3:19 AM

March 30, 2010

It’s 3:00AM, and I’m listening to the music of Arvo Part (two dots above the second a; I don’t know how to add them otherwise). Somehow, it conjures very vivid images in my head. Rather sci-fi-like images. And it makes me want to create a story out of them. As far back as I can remember, I don’t think I’ve ever attempted sci-fi. It’s typically not my genre, as the emphasis tends to veer more towards technological gadgets and advances on that front. Psychology, emotions, and the strength and frailty of human beings is more where my interests lie. A close and intimate portrayal of the seemingly mundane can reveal the most extraordinary aspects of life.

“A white room, the purest tone of white, ascetic and sterile…”

That’s all I’ll do tonight. By the way, I haven’t started my paper yet. Haaaa.

Back

March 21, 2010

So I’ve decided to get back into blogging, though long interludes and hiatuses are still likely to occur.  This is primarily just an outlet for me to get excited about boring things, so unless have a thing for dusty academic literature, musical aesthetics, trivial rants, and disjunct sentences, you can probably skip it.

They’ll be short, in any case, seeing as I spent almost an hour setting this thing up and writing this blurb, and am now feeling guilty that I am not reading the books (almost done two out of the thirteen I checked out!) that need to read for an impending paper on Stockhausen. Oh, Saturday night. I have my coffee in hand.

The End

December 13, 2008

I’ve just finished my last exam of the semester. At 12:00PM. Driving through the remnants of a freak snow storm. It’s strange how the agonizingly painful days before an exam are all but a memory now. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the classroom, battling the exam, and now, I’m home again.

Now that it’s over, I guess I can finally relax and do as I please until the new semester starts up again, what I’ve been looking forward to all this time while I was studying. But I’ve yet to feel that burst of excitement and joy that I’ve been expecting. As stressful as preparing for the exam was, and as much as I killed my brain, trying to write a coherent essay in an hour, I loved the course, and in many ways, I’m a bit sad to see it end, especially since I had it with a professor whom I highly admire. It was only when I finally handed in my exam and left the classroom, that the realization of, “wow, this is the end of the course”, really permeated in.

Well, there comes a time when we must bid farewell to everything. Sometimes, even knowing this, we can’t help but feel a little down when the time comes.

But there will be more opportunities in the future: more courses to take, and more things to learn. Until then, I really should just enjoy myself!

Inaccessible Music?

December 6, 2008

Yesterday, I hear a live Schoenberg for the first time. It was in a concert by the Janaki String Trio, and the piece was the String Trio, Op. 45. All I can say are two, “Wow!”s: one for the spectacular performers in general, and another for the sublime power of the piece.

I’ve been exposing myself to more and more 20th-century music over the past year, fallen head-over-heels in love with the Russian trio (Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch), but very recently have I experienced much from the Second Viennese School. I had much interest in this music before then, reading up on it, and sampling bits from where ever I could find it. Unfortunately, the main source where I go to learn about new music (the public library), didn’t have any CD’s on these composers. Zilch.* So my first listens came from YouTube, a medium, I think, that is extremely fruitful, but doesn’t quite give the listener a decent feel for musical works, especially the already “inaccessible” kinds.

During these preliminary listens, I found it difficult to really understand the music, even though I sincerely tried, which disheartened me. But after last night, after I felt the endorphins rushing through me, I think the “Aha” moment finally came.

Why is this music so difficult to comprehend in our modern culture? Why are there no CD’s readily available even in specialty music stores? And yet, 20th century music is the most popular area of study for musicology graduates.

So perhaps its meant for only the overly-educated. But I’m still a mere undergraduate, and listening to the people around me after the concert, whom I’m sure weren’t all PhD. students, I think there were many others who at least felt affected by the music.

Yet I don’t know how many would buy a CD and listen to it for enjoyment. But maybe this music wasn’t meant to be enjoyed. The String Trio was supposedly composed to give sound to Schoenberg’s near-death experience with a heart attack, and there is a lot of 20th-century music that really is meant to be despairing. But so are ballade pop-songs and angst-riddled punk rock, and those sell millions.

Perhaps it is because this music still sounds so foreign to our ears. I don’t know of any other time in history when popular artists and musicians were amongst the richest people on earth; their music and presence, with the help of technology, has spread and influenced everyone. Tonal music, sweet, simply tunes, are everywhere: commercials, shopping malls, nursery rhymes, this music has just become so ingrained as what music should be like. Talking to my thirteen year old cousin after he listened to me play a 20th-century piece on piano, which I found absolutely delightful, filled with emotion, and meaning: “It sounds kind of weird,” he said rather bluntly.

I remember a quote by Schoenberg (which I heard while watching a documentary on YouTube), that he wished that one day, people would not see his music as simply a complex technique with no emotion, no meaning, but as simply music. Music that he wrote to express himself, his emotions, human emotions that we all feel. This music is not inaccessible. In fact, I don’t think any music that is composed with sincerity by any composer, their style being classical, blues, pop, or rap, should be deemed “lesser” than any other. We are all people, with feelings, with things we want to express. It’s only our styles that differ, but the emotions are the same, and I think if we listen carefully enough, and are open-minded and thoughtful, we can enjoy “Aha” moments with every genre.

*I know the university library has bucket loads, I’m sure, but I didn’t think of it at the time. Yes, yes, I know, slap on the wrist…

I feel like writing something sentimental. Some type of corny romantic fiction, perhaps… But never mind. This spontaneous urge will eventually pass.

There’s apparently a novel writing marathon this November. I could never accomplish such a feat (my literary constipation, you see). The furthest I’ve ever gotten in a fiction is about 4000 words, over something like four months. And they’re asking for 50 000, in one month!? Impossible.

But that’s alright. I’m content to plug away at my own pace (that is to say: don’t hold your breath!)

The Beginning

October 26, 2008

A friend of mine shared with me her secret of how she become proficient in writing. She claims it was because her father forced her to write: anything, everything, all the time, no matter how mundane and pointless it was. She’s also an aspiring music historian/musicologist, like me. Pursuing a career in the Humanities is a precarious decision, and more often than once I’ve questioned my sanity over it. Nonetheless, my youthful optimism continues to blind reason and commonsense, for surely, passion and preserverance can overcome mountains… right?

Never mind. Let’s not dwell on uncertain futures. Anyway, back to the point of this blog. I am currently on the underhand in that I do not know how to communicate effectively, a trait absolutely essential for success in this field. I am naturally quiet, and am horrible at impromptu conversations: I can handle straightforward dialogue, but ask me to partake in thoughtful, engaging conversations, and I usually end up bumbling incoherently; I am better at writing, but I take too painstakingly long at it. However, I think that, as with most things, communicating is an acquired skill – it takes practice, as my friend can attest to, and what better place to practice than on an anonymous blog?

So there we have it. I don’t know how long this experiment will last (considering my fondness for abandoning blogs), but we can only know once we get past the beginning.