Sunday, December 28, 2008

Licks on Demand

So, you want to know more about my Licks on Demand service?! Cool!

Simply put, I'm a professional Trumpet/Flugelhorn player, composer, and arranger. I also play Tenor Sax. If you need a little bit of "real" horn sound for your own song, composition, or production, I can do the job. My services are well within just about anyone's budget. And remember: "real" instruments can make a recording or demo stand out from the crowd. Your music deserves the best, right?

Although, it's difficult to put a price on this type of limited service, I sort of do. I charge only $10 for a short riff - we're talking 10 to 15 seconds of a recorded solo Trumpet line (with or without a mute)...and I typically throw in a bit more to give you an option or two.

I can offer up a range of different mutes (Harmon, cup, straight, plunger - even grunts, growls, etc.) and other nuanced effects to get just the right sound for your project. After I've recorded your "Licks on Demand" in my studio, I will upload the file(s) to my server where you can download them at your leisure and then incorporate them into your production.

Still interested? Have a project where just a little live Trumpet, Flugelhorn, or Sax would be nice for your project? Here's what we can do:
  • Contact me with a description of what you are looking for. For example: "A short, bluesy little solo in the key of C." Tell me the tempo in beats per minute, if you know it, or just say whether it's slow, medium or fast. Be as detailed as you need to be - or not!
  • I'll reply to your request and let you know if I'm available to do the job (I almost always am!)
  • If it seems like a typical "Licks on Demand" request ($10) you'll need to pay me that before I record a single lick. If it seems like what you're needing is a bit more involved we'll talk and we can work out a reasonable compensation.
I take my music seriously and I know you do too. I believe you'll be happy with what you get from this service - at least that's always my hope.

Send advance payment for your Licks on Demand request via PayPal.


Rob Birdwell

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Here's a little mashup using Microsoft's PopFly technology. Honestly, I didn't really get the PopFly concept when a browsed by it several months ago. But Silverlight technology and development is compelling (finally - can we please have a rich web that doesn't involve endless state and postback management!), albeit the barrier to entry seems a little high for me right now (like I want to spend all my time geaking out with Expression Blend and Visual Studio...flash still seems easier for my musician chops - long live SwishMax!)

Anyway, here's a simple and cheesy mashup which combines two things precious to me: a love of asteroids (the game - pretty much the only game other than Frogger that I've ever loved) and music, particularly the stuff I'm collaborating on right now with Sideways Portal

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sideways Portal - Live Sounds from Cloud 9 on 2008-12-05

Here's a playlist of some of the inventions from the Sideways Portal live performance at Cloud 9 on Friday, December 5 2008.

Dave Storrs (drums/trombone), Page Hundemer (bass), John Bliss (guitar), Rob Birdwell (trumpet/flugelhorn)...with Ben Mutschler (tenor sax) and Chris Rorrer (cello)


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Svens - The Blacksmith

The Svens, an "instrumental cowboy surf poetry" band from Corvallis, Oregon, will set sail once again on Saturday November 15, 2008 at Bombs Away Cafe starting at 9 pm for what should be another unique and spirited set of music.

The Svens' sound draws heavily from the surf bands of the early 1960's and ranges from rambunctious to romantic; the cowboy poetry, recited by Viking, is delivered at intervals with just a hint of his Texan cadence. There's really no group quite like The Svens, at least that I've seen or heard.

I confess, the idea of cowboy poetry and surf music seemed to me a bit, well, incongruent at first. But an ice cream and ketchup mash-up The Svens are not! After seeing their live show and listening to their new recording, The Blacksmith, it's clear that we're talking a peanut butter and chocolate combo here - two very great tastes indeed!

Viking (who hails from the Austin, Texas scene and has been involved in several different groups now that he's settled in Corvallis with his family: The Blowholes, XTET, to name a couple) and the rest of The Svens are definitely on to something...come hear and see for yourself!

Finally, here's a clip of The Svens covering my tune "Swedish Beach Party" - originally written for The Blowholes. You can also hear a little bit of the cowboy poetry in the track too.

Swedish Beach Party

DISCLAIMER: I'll be a "featured artist" with The Svens at their November 15 Bombs Away gig. But you won't be hearing me on Trumpet/Flugelhorn - I'll be using my Svens handle - "Saxy Sven" - and blowing some surfin' cool Tenor Sax riffs on a few numbers....that will be something new!

Rob Birdwell

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sideways Portal - October Outings and Beyond!

