Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas flight

So just briefly:
I flew to my parent's yesterday afternoon after a full Christmas eve of many services in Chicago. My luggage was lost for the first time, but they got it to me early this morning, so it's ok.
Don't worry I spent Christmas morning with lovely people.
But the reason why I'm writing.
the guy across the aisle was chewing was appalling. It was appalling because I noticed right at the end of the flight when I noted that he had a water bottle with about two inches of really gross brown spit. guh! ::shudder::
I mean it's not like smoking in public places, I don't necessarily have a problem with it, it was just a gross discovery.
Anyhow Sarah's laters

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"vacillate beautiful gazelle"

I would just like to point out that someone googled that phrase "vacillate beautiful gazelle" and my blog was the first hit....yep it was because I used all three of those words in this post (which some how linked on "words" instead of "this", what was I thinking?!). That's just bazaar really.

I know this because I have a little site meter thingy that I keep purely to amuse myself in situations just like this. Because really who would guess that my blog would be found by that.

Usually I get hits from people looking up information on operas that I have written about. Let's just look at some recent searches that got my blog:

"Foucault and Durkheim"---hooray U of C nerdiness!
"harry potter 7 rape szene"----ummm I'm uncomfortable I got a hit for that
"dostoevsky christ truth outside"----from when I was talking about the Idiot I presume
"song ownership"---I actually do get a lot of hits regarding ownership of music and stuff because I wrote a few posts about that when things were getting sticky with Internet radio...
"I cried a tear song"----I cried a laser tear, perhaps I should make that a song!
"stoacism"----yep I get hits because I can't spell
"boxing for wiii"---is awesome!
"losing focus band songs"--- music for the myopic!
"assundry"--- really I think that applies to everything
"boil warped cello bridge"--- I still haven't tried it, seems risky
"someone sings song on internet and someone goes boo"--- ummm no really someone googled that and my blog was like the second
"songs about cyclic change" --- well that's an obvious hit, though I think the topic might be a little cliche
"dominance of piano in classical music"
"musicians unprofessional behavior"--- not me I'm the epitome of professionalism!
"Syphilis is Back" --- yes, yes it is, please don't get it, though you may go enjoy a McRib.

So those are just some of the recent hits that I have gotten for teh mega blogz. I did not include the analysis of "x" opera or review of "y" opera ones.

hopefully the season and the new year will see more posting...maybe I'll make it a goal to post every 2 days or something for the New Year...though that seems like it might be a hefty commitment...I'll have to think about it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

angst and a poem

really the title sums it up, I feel that writing poetry is probably the culmination of teenage angst. I will admit that I did it, more as a younger child though.
I was reading through a journal that I kept from fifth grade through the end of high school, now don't get me wrong I was never a prolific writer, in fact only 28 of the pages have been written on...that's for eight years. I wrote in only to spew angst apparently, because I read it and am ashamed of my past self. However I know for a fact that I was not that angsty of a kid ever, so I must have just written about it in the limited occasions that it was prevalent.
Anyhow I bring this up because I was going to throw it away so that I would not have the shame of anyone ever reading it and making judgements about me as a result, but I really can't bring myself to, as there are gems such as these:

Pain, that turns sleep into vexation,
creeping towards us during relaxation.
What would cause you so much pain?
The orthodontist has been at it again.
Poking, prodding, tightening wires,
in and out with little pliers.
I will toss and turn with my night brace;
so soon my teeth are in the very right place.

not angsty at all! actually sort of clever.
Anyhow Duff thought that I ought to share this with you all (he got to hear some of the terrible stuff too, sorry kiddo!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Die Frau ohne Schatten

I just got back from watching the Lyric's production of Richard Strauss' Die Frau Ohne Schatten. For a comprehensive synopsis which I will surely fail at read here.
The low down. before the opera an emperor was out hunting and shot a beautiful gazelle that turned into a beautiful woman in his arms...immediate ecstasy (Lyric's translation not mine). It is now a year later and his falcon that helped him find his love is still missing, so he goes off to find it. The falcon comes to visit the empress and her nurse and warns them that if the empress does not have a shadow in three days the emperor will turn to stone. They go about trying to trick the dyer's wife (the man dyes cloth k) into selling them her shadow...which is a heftier thing than we think because she has to renounce her desire to ever have children. She does it, but regrets it, and the Empress realizes she can't take the shadow because it will break the dyer's and his wife's heart. She goes to face her father (from whence the whole no shadow stone husband curse arose) and he was all like...drink the water of life and you can have the dyer's wife's shadow...and the empress is all like no I won't do it and this breaks the spell because she has become capable of human compassion (or something) and the emperor is saved and everyone is free to have lots and lots of babies.....

wait what? lots and lots of babies? where did that come in?

What I fail to mention is the huge role that unborn children play into this story. also how ridiculously Freudian it all is. Oh man my poor brain. So the shadow is a euphemism for the ability to have babies...yup. What's interesting about all this is that Strauss or Hofmannsthal (the librettist) put all of the power in the woman's hands. They have the ultimate "no" and therefore they control society.

oh the very end when you're reaching the four hour mark and the Freudian nature of the whole thing is smacking you ungracefully like a ton of phallic bricks they bring out all of the unborn children wearing white carrying globes of light. It was too much...not that the piece didn't call for it...not blaming the lyric per-say.

So yes...have lots of babies, because it is not for your sake alone that you love one another, rather for the next generation.

Musically I vacillate on Strauss, I really like Der Rosenkavalier, and I was less keen on Salome. He's writing in the early 20th century, this particular opera is with a huge orchestra and written for Wagnerian voices. Deborah Voight played the Empress, and was quite impressive. All the voices were impressive, though the Emperor seemed at the end of his rope at brief moments. I think my favorite character was the orchestra. It was just full and lush, and because there is no recit and the whole thing just flows it is even more important that usual in setting the tone. According to the program notes the orchestra has upwards of 32 motives during the piece...I believe it. They were excellent and the brass section was phenomenal. My only complaint is that there was weird clicking starting part way through the third act.

The voices were good, I tend to have a harder time enjoying that type of voice, but I can definitely say they were all very good.

So in conclusion; I intellectually really appreciate Strauss, but I'm not sure this opera was especially my cup of tea. Neither was Salome...but that was a one acter...this one was four hours long...twas tough. (also I sat next to a strange smelling old's that old lady I'm covering up alcohol or cigarette smell with something not quite as foul but certainly not pleasant smell)

a month?

dear miss Emblies....
you haven't posted in nearly a month! Surely something of note must have happened in this time!
the peoples who read this...(namely my brother)

Well I suppose there has, but I guess I haven't felt clever enough to expound upon life.

