the way. Ah, memories of trying to answer a journalist’s questions while truckers stood around, waiting to use the phone themselves.

Remember when many of us had little phone company cards with a long-ass code we had to punch in so the call could be billed to our account? Yeah, that was a drag, but so much better than using coins or using a hotel phone. Those hotel phone charges were utterly ridiculous. Makes me wonder how much hotels hiked up there room rates once that golden goose of phone charges was slain.

That reminds me of another method for making calls that was the rage in colleges in 1979. As I was leaving to hitchhike back to my apartment in Boston, my GF gave me a small piece of paper with a short list of company names and a row of numbers next to each name. Names like Kodak and IBM were on the list. When I asked her what this was about, she explained that somebody had obtained the phone account numbers of big American corporations and by tapping in those numbers I would be to call her without paying the enormous long distance charges.

Back to live-streaming: it’s a new thing and it will become stable and easy soon enough, but there is also something exciting about the fragility of this new thing. I am starting to think about how I want to stream in the new year. I might set up differently. I might get a new computer at some point. Perhaps it will be able to handle multiple cameras, because it was cool WHEN it worked!

Thanks for tuning into my live streams. It was fun going through my photos to create the slide shows. It was nice, especially in a year without touring, to perform for you. So, big thank you to all of you.

Under the Rose

Under the Rose

The deep and soulful sound of Spanish flamenco is rooted in a unique series of historical events and cultural overlaps that stretch across centuries, reaching from India to the New World—none more important than the Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the eighth century.

Early in the Moors’ reign, an illustrious Iraqi oud player, Ziryab, fled Baghdad in fear for his life, as the story goes, and migrated to Córdoba, a cultural center of Al-Andalus (Andalusia). He brought with him a profound musical heritage and a host of innovations that laid the foundation for Spanish music. Among many other things, he initiated an evolutionary process that led to the development of the modern flamenco guitar.

The circle has come round again, and another illustrious Iraqi oud player, Rahim AlHaj, has fled political tyranny in Baghdad, carrying with him an ancient musical heritage and a head full of innovative ideas. Among those ideas is his determination to engage players across a wide range of musical genres to explore the common language of music, which reflects our common humanity.

On Under the Rose, AlHaj combines with the world-renowned guitarist Ottmar Liebert to unite the ancestral Iraqi tradition with modern flamenco, celebrating and exploring the family connections. Liebert, who has incorporated his own innovative ideas into the vocabulary of flamenco—bringing electric bass, synthesizer, electronics, drum kit, and more into the mix—proves a compelling musical foil to the ancient sound of the oud and AlHaj’s contemporary approach to the instrument.

— Mel Minter

Happy Birthday

Should you want a guitar version of the song Happy Birthday feel free to avail yourself of this recording I made a little while ago. This is the larger AIF file of Happy Birthday and this is the mp3 version. Download for free and send to the celebrant. :-)

Music Files

One reason I use Bandcamp for my new music is that they allow the user to download a variety of different files, from mp3 to FLAC. I will describe the differences between music file formats so that you can choose what’s best for you and perhaps you will discover how good the music CAN sound.

There are three groups of audio files: uncompressed files (large), files that use lossless compression (smaller), and files that use lossy compression (smallest).

The first group are uncompressed audio formats that include .AIF (released by Apple in 1988), .WAV (IBM + Microsoft in 1991), and .BWF (European Broadcast Union in 1997). Being uncompressed these formats create the largest files. They are the files musicians work with in the studio.

The second group are lossless compressed audio formats. These file formats store data in less space without losing any information. The original, uncompressed data can be recreated from the compressed version. Nothing is lost. These formats include FLAC and ALAC. FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec and was released in 2001. ALAC is the Apple version of a lossless audio codec and was released in 2004. These two file formats sound as good as uncompressed files but take up much less space.

The third group consists of lossy compressed audio file formats. The most well known of these formats are .MP3 (Fraunhofer Society in Germany in 1993) and its successor AAC (1997). AAC is the default format on iPhones and is also supported by Android phones. These file formats became very popular at the beginning of the 21st century because they take up so little space. Using 128kbps mp3 files Apple was able to claim that the iPod could store 1,000 songs in your pocket!! As we know everything comes at a price and these files don’t sound very good.

As memory became more inexpensive and plentiful most streaming service moved from 128kbps to 256kbps, which doesn’t sound too bad. Sadly only one service, Tidal, allows their customers to download or stream lossless files.

It’s interesting to note that some people grew up with the sound of 128kbps music files and developed a taste for it. The music objectively doesn’t sound good, but neither did 8-Track cassettes and some people loved those…

TBC, with a post on how to listen to higher quality files.