Category: Ramblings

Housekeeping… Cleaning up Dead Links

When I started this blog I almost always followed a routine of posting each of my trumpet transcriptions along with a link to a video demonstration of me playing it. Most often that was a link to a collaboration video, comments, and other resources at the Bandhub site. But when Bandhub went offline in mid-March, all of those links (some 200-odd) from my blog went dead. 💩

I didn’t want this to be a blog full of useless links, so I’ve spent the last month tidying-up all of those dead links to Bandhub, mostly replacing them with links to Bandhub videos published on YouTube. Where I found my co-collaborators had shared videos I linked to those, and where I couldn’t find any traces I uploaded the videos to my YouTube channel. In some cases, where I was especially pleased with what I saw and heard, I embedded those Bandhub/YouTube clips into the blog post.

There was a number of videos that I did not upload or link to. Usually, this was because the collaboration was only partially completed before Bandhub closed, or the backing track (in all its copyrighted glory) was still embedded in the video. In those instances, I’m simply not including a video demonstration of my transcription.

Currently, this blog is receiving 150-200 visitors per week. So I felt it was important to keep the house in order for them.

And I’ve got a number of completed transcriptions drafted and ready to publish, once my co-collaborators record their parts and the videos have been finalized. So stay tuned, there’s more to come.

Chicago Collaborations

While the Bandhub music collaboration community was online I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play and record some music from the great band Chicago. Further, I got to play it with some of the very best musicians on “the hub”.

Here are my absolute favorites from those collaborations…

Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon

Beginnings

Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

Questions 67 and 68

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

I’m so grateful to have been able to play with these great musicians, including James Wilkas (vocals, sax, keys), Bob Bernstein (drums), Clay Whisenant (bass), Juan Ignacio Saba Veloso (vocals), VanGuy2015 [who won’t reveal his name] (vocals), Chris Heaps (guitar), Joe Mendicino (guitar), Tom Ferazza (trombone), Mike Pinto (drums), James Erickson (guitar). And for the sake of completing the credits, Gary Badger (trumpet, flugelhorn).

My sincere thanks to Marcelo Birnbach and Pablo Osinaga too, for creating and maintaining the Bandhub platform and collaboration community, for as long as it was able to keep beating. This kind of thing was only possible because of their fine work.

My EPIC Bandhub Collab Collection

I enjoyed three fantastic years collaborating with others to make music on Bandhub, until its recent sad demise. For the uninitiated, Bandhub was an online music collaboration community where I made > 400 recordings, making music with people from across the planet. After my early days of hanging out there, initially assessing the lay of the land and understanding potential, I did my very best to test the boundaries of Bandhub by organizing and creating collabs that I thought would be “epic”. My quest to engineer epic collabs had me trying to record performances that differentiated themselves from others.

Here’s a collection of the collabs I organized that I’m the proudest of because:

  1. They were truly unlike others on Bandhub;
  2. My wonderful Bandhub buddies and co-conspirators trusted me and totally bought into my unusual ideas, with lots of feel-good moments; and
  3. Most of these collabs were transcribed by me. I’m relieved to say that charts were available for the others, so transcribing wasn’t always necessary.

Gonna Fly Now (Theme from “Rocky”)

We recreated the original 1976 Hollywood recording, doing our very best to capture the energy and excitement of that ground-breaking soundtrack. The transcribing, arranging, and project management consumed an entire Xmas break for me. Bringing the team together and seeing the adrenaline rush of excitement as this built, was truly special.

Download my transcription: Gonna Fly Now (Theme from “Rocky”).


Chuck Mangione – To The 80’s

My tribute to my musical hero, Chuck Mangione. I love this one because it was challenging to transcribe Chuck’s solo by ear, and even more challenging to play it in the flugelhorn high register. But I really tip my hat to my good buddy James Wilkas for his magnificent tenor sax solo, incorporating much of Chris Vadala’s fine work into his own.

I’d never known anyone to cover this tune before, so it felt like a rare, untapped opportunity. To top it off, I was honored to learn from Chuck’s niece that Chuck himself saw and heard the video!

Download my transcription: Chuck Mangione – To the 80’s.


Joe Cocker – The Letter

Our careful recreation of Joe Cocker’s live performance, at a time when we had all the right people at the right time to pull it off. This is super-tight!

A beautiful memory too of our superb backing vocalist Gea, who we tragically lost recently. This song and recording will always remind me of her. I loved it before, and I love it even more now.

