Good article on performing concerts in Second Life! (See the March 2008 issue of EM.) The real electronic musicians out there will be interested to know that there are many musical opportunities in Second Life apart from concerts. I have collaborated with several visual artists in Second Life on musical scores for ballets and machinima (movies filmed in Second Life), art installation soundscapes, and on creating specific sounds for various uses within SL.
— ZEROONE PAZ (AKA M. KOHL), VALLEJO, CALIFORNIA
SAVE A TREE: DELIVER DIGITAL
Since for some reason I didn't get my “analog” copy of EM this month, I took a look at the “digital” copy. Unreal! I have to admit I'm up on the latest technology, thanks to you guys, but when it comes to reading, I'm old-school. But your team thought of everything, including point-and-click page zoom. Great stuff. We could save a lot of trees this way. Plus my wife will stop bugging me to trash my over 100 old copies placed sporadically over our house.
You guys keep amazing me.
MITCH CLYMAN/MUSO PRODUCTIONS LTD.
I recently received EM for the first time (with the February 2008 issue), and I enjoyed it very much. I was particularly happy to read the “First Take” editorial page and the comments of Amber Newman in the letter called “Real Indie Request.” I was glad to see Gino Robair's response about offering more on indie artists and how they create their music.
CELLOS TO CELLOS
I am a long-time fan of your magazine and look to it for guidance and unbiased opinions on the myriad of electronic toys out there. I look forward to reading new product reviews each month, especially about sound libraries, as my purchasing decisions are based largely on your review assessments. Until now, that is.
I was anxiously awaiting an EM review of the new Garritan Gofriller Cello. I was expecting your reviewer (see the September 2007 issue) to compare Gofriller Cello with other cello libraries, as is the norm — apples to apples. Instead, the comparison was made against a real cello, which your reviewer just happens to own and play. That is plainly unfair. We all know that sampled sounds will never replace real instruments, so the reviewer did EM a huge disfavor and caused me to seek other reviews from magazines that did the job properly. I can only conclude that your reviewer may have a personal agenda, or, more likely, he was more bent on extolling his virtuosity and profound experience on the intricacies of cello technique. This is not your usual standard of reviewing, and I wonder if anyone else feels as I do.
Author Jim Aikin replies: Mr. Bonica — You're right that a product review should compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. In the case of a software instrument or library that is aimed specifically at realism, however, a comparison with the real thing will be of vital interest to musicians. If we didn't compare a software emulation to the real thing, we would have no benchmark by which to measure its success or its shortcomings. This is equally true of reviews of software-based emulations of analog synthesizers, by the way. Wherever possible, EM compares the software with the real thing.
I'm far from a virtuoso cellist; I'm a very decent amateur, but I'm not conservatory trained. The point of comparing specific cello techniques with the possibilities offered by Gofriller Cello was certainly not to boast about my abilities. Rather, my goal was to educate readers (many of whom are not string players) on some of the subtleties of string technique, in order to illustrate how Gofriller reproduces these subtleties, or attempts to.
In any case, Gofriller Cello is not a sampled string library, so there are really no other computer-based products with which it could be fairly compared. Gofriller uses some new approaches to produce more-realistic emulations of string playing than are possible with normal sampling. The review highlighted both the successes of these approaches, which are considerable, and the areas where more work remains to be done.
I just read Gino Robair's editorial about using MAP prices instead of MSRP (see “First Take” in the December 2007 issue), and I want to thank you for doing this. The manufacturers should thank you as well.
There are many reviews in publications from many industries that use MSRP, and these prices are often pretty shocking. MSRP turns me off to the product because it seems to put it out of my price range, even though the street price may be half of the MSRP.
Thanks for a great magazine.
EM'S MAKEOVER — YEA OR NAY?
Here is a little feedback on your magazine redesign:
It appears that the type size has dropped from 9 point to 8 point (or you've just switched to a more-difficult-to-read typeface). While this may be great for an “airier” and more contemporary look, it's hell on old eyeballs. I have no doubt that your average reader is considerably younger than I, and perhaps you shouldn't be concerned about the more fossilized of your readers. But if it comes to a choice of wearing reading glasses to peruse your magazine or to stop reading it altogether, I will opt for the latter. I vote for larger type.
Small type is one thing, but putting it on a black background with blue heads, like on page 50 of the February 2008 issue, is really over the top. Just the headline (on page 49, I think; I don't have my glasses on) scared me all the way to page 59, where I hit that 8-point type again and had to write this letter.
As far as the EM logo goes, knock yourselves out. I hope your newsstand sales don't suffer too much, though. I fear that you might be a little too close to your publication in figuring that if you refer to the magazine as EM, everyone else does, too. For the guy buying off the newsstand, Electronic Musician is a lot more descriptive. The new logo looks decent, though.
Okay, I'm done. All sarcasm aside, I really enjoy the magazine and get a lot of useful information from it. But come on guys, give me something I can read.
Old guy with faltering vision …
I wanted to absolutely rave about the direction that you have taken EM in! The integration between print and online is the best I have seen anywhere in the publishing business (and I've been really studying this with my music partner and longtime professional magazine editor Joel Schalit). It is no small feat, and I do not make this statement lightly.
And the content, the choice and quality of the articles, have really taken a quantum leap. The inclusion of more-detailed, high-end how-to articles is very much appreciated. Finally, content that I can use: technical articles that describe more-advanced uses of technology. Tips and tricks that are actually useful to those of us who have been working with electronic-music tools for more than a few years are a welcome change. The quality of the writing seems to be up across the board, too.
There was a time when I was ready to blow all of the U.S. music mags off as technologically simplistic advertising books … but no longer. Go cat go!
START MAKING SENSE
I just wanted to drop you a note to say I really enjoyed your March article on vinyl mastering. (A big part of my childhood music-listening experience now makes sense!) I also thought your intro remarks (“First Take,” March) were very poignant.
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