Here we are - don't we look "sideways" - this pose was John's idea. I like it. After the glam photo shoot we went on to play our gig at the Calapooia Brewing Company in Albany - good sounds and fun!

Our trio of dates at Sunnyside Up were canceled for October (we'll try again in November) but there's plenty more Portal - yes, siree, you betcha' Joe...we've got some great shows coming up:

Friday, October 17th
: Sahalie Wine Cellar
8pm - 11pm
This will be a special occasion as Sahalie will be closing up shop at the end of October. I salute them and the many opportunities they gave to perform in their fine venue - acoustically awesome. Great food, wine and atmosphere. The scene will be missed. We'll do our best to play them out right and on to new adventures.

Thursday, October 30th: Oregon State University - Music a la Carte series. Memorial Union Building. 12 noon to 1pm. This should be a very nice setting and we're excited about the opportunity to showcase our sound and be part of such a fantastic series.

Friday, November 7: Magic Barrel - a reading to fight hunger. Majestic Theatre, Corvallis. We're excited to be part of this great cause. We'll be performing a tone poem of our collaborative creation.

Sideways Portal now has a...(drum roll please)...MySpace artist site. Alright, so everyone and their dog has a MySpace site.'s the link:

Other music/gig news: Laying down some liberal horn tracks on a couple of Neal Gladstone's new offerings. (Coming soon Neal - really!)

I'll be a sideman with Viking and the Svens - playing on tenor sax believe it or not! The Svens are a cowboy poetry surf band. I don't think there's anything quite like them in the whole world...or at least Corvallis. The gig is in November 2008 at Bombs Away Cafe. I'll write more on that soon and comment on their latest CD release project, which is pretty cool! More later...


P.S.: don't!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sideways Portal at Cloud 9 - 10am to 12:30, Saturday, September 13 2008 check out some really cool Jazz at Cloud 9.

When: Saturday, September 13, 2008
Downbeat: 10am until 12:30pm
Where: Cloud 9, downtown Corvallis riverfront

Sideways Portal will perform their spontaneous compositions for everyone within earshot of the Corvallis riverfront and Farmer's market!

We'll be schlepping our electric gear...special guests and lots of invention!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Announcing CORE

Well, now that the announcement is out, you'll just have to wait a while to learn much more - the theory is that it will be possible to take this from the lab to the field by early Summer 2009.

Parts for all tunes will be available and distributed from this link.

The latest news and additional CORE information will be posted here and you can always subscribe to the CORE RSS/Atom feed for automatic updates in your email and/or browser. I've also set up a CORE Group on Google for all CORE email updates, news and other CORE related events.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Featured Splice Remix - Old Tymers

Every week or so I get a message saying one of my horn clips is being used - I usually check these out and some of them are okay...but "Old Tymers" by YouriAce was very catchy! Check it out:

Played 0 times
Made with the Splice online sequencer.

Looks like some interesting research might be going on here but we'll all have to wait and see what comes out of the lab.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Real Trumpet Audio Loop Library

For those of you composing, arranging, and producing tracks: spice up your mixes with my Real Trumpet Audio Loop library - over 500 ACIDized loop, licks and one-shots...check out my YouTube ad:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sideways Portal - Live Video Feed

This video feed, captured by the nice folks at the Corvallis GT, is pretty neat. A short glimpse into our June 2008 performance at Sunnyside Up Cafe. Unfortunately, the audio quality from the video is sort of like listening to shattering glass hitting a steel plate - quality like this is usually reserved for stuffed animals toys that bark or growl! Despite the glistening distortions you can still catch a bit of the essence of the Portal in action.

Some things to note in this particular clip:

A new composition is borne when the lively waitress announces to the patrons "two casadias without a number" - thus inspires the rhythmic chanting and accompanying groove. But the mood soon evolves into something else entirely, then settles into yet another funky setting. Rarely do things in life stay the same and this is true of the music we're creating in the Portal. A placid groove is dissolved, shattered and moves to more dangerous territory...tempi, moods, and rhythms are mutated...the good, bad and ugly all get a voice at times! But all is forgiven...concerted shrapnel, hit-hit-stop...chaos...Dave's announcement: "Now, it's open season" - segues into a short fugue of sorts...then we go deep and dangerous again only to sum it all up with the big hit-hit ending...

Anyway, that's nice that a bit of this gig was captured - feels sort of special! Dave Storrs (Drums/Percussion), Rob Birdwell (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), John Bliss (Guitar), Page Hundemer (Bass), and Aden Kalin sitting in with us on Tenor Sax.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Noteable Day of Gigs - June 14 2008

It's just after midnight as I post this little nugget - I'm usually not one to boast too much, but tomorrow (I mean today) will be a whopper of gigs!