I guess the big news this month (that I'm willing to share on a blog that is) is that I decided that it was in my best interest to wait another year to apply to grad school. That way I can have another year to build up a resume with roles on it and have more solo work on it as well.
When push came to shove, I didn't feel like I had anything new or better to offer this year. Of course the suggestion is to then apply to different places where I would be more likely to get it. Certainly that would be fine, but I want to go to a place that will really be right for me, not simply a place that I would get in. Taking another year allows me to research such that I actually know the place that is right for me.
Also it allows me to try to put together some really sweet recital ideas.

Are there things that I'm really dubious about in not applying? well certainly, but as long as I work to make this next year a good and worth while time spent making myself a better artist, I think that it might even be advantageous for me.

In something completely different, someone said to me recently, that the kindest thing you can say to a person is their name. I can understand this comment as I am always really touched when someone says my name in conversation, probably because I never use peoples names when I talk to them...don't know if I could tell you why. Anyhow I think that I'm going to make a concerted effort to try to use people's names.

Friday, October 26, 2007


This I think is a fairly well put together interesting video that was recently featured on YouTube.

I watched it and had a few thoughts. The first and foremost being, man am I glad that I went to a school where I got to be in small classes. Average class size of 115? that's ridiculous. Yet I could look at every statement and say yes I know someone just like that, or I am in fact just like that.

I then read some of the comments left for the video, and that is what actually spurred me to write something; there were comments saying well if you didn't use facebook, or just didn't spend as much time would actually get what you should out of an education.

Well, I have two responses to this, one direct and one really the reason why I'm writing here. The first is: the internet is addicting. It is, no questions asked all of the technology that we associate with the internet allows you to become drawn in, and it seems that there are higher returns the more you use something. Blogs: I check the blogs that I read everyday, sometimes more than once a day. The people whose blogs I read don't update everyday, I don't update everyday, but as a consumer of this information I want new information and stimulus every day. I will point out that if you're away from the internet for a week, in many ways you don't miss it at all (or at least I don't, but then we all know that I'm an obstinate hermit who hates technology). Anyway long point made short, the internet is addicting, and is the easiest way to remain socially connected for many college students.

Here is my other reaction to the comments and the video, and I guess society: (today has been a colon day!!!)

The comment was that you have to get this education in order to make a reasonable living. The thing you always hear is well you'll never be able to do anything worth while unless you have at least a BA. Yet not everyone is academically inclined. That is not to say that some people are too dumb for school, but rather that some people are not wired such that they will get anything worth while from a college education except a diploma such that they can get a better job (and ostensibly debt). In fact I would argue that there is a tremendously large population that simply slogs through college because they feel they have to in order to get anywhere in life.

I don't think that everyone should go to college. I don't think that everyone should desire to go to college. I don't think that our society should place such stigma on those who don't pursue higher education. It absolutely can be a waste of your time and your (or your parent's) money, and it may not be because you are lazy and easily distracted by the internet and video games.

we have education for youth up to the age 18 because it is the way that our society has created to try to expose youth to all of the opportunities that they have. All of them, so that means that if they choose to not become an I-banker, or pursue some other profession that does not require higher education, that does not mean that the system has failed them.

I'm not actually sure that our goal should be to get as many kids as possible to go to college. I'm not advocating that there should be a smaller intellectual elite, but rather that for those whom college will not serve to expand their worlds in a manner that they are interested in, perhaps we ought to have other options that are looked at as equally noble endeavors. Apprenticeships to skilled labor, or learning art organically rather than through history, there are so many ways to expand ourselves that are just as worth while as college.

Anyhow I'm not sure this has come across very clearly as I wrote it as I was having thoughts about it, rather than after mulling it over for an extended period of time and the honing it down to something that you the reader might follow as a concise argument. Don't be alarmed if you come back and the post has been edited for further clarity.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

La Boheme

La Boheme is according to many the best opera of all time...while I am not certain that I quite agree with this analysis it was a tremendous opera. It made me understand why people love Puccini. I for one have always been a luke-warm fan of Puccini, I mean Tosca is just so damned hard to watch, and the through composition just irks me sometimes...I need some delineation between recit and aria for mercy's sake! But then when I sang in the opening of Le Rondine (the swallows) it was an entirely different story, how he went from literally parlor "conversation" to one of the most numbingly beautiful arias without it feeling trite is surely a feat of genius.

Not withstanding all of that: La Boheme....As I said before it made me see why people love Puccini. This was a revival of the same tired production that the Lyric has put on I think since '73. The singing was all good, though nothing astounding. So a mediocre production, good singing, good acting, you're prepared to have a good but non remarkable evening. But then Puccini breaks your heart. I mean of course Mimi's going to die, we all know, yet when she does and the horns play that full chord, it just breaks your heart....I cried, it's true.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Diva gossip

Now there is nothing that we as the adoring public love more than the scandalous behavior of prima donnas and divas. Certainly we focus on Hollywood and Pop stars these days, but the fascination still holds, the people that we watch perform ought to have flashy public lives to live up to their fictional lives.

The latest Opera gossip here in Chicago is that the notoriously misbehaved Angela Gheorghiu has been fired by the Lyric Opera of Chicago for "unprofessional behavior". She accordingly missed 6 out of 10 of the rehearsals and did not show up for costume fittings for new costumes that she herself had requested. The full story. She was replaced by Elaine Alvarez who has been getting rave reviews.

Angela Gheorghiu's husband Roberto Alagna is now at the Met singing Romeo et Juliette. by Gounod with miss hotness her self: Anna Netrebko. He, Roberto that is, had quite the run in last December with audiences and management. He was hissed at while performing at La Scala in a production of Aida, by what we would call the peanut gallery, but in the opera world especially in Italy is called i Loggionisti. These are the particularly vocal opera aficionados that sit in the cheap seats. They boo at all sorts of things including Renee Flemming, and anything new, or too scholarly, in sum they boo and hiss, it's kind of why they go to the Opera. Anyhow I don't know if I blogged about this particular incident when it happened, but he stormed off stage leaving his lady sans duet partner, his undercover was literally shoved on stage in his street cloths. Che Scandal!

So this opera husband and wife are not particularly known for their "good behavior", yet they continue to be engaged by major opera houses. Look at Alagna, he's at the Met right now! You would think that they were endangering their careers, but it may just be at this point that they are in such a position that they can afford such tom-foolery. Pavoratti himself was not known for his good behavior as his career matured. (also the gossip on what he did or did not leave his wife and daughters after his death)

So there you have it, you're all caught up for today. Also I provided copious links for readers who are not as immersed in reading about the fabulous world of opera!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Da Corneto

I was recently looking for local companies that put on operas in Chicago to audition for when I stumbled upon a group called Da Corneto. Their philosophy is based upon beautiful music and beautiful singing, something that they feel most companies have lost touch with with their flashy or more disturbingly modern productions. They disregard the notion that an opera singer is a "singing actor" and think that they are at most an "acting singer". As such they put on I guess what I would call partially staged productions, no sets, no costumes aside for a few character pieces and minimal staging. They do this to emphasize vocal line and powerful choral and orchestral passages.

