Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Open source computer recording software

If you are looking for free, open source recording software which runs on both the PC and MAC, then I highly recommend the Audacity application, which is available for download from Source Forge.
With the Audacity application, you can record through a microphone on your PC's sound card and edit your songs on your computer. Once you have recorded your song, you can save it in a variety of formats, including MP3's. You can also edit your song, to include reverb, delay, and other effects. For free software, you really can't beat this fully featured, open source application. If you want to save your money for flutes, then this is the best deal on the planet for starting your home studio.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Surprise Gift pack

I arrived home from vacation this week to find an nice fat package in my mail box! It was a gift package of CD's from Gary Stroutsos. I've been chatting with Gary via email the last month about the upcoming INAFA conference, where Gary will be performing on stage with Will Clipman. I also recently downloaded Gary's latest CD project with David Lanz:: Spirit Romance (see the "what's in my CD player link on the left nav bar of the blog). I had asked Gary about the flutes that he played on Spirit Romance, since one disadvantage to downloading songs on iTunes is that you don't get the liner notes. In response, Gary sent me a copy of the Spirit Romance CD (look for an upcoming CD review in a future blog posting) along with copy of the excellent Makoche Masters, a copy of Quiet Fire - Zen Moods for the Spa experience (featuring Gary, Will Clipman and William Eaton), a copy of Oru:the natural order and a copy of Inside Canyon de Chelly (featuring Gary Stroutsos and Paul Thompson). I wanted to thank Gary publically and encourage anyone who hasn't discovered Gary's music to give it a spin, he's a great flutist, in my opinion.

WOW! I've had fun this week, working and listening to all of this great flute music. Gary and I go back to a master class that Gary presented in Calistoga 5 years ago. Bob Bellus brought Gary down from Seattle for an "all NCFC" performance and workshop. I was fortunate to attend. Now I'd like to do the same: bring Gary back to No Cal for a master class and a small schedule of performances sometime this year. Maybe we can even get Gary to bring David Lanz with him. Let me know your thoughts on this idea, and I'll see what we can do to make it happen.

Friday, February 24, 2006

New professional palm-size recorder from M-Audio

My March edition of Electronic Musician arrived this week, and as I was browsing it I found an ad for an exciting new piece of palm-sized technology. The M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96, looks like a very interesting portable digital recorder with some great features. It's a bit pricey at $499 (list), but for a portable digital recorder, this should give you a professional sounding recording and the ability to easily transfer your recordings to the computer. I love M-Audio technology, and currently own an M-Audio Delta 44 soundcard. Here are a couple of reviews for the Microtrack 24/96:
O-Reilly Digital Media

Features include:
  • 2-channel WAV and MP3 recording and playback for pro recording, meetings, training, education and worship
  • Battery-operated; storage via convenient CompactFlash or microdrives
  • Immediate drag-and-drop file transfer to PC and Mac via USB 2.0 mini-connector
  • Balanced 1/4” TRS inputs with line inputs and phantom-powered mic preamps
  • S/PDIF digital input; RCA and 1/8” headphone monitoring outputs
  • Comes with a stereo microphone

Thursday, February 23, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #9: Alternative Fingerings

The basic pentatonic scale has been posted many times, on many websites. My favorite website for listing scales and explaining the various fingerings is Flute Tree.

There are several alternative fingerings for the octave note on the moderm Native American flute. These alternatives are a result of divergent flute making/tuning practices, most of which have a historical origin. Neither is better or worse than the other, however it is important to ask a flutemaker how he/she designed a flute before you purchase a flute.

There are several flutemakers who use an alternative fingering for the flute. The most notable of this style of flutemaker include Ken Light (Amon Olorin Flutes), Scott Loomis (Wind’s Song Flutes) and Butch Hall (Butch Hall Flutes). The notable thing about this variable fingeringis that these flutemakers strive to create flutes with equally spaced finger holes that are all the same diameter. As a result of the physics of making flutes in this style, an alternative fingering is required. These flutes will always be six-hole flutes. There are three additional variations for the Position 6 note shown below:

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2006 NCFC Member Survey is now online!

The 2006 NCFC Member survey is now online. You can take the survey here.
Note that if you submitted your survey by mailing in the paper version which came with the Winter Voice of the Circle newsletter, please don't retake the electronic version (no stuffing the ballot boxes...). The electronic version should only take about 5-10 minutes to complete. The survey link will only be valid for 10 days so it will close on March 3rd.

Note: Zoomerang is an excellent free survey service. It's a great tool for flute circles and other organizations to use to setup online surveys. It took me about 30 minutes to create the electronic version of the survey by copying and pasting questions from the word document in which the original survey was printed. While the free service does have some limitations, such as only lasting 10 days, there is a 'professional' version of the service with significant features.