9:00 am - Corvallis Farmers' Market: XTET featuring Tryggve Andersson on Accordion! We'll play many Swedish folk tunes, some Americana selections, Jazz and show tunes...(Tryggve is my father-in-law - it's always a great joy and honor to make music with him!)

11:00 am - Cloud 9, Corvallis Riverfront: Sideways Portal will already be in the zone...I'll shift into my spontaneous combustible suit and join in...

3:00 pm - Private Wedding: Sideways Portal to add the post nuptial good cheer music.

8:00 pm - Viking and the Svens will open and then we'll re-ignite the XTET and play a mix of originals, some perverted standards, and prominantly feature Tryggve Andersson once again on the accordion.

10:00 pm - Skol!!!

It should be a fun day of music and a good test of endurance!

As a sidebar, checkout what total strangers are doing with some horn lines I posted on - every day or so I get email alerts notifying me that so-and-so (in this case "ohlala") used a clip or two of mine in their track? Now if only one of those tracks would sell 20 or thirty million copies!!! (I know, that might take all the fun out of it!)

Played 0 times
Made with the Splice online sequencer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Early Bird Jazz Band - Remix 2008

Here is the much talked about but little understood Early Bird Jazz Band remix...(well, at least the files to create the re-mix....)

Every year I record a number of audio snippets of the LPMS Early Bird Jazz Band students - these are in the form of free associations, random and/or pre-conceived quotes, riffs, solos, excerpts from some of our charts, ensemble hits, name it! Then, over several days, I cut, chop and hack away at the raw audio until everything is parsed down to a fairly fine grain. Recognizable tunes or melodies become fragmented; yet in this state they are the perfect artifacts for creating audio re-mixes and/or mash-ups or whatever you want to call them. This particular collection of audio clips is amazing. I hope you (the Early Bird students) get a chance to explore the audio files and get creative with your own remix.

How To Create Your Very Own Early Bird Jazz Band Re-Mix
  1. Download the file - be patient, it's 80 MB. The wait will be worth it though and the download shouldn't take that long. When you unzip the files, you'll find over 350 short WAV (audio) files with all sorts of musical and extra-musical offerings! These files (or typically a small sub-set) can serve as the building blocks for your own re-mix composition.
  2. Next you'll need some software to arrange and create your masterpiece. I personally use Cakewalk's SONAR...but there are other free (and not so free) audio loop editing and song creation tools out there:
    • Windows users: Sony's free ACID XPress - download it here!
    • Mac users: GarageBand - maybe you already have this software; you're set!
    • - you can actually create your re-mix online, without downloading any additional software!
    • Surely there are other tools out there - google "loop software"
Remixing is essentially re-arranging, orchestration and composition all blended into one. And of course there's the technological aspect, dealing with your computer, a sound card, mixing, setting levels, mastering - some of which you'll simply need to explore on your own. Let your ear be your guide. Know what you want, then find a way to do it. There are folks who make an art of this and I think it's not a bad way to get into composing and arranging.

The standard compositional elements, devices and techniques apply: theme, variation, contour, melody, backgrounds, rhythm, re-capitulation, etc. In other words, crafting a good remix should challenge your creativity and your musicality. You will likely need to apply the "less just might be best" principle. I wouldn't recommend trying to wedge in all 350+ audio clips/loops into your remix tune! Economy is also the hallmark of a well crafted composition.

Need more help or tutorials on creating remixes? Search around - there are lots of articles and discussion online and examples abound. Here's one!

Rob's Remix - coming soon!

Student Remixes - coming soon!

(Note - I'll be updating this post with more stay tuned and let me know if you've created a remix!)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Early Bird Jazz Band - 2008 Spring Concert

What a terrific year it was for the 2007-2008 Linus Pauling Early Bird Jazz Band! Here's the concert audio of our May 2008 Spring Concert - enjoy!!
The Preacher
My Little Suede Shoes
Jump Jive and Wail
A String of Pearls
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Mission Impossible
One Way Blues

A video of the event was captured and I can make that available - just let me know and I'll make you a copy.

Thanks to all the parents, family, friends and, especially, the students for making this such memorable year of music making!