This is really mostly interesting because it goes against a current and a call for change in the world of performing opera. Gone are the days where it was permissible to merely stand and sing. You can't just be a singer you must be a powerful convincing actor as well. Audiences simply are not convinced that Lucia goes raving mad while she's standing stark still singing ridiculously complicated ornamentation. So as a result a lot of time and effort on the part of the singer is devoted to convincing acting on top of beautiful singing. Ideally non of the beauty of line or power of the music ought to be lost because of acting or other production values. This does not mean however that this is not sometimes the case.

The death of Pavoratti in some ways marked the end of an era of standing and presenting beautiful music. He never made more than a cursory effort towards acting, and people loved him. He just cared about making beautiful music. So I don't know if Da Corneto is continuing a tradition worth carrying on, whether they are holding on to a tradition of the past, or whether it is simply creating a different operatic performance option for Chicagoans. I do know that it is intentionally turning a blind eye to modern production practices and a modern trend towards believable acting. A trend that I see as good for in many ways, yet can easily slip into trouble.

There is a reason why the fat lady no longer sings. You simply can not make it in the operatic world unless you are of a certain desirable build. Directors frequently ask singers to loose weight, something even more traumatic for a singer than for an actor, because the quality of your voice is intrinsically tied in with your body. So to change the physicality of your body is to change the way that you sound and the way that you need to sing. Tricky business.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

tasties together!

Mia and I have started a food blog! I've been wanting to take pictures of the amazing food that we've been making and then posting them, however I don't have a camera. I think that I will be getting one service of my documenting and cataloging Newberry Library project! For now we will be writing about the foods we make!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Syphilis is back!

or so the ads on the CTA claim. I'm really bemused by those advertisements, clearly what they intend to impart is that "Syphilis is a viable disease that is showing up once more, get tested." but I can't help but read it in the tone that one might read "The McRib is back!"

I had a voice lesson for the first time since June on Monday, it was really nice to do again. I had even taken a pretty hefty hiatus from practicing, due to trying to find jobs and struggling to deal with change in my life. This pause in my practicing has not gone unnoticed, man does my breath support suck! It's not so bad, I just feel some lines that I would have not needed to even think about before. Not to worry however I'll just have to start practicing again.

One of the things that I have been chipping away at working at but was brought up very clearly in my lesson on Monday, is to not worry about singing beautifully. Since I entered college my private voice teachers have said things like sing louder, or fuller, but this new teacher I think put it in the best way: She asked me if I had ever heard a violin played up close. The answer is emphatically yes, her point is that up close the violin doesn't sound so nice. We like the violin for its sweet sound, but up close it's not so beautiful. You hear the attack of the bow, you hear the grittier sounds that this supposedly elegant instrument makes, the instrument is played for the room. The room takes the sound and smooths it out.

The same with the voice, it doesn't need to sound beautiful in my head, and in my mouth, but out in the room. This is why I'm (justifiably) uncomfortable with close miking, it picks up all the edginess that the room is intended to smooth out.

That's the way it feels to sing this way to me: it feels like I'm singing on the edge. Which is cool because as Duff'll tell life is to be lived on the edge, otherwise you are not living at all. However what do I really mean by saying that I'm singing on the edge (my voice teacher asked how it felt to sing that way, I told her about the edge...teachers frequently ask how singing certain ways feel, only sometimes is there something to tell them). Singing on the edge is a slightly unnerving thing, because you're singing on the edge of control. I feel like if I sing any bigger (not necessarily louder) than I will lose control. My voice will crack or something.

This is however a feeling that I need to embrace, I need to feel like I'm losing control of my voice. I think that one of the main things I need to work out in my voice is that I always need to be in control, when I let go of this I tend to have excellent results.

However this is just me and the way I sing, too "beautiful" and too in control.

Next: Da Corneto

Saturday, September 15, 2007

more tunes!

hey guys this time I actually put another song on the little pod cast site....I'm not posting a link because there is a link marked "hear me sing" in the side bar. use it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I've been thinkin' 'bout the Law

...and I'll tell you about it in another post, right now I'm interested in getting out to the perfect fall day.

Also maybe I am meant to be a music teacher after all, because I walked by the Merit School of Music after grocery shopping and got super excited thinking about how I would go about conducting a Theory class. There's the thing though, I don't want to direct choir or band or any of that nonsense, I'm too much of a perfectionist to teach music to a large group of people, I want to teach theory. I know that I've expounded upon the music is cool in many ways and theory allows me to explain why it's cool before....hmm upon review of my mighty archives....what's that? I barely post 5 times a month in good times? well...whatever....I'm awesome!

Anyhow, maybe upon further examination I haven't written about this (though I'm sure that I have, I need to get on top of my labels so I know what the heck I've written about) I love theory and hate it for the same reason, it is in many ways completely self serving and potentially unnecessary, yet it explains so many of the intuitive things we do in music.

So yeah I was walking my groceries back thinking about how I would tell kids that "scales" and "triads" and such were all just different names that we give collections of notes. And I convinced myself that I could make kids like music theory! I'm goofy and really animated and get excited about things like that, and I could totally make that overcome the fact that most kids think that music theory is boring. It is only boring if you let it be, much like most other things in life.

Anyhow I'm going to go home and pack because I'm going to my parent's for the New Year, which is why I've been thinking about the Law!

Also today is my parent's 30th wedding anniversary! wowy zowy!

Friday, September 07, 2007

some history

When I was at rehearsal on Wednesday Derek told me a little about the neighborhood to which I just moved. We live in this little one and a half square block area that has all sorts of beautiful old town houses and is even a "boulevard" historic neighborhood.
Now it seems a bit out of place because the rest of the neighborhood around it is either new condos (last 5 years I would say) to the east of us, or a mix of really "city" feeling things. There are two salvation army home/places to get a room, the mercy home for children, the Mexican embassy (out there on Ashland totally don't expect it) and there's the magnet school and the police training academy. Nothing resembling the lovely townhouses and treed streets we live on.

Apparently most of the area was razed (there was a disagreement between Will and Derek about why) I think in the 60s. Either it was for urban renewal, or it was because of the riots. After M.L. King died apparently parts of the city were just torn up from the rioting (someone correct me if I'm wrong about the source of the riots) Anyhow our little area was saved apparently because it was the red light district, and the police protected it?...? According to Derek there were some well know Madames living there well into the 80s. Kind of cool huh...historically speaking.

