Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On the road - useful Android apps for musicians

As I travel quite a bit I like to have things with me to help me practice when on the road. Plus it's a little bit of fun when journeys, especially here, can be extremely long.

Rhythm Sheep

This one looks like a toy but it really has a lot of depth. Listen to the given rhythm and tap it back as accurately as you can. It's not as easy as it looks! The sheep appear on the left if you tap late and on the right if early. A great rhythm and memory tool.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=turskagames.rhythmsheep.free&hl=en

Click Plus

For me this is the best metronome out there. You can pretty much program it to play any time signature and it has the option to add accents, which can also be saved for further practice sessions. Simple and good.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=myapp.metronomy&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsIm15YXBwLm1ldHJvbm9teSJd

Jazz 2 5 1's

Another simple but very useful app. Pre recorded ii v i's in every key both major and minor versions. It also has two speeds. Sadly the loops are the same in every key, but as a practice tool you can't complain.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appinventor.ai_colano100dio.Jaz_251z&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImFwcGludmVudG9yLmFpX2NvbGFubzEwMGRpby5KYXpfMjUxeiJd

Chord Bot

Frankly I find this better than band in a box. As soon as I downloaded this I paid for the full version. Tons of styles, chord types, time signatures. It's got it all. The only down side is that it is no longer available for older phones.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chordbot.demo.gui&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5jaG9yZGJvdC5kZW1vLmd1aSJd

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Saxindia: Journal Day 1

Saturday June 1st 2013

Probably my first day of holiday in a very long time. Woke up late, ate, and slept again. Reflecting upon a year in music it's been one full of work and travel but little practice. Fourteen hours to be precise (as I do keep note), simply not enough.

The positive things are that I have performed alot, and that the confidence is there. Strangely it only takes a week or so without a concert and I start to feel twitchy and nervous, even if like now I really need the time off.

Studying Carnatic music in the last year has probably provided the greatest benefit. My ear has really opened up, and I am able to learn longer phrases and rhythmic patterns than before since it is all taught aurally. It still needs alot of work, but it is going in  the right direction. It is like a muscle, it needs regular exercise and practice to keep it fit.

In general rhythmic work has been the basis of almost all of my work in these last years, but now I realise I need to keep working with harmony and chords especially if I'm to play well with bands that have standards or similar material as their base. I have noticed in the last gigs that I have become somewhat stuck in this area as no new real input has come other than through transcribing and listening. I am relying on my ear a little too much now and some new concepts need to be looked at.

First on the agenda are minor ii - v's. I noticed during gigs that when they appear in progressions that do not resolve, odd keys or in chord sequences unrelated to the home key i'm fumbling to find things to play. The ear is not quick enough in these situations, and you simply need a more solid harmonic technique. I will start by simply working out some ideas in various keys, revise my scales and come up with some patterns. Hopefully that will open me up to further ideas and I'll take it from there.


Update

Sadly is been a year since I've worked on this blog. Music has taken me many places in the last year but writing hasn't been on my mind.

In order to make this blog a little more personal I've decided to start publishing extracts from a music diary I keep.

I keep this as a useful exercise for myself as I pursue my path as a professional musician. Hopefully it will provide useful insights for others too.

More to follow...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sam Newsome: To Play or Not to Play the Soprano

Those who know me, know that i have a special feeling for the soprano saxophone. I love playing tenor but it is with this intrument that I found the direction i was looking for in terms of sound, the moment i picked it up. Despite this i have often doubted whether being exclusively, or at least primarily a soprano player to be a good thing. This article by soprano saxophinist is an interesting read and goes some way to answering some of those questions.

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=33360&pg=1

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jazz Advice

It doesn't get much better than this. http://jazzadvice.com/ is a wonderful site with interesting and in depth articles on practically every aspect of improvisation and jazz. Written by Forest and Eric two musicians that have studied with some of the best, their articles really manage to touch upon why so many of us find improvisation so beautiful and intriguing. This is a must read.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Pete Lockett

This is probably the best site Ive found in a long while. Ive been practicing for sometime now how to incorporate Indian rhythmic concepts into my playing and having another browse on the net i found this stunning site by English percussionist Pete Lockett. There is a full page dedicated to various lessons, but the part that really stands out for me are the PDF's you can download on using Indian rhythmic concepts on the drum kit. This is surely a fantastic resource for any musician looking to expand their horizons. I will be coming back to this for some time.

