Tag Archives: music


The Challenge of Notating Drums

One of the exciting things I have on my ever growing project list is to notate the music of The 5 Dragon Daughter.  We would like to have the option of licensing the show and notation will be necessary before we can do that.  We also happen to be looking for backup musicians to fill in for our current performers when they are unavailable due to scheduling conflicts, or are otherwise indisposed.  Notating the music is a tedious process and one that I have developed a love/hate relationship with.  The final product is fabulous to look at, but the process is so time consuming that I often cringe at the thought!

The most time consuming of the notation tasks is putting the drums on the staff.  Listening to each measure with a focused ear, counting “one-ee-and-ah, two-ee-and-ah, three-ee-and-ah, four-ee-and-ah,” while jotting down the tom hits, snares, hi-hats, crashes, rides, kicks, and any other various noises that a drum set can make, is the very definition of tedium!  Luckily, I’ve developed a system to speed along the task.

We are lucky enough to have a great sound guy who has multi-tracked several of our live performances.  Using those recordings I can drop everything out of the mix except for the drums and the lead vocal line.  The vocal line gives me a reference so I know where I’m at in the song, and then with little else in the mix I can focus on writing out the groove that our drummer lays down.  

Studio One 2, drum tracks and bars marked out.

Studio One 2, drum tracks and bars marked out.

I use Studio One Version 2.0 for my DAW and add markers to the tracks indicating where the current bar I’m on begins, where the counts for the bar are, and where it ends.  This creates a great visual framework for me to quickly identify the tom, snare, kick, and hi-hat hits.  I have to rely on notating cymbals by ear as we don’t have those individually miked.  But hey, that’s not too bad.

Notating Drums with Sibelius 6

Here we see the measure that I’m currently notating from the prior screen shot of Studio One 2 (Drums at the bottom)

While I’m looking at Studio One 2 I have Sibelius 6 open on my second monitor.  With the two programs side by side, it makes drum notation MUCH MUCH easier.  It’s a solution that makes the task far more manageable and saves me from ulcers!  Note that I’m using the drum notation as recommended by the Percussive Arts Society in Norman Weinberg’s book, Guide To Standardized Drumset Notation.

Notating drums still takes quite a bit of time, but at least I can keep my sanity now.


Pioneers Film Release

Last Friday I had the privilege of attending a film release of “Pioneers” by Rebecca Friedlander.  For the past several months, Rebecca has been traveling the United States, interviewing some of the pioneers of the Christian music industry including well known artists such as Annie Herring, Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy, and plenty more.  She posed questions as asked by undiscovered Christian artists to these veterans and captured their wisdom for the next generation.  In a very personable fashion, the film segues between the young artists asking questions and the responses from the seasoned vets.  Snippets of some of the questions and responses were shown at the release, all of which were insightful, witty, and often times outright hilarious.  As ridiculous as it may sound, I walked away from the preview feeling a near personal connection with some of these trail blazers.  They shared stories and experiences that I’m certain all artists can relate with and will find instructive, encouraging, and let’s not forget humorous and entertaining.

The film comes in two editions, the bread and butter documentary and then a dual-DVD mentoring edition with plenty of extras.  You can find out more about the film, see the trailer, and purchase it at the “Pioneers” page on Rebecca’s Website. 

The Jordan Smith Band

Reunion Tours and Austin Audio/Visual Rentals

I had the privilege of being a groomsman in my good friend Tim’s wedding this weekend.  Back in ’05 we had played in The Jordan Smith Band together and we used this occasion to reunite and rock the reception!  The band  played a short 30 minute set composed of covers (including one of our favorites, Little Wing), originals, and some open ended jam sessions.

Beyond being a FABULOUS time with some old musical collaborators, it was also great to find an audio/visual rental shop in Austin that is reasonably priced.  If you’re in the Austin area and need some gear for a gig, check out Rock ‘N Roll Rentals.  We rented a couple of PA systems from them for the occasion: one for the reception/band setup and another for the ceremony.  They have a wide variety of equipment available at excellent prices.  If Seriously ends up playing a show in Austin, these are guys that I’m going to be looking into to cover any of our rental needs.

The photo you see here is the stage in the ballroom of The Mansion.  What a venue!  This place would be the perfect location for a real-life game of Clue!


MyBr1dge Fundraiser

This past Thursday I had the privilege of playing guitar accompaniment for my good friend Camille Manns at a fund raising event for MyBr1dge.   The MyBr1dge team’s goal is to develop a support structure for children who are labeled “at risk”.   I am impressed by the sincerity of heart that both Anthony and Clent have expressed through their words and actions to change the lives of these kids.  They have demonstrated good results thus far and I encourage you to check out there organization at www.mybr1dge.org.

The world can be a dark place and it’s great to work with people who are providing a little bit of light that we might find our way.

Now for a plug for Camille.  Camille Manns is a gospel/R&B singer/songwriter with a stellar voice.  She and her husband Stephan have recently started a new venture, Spirit of Excellence Music & Media.  They plan and host events in the East Texas area and have also ventured into the music production business with their first album “The LOVE Project”.  It’s an eclectic mix of music and poetry from artists in the East Texas area that includes Ashley Sheridan and I performing two jazz love songs that I’ve written, “Maybe Today” and “Hold Me Tight”.  Check it out on CD Baby -> http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/theloveproject