One of the many things that I love about this place is that from the porch the alley way in back is not neatly done. It curves around, there are legitimate separate apartments over garages, you can see in peoples back yards, and there are all sorts of different porches.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

little italy

It was raining when I sat down to write this post but it is no longer.
Chicago's been doing that for the past few days.
Actually I find that Chicago has this incredible ability in the summer to rain for 10-20 minutes right at 5:00 only down town. There have been at the very least three incidences where I have been leaving work at five just to get soaked, and as soon as I get on the bus it! if I had only stayed in the office 10 more minutes I would not be miserably wet on an air conditioned bus.
yeah, it did that yesterday, but when I arrived in Hyde Park for rehearsal there was no evidence that it had rained at all...there were puddles when I got home, so that was something.
I had a very slow morning and decided that since I wasn't going to get into CIAO any time in the morning anyway that I would walk down to drop off rent. I subsequently walked down Taylor st. which is for those of you not familiar with Chicago little Italy. I was in a very narrative mood this morning, you know if someone were reading about my day in a book or even a well written blog what would it sound like. I mean my questing for my purple shorts was cut short by...well finding them. In general I have little interest in reading or writing blogs that are simply a catalogue for events that have happened in someones life, travel yes, day to day searching for a job in, not really. excepting anecdotes of course.
I've been trying to decide if I think I would be friends with this guy or not. Sometimes I wonder these things. I probably would, as Mia puts it, I have a proclivity to befriending men who are nice but just a bit off.
Anyhow I finally have a copy of my recital with track breaks between every song (thanks Richard) so I'll be posting things on the podbean account
okokok, I promise to think of something substantive next time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

more songs!

check it out I posted the songs I'm most frequently asked to sing at parties here


I was in the midst of trying to play with my digital recorder to provide you all with some more fun recordings, but this week has spun into moving land.

I know I've said this over and over again, but you don't know just how much stuff you have until you go to move it. And I ultimately don't have that much stuff, infact all that I own (excluding my cello and my new bed [which is surprisingly comfy for something that was man handled the way that it was as Mia and I heaved it up 3 flights of stairs]) can be fit into about 7 large boxes maybe alittle more, and 3 of those are steeo, and computer parts. Yet when it comes time for moving you just look at all you your stuff and question things, do I really need that? Will I regret getting rid of that?

All that said the new apartment is lovely, maybe one day when I am equipt with the technology I will post some pictures. Also our landlord is amazing.

I was on vacation with my family in Northern Michigan for a week, Sarah came for the second half. It was really excellent, my family gets along really splendidly, and Sarah for her part fits right in. She must like us quite a bit because this is the second time she's come up to visit us there.

I've been singing more since getting back, I think that my voice will be in spry shape for the fall as long as I get back to practiceing and start up voice lessons again. Hopefully once all the moving and job searching is over I will have the time to post about things other than summaries of what I've been doing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


no not me now, my voice is pretty crap. due to the weather the air conditioning and me not know the voice is a muscle too and needs to be exercised.

however now have a way for you fine folks to hear recordings I've made!
you can check it out here
I'll post it in my links
<---- over there, I'll label it something recordings or something

Saturday, August 11, 2007


This is where I'm going and have gone for all of my life for vacation.
There are certain smells I associate with this place calamint, and ceders.
I'm going to just leave you with another picture

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Orchestra as a democratic process

I went to the Pub with a bunch of people after the orchestra concert on Monday. It was a pretty good time, mostly because I really like talking to all of the people who were there. It also turned out to be an informative evening because one gentleman there turned out to be a vocal coach, so he had interesting opinions to share. He was actually more than willing to share his opinions when I asked, which was nice for me, but sort of killed all other conversation, which I felt bad about.

However this is not what currently interests me. My buddy A. who was a music major here just like I was contended that conductors should be done away with and replaced with robots. (comment I'm sure to be taken with a grain of salt)

My response was, well for performances fine, but what about the rehearsal process, this is when the conductor gets to work on his musical interpretation with the orchestra. (also, what I just thought of now is rehearsal management. A sign of a good conductor is one who knows how to make the most of their time in rehearsal, such that the orchestra can succeed in their performance, and still enjoy the rehearsal process)

A. Said that he thought that even there that a conductor was not necessary. He said that he thought that orchestras ought to be run through a democratic process, like the English parliament. "I think you should be louder here, I think I should be louder there" etc.

Now A. is an excellent musician, and also does Jazz. So this format would be very similar to how some jazz X-tets are run. However the X is usually 3-8 where as an orchestra can be 20-80 or even larger numbers. Oh! just imagine the rehearsals! It would be absolute chaos.

A. is also making I believe an assumption that the other musicians are as good musicians as he is. This is not a comment upon technical prowess, their ability to play well, but upon their musicality. I don't mean necessarily, their ability to "feel" the music, something that people I think confound the term musicality with frequently. But are they a good musician? Do they understand how music is constructed, how it works, and how best to demonstrate these attributes.

I would contend that in most orchestras that not every individual is a great musician, and of such a nature that collaboration for musical decisions would result in anything good at all. I think that in any orchestra that you will find a range of musicians, and as soon as everyone is not on an equal playing field I think that musical interpretation as a democratic process would fail.

Anyhow: funny how a snipit of conversation can spark your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

losing focus

It's funny how you can be so focused on something that you lose sight of what is ultimately important to you.

I have (understandably) been really focused on finding a full time job for this coming year. As such I've been thinking about applying to things, gaining experience and what I'm interested in doing. All of this has been rather consuming, and I hadn't really noticed it until today.

I was sitting in the library scanning microfilm of Rossini Overtures and listening to WFMT to keep from scanner insanity. While doing this I started thinking about listening to music and writing about music and performing music, and then what summer programs I had done in the past and what summer programs I should apply for next year. I became very immersed in these thoughts, and I was engaged and left my thoughtdome happy.

These are the plans that I'm actually interested in laying, these are the things that I'm actually interested in doing. Thinking about how I can swing it to be a Graduate Student at Large at Roosevelt such that I can take advantage of lessons and such there. Now the whole figuring out how to be an independent adult is really quite nice, but creating those plans don't involve my dreams.

Every once and a while I regret that I did not make auditions for the Lyric Opera Chorus work. Because then I would have a job that I am interested in. However that is entirely pipe dreams because there is no reason that they would have accepted me (that's not a judgement call on my talent, but rather, sopranos are a large bunch and once people get into the Lyric Opera Chorus they tend not to leave, so there would probably simply not be a place for me to fill. But had I auditioned and been rejected there would be no lingering doubt.

Now its about finding something that excites me and trying to find a stimulating work place.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter

I find myself facing a dilemma:
I like to read the Harry Potter books fairly slowly enjoying them.
However I fear someone telling me what happens.
Now I don't fear someone I know telling me because I can summarily kick their inconsiderate butt, but rather I'm concerned about the chance encounter. The trouble is that everyone and their mother reads this book. (literally)
So I fear walking down the street and overhearing someone talking about it with a friend.
So do I just read it fast negating this possibility? or do I read it at a tempo which brings me joy?
(note: fast would be reading it all in the next two days, slow would be giving myself a week to read it)
Anyhow happy reading everyone...
except Ted, I know you hate the series, for reasons that probably aren't as sound as you think they are. (I don't know why I'm addressing him personally I don't think he reads this)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

movies and music

I was recently discussing with a friend of mine, my dislike in general of re-watching movies. I don't hate it, but in general, I've seen it once and I have a really good memory for conversation in real life and this tends to extend to movies. Duff once argued that I therefore watch movies only for plot and not for the other aesthetic values, which may be true. But I definitely prefer a beautiful movie to a bland one. I also like thinking about why and how film has been done a certain may. However what really sells me on a movie is pithy dialog and fantastic acting. So I'm pretty sure that I would watch Philadelphia Story again.