Download my transcription: Joe Cocker – The Letter.


Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Opening Theme)

There’s a recurring theme of dumb ideas taking hold and blossoming into something big. This one came about, not surprisingly, while enjoying the Life of Brian opening cartoon sequence and admiring the trumpets in this Goldfinger parody. Then, after convincing Claire she should sing and perform the unorthodox lyrics, she absolutely stole the show!

Download my transcription: Monty Python – Brian Song.


Shirley Bassey – Goldfinger

Hot on the heels of Life of Brian, we found momentum and enthusiasm to stretch things further and pull together the original theme song that inspired it. We stretched to bring in French horns and even real timpani. Leveraging Brendan Champion’s Free Horn Charts, the amazing Ynping tweaked the string orchestrations to create an epic string section. Finally, Claire once more dug deep to pull off the most extraordinary Shirley Bassey-esque performance. Very proud of this one!


Hunters & Collectors – Stuck On You

Given that I’d rarely ever played with strings before a few years ago, it sure says something about the talent of my friends to see violins feature so heavily in my Epic Collab Collection. This time, my very good friend Amanda Tse plays some truly beautiful, heartfelt violin lines as we play this stripped-back Australian rock ballad.

Download my transcription: Hunters & Collectors – Stuck On You.


Grimethorpe Colliery Band – The Floral Dance

Yeah, this is where it started to get silly and included fancy dress. I had this idea that we could pull off a full brass band performance in the British style with just four people. Ably assisted by my very good friends Craig Catarinich, Andrew Mayes, and Ross MacDonald, we made a very good attempt at it. Sadly, we ran out of time and the opportunity to fill out the lower brass instruments, but there’s enough here to show that it could be done.


Herb Alpert – Behind The Rain

Cheesy late-70s funky disco taken too seriously; this piece was just itching to be hammed up and some trumpet ego exercised. But there certainly are some jazzy chords and dramatic accents to capture attention.

What I liked the most about this collab was that none of my collaborators were even the slightest bit aware of this stuff, but took a leap of faith and trusted me with it anyway. The result far exceeded my expectations.

Download my transcription: Herb Alpert – Behind The Rain.


No Nonsense – Hawaii Five-0

Too silly? Naah. Australian ska band No Nonsense released a vinyl EP entitled Around Tuit, late in the 1980s. This unique arrangement of the Hawaii Five-0 theme was on the B-side. This was a chance to have some fun with friends on a theme…

Download my transcription: No Nonsense – Hawaii Five-0.


Woody Herman – The Golden Wedding

I traveled interstate with my webcam and recording equipment to record my Dad playing this clarinet solo as well as the rest of the reed section. The one and only recording of Dad and I playing together, so we did it in style as a full big band.

A very special memory, with an exclamation point at the end when Dad nails the last note of his clarinet solo and then turns to me with a look of surprise as if to say “Please tell me you got that!”


Sting – Fortress Around Your Heart

A moment in time when I knew that we had the right people to capture a credible version of this, one of my favorite Sting songs, closing out his 1985 album Dream of the Blue Turtles. Except, of course, that Branford Marsalis’ brilliant soprano sax parts are played by me on trumpet, as best I was able.

Wonderful hints of Sting can be heard in vocalist Jason Osborne’s performance, while the sound of the original recording was totally nailed by Chris Carli (guitar), Neil Davidson (keys), Ross MacDonald (drums), and Luciano Baêta (bass and video production).

Download my transcription: Sting – Fortress Around Your Heart.


The Streets of San Francisco

Transcribing and recording this complex beast had long sat in the too-hard basket. But I felt that if I could untangle the tightly woven horn parts then I stood a good chance of the other musicians being able to nail the rhythm section parts. As it turned out, once on paper the horn parts weren’t that complex after all! Too many good things to say about this one…

Download my transcription: The Streets of San Francisco.


Cantina Band – Star Wars (Jazz Edition)

I heard this on YouTube and simply had to copy it. Who else do you know who has attempted a serious recording of this tune?


Village People – Y.M.C.A.

The beauty of the Bandhub community was that it was just that; a community of people. I pulled together 25 of my favorite people to help me celebrate my 400th Bandhub collab, just weeks before the kiss of death was put on Bandhub. This is a pretty fine level of community participation!

Download my transcription: The Village People – Y.M.C.A.