Winter break 2006

I am back online after a short winter break. This year we went to Lake Tahoe for a couple days of sledding and skiing (along with everyone else from the bay area it seemed). The snow was awesome (15+ inches of fresh powder), but the crowds and lift lines weren't. Regardless, the kids had a great time, so that's al that matters. I am back online now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentines Day!!

I hope that everyone of you get the opportunity to play a song for that special someone in your life today, remember that the flute was used for courting in some tribes. So continue the tradition or make some new traditions of your own...
If you don't have a special someone in your life at the moment, then I encourage you to play a song for all of us two-leggeds, that we may find greater love for each other as individuals and for our mother earth.

Here's the word of the day: spoony - foolishly or sentimentally in love.

Monday, February 13, 2006

NCFC Winter Newsletter is in the mail

The Winter 2006 NCFC newsletter: Voice of the Circle, is now in the mail to NCFC members. The electronic version of the newsletter will be posted soon on the NCFC website.

Note that this mailing includes a 2006 member survey, members have the option to complete either the paper version of the survey or an electronic version of the survey, which will open online on 2/15 (stayed tuned, I'll post a blog entry with the link, once it opens). In the survey are questions about your thoughts for NCFC events this year: the INAFA Convention, the annual NCFC Camping trip, concerts, workshops, etc.

I am looking for an NCFC member who is a graphic artist (with the appropriate software...) to volunteer to help with design activities this year. We need to create a new T-Shirt design and other mechandise elements for the INAFA Convention later this year. If you are interested, please drop me a line.

NCFC members: note that we are redesigning the NCFC Membership badges/cards and we will be sending new membership cards to everyone within the next month or two. Make sure that your membership is current to receive a new membership badge/card.

100th Post!

Wow, I just realized that I surpassed the 100th blog milestone this weekend!! Sometimes, it's a struggle to post something interesting everyday, but I hope that you enjoy this stream of information. I encourage any of you to consider creating your own blog. Blogger.com makes it so simple to setup and manage your blog, that anyone can do it. You don't need any HTML skills or anything else technical to create a blog. If you can use your email program, you can create a blog. If you are a flute circle leader, this is the perfect tool for communicating with your flute circle members, in lieu of a website.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New Flute Circle starting in Reno NV

Jeff Lock is starting a new flute circle in Reno Nevada. Their first event is next Saturday, February 18th, 12:30 to 2 (ish). Jeff says that beginners and experienced players alike are encouraged to join. Bring your flutes, drums, rattles to the event to make some music. Jeff would love to have a few NCFC members joint them for the inaugural event.
For directions, contact Jeff at: lockoutdoors AT aol DOT com

By the way, did you know that Reno is the only city to have a downtown whitewater park? Very cool...

Friday, February 10, 2006

2006 INAFA Convention Workshop

Today, I was honored to be selected to present a workshop at the 2006 INAFA Convention. The working title of my workshop is: "Starting, Marketing and Growing your Flute Circle" and the focus of the workshop will be how to start and grow a flute circle along with lots of ideas for interesting flute circle activities.
I have been fortunate through this blog and the various native american flute listserv's to meet people from all over the world and to share idea's about creating and managing a flute circle. I have also been fortunate to develop friendships with other flute circle leaders including Dan Ricketts, Lynn Peck, Frankie Sierra, Bill Timothy, RuthiE Neilan and Guillarmo Martinez. Of course, I count the experience which I gained first hand from Bob Bellus as key in setting me on my path to lead the Nothern California Flute Circle. Bob Bellus, in my opinion, was really the first true flute circle entrepreneur. Bob demostrated to me what it meant to be an advocate for the growth of the Native American Flute experience. Without Bob's vision and core guidance, the NCFC wouldn't be the organization it is today.
So if you have started, or are thinking about starting a local flute circle, I'd be honored if you would send me your input or questions about the day to day and month to month issues of starting and maintaining your flute circle. Together, we can use this information to pull together a very informative workshop at INAFA.
You can reach me at: mike DOT oitzman AT gmail DOT com

Thursday, February 09, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #8: Playing with a guitar

It’s important to realize that when playing with a guitar, the guitar must tune to the flute that you are playing, since it is impossible to “tune” a Native American Flute.
(What’s the old saying? You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish- or a Native American Flute for that matter)

Guitar Minor Pentatonic Scale
There is a minor pentatonic scale that exists on the guitar. It can be fun to play along with a guitarist who knows how to play the minor pentatonic scale. The same rules apply as if you are playing a duet with another flutist. Experiment with 'echoing' with the guitar player, where one person plays a short phrase and the other follows, or echos the phrase.

