Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Play harmonica on your iPhone with the iMonica app


Below is an excerpt from an article found on The Gizmag website:

There's no denying the popularity of music creation apps for the iPhone. Just about every instrument you want to play is available as a digital simulation - from guitars to pianos to drums, and even DJ decks - but what about wind instruments? The iMonica app for iPhone from DigitarWorld most definitely fits into this category and turns your iPhone into a digital diatonic harmonica. So, do you blow and draw on your smartphone? Kind of ...

The app presents the user with three options when loaded - Play, Setup and Help. The settings button allows users to change options like the color of the digital harmonica, change the tone to a whistle sound, or try a different key. The other buttons are self explanatory.

To get the feel of the app, you might want to start playing using your fingers to produce notes on the virtual harmonica. Pressing one of the ten hole positions onscreen and lowering the iPhone will result in a blow note being played that corresponds with that position. Similarly, a draw note can be achieved by pressing the appropriate note position and raising the iPhone. There are a number of songs by the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beatles transcribed on the website to get you started, with embedded YouTube videos to show you how the original artists whooped it up.

With the basics down, you could then move your new instrument to where it really belongs - your mouth. Although my smartphone is probably no dirtier than my much-neglected Hohner Cross Harp, the developers stress that the iPhone's playing area should be thoroughly cleaned before being used as a mouth organ, or perhaps covered in plastic food wrap to avoid infection from microscopic nasties.

Once you get used to the somewhat crazy playing style, you'll no doubt be freestyling rather than following pre-prepared notation. The app does appear to be limited to single-note playing techniques, with no obvious way to virtually bend, trill or vamp - so you'll not be able to emulate great harp players like the legendary Sonny Terry, the Maestro Shaky Horton, or the man who helped shape Chicago blues, Little Walter Jacobs. For such expressive playing, you'll need to buy a real tin sandwich.

For wowing friends, making some noise and having some fun, though, the iMonica app looks well worth the £0.69/US$0.99 cover charge. There is also a free version to try it out before purchasing the full version.

iPad 2 pushes sheet music, and page turners, off the stage

From Sam Haywood - Pianist Sam Haywood uses an iPad to turn his pages.
 Below is an excerpt from an article found on The Washington Post website:

The iPad continues its dizzying rampage, decimating netbooks, dayplanners and 90-pound textbooks. It now claims its most awkward casualty: the concert hall page turner.

The inevitable future of classical performance arrives in Washington this week when violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Sam Haywood enter the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. They’ll blend contemporary gadgetry with the repertoire.

Not to worry — Bell isn’t going electric. He’ll step onstage with his prized 1713 Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius in hand to play a program of Brahms and Ravel, among others. Haywood, however, will carry a new prop for the Steinway, his multi-touch page turner, better known as the iPad 2.

Since early last year, Haywood’s Apple-accessorized lifestyle has allowed him to replace paper scores with digital ones archived on his iPad, a shift made possible through a wide array of technology, including the abundance of downloadable scores and Bluetooth-controlled foot pedals for page-turning.

Inadvertently, the human page turner, that fallible and sometimes reviled third party onstage, has been absent from most of Haywood’s recent performances, a consequence of the wireless age. The advantages are obvious: The iPad is portable, discreet, always well-rested. It won’t skip pages or inadvertently bump Haywood’s hands during Mendelssohn’s “Violin Sonata in F.” It listens to the commands of the pianist’s left foot, eliminating the awkward paper-ruffling sideshow between page turner and performer.

“I’ve had page turners who’ve forgotten their glasses or fallen off the stage,” said Haywood. “The iPad removes so much of the risk. And I can also practice in the dark.”

“I’ve often thought I should write a book about page-turning disasters,” echoed Bell. “I’ve had page turners that criticize in rehearsal, that hum along or hit keys and make funny noises. It’s a really hard job, and it’s sort of nice to walk out onstage without one.”

Haywood admits wireless page-turning is not without glitches. Once he accidentally set his iPad on the ridge of the piano so that it rested on the power switch. A loud chord caused the piano to vibrate so fiercely that the screen immediately went dark. “I’ve been careful to make sure the iPad is placed right side up since then,” Haywood said.

“I was a little nervous about it at first,” Bell said. “I love technology, and I have an iPad, but in concert, I was worried that something would go wrong. ... There are pros and cons to using it. You don’t want people talking about it during the concert.”

Haywood finds that some audience members are intrigued by the presence of the sleek glass tablet, but many don’t notice it. “The ones that see it are curious about how it works, particularly the pedal. ... Why don’t I have to touch the screen?”

Now, even conductors are experimenting with the iPad’s surplus of musical apps and its seemingly limitless library of scores. ForScore, an application for iPad ($4.99), compresses pounds of sheet music into a single device that helps musicians to access any score in the public domain. Users can also annotate copy, personalizing the pages before they practice or perform. Digital scores are a welcome development in a classical industry where many live nomadic, jet-setting lives.

