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Tips on University Administration

My term as associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Calgary is coming to an end. When we were considering replacements, I wrote some "notes on being an associate dean." I circulated it to the person who will soon be my replacement, and a couple of other people who asked about it. Now, the internet being what it is, there's a scanned version that has been passed around.

In the spirit of transparency, here's are my notes. The redacted bit was just to eliminate a few names of the people I work with (nice things). Enjoy and let me know if you have questions or need elaboration.




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An Interview with John Zorn

Here's a clip of an interview with John Zorn talking about his compositional process and techniques (from Improv 21 from 2007). It's an insightful Q&A with audience members about vocal music, compositional forms, finding venues,

 

There's a great part on goals around the 28 minutes mark.

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Rufus Reid DVD

Performing a slight variation on the theme from last week or so, here are some clips for Rufus Reid with Mulgrew Miller and Lewis Nash from one of Rufus' instructional DVDs. I had the good fortune of studying with Rufus several years ago (I got my ass kicked). He's a real scholar of the double bass.

These are great videos and there is plenty to learn from Rufus' playing in these. I'll only mention a couple of things that think are particularly relevant for double bass pedagogy. First, in his bass lines he works a bit as an illusionist, suggesting the harmony and the forward momentum of the song with only a few choice notes. Secondly, notice his pizzicato technique. Similar to Ray Brown's masterclass video, he often uses only one finger, except when soloing where he adopts two finger technique. Moreover, his left hand keeps a great vibrato that gives him a fat tone and great sustain.

When I studied with Rufus, he mentioned that he had come back from having studied himself with Francois Rabbath. I think you see a bit of the Rabbath influence in his sure footed left hand technique, moving quickly and precisely from position to position.


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Ray Brown Masterclass

Every once and a while, I look to taking a lesson by one of "the greats". For me, this means sitting down with a recording and doing some deep listening or transcribing. Some times I turn to YouTube and watch how some of these great play and try to get into their technique and style.

With the latter in mind, here is a video of Ray Brown giving a masterclass. A couple of things stick out to me from this video. One is his pizzicato technique: most of his playing is with one finger. He has a dexterity, speed and tone that is amazing. Secondly, emphasis on left hand technique and sustaining notes for their full duration is something I think I (and other bass players) need to be reminded of form time to time. For example, with the first student he reminds her about sustaining the note it transforms her playing to a much fuller piece. A similar reminder for bassist is his discussion of "playing with an amplifier and not letting the amplifier play you." Finally, his discussion of playing solo (i.e., unaccompanied) and choosing a song with sufficient "holes" is great. He plays "The Very Thought of You" with such a deep understanding of harmony and rhythm that he conveys everything about the song a beautiful solo performance. 





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