Figure 1 - The Minor Pentatonic Scale for Guitar

Note to guitarist: For ease of playing, a capo could be applied on the guitar at the appropriate fret that corresponds to the key of the flute being played. The root note of the pentatonic scale correlates to the lowest note on the bass string (string 6). In Figure 1, this would be compatible with a flute in the key of E. For practical purposes this means playing flute between E and A.

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The Renaissance of the Native American Flute 2006

Ken Light sent along the following invitation. Since I first heard zbout the RNAF 10 years ago when I started my path with the flute, I have wanted to attend. There are many annual flute gatherings happening throughout the year and throughout the US, but this is the one which spawned them all.

"The Renaissance of the Native American Flute - with R.Carlos Nakai, Ken Light, and John Sarantos June 17-24, 2006 Feathered Pipe Ranch Helena, Montana - 15 Year Reunion, 1992-2006
Join us this summer for our 15th Annual Renaissance of the Native American Flute Workshop and Returnee's Reunion. This week-long flute educational experience is well-known as North America's premier native flute event. Nakai and Light, in addition to their world-class work in flutemaking and performance, combine over 60 years experience as professional educators. Since 1992, these two former classroom teachers have developed and refined a curriculum as the foundation for what has become known as the finest nA flute educational event on the planet.In conjunction with reunion activities bringing together an awesome collection of returning talent, Light and Nakai will be teaching their intensive six-day curriculum. Come prepared to work, but ready for alot of fun! Classes in history and culture, construction and maintenance, basic playing techniques and traditional ornamentations, developing your music in both improvisation and composition, plus classes in designing performances and presentations, working with students, advanced playing secrets, special evening presentations, and much, much more. In addition to the large group lectures and presentations, beginners will find a special group of classes designed just for them. Our third teacher, John Sarantos, a ten-year veteran of the event, will assist Ken and R.C. as special teacher and liason for our newer flute players. You will learn to play the flute and you will have a lot of fun! Plus an opportunity to hang out with the most awesome collection of nA flute energy on the planet. What could be better?
Nakai's advanced mini-course in performance, digital and analog sound systems and more is also offered for qualified flutists and returning workshop participants. An initial interview and demonstration TABlature sight-reading proficiency audition is required for this advanced performance-oriented portion of the workshop. Regardless of your current level of experience, there will always be the path ahead of you on your own flute journey. At RNAF our main goal is to assist you in developing your relationship with the native American flute and to better express yourself with its music. Come!
For registration information, go to website listed below and click on "Workshops".
Thanks, kl.
Amon Olorin Flutes Contemporary Native American Flutes by Ken Light
492 Lemlama Lane
Arlee, MT 59821
406-726-3353 phone and FAX
"Everybody needs a flute!"
Please visit my website: www.aoflutes.com

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Clearance Sale on John Vames book

I am offering the excellent beginners book: "Understanding the Gift" by John Vames at a clearance sale price: $17.50+tax & shipping. This book is normally $25 and includes a CD. For those of you in the Bay Area, you can save shipping if you want to pick up a copy from me when I am in town during the week.
John Vames, lives in Arizona and has been teaching longer than I have. I bought flutes by Jonah Thompson for my first class of students from John's wife Sherry, in an ebay auction. That was 6 years ago. John takes a very practical approach in this book, teaching basic music theory on the Native American Flute. It is highly recommended. To order, drop me an email: mike DOT oitzman AT gmail DOT com

Monday, February 06, 2006

Xavier Quijas Yxayotl in Concert on March 12

Mark your calendars now for a rare opportunity to see Xavier Quijas Yxayotl performing live in the Bay Area at the Mexica New Year Ceremony taking place on March 11 - 12 2006. For those who haven't seen Xavier or heard about his amazing "fire flute" playing on stage, this will be a real treat.

Below is the Tentative Schedule of Event:

Saturday, March 11
6 AM Sunrise Ceremony and Honoring of our Elders
8 AM Preparation of our Ceremonial Circle
10 AM - 4 PM: Music and Dance Ceremony
Including representatives from the following nations: Ohlone, Washoe, Zunis and Mexicas
12 noon: Begins In Toka Tokaitl "Siembra de Nombres" Mexica Naming Ceremony.
5 PM: Live Entertainment from San Jose: Lado Oriente (Cumbias) and Tecpot (Hip-hop)

Sunday, March 12
12 noon: Tianguiz Market place opens up
1:30 PM: Live Performance by Xavier Quijas Yxayotl
2:30 PM: All Nations Drum Group and Medicine Warrior Dancers from Oakland, CA
:00 PM: Lawrey Bagey (World Class Navaho Hoop Dancer)
3:30 PM: Keynote Speaker Ocelocoatl (Mexico Tenochtitlan)

Other Activities: There will be a traditional Indigenous Market Place all weekend, Food will be available for Sale, Raffles, Kids Activities and More.