“That was the initial draw— I can carry everything I’m studying and working on for an entire season with me,” says Jeff Kahane, conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, who caused a stir in November when he conducted the New York Philharmonic from his iPad. “It’s so functional, and it’s solved a lot of problems no one anticipated. Think of outdoor concerts and the wind. ... The iPad won’t blow away.”

For Hugh Sung, the professional pianist who invented AirTurn, the wireless foot-pedal that Haywood and Kahane use, digital page-turning is the culmination of a decade of tinkering.

“I’d been thinking about a hands-free page-turning device since I first saw a tablet computer in 2001,” said Sung. “It wasn’t until the iPad hit the market that digital scores really caught on.”

His silent, Bluetooth-controlled foot pedal, allows users to turn the pages on their iPads with the tap of a foot. The BT-105 model (costing around $129) has a pair of pedals that turn pages forward or backward. Since 2010, he has sold thousands to iPad users.

“The market is only getting larger,” said Sung. “There are estimates that 20 million American households have at least one member who plays an instrument. We estimate that the market for musicians using iPads is in the area of 2 million.”

Some musicians, even those who are proud iPad owners, are reluctant to make the switch from paper to digital. While ideal for pianists, a 9-by-7-inch screen doesn’t suit every soloist. “The iPad is a little on small side for my taste,” said Bell. “I’ve practiced off of it when I’m in a pinch in some remote corner of the world, but I’ve never used it in concerts.”

The tech-savvy Borromeo String Quartet, in residence at the New England Conservatory, began using MacBooks and foot-pedal technology in 2007. Nicholas Kitchen, violinist and founder of the quartet, began performing with digital scores because he wanted the quartet members to see all four lines of the score simultaneously, which is nearly impossible on printed scores. He prefers laptops to tablet technology.

“I keep my iPad in my bag, of course, just in case I need it,” said Kitchen. “But playing off the MacBook Pro is easier with the large screen.”

Kitchen said the greatest unexpected benefit of digital libraries is the easy access to original manuscripts. “I have probably 40 Beethoven manuscripts on my computer, and we’re reading off them as we play,” he said. “That’s been stimulating in a way I never could have anticipated.”

But for all the technological advancements available to musicians, Bell and Haywood still have dreams of new tools that could grace their performances decades from now.

“The gadget I’m waiting for is the display screen on glasses, or even better, contact lenses,” said Bell. “Then I could read music and no one would know at all. I’m hoping it will come along by the time I hit 70 and my memory starts to go.”

“I think they do have those sorts of glasses in the military,” adds Haywood. “It’d be so nice to have a complete score, just hovering in front of your eyes.”

Joshua Bell and Sam Haywood

Monday, February 27, 2012

June Emerson Wind Music are delighted to support the Aeolian Orchestra

St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, credit: John Salmon
We are please to provide some practical support to
the Aeolian Orchestra, who have a concert on 4th March. 

The Aeolian Orchestra’s 2nd concert of 2012 brings together the three titans of the classical era – Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. For this concert, on March 4th, the orchestra’s number will be reduced to that of a classical era orchestra.

The time elapsed between the writing of Beethoven’s Overture “Coriolan” (1807) and that of Mozart’s first Sinfonia Concertante - for 4 winds – (1778) is less than 30 years. Haydn’s Symphony No.99 falls between the two – written  in 1793. The Aeolian Orchestra’s March programme provides a clear insight into the musical progress of this short time-span.

Sunday 4th March 2012, 7.30pm.
 Tickets on entry £7 (£3 students)

St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, Holborn Viaduct (junctionwith Giltspur Street), London EC1A 9DE. click for a map.

Aeolian Orchestra

Rory Storm – conductor
Emily Ross – oboe
Anthony Friend - clarinet
Jonathan Quaintrell-Evans* - horn
Joe Qiu*- bassoon

Joe Qiu and Jonathan Quaintrell-Evans are also members of the HMS Quintet – Launchpad winner for 2011 from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

For more information on the Aeolian Orchestra, visit their website:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

10% Discount on Sheet Music for Wind Instruments

Our next 10% DISCOUNT SATURDAY - 14th April 2012, 10.30am to 4.30pm

COME AND SEE US - we'll be open for anyone who'd like to come and browse through hundreds of feet of wind music on our beautiful North Yorkshire hilltop!
  • DISCOUNT - to make the day even better we're offering a 10% discount on everything bought or ordered by those present on the day.
  • DON'T JUST BROWSE THROUGH IT, PLAY IT - we have an adjoining room where you can play through the music. Stands and an electric keyboard are available if required. Please contact us if you'd like to make use of this facility.
Our contact information and directions are given in the right margin.

We look forward to meeting you!