Don Ellis – Princess Leia’s Theme

A unique jazz-influenced arrangement of John Williams’ classic theme as recorded by trumpet virtuoso Don Ellis. I pulled together a 34-piece Bandhub orchestra to play charts that I transcribed by ear. I love the way that this arrangement builds from very little to a major musical climax, before quietly slipping away into a galaxy far away. Too many musical highlights here for me to single out any one of them over another.

Download my transcription: Don Ellis – Princess Leia’s Theme.


The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island

A practical joke backfired on me, and before I could blink my good friends made a meal of this cheesy jingle. But it caused us to consider, and really pay homage to, the studio musicians who are called upon to play silly ditties but do so with complete professionalism. So as we played, this was another case of “ridiculousness, taken seriously”.

Download my transcription: The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island.


Carpenters – Superstar

I’ve never had the slightest interest in the Carpenters and their music, although that sometimes puts me at odds with other people (including one I’m married to!). But when my friend Ynping was interested in singing the lead vocals and transcribing strings, this was an opportunity not to be passed up. French horns became flugelhorns, and an oboe became a soprano sax. But we were still able to blend the instruments and vocals (lead and backing) beautifully to closely mirror the Carpenters’ original.

Download my transcription: Carpenters – Superstar.


Happy Birthday, MzMieux

I saved this one until the end of my Epic Collab list. It’s like no other collab, and it serves as a reminder that it was the people that made Bandhub so special. Knowing that Claire’s birthday was on the horizon and that she has so many warm friendships across the planet, I organized this surprise party for her. Bandhub allowed “unlisted” collabs so I was able to track down a bunch of special people and record this secretly for weeks in readiness for the big day. Then, overnight on the morning of her birthday, I published it.

“Surprise” would be an understatement. “Shock” and “disbelief” were more accurate after Claire casually logged on around 4:30am and was hit with that. 🙂

Farewell, Bandhub. I will miss you!

Bandhub, one of my favorite creative outlets, is closing down on March 15, 2019. I will lose the opportunity to make music and collaborate with so many talented people globally on this wonderful platform. This is very sad news for the Bandhub creators and the thousands of members Bandhub Collabswho formed the online music collaboration community. We forged some very strong friendships and stretched our musical domains to new highs.

Since joining in February 2016, I have recorded more than 400 collaborations and enjoyed honing my trumpet skills in a unique way. Rising to the Bandhub challenge saw me highly motivated to practice during the breaks between gigs and rehearsals when, without the motivation, I would probably have let it slide. It saw me focus much more clearly on my note attack (who wants a recording full of split notes?) and accuracy (unlike recording in a studio, it isn’t possible to “drop-in” new notes to tidy-up mistakes). Playing something from beginning to end, without mistakes, suddenly became even more critical than ever.

I found myself being invited to collaborate with others to play music I’d never heard of before, even in styles I’d never bothered with previously. I still can’t believe I’ve played music by Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty (who I’d only ever known of from being mocked on The Family Guy). But more interestingly I was able to play all manner of rock, pop, funk,Bandhub Logo Motown, and jazz-influenced music that really ticked the boxes for me. Adding to it, I was able to initiate my own collaborations. This was my opportunity to record the music that I was longing to play for my own reasons.

I’m more comfortable playing from written charts than not, so I became highly adept at searching for charts online. But with a strike rate of only 50%, to play the other material I had to hone my listening and transcriptions skills to work out the parts that I was hearing, and then get them down onto paper. Sharing the outputs of that work with the world is the nature of this blog.

I’ve downloaded video and audio of all of my Bandhub work. It amounts to >400 songs and tunes, spanning 29 hours and 53GB on my PC. No wonder server storage costs became a problem for Bandhub!

Bandhub Collage
For someone who only plays trumpet, I stretched it a tad on Bandhub.

Almost all of my blog posts here include a link to a Bandhub collab, so I will slowly work to upload the video of each onto YouTube and update the link in each blog post. This way I can maintain my goal of not only providing my transcribed charts but also a demonstration of how I played each one. It will take me some time to point all of the URLs to YouTube, so I apologize now for the likely broken links that will litter the blog for a while.

There are alternatives to Bandhub, and over the next little while, I will explore those. And there’s a whole Bandhub community of fantastic, talented people across the planet to play with. I’ll continue to collaborate with them to make music online, and for as long as I do that I’ll continue to transcribe music and share it here with trumpet community.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Farewell Bandhub, I will miss you!

MuseScore 3.0 Released!

