Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Good Intentions Never Go Unpunished


I've been running the www.salsa-merengue.co.uk site for a number of years, and keeping it has not been easy. It's evolved over time to become a resource for people who wanted to learn more about latin music and dance; the intent was for it to be an adjunct to the many commercially driven sites. And in that, it has garnered tremendous succeess.

This morning, I logged in to find that PowWeb (who currently host the site) have suspended the site. No warnings beforehand, zilch. The first thing that I checked was the billing section - and it's paid up no problem. Turns out, it's been listed under "bandwidth abuse". Not alleged bandwidth abuse, but the rather accusatory "bandwidth abuse".

When I come onto the package a few years ago, there was a 5GB per day limit over which I would pay an excess. Nothing said about denial of service.

I can only assume that they disabled the service to protect me from a third party bandwidth thief. Then surely "bandwidth abuse" could have been replaced with a more customer-friendly subject header?

The website does generate a few headaches because it doesn't fit the 'standard' model: it has a large-ish volume of media files which can be downloaded for free (alarm bells), and as such it takes up more than the usual amount of bandwidth (more alarm bells). I'm constantly having to reassure some techie or paper-pusher or bean-counter that I own the copyright to the materials, and that the bandwith being consumed is within the original agreement. I think one day, some bright spark will say it's now unlimited use with a fair use policy (despite my not signing up for a modern package), and that the current bandwidth is no longer within their definition of 'fair use'. Perhaps today is that day.

This is the first time PowWeb has tried to shut it off, so I'll give more than what PowWeb gave to me, and that's "benefit of the doubt".

Perhaps this is the last piece of punishment this Good Intention can take.

We'll see.

Loo Yeo

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

From Drum Heads to Vocal Chords

Shell resonances. That's what this little bit is about.

I've been covering a lot of ground over the past few months in terms of drumming, learning more in this intense spell than the last couple of years combined. But like languages, it's reached that stage where I've got to pause for a moment and concentrate on context work; and that means playing congas for the band. With Wib, our regular conguero having only turned up sporadically over the summer, I forsee plenty of opportunity to play second fiddle.

So while active drumming learning is taking a pause, I've decided to shift from drum-shell resonances to sinus resonances - you guessed it, I'm back developing my singing again.

When I first embarked on developing my vocals for salsa, with its typically bright and occassionally nasal sound (the latter which I avoid), one of my primary practice resources was Jeffrey Allen's excellent "Secrets of Singing". The course comes with exercises for Low and High voices, and I found the low-voice endurance exercises especially good for developing warmth, body and vibrato. Once I reached a level of competence I was satisfied with, I set it all to one side with the intention of getting back to it again one day.

Well that one day dawned last Friday and this time I was going for broke: I was going for the high-voice exercises. I had tried this before, out of optimistic curiosity, just as I'd started singing for 4 de Diciembre - and to say that I didn't achieve stellar results that time is like saying that Napoleon didn't fare too well at Waterloo. So I felt well smacked with the kipper of trepidation when I pressed the 'play' button.

I was surprised to learn how much I'd developed; that all the notes are now within my range without falsetto. True, the top two are simply functional for now, but it's a positive start. Functional means that beauty is possible. Falsetto doesn't even mean that. And as each day goes on, I'm understanding better and better how to configure the resonances to get the sound I want.

The timing of this change i.e. the transition from drums to vocals, could not be more right. Lead vocals on "Tiempo para el amor" are due to be re-recorded very soon.

Loo Yeo