http://www.petelockett.com/lessons/indianrhythmicsystems.html


You Tube clips

Despite saying i wasn't going to post videos or clips of my music on this blog, I'm going to do so anyway. I'm feeling a little lazy to update my other page but hopefully I will do so soon. Here is a selection from gigs in the last year or so. The sound quality is not so great on some but i hope you enjoy them anyway. Comments are always most welcome:

The Agenda at B Flat bar:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtq1WGIzMwM (Somewhere over the Rainbow)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGYdBd3KOFA (Visions - Stevie Wonder)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUTT98YXWgk&feature=related (People make the world go Round)

With Radha Thomas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0THJpwW7Dvw (Take Five)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIfzDjqZwrE (Am i Blue)

Jalshaghar in Auroville
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnlrK33JwGs

Christmas at the Museum
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5FUAk94umQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrja-fUdb20







Monday, September 26, 2011

Tips for Woodwind Players

I found this nice article and free PDF to download from the Canadian Musician website. It's a series of articles on 'Tips for woodwind players' which includes everything from, embouchure to sound and rhythmic exercises. It even has an article on Carnatic saxophone which was quite a nice surprise. This is a really nice read so do check it out:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/33731898/Tips-for-Woodwind-Players

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Health Benefits of playing the Saxophone

So here it is. Why we all play! OK, I'm joking but actually this is something I'd like to do some research on. What are the health benefits of playing the sax and what we can do for our bodies and mind to play better. More coming up on this subject:

http://www.jazzassassins.co.za/live-music/index.asp?q=health-benefits-of-playing-saxophone

Mortens Lessons

Twitter is increasingly becoming a useful resource these days. Even if you don't like to tweet i would definitely recommend following some of the jazz tweeters as there are plenty of interesting things to read and learn. Hopefully over the next days I'll make a list of the more interesting ones and post them here. For now here is another great site with video lessons by Norwegian musician Morten Faerestrand. Its mainly for guitar, but the lessons are very well explained and they are surely interesting and relevant for all musicians.

http://www.mortenslessons.com/


Friday, August 19, 2011

Altissimo Demystified

As small continuation on my last post on Altissimo. I found this nice article by
Dr. Dave Camwell originally written for the Saxophone Journal. It contains a huge amount of advice, practice methods and excercises; an excellent read for anyone hoping to improve in this area.

http://tinyurl.com/3ryafv6

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jalshaghar - Shiva on the mountains

Here is a clip from a recent concert by our world music group Jalshaghar. It was a great gig in Auroville with everyone in top form. Will be posting more clips as they come.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnlrK33JwGs

Altissimo

I have been putting quite some work into this in recent months and finally some results were showing - well i had to look up alternate fingerings for notes C and above so something must be moving.

Here are some excellent charts with many alternatives for each notes and even comments regarding suitability for different saxophones:

http://www.wfg.woodwind.org/sax/sax_alt_4.html
http://www.wfg.woodwind.org/sax/sax_alt_5.html

http://www.wfg.woodwind.org/sax/sax_alt_6.html

Friday, August 12, 2011

Top Jazz Blogs

You can never have enough Jazz Blogs. Here is a list of top jazz blogs ranked by various means. Unfortunately mine is missing so lets hope that this is remedied over time!

I'm going to have a look at some of them in the next days, and post my findings here regarding the more interesting ones.

http://www.invesp.com/blog-rank/Jazz

Embouchure - shifting the lip

I dont know how many players i asked over the years about this and never got a real answer. How much of the bottom lip do you tuck over the teeth? Why do i see all the modern players with the bottom lip stuck out? There are probably old posts on this very blog about this. Finally some very good answers and explainations from Doron Orenstein and educator George Garzone on the Best Saxophone Website ever.

This website is certainly living up to its name.

http://www.bestsaxophonewebsiteever.com/small-shift-of-the-lip-big-shift-in-the-sound/

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jazz in India

If your interested in Jazz in India you are going to really enjoy this site. At Bluerhythm's blog you can find a 1992 BBC documentary on Jazz in Bombay. Its absorbing stuff, especially if you play and enjoy jazz in India. Lots of well known names from the scene are there.

http://bluerhythm.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/bombay-and-jazz-a-documentary-1992/

Best Saxophone Website Ever

Well, this website kind of speaks for itself. Its absolutely fantastic and im glad to have found this, again via Twitter.

http://www.bestsaxophonewebsiteever.com/

Brilliant stuff!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

lynnbakerjazz.com

I came across this excellent site on Twitter. As well as information on Lynn Baker's work as a Jazz saxophonist and educator it features interesting articles on practising Jazz. I particularly like the blog, especially the article on "What I'm practicing". It makes a fascinating and insightful read.