Not a transcription, but on a related note…

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the music scoring software I use for my transcriptions on this blog is MuseScore. It’s an open-source, free program that answers all of my scoring and transcription needs without the gigantic price tag that appears on the commercial alternatives. The great people at MuseScore gave us a wonderful gift on Xmas Eve, quietly releasing a major upgrade to the software and taking it from version 2.3.2 to version 3.0.0.

In the few years that I’ve been using MuseScore ’til now, I’ve only ever found one limitation that bugged me, and that was the absence of a handwritten-style jazz notation font. There’s something about seeing my clefs, key signatures and other attributes in a relaxed, non-rigid layout that I find more pleasing on the eye and more pleasant to read. Before now, on occasions, I’ve used some silly, time-consuming workarounds to achieve an appearance like this. But the results have been inconsistent and the effort Vs reward has been pretty dubious.

My wishes have been granted with MuseScore 3.0. From within the program, it is now possible to apply the “MuseJazz” notation and symbol font. The effect is an uber-cool output that resembles Real Book lead sheets and handwritten charts of a bygone era, as shown in the sample below.

MuseScore 3 Released! Now with added Jazz font.

MuseScore has, for some time, come with its own “jazz text” font, as shown here. I can’t say that’s my preferred text font (as you’ll notice from my usual transcriptions), but MuseScore does give you the freedom and flexibility to apply any text font that is installed on your computer. Therefore it’s not an issue by any means.

So here’s a big thumbs-up from me to the good people at MuseScore. 👍
I’m so grateful that they’ve upgraded this program, and in doing so have left me with ZERO items on my MuseScore wish list.

If you’ve got a hankering for some scoring, be sure to check it out!
https://musescore.org/en/3.0

I’m up to date (for now)!

A ream of transcriptions. The pile of trumpet charts I've transcribed, to date.
The 3-inch pile of charts I’ve transcribed and downloaded in order to record music on Bandhub.

This post serves no useful purpose, other than to mark that I’m currently up to date publishing my transcriptions, which I think is in the order of 140 or so. I had a backlog, but now it has gone!

I often search for and download trumpet charts that I need to play, only transcribing out of necessity when my searches come up empty. I started this blog simply to share work that I’ve done, for free, and perhaps “pay back” a little for all of the content I’ve benefited from over the years. When the time arises and some trumpet player seeks the same material I was once after, here it is! I don’t do this for any other reason.

When so often we take, I enjoy a great sense of giving through this simple blog. My stats tell me that I receive around 10 unique site visits from across the globe each day, which surprises me given the narrow and specialized scope of this offering. I initially thought 10 per month would have been a good result. From memory, one day the volume of unique visitors peaked at 77. And some ad-hoc searches show that Google indexes my blog posts very regularly and returns my transcribed charts in search results, often at or near the top of the page. I’m very happy with all of that.

I’ve got several transcriptions in-flight at the moment, including some that I’m waiting for the recording to finish before I publish them. And I’ve got a little housekeeping to do on some of the older posts, retrofitting thumbnail images of the charts (which I started doing a few months ago to improve my Google Image search results).

So, with this moment of reflection having passed, stay tuned! 🙂

What’s this all about?

I’m a trumpet player. I play for fun in varied settings, including big-bands and musical theater. One setting that I really enjoy is playing online through sites like Bandlab.com and formerly Bandhub (when it was online), where I collaborate with many different musicians worldwide.

Often when I collaborate online I need to transcribe charts for B♭ trumpet and flugelhorn. It can sometimes take me hours to learn brass lines by ear (from a backing track or original recording) and mark them up in a sheet music format. So each transcription feels like quite an investment in time. Then, after I’ve recorded my part, the chart is redundant and unlikely to be used ever again.

So for what it’s worth, I thought I would share my transcriptions back to the trumpet community via this blog. Hopefully, when trumpet players search for trumpet charts they need, Google will send them here. And if you’re a trumpet player and you need a chart I’ve transcribed, here it is: free for you to use as you please!

For each transcription, I’ve included a link to a video. That way you can see and hear the chart being played as intended.

I don’t profess that these are professional quality offerings and I wouldn’t think about charging for any of them. The selection is very heavily influenced by the collaboration invitations that I’ve received; in many instances, I had never heard the pieces before being asked to play but agreed for fun and for the challenge to transcribe.

Gary Badger on Bandhub

Many of the charts are in musical styles that I wouldn’t ordinarily play. But every one of them has done the job for me.

If you like or use one of my charts, I’d love you to leave a comment on the blog so I can read about it. It would be nice to know this was useful for someone. 🎺