I went down to the ocean one day back in January, stood knee-deep in the water, and pointed my new recorder at the vast expanse of horizon. The sun set and the colors of twilight tinged the waves with warm, dark hues as I contemplated eternity. The waves gave this piece its shape and brought out different shades of sound when I convolved my voice with their recordings, carrying with them mysterious ocean songs from far away.
This year I decided to arrange a Christmas carol. My main inspiration was Bill Cutter, our choir director back at MIT, who had his own tradition of arranging a Christmas carol each year. So I rolled up my sleeves and messed around with Carol of the Bells! To spice things up, I wrote it in (mainly) a 19/8 meter, for two voices and piano.
Don’t be freaked out by the 19/8 time signature. It’s just 10/8+9/8 put together (with some other meters thrown in occasionally). I’d been meaning to write something in an unconventional meter, but hadn’t really put in the effort. In addition, I hadn’t written a “fast” piece in forever, so this piece presented me with the opportunity to explore both ideas.
Yesterday I submitted an entry to my first remix contest on Indaba Music. The task was to remix a new Steve Reich piece. Voting is open to the public through November 23rd, and this is where you can help. The top 10 entries with the most votes get honorable mention. The first prize winner and two runners up will be selected by Steve Reich himself! The poor man will have to listen to 254 contestants’ work. I don’t know how he’s going to handle all that.
Here’s my version of it. I like it, because it’s different than most of the entries. I used the same structure and notes, but in a completely different texture that involved several sleepless nights singing into the computer with all my doors and windows shut while consuming large amounts of tea and water. It was during a time when I had some deadlines for work, too, so it was a grueling few days for me.
If it strikes your fancy, please vote for me! It’d be awesome to get at least an Honorary Mention, but that’s going to be difficult to hit considering the huge number of contestants. And besides, a lot of the other entries are quite good. I’m impressed with their creativity.
I’m also impressed with Indaba Music itself. I hadn’t heard about it before hearing of this contest. It’s an online collaborative musical community, and everybody seems to be very inspiring, nice, and helpful with constructive comments. One of my life’s goals is to collaborate with one or two musicians, but I’d been baffled by how I was going to find people; joining Indaba might be the first step towards that goal. Who knows?
All I know is I’ll definitely join more of these contests. This little project really stirred me into action and made me realize that I should spend more time making stuff like this.
Aha! I finally reworked a piece I had “completed” in 2007, but had taken off the Internet because I was unsatisfied with it. I knew exactly what I had to do to fix it, but I had been putting it off for over two years now. Today I knocked it off my list of things I’ve been meaning to do for years!
This piece… The love-hate relationship has turned into pure love, but with scars left behind. I can finally say that I’m satisfied with it. It sounds best with headphones, when you immerse yourself in the thick wall of sound. Speaking of which, that rich, sonorous, brassy, somewhat off-tune, whirling, ever-changing groups of tones were all derived from my voice some way or another.
Kudos to anyone who can tell where the title comes from.
This weekend I made an electronic piece that had been in my mind for at least two years. It is a simple enough concept, but I had never set aside the time to do it. I used sounds of recorder, violin, voice, piano, and various other sounds to create it.
I’ve been in an inspired mood lately, and when Ryoji Ikeda popped up on my Pandora radio station on my drive home from work on Wednesday, I knew it was time. The other inspiration for this piece was Tenacious D’s One Note Song.
Going into the new year listening to early music must have influenced me more than I’d thought. I keep singing Gregorian chants to myself. In the past week, I thought of a way to harmonize the famous chant Dies Irae, and it hasn’t left my head since. It’s so corny that I had to do it. In fact, the only way I could have the courage to do this was by convincing myself that it’s just a joke.
I just improvised a short little piece by layering my voice on top of itself. Click here to listen to it. You can definitely tell that I dig minimalism. I love singing chords by myself. I should do this kind of thing more often… it’s fun!
Last night, Charles, Aimee, and I went to Tom’s house. Tom had picked two madrigals, one French and one in Spanish, to rehearse that night. First we read through it on ‘la’, then worked out the kinks, then added words. It sounded pretty good! We practiced for two hours straight without even noticing. Then, it was past Charles’s bedtime so we broke up for the night (it was 9:30, seriously). Haha. We’re gonna meet up again tomorrow night.
My mom and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond tonight, and while we were waiting in line, I was looking at the paintings and pictures that were hanging on the wall.. There were some with Chinese characters and a small translation underneath (like “Meditation” and “Joy” and such), and I recognized some radicals in the characters (heart and field). About 80% of Chinese characters are pictophonetic compound characters, which means they are composed of two characters; one usually hints at the meaning, and the other hints at the pronunciation. The one whose radicals I recognized was “field” (田）with “heart” (心) underneath it. It was soo cool. I still have to learn quite a bit of characters to be able to understand random things I see in stores, though.
I made a large 3.2-hour playlist of my most favorite songs *ever*. It’s superior to my other “favorites” playlists, because every song I hear, I immediately go, “YAY I LOVE THIS SONG” and start singing along. That’s the problem with good playlists. I can’t concentrate because I sing along with everything and lipsync in front of the mirror and my throat gets sore.
Today, I left a voice message on Reed’s cell phone, and was given the option to listen to what I had just recorded. So I listened to it, and wow.. I sound better than I think I do. At least, it sounded nice to me when it was played back. I somehow like it more now.
Well, I’m going to bed. Gonna get up early tomorrow morning to go to the airport.