However I was discussing this with my buddy C. and he pointed out that I listen to music more than once, even though I "know what it sounds like" and I even visit the Art Institute and I do "visit" certain favorite paintings (see above).

So I re-visit the aural and the visual, the temporal and the static, what could it be about movies that I really don't like re-watching them? I think that it really has to do with the conversation aspect. I watch human interaction fairly intensely and it seems false if I see it in the exact same way twice. Because even if we feel the same exact emotion twice, we do not express in the exact same way twice.

However in re-watching a film this is patently unavoidable.

It's sort of like how I get a real kick out of the fact that there are certain stories that I've heard people tell over and over. Most people never tell them the same way twice, however once and a while you'll meet someone who tells a story the exact same way every time they tell it. Same words and everything. I really enjoy that. I remember people's words fairly well and it's really interesting when I hear them re-use them.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


cooking and baking are two activities that bring me incredible joy. I also happen to be fairly good at it, I can intuitively tell what's going to work and what won't. Of course the fact that it is intuitive to me makes it hard for me to understand that it might be difficult for other people to cook...I don't have to practice at most food related things, it turns out tasty the first time.

My intuition for cooking is entirely thanks to my parents. My father (or mother)come home virtually every night and make a sit down dinner, And we all sit down and eat, even if someone is out for the evening the remaining 2 or 3 sit down for dinner, and yes! we even talk! No small part of this is derived from the fact that my parents really enjoy cooking. I really don't know if it was a calculated "family" decision on their part to always have us sit down together or what was only reasonable in their minds 'I spent the time to make this tasty dinner, so we're all going to sit down and enjoy it together.'

This is something that I try to do in my own life, it is however very hard to want to do this all by yourself. That's why having a roommate who also appreciates food is so wonderful for me. When I was living "alone" in a dorm I would always invite someone else to eat with me. Partially because I find it difficult to calculate how to cook for just one person, and partially because food is such a communal activity for me, at least dinner is. Don't talk to me at breakfast...I'm busy reading the comics and the headlines. Lunch can be social, but so frequently for me it is eaten while moving from one activity to the next.

I really love cooking, but I probably enjoy baking more. Yes, I have a huge sweet tooth, I also like the parameters in which you must mess around. I love trying new things but I also like knowing in baking that certain things have to be a certain way in order for the chemistry to work. I love seeing the difference with butter or margarine (sometimes trans fats are really helpful in baking) what happens if I replace shortening with peanut butter? Another big reason that I love baking is that there is no icky raw meat to deal with. Actually I don't mind raw beef or pork or lamb (M just realized the other day through my explanation of a dream in which there was a 'baby sheep'...wait silly embly...we have a word for baby sheep it's lamb...that lamb is not just the meat word for sheep, but rather than lamb is, baby sheep and mutton is in fact the meat form of sheep...she thought mutton was another animal entirely, I think she was a little bothered by this) What I really mind is raw chicken. I find it really disgusting.

any how if I invite you to dinner you should come. I will come back to the topic of music I promise.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


It is curious how noisy "being alone" has become. We seem to have this perpetual fear of actually being alone and therefore isolate ourselves with distractions...thus becoming more alone? For instance here sitting at my computer I am alone...however with in seconds I can play music, sign on to instant messenger, check facebook all sorts of "social networking" things and other distractions are at my finger tips.

So people leave the house to be "alone" but walking even from one place to the next we are on our cell phones or listening to i-pods, and thus are not really alone. I even saw a woman kayaking the other day while listening to music. This seems really counter intuitive to me as canoing or Kayaking is for me a chance to listen to the world and examine things around me, I probably won't notice the jumping fish or Kingfisher if I'm listening to music, and why paddle around if not to notice things.

I won't say that I'm not guilty of this, I definitely listen to music when I run as a distraction, but then I don't think that I would contend that my goal when running is to achieve aloneness or to commune with nature in any way, rather it's really just to run.

I was getting really antsy "being alone" for the past few days. Sitting here in front of my stupid computer, trying to write cover letters and get in contact with various people. But I wasn't really alone. I went out this afternoon to read in a quieter part of the Quads, and ultimately was not successful at achieving aloneness or silence while reading. When walking or even sometimes reading there is always music of some sort playing in my head (my mind is a very noisy place to be) right now "se vuol ballare" is rolling through my head. Reading was not going well I was distracted by music and I kept on thinking about things (some good and inspired by the reading --is there finite amount of music--and some not so worth while). At some point I gave up and laid back on the bench and just watched the clouds through the trees.

And there it was. I was somehow in my own space and time. There was no silly or good music running through my head, and I was not distracted by thoughts. Certainly I must have been thinking, but not at the same intensity as earlier. Finally I did not mind being alone, in fact I think that being alone is a great thing, it is just this in between state of pretending to not be alone that causes such trouble.

Monday, June 25, 2007

uncertainty in art

I went to this artist chat thing at the last second with some folks. It was actually a very interesting conversation about this Juan Chavez's art and his conception of found art and public domain. It made me think which is ultimately the goals of these things. What I took away from him was the joy of discovery: whether it be in the finding of materials, finding of art (by the viewer in a public place) or the discovery of some interesting detail in a piece in a gallery. Some people got caught up in some ideas that I thought that he had covered adequately, in fact this one girl asked what I saw as the same question four times, M had to fight the giggles at that one and the artist shared an eye role with us. The project we were looking at was a giant "speaker" in which some band had performed...pretty neat! I wanted to ask him if he had any conception about what nature of music ought to be performed in there as there are certain composers who wrote (write) music in the manner in which he created art. but the opportunity never arose.

his whole thing was uncertainty in the final product. How will a space influence the end result, how does time (and the fact that he did some of these things illegally) influence the end result. There is certainly music like this. Chance operations and uncertainty. I'll write about it when I'm actually thinking....

Sunday, June 17, 2007


The things I associate most strongly with the summer are not surprisingly also associated with home, where I've happily been for the last week.

summer means sunburned shoulders crouched down in a field picking tiny strawberries.
summer means sticky red stained fingers and closing your eyes and seeing strawberries because you've been staring at them all day.
summer is spit bugs on flowers brushing your back and nose.

summer is also canoeing all day and exploring tributaries.
it's bakeing new things I've never tried before.

it has been in the past time on the ropes course and making up games with people who think in surprisingly similar manners to you.

later summer means black rasberries hidden behind fortified walls of nettles and poison ivy, then it's knowing what jewel weed looks like to sooth your stings.
it's riding through the woods and falling into the mud.
it's helping with theater and melting under the lights.

it's picking blueberries out of a canoe while someone reads outloud to you.
it's letting your brother convince you to vault over things.

it's going on vacation, reading in the treehouse, sailing, and smelling familiar smells of ceder and calimint.

mostly this week it's been spending time at home and getting to bake, picking strawberries, canoeing and letting my brother teach me how to jump over the four-foot trash can.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


So as expected being a graduate of the University feels just the same as normal.