You can find the page here and you can also follow Lynn baker on Twitter.

http://lynnbakerjazz.com/blog/?p=58#comment-2211
http://twitter.com/#!/lynnbakerjazz

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

African and Afro-Cuban rhythms

In my attempt to improve my playing in 6/8 and 12/8 I have been working quite hard recently on some African rhythms, particularly Bembe with its distinctive bell pattern.

Once i get a bit further down the road i will organise this better, but for now here are some useful links. The drummerworld one is particularly good and really offers alot of information on resources to improve your playing in this area. Song Trellis is also a fantastic resource for midi files and explanations on a huge number of African and Afro-Cuban rhythmic patterns.

http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=65796
http://www.songtrellis.com/rhythmPage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJxRxXkFRlI&feature=related (Bembe played)
http://www.drumchat.com/showthread.php/african-bell-afro-caribbean-20045.html?s=b25cf944595f3c9f050d1906578537f9&p=376523
(Another drum forum with excellent links and advice)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_pattern

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

James Mahone

Now and again you find something really great on the net. By accident while looking for information on Lennie Tristano's composition '327 East 32nd Street' i found saxophonist James Mahone's practice portal. There are lots of very interesting articles on tunes, featuring analysis, transcriptions, original compositions as well as links to the original recordings. I have been listening alot to Mark Turners version of this tune and was very happy when i read his article on it, which also included a transcription. Wonderful stuff, with plenty more to discover on the same site.
http://jamesmahonemusic.com/bloglink.html

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jazzdiscography.com

Today I was searching around the net for a Mark Turner album for which having converted it to Mp3 i had lost the names of the artists. I searched in vain for some days on the net until i came across www.jazzdiscography.com. Its a great tool with lots of detailed information on hundreds of artists and many thousands of albums.

http://www.jazzdiscography.com/

Monday, September 27, 2010

Digital Pianos - Yamaha P95

This week i was fortunate enough to be able to buy a new digital piano for gigs. I chose the Yamaha P95 having regularly performed with a friend of mine who has the P85. This is a great piano, ok not the most expensive in the world, but for the price has a great action and very good quality piano sound. Furthermore it's light! Very useful if you travel alot. Only 12kg compared to more than 30 of my S90 with the flight case.

For help choosing a new digital piano i found these resources very good:

http://www.pianoworld.com/

http://www.ukpianos.co.uk/

http://www.yamahamusician.com/

I should add the S90 is a wonderful piano too, and for a keyboard synth has a beautiful piano action and sound to match the best.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec03/articles/yamahas90.htm

New Blog

Considering that i would like to keep Saxindia relatively free from posting of my own material since it is dedicated to more educational postings, I have created http://mattlittlewood.blogspot.com/in order to promote some of my work. Do check it out in a few days when i have had time to put it together.

Please feel free to mail me with any comments or suggestions at matt-jazz@hotmail.com

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Little Waltz

This is one of may favourite early compositions, and one we continue to play quite regularly. This was recorded live in 2008 on January 1st. This was a special gig for me as the band came together at the last minute (Patrick didn't even know he was playing till just before) and the playing was so fresh and together.

http://www.toofiles.com/en/oip/audios/wma/littlewaltzlive2008.html

Just click on the file to play or download it. You may need as i did to have the latest update of Firefox for this to work.

Matt Littlewood - Tenor Sax
Patrick Goraguer - Piano
Mishko. M'Ba - Bass
Suresh Bascara - Drums

Stella by Starlight

video Several people have been asking me to be able to listen to my music on my blog so from time to time i will post some material. Here is a little home recording i did sometime back of Stella by Starlight. I play both Soprano Sax and piano. Originally this was left on my hard drive untouched for some months but when i came back to listen to it i liked it very much. The photo is taken outside the practise studio in Auroville where this was recorded. Please feel free to give any feedback - in fact it would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Toto, Bona & Kanza 2008 - Lisanga

Richard Bona has been one of my favourite musicians for a while now but somehow I had never checked out this group with Gerald Toto and Lokua Kanza. On top of it a friend of ours, drummer/pianist Patrick Goraguer is also in the group playing keyboards and Percussion!

