Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Making tracks


I would very much like to make a demo CD within the next five weeks here in Portland. Is there any chance you would be willing to help me prepare for and record the CD? If so,
roughly what would you charge, and if not, is there anyone you can recommend?

Yours, D.

D, What a fine idea for you. I'd be delighted to assist.

You will need the following jobs done to make a good demo:

Track recording job list

Phase one: preparation
~ producer (who hires and pays everyone - probably yourself.)
~ artist (again yourself .)
~ music director (with above, choose, find and pace the material)
~ back-up band and support musicians as needed.
~ recording venue contact (home? studio? remote?)

Phase two: Production
~ Recording venue scheduled
~ Recording engineer
~ Recording conductor
~ performers from above
~ Mix engineer

(from here down, things can be minimal with demo tracks)

Phase Three: post-production
~ Mastering engineer
~ package design artist
~ license & copyright agent

Phase Four: distribution
~ distribution manager, who oversees:
~ media construction
~ packaging construction
~ marketing and promo
~ sales and delivery
~ end accounting

Of the above jobs, which do you need me to help you with?

As you saw on my website, I generally charge $37 for 45 minutes of vocal coaching. I slide that down when more is purchased to as low as $97 for three hours. I generally charge the same for other work I do where I'm expert: vocals, keys, conducting, directing, coaching, producing.

I am not expert at distribution, nor recording or post engineer anymore. I taught sound engineering decades ago, and was expert at it then. Mike technique is the same, but media and post- tools are different. I have no recording venue I use a lot lately, but know of several locally, if you need one, as well as other musicians.

If you have material and a venue in mind, this project might take as little as three hours.

Estimated recording time formula:

For music appropriate to the skill set of the group at hand, plan on recording time of:

~unrehearsed amateur reading musicians: one hour per minute of track.
~concert ready amateur musicians: 15 mins per track plus 30 mins per session plus three minutes per minute of track
~ unrehearsed professional reading musicians: one hour contracts generally limit product to 15 minutes of finished track.

Yours, Gary,

Online voice lessons - music, speech, computer support.
My passion. Your art.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Absinthe Party

Portland Symphonic Choir held a series of six dinner parties to raise funds for the upcoming season.

I assisted musically with the final event, hosted by Cindy Sheel, called "
the Importance of Being Absinthe", featuring Edmund Stone acting as noted raconteur Oscar Wilde.

For your amusement here are pictures from guest Brenda Ray Scott’s phone. including Cindy and Edmund (who soon married) with myself and singer Nan Haemer. The food was excellent, the drink interesting, the entertainment wonderful, and the guests buoyant.

We will definitely do this again!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


O clap your hands, all ye people; sing unto God with the voice of triumph. (Psalm 47:1)

Despite this verse, applause is an oddity in churches. Many churches explicitly prohibit applause, since it is not a New Testament teaching, distracts from God-centered worship, and foments pride in worship leaders. Other churches encourage hand-clapping because it elevates the joy of worship, adheres to Psalms, and allows open congregational expression. There isn't an easy answer to this little issue, unless it's "follow the leader."

In secular entertainment, applause is a simple indicator of the opinion of the audience; the louder and longer the noise, the stronger the sign of approval. Some performers inspire applause simply entering a stage; others have paid folks to applaud long and loud, inflating their public persona. Sacred music, though, is not to entertain or sensationalize the congregation: singing is to be an act of worship that encourages worship in the congregation., a choir resource group, did a survey about clapping showing that churches and denominations are divided and have become divided, by this issue. The article "Is applause appropriate in worship?" offers a fair answer:
"Liturgically, there are occasional moments when applause is an appropriate acclamation of the action just completed....

There are moments, particularly those filled with highly charged emotion, when spontaneous applause erupts from an assembly because there is just no other possible response....

After a particularly fine offering of music, worshipers may give thanks to God in silent prayer and personally thank the musician(s). Congregational leaders can plan congregational events that allow for such thanks to be given. "
Thus, at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church, we do applaud sometimes. If you are moved or asked to applaud, who would stop you? I'll confess to some pride that enjoys knowing that you were moved. Still, I give my thanks and appreciation to the individuals after worship. I thank God for musicians and the fellowship at St. Timothy's. When there is no applause after our musical offering, though, we musicians are content that we worshiped God, and that you did, too, in silence.

"But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him." (Habakkuk 2:20)

All the best to you.
Gary Shannon

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Timberliner Outfits

The Rose City Timberliners are looking at adding another outfit to their performing costumes.

Currently, the chorus wears a white long sleeve cotton shirt, khaki slacks and black belt and shoes from Company Casuals catalog for 28$. The logo (not shown here) is red with green lettering. This same shirt is available in short sleeve and many other colors.

While the group is easy-going, they want to look uniform and put-together as performers. Unavoidably though, such groups look like a bowling team or a restaurant staff.

For summer, though, the idea is another more comfortable shirt, short sleeves, square cut bottom wearable outside the pants. Each singer wearing a "Hawaiian" style shirt of any print they chose was discussed, but not generally liked. Casuals sells "camp shirts" in white and celery and other colors. Our logo is already on file with them, so there is no new set-up fee for embroidering this onto the shirts.

One suggested we try a "deep rose" color shirt. Color is not available in camp style at Casuals, but another supplier offers it for a new logo fee. Casuals does offer the deep red in a knit sport shirt that might fit the bill for $18.00. This style also has white, ivory and celery and other colors.

