Dred Scott- Dredsan

dredsan and brianji were meditating on a large rock overlooking a gentle stream.  brianji turned to dredsan and said,
'those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right.'
dredsan replied, 'yes, my friend, it is good to protect even animals and insects.'
'but dredsan, i am troubled.'
'speak your mind, enlightened one.'
'what about those persons who kill time - those who destroy individual wealth or destroy the economy or the environment?'
'we should not overlook them.'
'and what of those who play killing jazz solos?'
'that is a different matter altogether, brianji.  one who plays a killing jazz solo is only guilty of self-indulgence.'
'not an admirable quality.'
'true.  but necessary in order to persevere in the pursuit of something that few can understand or appreciate.'
'so the killing jazz solo is actually an honorable style to be respected?'
'yes, brianji.  much respected.'

From Dred Scott's dispatches

Dred Scott's web page

The Joseph Viola Project

 I was thinking the other day about Joe Viola and how it would be valuable to try to assemble some of his teaching methods and create a website similar to the Joe Allard Project website. Joe V and Joe A were there two greatest saxophone teachers of the 20th century, imho, and they both deserve to have their knowledge recorded for the sake of posterity. Of course Joe Viola has left us several great saxophone technique books, but his unique methods of teaching sound production haven't been recorded anywhere (as far as I know).

 Joe V knew the saxophone like no one alive today. He knew exactly what was going on inside your mouth just by hearing you play and knew how to correct the problems, sometimes that even involved putting a latex dental finger glove on and poking around in your mouth to show you what you were doing wrong with your tongue. Joe knew how to work magic, that is the only way to describe what he did because his knowledge was so esoteric that it entered the realm of mysticism. This sounds far fetched, but I don't think that any student of Viola would disagree with me.

 If you can remember any of Joe Viola's methods or concepts and don't mind taking some time to write whatever you remember I think it would be a highly worthwhile endeavor. Then I'll compile everything and put a web page together. Each year that passes means fades our memories of what we learned from this true master of the saxophone.

You can email me directly at: casavaldez@comcast.net

Joe Viloa Era- Berklee tribute article


PageFlip Cicada- Bluetooth pedals

A while ago I reviewed the Airturn Bluetooth pedals. I've been using my iPad as a PDF sheet music reader for months now and the Airturn pedals solved the page turning problem, which allowed me to start playing tunes that were more than one page long. A few weeks after I got the Airturn pedals the company discovered a problem with the mono jacks and had to recall most of the units they had shipped out. I sent my pedals back and waited for the replacements to arrive. The post office lost my package for several weeks and I was getting quite impatient because I was back to only playing one pagers on gigs, which was a big drag. My buddy Joe had picked up a new foot pedal called the PageFlip Cicada that looked pretty cool. I went ahead and ordered one while I waited for the post office to materialize my Airturn pedals.

 There were a few things that initially interested me in the PageFlip. The first is the fact that the PageFlip is a single compact unit, unlike the Airturn, which consists of two separate foot pedals connected by cords to a Bluetooth transmitter box. One of the big issues I had been having with the Airturn was that the pedals would constantly move around as I used them. They had to be constantly repositioned by hand. It was a real drag to have to keep bending down to fiddle with the Airturn pedals on the floor between tunes. The PageFlip Cicada never needed to be repositioned because the pedals were connected.

 The Page Flip has a few features that the Airturn lacks. The PageFlip Cicada can be configured to transmit page turns in several different ways, depending on which application you are using to read music. It can be set to send signals as page up/page down, right arrow/left arrow, right mouse button/left mouse button, or underscore/delete. The Cicada also has a repeat switch in case you want the ability to turn multiple pages quickly.

 The Cicada takes up a lot less floor space than the Airturn units, which unfortunately also makes for a greater likelihood of stepping on the wrong pedal in the heat of battle. This brings me to the biggest problem that arose while using the PageFlip Cicada......accidental page flips. The pedals of the Cicada are fairly high off the floor compared to the Airturn and they don't have much resistance. This makes it quite difficult to tell when my foot was actually touching the pedal. Because of this I felt like I had to keep my foot raised up above the pedals, so as not to trigger them accidentally. If you're wearing hard soled dress shoes there just isn't enough tactile feedback to know when you are actually hitting the pedal. As I was soloing my foot would slowly drift down and trigger the pedals if I didn't pay attention to what I was doing, then....BAM...suddenly the guitarist I was playing with was reading the wrong changes. I eventually got the hang of it and learned to keep my toes higher in the air and just made more of an exaggerated stomping motion when I wanted to change pages. Annoying, but not a huge deal really.

 I figured out an easy mod to make the Cicada pedals more responsive. I just slipped folded pieces of paper into the top part of the pedal hinges, which lowered the pedals down to the point right above where they trigger. This eliminates the mushy first part of the pedals' motion, where I can't even tell if my foot is on the pedal or not. This also allows me to keep my toes lower, where before I felt like I had to fight to keep my toes elevated so that I didn't accidentally trigger the pedals. There is much more resistance with the pedals lowered and now I feel like I can actually tell when my foot is touching the pedals.

I think that probably the most compelling reason to go with the PageFlip Cicada over the Airturn in the end is the price. The three-piece Airturn (two pedals + transmitter) sells for $124.95, and more if you want to buy the board that holds everything place. The PageFlip Cicada sells for $79.95. I think the Cicada is the pedal that I'll be taking to my gigs.

PageFlip Cicada website


The Musical Octave- Thomas Váczy Hightower's writings

Thomas Váczy Hightower
I ran across an interesting web page written by a Dane named Thomas Váczy Hightower. This stuff is right up my alley. Hightower writes about Music & Society, Creation of Musical Scales, Effects of Harmonics on consciousness and health, Music of the Spheres, and other esoteric acoustical ideas.

Thomas Váczy Hightower's 'The Musical Octave' page


The saxophone actually has a parabolic conical shaped bore

(click above graphic for a large version)
My student Randy, who is an engineer for a pipe organ company, put this drawing together after reading a great book about the history of the saxophone called The Devil's Horn. The book explains how the side of the saxophone that has the tone holes is actually has a parabolic conical shape, rather than just being a conical shape. Adolphe was a true genius.