I am currently enjoying a week at home in Connecticut (no not that part of CT geez. I do actually like it here quite a bit. I live in the oldest town in the state, where there are lots of old coloniel houses and such. mostly I like looking over the farm fields at the mountains.
I also like backing unreasonably complicated things in a kitchen that has all the amenities.
I'm just letting my self drift briefly before I allow myself to think for real again

Thursday, May 31, 2007

holy tension batman

oh man...
so I did it.
I have a few loose ends to pick up, but I'm essentially done with college.
So after dinner I think that I will sleep for 14 hours or something.
if my body lets me.
Then! I'm making muffins!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Love is not a rational act in itself, yet we all do it at one point or another. As soon as love is rationalized, it becomes something else that is not as pure or powerful as love.

I'm writing a paper on The Idiot by Dostoevsky. That is all I could find of it to write about without expecting everyone to have some knowledge of this novel.

The paper's pretty sweet so far, though I now understand why all the critics we've been reading make up their own example of embly's vocab:

It is here that we struggle with the manner in which the Prince loves Natasia. He describes it at one point as pity, and others around him perceive it as pity, however I would argue that the Prince does not know how to pity. In order to pity someone you must deem yourself as better or as more full of worth than the other individual, and the Prince certainly does not consider him self of more worth than others around him, in fact it could be argued that he considers himself lower than his counterparts. His love is certainly a lateral love at the very least if not an “ascending” love, it is definitely not a “descending” love that could be redefined as pity. This is certainly a Christ-like type of love, I would argue that Christ loves only laterally and not “ascendingly” or descendingly”.

I talk about Christ a lot in this if I had a clue:

Especially Christ’s love and love of Christ are an irrational love. Christ loves with out any reservations, nor any expectations, and as such love of Christ equally must be without reservation nor expectation. Yet of course love of Christ is ridden with expectations of some sort of return that cannot be defined.

Dostoevsky said that if he had to choose between Christ and the Truth, that he would choose Christ. This appears to be a completely irrational decision, if one had access to the Truth, the what need would one have of Christ? It would seem that the love of Christ is indicative of more than finding ultimate Truth

The Idiot has something of a Christ complex....he is a beautiful man...but just a man not a god or a saint or a martyr.

I currently have six pages and change...sorry this is so distinctly not about music, but my mind is currently dominated by this and only this...mostly

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

ownership of music

The ownership of a temporal artwork is a tricky matter that really has only come to prevalence with the advent of recording technology. Previously composers had been attempting to control their work more and more by adding more precise directions regarding tempo, dynamics and other pertinent performance markings. Despite these composers best efforts however, each performance will be unique, unless of course we have a recording of the performance. Here begins the tricky question of, to whom does this performance belong? Does it belong to the composer, to the performers, or to the hall in which it was performed? Does it matter who payed for the recording? Who deserves to be payed for future performances of this piece?


The way in which artists are compensated for their work comes in several different ways now. The first and most immediately comprehensible is for live performances of their work. It is clear that they own that temporal performance, they are there for the entirety of its existence and once they are gone it no longer exists. Patrons are paying for the experience. The second way that artists are payed is by selling recordings of their performances. If their live performance is really good people will want to hear it again and will buy either studio recordings or live recordings. This is a one time flat fee, similar to buying a ticket to a show, but now you have the artist's work at your finger-tips. It does not matter after you make that purchase if you listen to the CD five times a day or never. The only advantage that the artist gains by your multiple listenings is that you might recommend the CD to a friend who might in turn buy the CD. The third and most unique mode of compensation that an artist receives is through the royalties of a piece being played on the radio. One the radio now (as seen in the last post) the composer receives a flat amount of royalties for a piece to be played on the radio. So in this way the station buying royalties is much like a library buying a CD, costs them more than a normal person, but it is still one flat rate. Thus the popularity of the song only helps the artist sell more CDs. The new royalty structure for internet radio directly rewards the artist for how popular their song is, as they (or their label) get paid for every "performance" of the piece. So in a certain way it makes the most sense of all the fee structures, because an artist is rewarded directly for the popularity of their piece.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

internet radio

We live in exciting and changing times when it comes to the dissemination of music. I don't know how many of you use internet radio stations like pandora but they and similar internet web stations have recently been going through a bit of legal trouble, specifically artists and recording companies are concerned as how exactly they will be compensated for the plays that their music gets. The new law passed in march increases the royalties and the types of royalties that all of these stations have to pay
(from here)
"RAIN has learned the rates that the Board has decided on, effective retroactively through the beginning of 2006. They are as follows:

2006 - $.0008 per performance

2007 - $.0011 per performance

2008 - $.0014 per performance

2009 - $.0018 per performance

2010 - $.0019 per performance
A "performance" is defined as the streaming of one song to one listener; thus a station that has an average audience of 500 listeners racks up 500 "performances" for each song it plays.

The minimum fee is $500 per channel per year. There is no clear definition of what a 'channel' is for services that make up individualized play lists for listeners."

so for a site like Pandora that allows each user up to 100 stations for free, this could be a tremendous problem. Starting July 15 not only will sites have to start paying these fees, but they will have to retroactively pay for 2006.

The general outcry is "unfair!" for me it begged the question well how do conventional radio stations pay, and would it not behoove companies to simply charge internet stations the same way?

So I continued my research, apparently "Terrestrial radio stations pay composer royalties, but they don't pay performance royalties, under the long-established rationale that record label benefit from the promotional value of songs played on the radio. So if a Clear Channel radio station plays that new Fergie song over the air, it doesn't pay a performance royalty--but if it streams Fergie over the net (or satellite radio), it does. Make sense to you?" (Wall street journal March 12, 2007 Jason Fry)

well no...not really. Lets quickly for the sake of argument decide why it could make sense. I guess that the argument would potentially be that by streaming it on the internet they are assuming the extra risk of people using magical software to rip the streaming file and steal it. Just like when a library buys a CD they pay almost $90 for it because they are lending it out and thus need the rights because it is not merely for personal use. However it is perfectly possible to record music from the radio, even if it is something as archaic as putting in a cassette tape and pushing record (man I did that so much as a kid, sometimes I would record NPR, and play week old news at my parents to see if would catch it) I also imagine that there are more advanced ways to do this...(question: how does Tivo factor into this dilemma if at all?)

so why not say that radio is radio and charge all in the same way? I think that this stands to a great deal of reason, yet those who are advocating for a more equivalent means of paying royalties themselves find internet radio and terrestrial radio to be different genres.