The membership will look at these options and decide what, if any, to add to the uniform requirements.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This from Stephen Zopfi, Conductor and Director of Portland Symphonic Choir, September 23, 2009, while preparing to sing Brahm's "Ein Deutches Requiem"

Let us take as a given that pronunciation for singing is different than pronunciation for speech. (Hence, specialized diction classes for singing)

Let us also take as given that what works for solo singing doesn't always work for choral situations (Hence, we adjust choral pronunciation to find what works for a particular choir in a particular musical situation)

Add to that pronunciation can be modified depending on where a particular note sits in the voice, what sequence of vowels and consonants come before and after, where it occurs in the musical line, and even what musical effect is needed.

Then mix in the fact that no two native speakers of most languages agree on the pronunciation of anything.

Then stir.

Well, you can see that it is a difficult situation. IPA symbols can be tremendously helpful but even with IPA, there is a limit to what they can offer. Like musical notation, IPA can point you in the right direction but no notational system can ever capture the nuance and endless gradations of speech.

Therefore, we do the best we can. We establish a standard and train the best we can. We do our best to listen and to adjust. We practice. For those of you who have had singers diction, have sung the work many times before, or who are native speakers - hang in there. We have a new choir with new adjustments, new standards, new interpretation, new things to listen for, to discover.

In choral singing, performing "as one" is more important than performing "right". Ideally, we can achieve both, but art is in the details.

About Choral Masterworks

This from Stephen Zopfi, Conductor and Director of Portland Symphonic Choir, September 23, 2009, while preparing to sing Brahm's "Ein Deutches Requiem"

Dear Folks,

There is something different about singing a choral masterwork than singing any other repertoire. They feed us on spiritually while reminding us what it is to be human. They are a three course meal of vegetables, protein, carbohydrates, dairy, and so on rather than the fast food of much of what passes for choral music. They are tremendously challenging vocally, musically, physically, emotionally, artistically, and intellectually. It is tremendously satisfying and nourishing on a very human level to sing a masterwork. Not to say I don't like my carbohydrates. I am a fool for chocolate covered mini-donuts and certain arrangements of popular songs. However, it is the Masterworks that feed and sustain us on a very deep level.

Another characteristic of Masterworks is that they have depth. The more you look at one, the more you discover. Was Brahms writing unrequited love music for Clara Schumann, or was it spiritual solace for her on the death of her husband, Robert? I have changed my mind repeatedly about markings. Lately, I have been thinking that the end of the 2nd mvt. has an obvious dramatic spot at m. 336 that benefits greatly from a rallentando. But an immediate return to tempo at m. 333 seems a bit mechanical. All of these ideas can be debated endlessly but that is what makes this masterworks so fascinating:

They have something more to reveal to us each time we perform them.

That might even be the test of masterworks in any genre... they have more to reveal.

Masterpiece (or chef d'Ĺ“uvre): a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career; a work of outstanding creativity, skill and workmanship.

Monday, February 8, 2010

St. Timothy's New Piano

the Music minstry at
St. Timothy's Lutheran Church
14500 SW Powell Blvd,
Portland OR 97230

Using funds raised from the Ruth Beck Memorial Fund (major contributors to be listed)

a beautiful Samick Piano 5' 7" Traditional style high-polish walnut with mahogany and mother-of-pearl inlays.

from Ogden Music
4035 Southeast 82nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97266-2913
(503) 777-2666

by Alice... who sold us a lot of other stuff, too.

in '92 Mr. Orland Odgen bought the baby grand from Samick's display at the N.A.M.M. show in Anaheim, California to display at his Portland store and his personal use. He never sold it... wanting it to go to a special customer that would care for it. On his death in May 2002, his widow discounted the price heavily as the store is slated to close. Originally purchased for seventeen thousand, St. Timothy Lutheran acquired it for a little over seven thousand dollars. The Oregonian Newspaper wrote about Mr. Ogden in March 1992.


The attached manufacturers card reads "Samick Musical Instruments Co Ltd.
316, Hyosong-dong, Pug-go Inchon, Korea
Tel (02) 742-+3330 /4, (032) 526-3321 /40
(SN# IKCGO522, Model SG172D, Color AWMHP) and factory inspection notes.

Similar to this model...Specifications: 683 lbs. 41" Tall, 58 1/4" Wide.
Soundboard Area: 1882 sq. in. #1 Bass string:
51 1/2"

Posted online by
Samick Music Corporation, 575 Airport Road, Gallatin, TN 37066, (800) 592-9393)
M-F 8-5 pm) or (recommended) email with SN and info.

Advice from Alice:

Always use the piano cover, Alice recommends. She is preparing a much nicer cover than the green cloth one for us to use.

To polish and clean, use a soft cloth, like a classic car cleaning cloths. Don't use a normal cloth or wood cleaner. Once a month use a cleaner called _______

If varnish is scratched, hire professional _______ to repair it for you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Oregon Song

The Portland Oregon Barbershop Chorus,
"The Timberliners" sings this little ditty often.
We think these words were penned around 1987 by past Timberliners director Mr. Michael Brown.

We're sure you know the tune and lyrics to "O Tannenbaum", but we bet you haven't heard this version.


Our trees are tall, our scenery's great,
our mountains are exquisite,
But when you come to see our state,
be sure it's just to visit.
Our men all look like
Our women wear designer slacks.
There isn't any sales tax (yet)
Oregon, my Oregon.

beavers, ducks and fishies here.
We've flora and we've fauna.
We had
Baghwans and Rajneeshees here,
and medical marijuana.
When Mount
Saint Helen's blows her crust,
we're covered in volcano dust.
We never tan, we only rust
Oregon, my Oregon.

save the whales, we fight the nuke,
but buddy, let me warn ya,
If you're some kind of weirdo kook,
go back to
Portland to the Siskiyous,
we ride our bikes and row canoes.
We always wear our
Nike shoes
in Oregon,
My Oregon.