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Category: The Music Business

‘Thank you’ and ‘Excuse me’

I’m off to Finland in about a week for a couple armonica concerts. There’s no way I can learn enough Finnish to be useful. Meanwhile, concerts like this are invariably in larger cities with plenty of English speakers so that’s not really a problem.

Nevertheless I have learned, wherever I go, that it is really helpful to learn at least two words in the native language:

“Thank you” — when they get the waiter/waitress in the restaurant who speaks a little English, and we get through ordering lunch, it seems gracious to me to be able to say ‘thank you’ in their native language,


“Excuse me”  — for when I bump into someone on the subway, etc.

There are other good words, of course, like ‘please’. But usually you follow ‘please’ with a sentence: “Please can you tell me how to get to the post office.” So ‘please’ by itself doesn’t do you much good unless you can actually speak the language a little. And ‘hello’ is good too, except that usually it is the opening of a conversation—that you won’t be able to manage in their native language without some real facility.

Of course if you are actually going to learn to speak the language, ‘hello’ and ‘please’ will be near the top of your vocabulary list.

But if you can only learn a couple words, ‘Thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ will get you through a lot. Wait, just those two words will get you through a lot of Life in general!

Globalization, Film Scores, and Yours Truly

I was recently contacted by Sören Hyldgaard, a film composer in Denmark. He wanted glass armonica in his score for a film called Red, but flying me to Denmark to record them just wasn’t in the cards. So instead he sent me the cues (each musical ‘chunk’ of film score is called a ‘cue’) and I recorded the glass armonica parts in my own studio and sent them (by ftp) back to Denmark. Sören and his engineers then dropped my glass armonica recordings into that of the rest of the orchestra. Sören wrote:

Thanks to your precision AND the advent of digital editing, we spent a mere 45 mins adjusting and sync’ing your glass cues to my score – – and the blend is magnificent, no less! Your GA adds a haunting facet and makes an integral part of the score’s and thereby the film’s ‘sound’. The Prague studio is direly pressed for time, so we did not make the final 5 channel mix of the score. My engineer will do this tomorrow or Saturday at the latest. So we’re are all eagerly awaiting the final score, mixed and sweetened and ready to adhere to the pic. FYI, final mix commences 2 January and the film will open on Sundance around 19 January.

We’ve never even talked on the phone–the whole project took place entirely over the internet. The world is indeed a-changing!

The world doesn’t stand still even for the Music Biz

I received quite the response from you Gentle Readers to my previous post (6/21) about offering mp3s for free, and the ‘honor system’. Indeed, a Gentle Reader was kind enough to send me this link and you HAVE to check it out!

Meanwhile, the RIAA is crying that record sales are down, but that’s actually only for the major record companies—sales by independent record companies are up. Maybe—gasp!—folks have had enough of Britney Spears and friends (naah!), and are looking for music more to their liking. Thanks to the Internet it’s much easier to explore new music. And there are a host of other reasons (which the article I just cited on ‘independent record companies’ explores).

We are definitely in the middle of a sea change in how the Music Business works. This is hardly the first time. In Mozart’s day musicians were hired by the nobility and the Church. With the demise of aristocracy around 1800-ish (French Revolution, Napoleon put an end to the Holy Roman Empire, etc.) musicians moved to large public concerts and were funded by ticket sales. Around 1900, with the advent of records, recordings became a major revenue source. Now the Internet and other technologies are converging to make obsolete the old model of ‘record company super-star sells gazillions of records’. In my opinion the RIAA is like the buggy whip makers when the Model-T was introduced. Litigation won’t save them. They’re just going to have to adapt like the rest of us.

The ‘honor system’ is hardly the answer by itself (although I think it is part of the answer). But we—I have to start trying new things. We musicians (and other artists) are going to have to be as creative about the Biz as we are about the Music. Thus it has ever been.

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