"The internet has changed radio in a profound way. Instead of a business that required investments so huge (millions of dollars for even a small-market FM station) that a programming focus on the lowest common denominator and an extreme aversion to risk or experimentation was an unavoidable consequence, a radio station with a global reach was now within the grasp of anyone with talent and determination to make it happen" again

honestly you listen to terrestrial radio and the options that you have are NPR (some places now only news and no longer a classical music station) clear channel stations (Kiss FM et al) and perhaps an indie station...though that's probably owned by someone like clear channel as well. So while you have tons of stations to choose from (especially if you live in a city like I do) you have classical, classical/news, R & B, hip-hop for white people, hip-hop for black people, hard rock, oldies, soft rock, country, and oh god sooo many commercial and the DJs. Honestly folks just because you're hired to speak on the air does not mean that you are actually funny, or have interesting opinions.

I look at all of this and think to my self, well wouldn't Adorno have a veritable hay day. He was livid at the comodization of music in the 60's. He thought that recordings were in fact destroying music. perhaps I'll save this so that this post is not too epic...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I realize I've been a bit negligent.....I will fix this soon.

but not today...or at least not right now....(study study study study)

Friday, May 04, 2007


I think that we do a lot of things in life to have a sense of power and control. This can manifest itself in big or little ways, whether it is putting on that pair of really tall sexy shoes or manipulating situations to your advantage, I think that we all in some way seek to control the situations that we place ourselves in.

I think that a lot of behavior that really disgusts us from the outside is the result of someone attempting to remain in control of their situation, more or less successfully as the case may be.

I know that I have a control issue when it comes to my life. I always like to be in control of my actions. The good results of this are things like very moderate drinking habits.

However I notice that this limits my singing sometimes. I won't just reach for something if I don't know exactly it will come out. I've made leaps and bounds in this department. Every time I let go I think that my sound becomes richer and freer. It's hard for me to ascertain this from in my head, but it does feel better. I remember the first time I let go to sing the top whistle notes in my range. It was scary, I had no idea what would come out of my mouth...and goodness all sorts of crazy things came out (it sort of clicks into place sometime). I can sing many of those notes by bringing my head voice up, but it is much healthier to just let go.

so apply to life? I think so. Sometimes I just have to let go of all the strands that I am trying to hold and ride whatever current for a moment. Life generally works out well, we just have to decide that we're going to let it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

vocal re-hashing

I have just come out of an extremely busy vocal period of time. It has been fairly strenuous and I am now paying for it. Luckily I have a little bit of down time, meaning no performances for a while, of course I still have seven and a half hours of rehearsal a week, what would I do with my life if not for that. Not wake up at 6 to do school work?

My voice teacher asked me how I felt with the Schostakovich piece I sang for the Jewish Music concert. After mumbling something about the inadequacy of one week to prepare a Schostakovich piece in Russian I came up with the real answer. I feel as if I sang that piece on my "fake voice", the sheen that lives on top of my real voice that I sing with when my real voice is on vacation.

How to explain this...

I do a tremendous amount of choral singing (something that will certainly be changing next year, I love it but I need to not do this to myself). Choral singing inherently requires a different manner of singing than solo singing. This is a huge struggle for everyone who pursues both solo and choral singing. I tend to control too much in my throat in choral singing, straighten and darken my tone, this is because no matter how much we attempt to flee from the little boy sound, that is the tone quality that so much choral music was written for boys. (speaking of which check out "I am the day" creepy!, also ask me to do my choir boy voice for you some time...years of emulating that song has created a monster)

Anyhow the larynx comes up and I tend to cover my mouth, this is my default I'm tired and will just do this to promote blending. However, the "problem" is that I can call this fake voice in for "real" singing as well. Just push it up and out of the system. The thing is many people can't tell, they still come and ask me to sing them to sleep (yes that has happened more than once).

Real singing is an effort of the lower body, everything is engaged and you feel invigorated all over afterward. The analogy that I frequently use is that your belly is a submarine and all of the business on top is just the periscope...good for looking out of, but not much else. Another frequently used analogy is that all sound is supported below, and then happens above your top teeth. Your head is like a house of mirrors that reflects the sound but does not hinder it.

So that's what I did in my voice lesson, tried to re-find my voice. It worked fairly well, I just have to keep it up. Interestingly, "real" singing sounds quieter to me in my head, but from the out side I'm told it's louder than "fake" singing. I guess that's because when I'm singing poorly the sound gets caught up in my mouth and such and is louder to me. So if I look lax tongued and air headed, I'm probably doing something right...unless I'm taking a test, then we have a problem.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Something that I have recently given a lot of thought to is how to deal with insult, or criticism with grace. We certainly can not expect that we will always be received with the reaction that we think that we deserve, so how to deal with this?

I recently had a really unfortunate run in with voice teacher...who was simply down right mean with me. I am certainly not blameless in the situation, but he called my professionalism in to question and told me that if I were in conservatory I would be kicked out of the program for such behavior. This was not true, as I found out later there was a lot of other things going on to miff him, but still unnecessary.

However the timing was terrible, my senior recital was days away and I still needed to work with him and my accompanist together.

How to deal with this...for me this first involved sobbing on the phone to a past voice teacher who had once studied with this man as well. And then it involved a lot of resilience. I dressed up nicely for my lesson, and steeled myself. My father used to tell me (in reference to arm wrestling) that steel is strong, and it does not need to push back. I decided to take this advice.

We ultimately got work accomplished...he did not mention anything to me, nor did he really talk to me, he mostly talked to my accompanist. I have since had my voice lesson canceled and have had 2 rehearsals and 2 performances with him and run into him at the local coffee shop where I do my readings on Thursdays.

I have been incredibly nice, polite and pleasant with him upon every occasion. I think this is the best thing to be done. Perhaps he regrets what he said to me, perhaps not, but being nice confuses him at moments and makes all situations more pleasant. I had to get over quite a bit of hurt to be able to get to a place to be nice to him, but it really only took me a day to do this, and now two weeks later I have no animosity towards him.

We'll see what happens tomorrow at my first post recital lesson with him. I think that the important thing is that I dealt with my hurt with out negatively engaging him. I certainly did point out to him that his words were unnecessarily harsh, but I got over my hurt and anger away from him. Now if we need to talk about this I at least will be able to do it in a productive manner. I have no idea if he will be able to, as he has a history of burning bridges.

So my advice extends to him as well. He needs to support the people who he hurt who are now hurting him back (read the University). It's not about being the better person, or even necessarily the bigger person, but knowing how to let go of things that are in the past and should no longer be prevalent. I don't know how to describe it other than you have to unwrap your ego from the situation and subsequently make the best of it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

just some things

just some things for your amusement.