Sponsors: This event is realized with the help and hard work of the following organizations: Indigenous Peoples Council, Native Voice TV, El Observador Publications, Resources for Family and Community, SEIU Local 715 Latino Caucus, Gardner Advisory Council and Calpulli Tonalehqueh

For more informaion, contact: Calpulli Tonalehequeh, Yei Tochtlin Mitlalpilli 408.576.7151: Direct 408.324.6215: Cell 408.570.4666: email: mitlalpilli AT hotmail DOT com

Sunday, February 05, 2006

News from Mary Youngblood's Concert

Wow, what an evening we had last night. Mary Youngblood and a few of her friends put on an awesome show at the Grass Valley Center for the Arts. In typical Mary style, she had an intimate connection with the audience throughout the whole evening. I'll tell you what, I wouldn't want to see Mary in any larger venue, it's so special be that close to her during the show. I first saw Mary in concert at East West Bookstore in Mountain View. It was right after her first album and at that show there was probably 20 people in the audience.

I'll talk more about Mary's flute playing in a moment, but one of the things that I personally love about Mary's stage presence are the stories which she tells before each song. Her storytelling gives you that extra insight into why each song is important to her, and makes it that more special when you hear it. My favorite story for the evening was the one in which Mary recounted the birth of her first granddaughter, born last summer on Mary's birthday. Which by the way also happens to be the birthday of Mary's daughter-in-law, three generations born on the same day!

First of all it was a sold out show, which is a great tribute to Mary's talent. We arrived a hour before the show, to setup the NCFC table and to get a good seat. We were fortunate to get a seat in the second row, right in front of Mary's mic.

In the first set, Mary started out playing many of the familar and favorite tunes from her first couple albums. Then she brought out the band to join her in some of the songs. She had a guitarist, a percussionist and a guy on blues harp. Unfortunately I can't remember all of the names of the other performers, but they all played wonderfully. Mary had provided a bag of rattles for the audience to use in the audience participation part of the evening. We all joined her and the band in 4 or 5 tunes throughout the evening.

The best part of the evening was that we were fortunate to catch a preview of some of the new songs on her new album which is coming out in the spring. I can't wait to hear the whole album when it hits the streets in April. Mary sang for us on several of the songs, which was a real treat.

She also played several songs, including a great little blues tune, on a tiny little root flute.

The NCFC's own Francesa Reitano, from the Capitol Clan, made an appearance on stage with Mary. The two of them played a wonderful duet, "dancing with the flutes" as Mary highlighted the experience for folks in the audience.

The biggest surprise of the evening came from Sharon Downer, another NCFC member, who gifted Mary with a special guitar from Sharon's late husband. Sharon read a touching poem and the punchline was that the guitar was the "gift that keeps on giving". Mary was really touched, as were most of us in the audience (I know that I was). Sharon was joined on stage by three of her grandchildren for the moment.

Working the mic as MC for the evening was
Skip Allen Smith from KVMR. Skip hosts the show "Dreamwalk" on Thursdays at 10 AM. You can listen to Dreamwalk streaming over the internet if you don't live in the Grass Valley area. Skip told me after the show that Mary donated a flute to the KVMR pledge drive last week, and it generated $1000 in raffle for the show.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tour of Notre Dame de Namur University

On Friday, January 27th, Bob DeMattei, Dan Ricketts and myself had a site visit of Notre Dame de Namur university. This is the site for the 2006 INAFA Conference. We were there to see all of the facilities which will be used for the INAFA Conference.
NDNU is a small catholic college nestled in the woods of Belmont. It founded in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in San Jose and moved to Belmont, California, in 1923.
Personally, I am very excited about the event being held here in Nothern California. The NDNU campus is small campus and after seeing the arrangement of the buildings, housing and cafeteria I am even more excited about the INAFA conference. The great thing is that everything is centrally located. No building is more than a 10 minute walk from the other, which means that there will be plenty of opportunity to met and get to know people during the event. There are also plenty of 'performance spaces' around the campus. From small niches to stands of trees, there will be many opportunities for small group interactions or informal jams. I am excited that NDNU will offer this environment to help you stretch your playing ability and interact with others. The on campus housing also looks like it will foster interaction. The INAFA team is still finalizing the details on the housing situation, but I can tell you that you will be comfortable on campus. There is a small shopping center with a Walgreens drug store and other stores a short 1 mile walk from campus, so anyone who is planning to come shouldn't need a car, unless you want to do some off campus sightseeing in the bay area.
I'll post more details and some pictures of the campus in a later post.