Have a look at this video from 2008. Its a beautiful song with a melody that you could listen to for hours. The way they are on stage and the pure enjoyment they show is also a wonder to watch.

http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=6r7EjKg_giY

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Agenda - Live in Bangalore - B Flat Bar

Well, for so long Ive had little to post in terms of videos and recordings and now suddenly several have turned up all at once. Here is our band "The Agenda" featuring Sunitha Sarathy - Vocals, Matt Littlewood - Piano, Mishko M'ba - Bass, and Rahul Gopal - Drums. This was recorded at the superb B flat Bar in Bangalore in June of this year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtq1WGIzMwM

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fusion gig with Sangoma Everett

Last month i had the pleasure of doing a couple of gigs with fantastic American drummer Sangoma Everett. The band features Debi Prasad Gosh on Sarod, Mishko M'Ba on Bass, Sangoma Everett on Drums, Manosh Bhardan on Tabla and myself on Keyboards and Sax.

He is the link to the Auroville Radio who recorded the gig live at Bharat Nivas Auroville.

http://www.aurovilleradio.org/arts-a-culture/music/1733-fusion

Download or listen directly on the site.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bale Pandiya

Some time last year i was asked to play a couple of songs for the new Tamil movie Bale Pandiya with music by composer and singer Devan Ekambaram.

Here is one of the songs, a nice ballad with a short soprano solo in the middle.

http://www.raaga.com/player4/?id=207392&mode=100&rand=0.4338272410921462


Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Rhythm training

Recently i have been back working on ear training with software such as GNU Solfege, in particular memorising and recognising rhythmic patterns. Looking on the web for more things to work on, i found this great site called worldjazz.ce that has pages of rhythm training exercises with mp3 files attached. Just click on the exercise you want to work on and play along till you feel comfortable. Great stuff!

http://www.worldjazz.ch/rhythm_training.htm

If you havn't already got it do download GNU solfege too. Its a wonderful tool for improving your ear.

www.solfege.org/

jazzandsaxmonthly.com

I came across this by accident. Its a website for saxophone lessons and techniques by Evan Tate. Ive seen some of his videos before on youtube and have found them very good. You can try the video lessons for free for 7 days, after which you have to pay. Evan offers monthly lessons on subjects such as improvisation, intonation, altissimo, of at least 30 minutes in length with PDF exercises. He also offers the option to contact him via email or SKYPE for any further questions.

http://jazzandsaxmonthly.com/

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Like Sonny: The Story of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane

Here is one of my favourite Podcasts from Bret Primack's you tube videos. It features Sonny Rollins talking about John Coltrane. Fascinating stuff. You can also follow jazz video guy on Twitter for blog updates.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KckpQYnrozQ

Jazz Video Guy

If you haven't already seen his video podcasts do check out Bret Pimack - Jazz video guy - on you tube and his own site http://www.jazzvideoguy.tv/

There are many very interesting videos on famous jazz personalities with commentary by Bret himself. A wonderful resource.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friday, October 02, 2009

Nigerian Marketplace

I seem to be posting alot about piano instruction videos but here is a good one of Oscar Petersons great piece Nigerian Marketplace. I have to play this in a gig this month so have found this very useful particularly regarding voiceings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4IPA3a8iDw

Friday, September 04, 2009

Indian music and Jazz

Here is an interesting article on Indian music in jazz I found on the Congo square website - home of the Kolkata Jazz Festival.

http://www.congosquarejazz.com/Indian_Music___Jazz.pdf

Giant Steps Rhythmic Flexibility

As soon as I saw this link on David Valdez's Blog I knew this was something I wanted to practice. Here are a set of rhythmic exercises using different groupings of 8th notes (3's, 5's,6's and 7's) on the chords of giant steps.


http://casavaldez.posterous.com/giant-steps-rhythmic-flexibility-exercises

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Professional Saxophone Musician / Player Set-Ups

On his excellent site on just about everything to do with mouthpieces Theo Wanne has published a list of professional sax players setups. Ive seen some others on the web in the last few years but this seems to be the most extensive and up to date list:

http://www.theowanne.com/mouthpieces101/playerSetUps.php?pid=5

www.jazz.com

It's great when you find something new to read on the net and www.jazz.com really has plenty to offer. With hundreds of articles, interviews, reviews, blogs posts and a forum this really is a great resource for jazz lovers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Doug McKenzie

In case it is easier, or you prefer to watch some of the vidoes from Doug's site online there are many posted on you tube, and they have been listed at http://www.pianologist.com/.

http://pianologist.com/piano-videos/learn-jazz-piano-playing-from-doug-mckenzie-at-youtube/

Pianologist looks a very nice site too. Lessons, transcriptions and videos.... Just watching a clip from one of my favourite pianists Dave Newton.

