Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: J.S. Bach's Musical Offering by Hans T. David

I've gotten myself into a nice reading habit again - since I moved into my new house - so I guess I'm going through my music theory library yet another time.

This post is about Hans Theodore David's seminal book, J.S. Bach's Musical Offering of 1945.

David was the first, I believe, to figure out that Bach had an organizational scheme in mind with The Musical Offering: Previous to his work, most musicologists thought that the collection was a casual, even sort of random, collection of fugues and canons with a sonata for transverse flute thrown in. Dr. David presents, quite convincingly, evidence that there is a specific order to the pieces, and that this order reveals a very sublime and balanced plan.

What really sets this book above most works concerned with large works or collections, however, is the analysis. David's style is quite vivid and easy to follow - you'll want a study score like my little Eulenberg edition - and not much escapes his gaze.

So, if you want some serious insights into BWV 1079, look no further. This is for advanced students, obviously, but with that caveat, I can't think of any better way to increase your enjoyment and understanding of The Musical Offering.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Note to Garageband Users: Export Song to Disk ADDS DISTORTION

I have been supremely stumped by a problem with Garageband: The projects sound clean when played back within Garageband, but the AAC/m4a files created under Share/Export Song to Disk sound absolutely horrible due to added distortion. I'm not talking about the usual audio quality loss due to compression from the project to AAC/m4a, but a huge amount of distortion which is especially noticeable in the lower registers.

Well, I have found a workaround: Instead of Share/Export Song to Disk, which creates the AAC/m4a file directly from the Garageband project, use Share/Send Song to iTunes. The song will then arrive in iTunes as an uncompressed AIFF file, which sounds just as perfect as the playback from within the Garageband project. At that point - in iTunes - go to Advanced/Create AAC Version and the song will be duplicated from the AIFF version to an AAC/m4a file. No more distortion! You can then drag and drop the AAC file from iTunes to your desktop, which effectively duplicates it, as the original stays in iTunes. Yeah, it's quite a few steps, but the AAC conversions Garageband does are so bad as to be unusable.

For some reason, Garageband does not convert from a project directly to AAC/m4a worth a darn, but iTunes does just fine converting from AIFF to AAC. No, I have no idea why, and yes, it is very un-Apple like.

Since this has been driving me crazy FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, I thought I'd put my solution on the intertubes for anyone else who is having this problem. I had actually gone back to Protools LE and even set up Cubase LE because of this problem, so it's nice to be back on Easy Street with Garageband: If you just record solo stereo guitar, you don't need the complexity of Protools or Cubase, not to mention the hardware limitations of Protools.

Now I can get back to my recording project!