Rob Birdwell

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sideways Portal at Sunnyside Up Monday June 9, 2008

Sideways Portal - live!
Sunnyside Up Cafe - 116 NW 3rd, Corvallis, OR
Monday, June 9, 6pm to 8pm

Don't miss Rob Birdwell (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Dave Storrs (Percussion), Page Hundemer (Bass), and John Bliss (Guitar) performing their mix of spontaneous compositions (yes, they are "real" compositions in every way - they're simply and completely spontaneous!) - this intimate atmosphere is a great place to listen and connect with our work. After months of practicing, recording and planning, it's a joy to finally be out and about performing our stuff!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sideways Portal at Sunnyside Up Cafe - Two Shows: April 28 and May 5

Come check out a new musical collaboration - we're called "Sideways Portal" and the group features the talents of Dave Storrs (percussion), Page Hundemer (bass), John Bliss (guitar) and myself, Rob Birdwell (trumpet/flugelhorn). Future incarnations of the group will likely include Mike Curtis (tenor sax/clarinet).

Though we've been foraging together for several months, working on our sound and approach, we'll finally make our public debut at Sunnyside Up cafe in Corvallis on Monday April 28, followed up by an encore performance the next week on Monday May 5. Both shows start at 6pm and we'll play until 8pm. Hope to see you there!

This should be a treat - we'll offer up what Dave Storrs likes to describe as "spontaneous compositions" - inspired by a strong undercurrent of contemporary Jazz and World music, our sound is the product each performer responding and contributing, leading and following, listening and ultimately going where the musical journey goes - all the while with a that certain je ne sais quoi, which if I recall my junior high school French, means quite literally "that which swings cool baby."

Hope you can make it to Sunnyside Up cafe on Monday April 28 and/or Monday May 5 - the "Sideways Portal" may be just the thing you're looking for!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

XTET at Sibling Revelry

Always a joy to play with these guys - and what a wonderful flow of folks coming in to enjoy the wine, food, clothes...and hopefully the music too!

Rob Birdwell (Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Bundy II Tenor Sax), Stuart Curtis (Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute), Mike Rhodes (Bass), Viking (Drums), John Bliss (Guitar)

Monday, February 25, 2008

One Way Blues

Here's a new chart entitled "One Way Blues" written especially for the Linus Pauling Middle School Early Bird Jazz Band. We meet twice a week and it's an outstanding group of musicians. This year our instrumentation consists not only of Alto, Tenor, Trumpet, Bass, Guitar, Piano, Drums, but we've also have Clarinet, Baritone, Tuba, Violin and French Horn!
It's a straight ahead blues that features short solos, soli, and/or featurette sections for the Tenor Sax, Violin, Flute, Alto, Trumpet, Drums, and Piano. Hopefully there's a little something for every player here! Enjoy!

One Way Blues (MP3)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Personal Song Service - now only $50

Back in 1999 I created a Personal Song Service - the deal was, I'd write tunes for special occasions based on just a simple narrative from anyone wanting a song.

It wasn't exactly the huge success I'd hoped for - but over a two year period I wrote about a dozen tunes for people all over the U.S.A. From a simple song that went out to "Grandma" in Minnesota, to a song for a lobbyist in Washington D.C. - and for each of these tunes, my fee was only $20! I enjoyed writing each and every song and received nothing but positive feedback from everyone I wrote tunes for. And then I gave it a rest.

But now I'm opening up the Personal Song doors once again! For only $50 (a new rate and subject to change at any time!), I'll write your Personal Song The tune can be for you or someone special. Any special event...or for no special reason at all.

Interested? Contact me with the details of your Personal Song request and we'll go from there!

Rob Birdwell

Monday, January 07, 2008

Yamaha P120 Instrument Definition for Cakewalk/SONAR

I've owned a Yamaha P120 keyboard for a few years now (mine's the far "hipper" silver and genuine imitation Cherry wood version) and use it for composing/arranging all sorts of stuff - it's a simple and reliable instrument. But for reasons that defy explanation, I had never been able to find a Cakewalk/SONAR instrument definition file on-line for this instrument (I searched the world over - nada). So, thinking it should be easy, I took a crack at creating one from scratch...and, wonder of wonders, it worked! Now, I'll do what someone should have done years ago - I'll share the file with you and anyone who needs it!

my edit of the Yamaha P120 Instrument Definition file for Cakewalk's SONAR here: Yamaha-P120.ins (a Cakewalk/SONAR text/instrument definition file)

(Note: at the time of this writing, this Instrument Definition file works with SONAR 6 - I can only assume this file format will work with SONAR 7...just a best guess!)

I relied upon the P120 manual and this reference. I had to guess a few times on the bank setting - the solution was, it turns out, fairly obvious.


Rob Birdwell