Addition to previous post

A further rhythmical idea that i found useful when practicing the idea shown in the previous post is to vary the tapping of the foot. The metronome is only on the fourth beat so start by tapping on every beat, then as you feel comfortable 1, and 3, only on the 1, and then finally without tapping at all. I found it gives a good sense for the feeling of the placement of each beat especially with the accents.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chromatic warmup


Here is a little warmup I have been working on recently. I have found it useful for both the fingers, as well as warming up the feeling and sense of rhythm before tackling other things. I usually start quite slow, maybe 100bpm and gradually increase. As the metronome is kept on the 4th beat only I had to download a program that could play slow enough as my normal one only goes as low as 40. I use weird metronome as you can program it to play anything you like. Of course this type of exercise is open ended, and can be applied to scales or other patterns as well as different accent and rhythmic variations.

http://www.pinkandaint.com/weirdmet.shtml

Friday, May 22, 2009

Advanced saxophone lessons

Here is a great blog I just found dedicated to saxophone techniques and improving your playing. The site is written by Andy Hampton author of "Saxophone Basics"

http://advancedsaxophonelessons.blogspot.com/

Choosing a new sax

A student of mine recently sent me a mail about choosing a new saxophone. In my research i found this very useful site on the web.

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Pro_saxes.htm

shwoodwind.co.uk is an excellent site with lots of information and reviews as well as sound :-) advice on buying the right sax.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finger exercises for sax? The Orosz technique.

Some time ago I was noticing that certain things I was playing on the sax were hampered by my left hand that was not always moving as well as my right. Quite normal I thought as I'm right handed and I did some exercises then to try to help this. At the time I saw nothing on the net about this - not that I looked too hard - but now I just saw this web site. At http://www.theorosztechnique.com/is a technique sold by Jules Orosz. You can sign up and recieve a free lesson. I have no idea if this is any good and what I'm looking for but I'm going to have a look at it and give it a go. I will post my results here a bit later. If anyone has already looked into this please let me know too.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

blanksheetmusic.net

As an addition to the previous post here is the link for another useful site regarding free score making tools. This online tool doesn't actually allow you to input notes but is a program for setting up and printing your own blank score layouts. It's quick and easy to choose any number of staves, clefs, keys and lines by clinking on the relevent icons. It even comes with a flash tutorial to help you out.

www.blanksheetmusic.net

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Summertime

Ok, so this is it. It's been a while since Ive managed to post because of my hectic schedual the last month or so. Now finally summer is here - at least in India that is - and I'm back to working on my music. First up is composing as I really would like to be playing new material next year. I'm not very good with notating scores on the computer so I also decided to write up all my existing pieces. Less complaints now hopefully about my writing from other musicians!

Anyway, was browsing the web and found this very useful site for free music software. www.making-music.blogspot.com has an extensive list of what is available out there including free notation software. I downloaded Finale notepad 2008 and was quite impressed. It certainly has it's limitations and is a bit fiddly (took me an hour to get 4 bars per line) but otherwise it's a good program available for free.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Doug McKenzie Videos

As I said in my Tweet there is even more to the Doug McKenzie jazz piano site than first meets the eye. What I have most liked - (apart from the hundreds of audio and midi files!) are the videos. They come with detailed annotations and explanations of the techniques used, as well as the visual help of being able to see the hands or notes as they play. Really top stuff.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Doug McKenzie Jazz Piano

Thanks to Harish, sax player from chennai for this link. Wow, I don't think Ive ever seen so much good stuff for jazz piano in one place. Doug McKenzie's site contains literally hundreds of downloadable WMA midi files, videos and audio as well as transciptions and explainations that go along with the audio. It could take years to go through all of this!

http://www.bushgrafts.com/jazz/home.htm

Monday, March 30, 2009

We Follow

A great idea to help find people you would be interested in following on Twitter. www.wefollow.com is a directory of Twitter users categorized under various "tags". Add yourself and choose three tags under which you would like to be found. For example the link below refers to the "sax" tag.

http://wefollow.com/tag/sax

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ear training software

Following an evening in which I really got quite hooked on the various ear training tools in Band in a Box I decided to look on the net for similar software.
Compiled by Jimmy Ruska the link below has many programs, both freeware, online and commercial.

http://www.jimmyr.com/blog/7_Musicians_Free_Ear_Training.php#3

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

www.freejazzinstitute.org

Can't believe Ive never seen this before. Super useful site for jazz musicians to discuss and share all things related to jazz theory and analysis. Try the link below for a more detailed description of the site:

http://www.freejazzinstitute.org/aboutfji.php