First something to appeal to those who love Gypsies
in fact check out that entire page if you like the top one...this has to be the best thing I've found (via someone else of course)

then for those who love strings

if you like the strings then check out some history

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


am I arguing this with any accuracy?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Pub

I was at the pub last night, after a fairly tumultuous day, which I won't go into here, however one of the people who I met there asked me about musical notation.
namely he wanted to know why we have so many different clefs and why we don't just make all of our instruments transposing.
I looked at him and told him he was confusing would that be. To have a c on the staff but any variety of actual notes played.
Then I was like is that really more confusing than different clefs.
I still stick with yes. From a practical standpoint you want everyone to be able to play the same notes when you call out a letter name, and while good instrumentalists who play transposing instruments know exactly what's going on...
interjecting thought says that if you learn to read music with your instrument you just associate that space with whatever note it indicates on your instrument.

My explanation was based in vocal music. Notation was initially created by and for vocalists, and the different ranges of voices are separated by about a third (please correct me if I'm wrong) and this is why clefs are as they are...maybe

except for that c clef is move able

I don't know, I still think that having all instruments be transposing is nuts

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The piano

I was reading an article for class about the piano's dominance in the mid 19th century and was struck by one of the arguments. For the most part the article addressed the growing popularity of the piano at this time and attributed it to growing literacy in the working class in New England and other fairly interesting ideas.

However what struck me was the use of the piano as a historicizing instrument. It was during this time that quite a bit of key board music from the baroque and classical period was brought back into the realm of performance. This is not surprising as the romantic period in general (not just musically) had a certain obsession with the past. However for me it called into question the way that we perform and study "classical" music now. (The scare quotes are because the time period of classical and the notion of classical music that we have ore really not quite the same thing, however I lack the vocabulary to find a more suitable word to cover the formal music canon of western Europe and later the united states)

It seems that the mid 19th century represented a flip in the way that we study and perform music. Simply: we used to study music of past masters and perform contemporary music. One would simply not go out to hear Bach or Handel (Handel some, I guess)while you could go out and hear the latest work of Mozart. One certainly would not go hear Dufay or Tallis. However if you studied music to write it you knew all about these people. The performance realm however, whether in private salons, or later in Vienna in public theaters was of the latest music that was written.

Now the most avantegarde "classical" music that is being written is virtually unknown to the public, in fact the only place to really access it is in the classroom. Instead we go to the concert hall to hear the work of past composers.

I know that my argument fails to take main stream music trends into consideration. This is something that I will need to continue wrestling with, trying to judge where it falls in comparison with everything else. (a strictly historical judgment, not aesthetic at all)

Anyhow that is a brief summery of ideas that struck me as a result of a mediocre class, I guess it's not too mediocre if it made me think.

Side note, I bought myself two books today!
This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J Levintin
and on a lighter note
Fortissino, Backstage at the Opera with Sacred Monsters and Young singers by William Murray

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

a review!?

I sang this concert last quarter, and I had no idea that it was reviewed!
(I don't think I've seen a review about myself)
I had an advantage in this hall, it eats up lower voices, really soprano's are the only ones who can get past the first few rows...but yeah sorry I'm indulging myself!

With her impressive dynamic range, Embly stunned the crowd. Her clear, full voice soared to the carillons and sank expertly back to the cobbles in a matter of seconds. During her duet with Tenor in the Freudenlied section, Embly's ability to project had the unfortunate effect of obscuring Tenor's more hushed tone. Bass' rich, orotund bass-baritone provided a better contrast to Embly's seasoned soprano.

there are also live streaming files of me and I thought that googleing me was of no avail...because there are so many people with my name...mostly there are just different university sights announcing my senior recital...cools

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I have not written anything of any meaning in the month of March....I will try harder in April.
I am giving my senior recital in the middle of April so maybe I'll have some witty insights about program arranging and writing then...
the good news is that the career adviser thinks that I'll have no trouble finding a job next year if being wait listed doesn't work out! (hooray I wasn't rejected everywhere!)

as it is I'm trying to decide what courses I'm going to stay in this quarter. I have two that I'm unsure because it is being taught by a 5th year doctoral student...and while I know he'll be fine, I just don't know if that's how I want to close out my my tenure here. The other because it culminates with a 15-18 page paper...and honestly how motivated am I going to be...2 weeks from graduating needing to write this paper. But the class is on The Idiot, by Doestyevski who is awesome.

so that was too much just blogging about my life and too little musing about philosophy and music...hopefully I'll get back on track soon

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I'm back in chicago!

where it's warmer than it was in San Francisco...go figure.

I'm working on some fun Debussy, Strauss and Schubert.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

San Francisco

I'm in San Francisco for the week staying in a beautiful home!
I'm here with my school choir singing for a week. We don't have a crazy strenuous schedule thoug and we should get to enjoy the city.
This has been a cool couple of months. I got to explore New York City, visit LA, Housten and now San Francisco.
I really do like traveling in the end, seeing new places is always exciting and meeting new people or sharing experiences with people you've known but havn't spent very musch time with is tremendous.
see you when I've returned I suppose!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

teh mega paper writing

since I am in the throws of what promises to be the most hectic weekend ever I am posting something I blatantly copied from Kim Witman's blog. I presume she herself did not make it up. It made me smile

How to cook a conductor
One large conductor, or two small assistant conductors
26 large garlic cloves
Crisco or other solid vegetable shortening (lard may be used)
1 cask cheap wine
1 lb. alfalfa sprouts
2 lbs. assorted yuppie food, such as tofu or yogurt
One abused orchestra

First, catch a Conductor. Remove the tail and horns. Carefully separate the large ego and reserve for sauce. Remove any batons, pencils (on permanent loan from the Principal Second Violin) and long articulations and discard. Remove the hearing aid and discard (it never worked anyway).

Examine your conductor carefully - many of them are mostly large intestine. If you have such a Conductor, you will have to discard it and catch another. Clean the Conductor as you would a squid, but do not separate the tentacles from the body. If you have an older Conductor, such as one from a Major Symphony Orchestra or Summer Music Festival, you may wish to tenderize by pounding the Conductor on a rock with timpani mallets or by smashing the Conductor between two large cymbals.

Next, pour 1/2 of the cask of wine into a bath tub and soak the Conductor in the wine for at least 12 hours (exceptions: British, German and some Canadian Conductors have a natural beery taste which some people like and the wine might not marry well with this flavor. Use your judgment).

When the Conductor is sufficiently marinated, remove any clothes the Conductor may be wearing and rub it all over with the garlic. Then cover your Conductor with the Crisco. using vague, slow circular motions. Take care to cover every inch of the Conductor's body with the shortening. If this looks like fun, you can cover yourself with Crisco too, removing clothes first.

Next, take your orchestra and put as much music out as the stands will hold without falling over, and make sure that there are lots of really loud passages for everyone, big loud chords for the winds and brass, and lots and lots of tremolos for the strings. (Bruckner might be appropriate). Rehearse these passages several times, making certain that the brass and winds are always playing as loud as they can and the strings are tremolo-ing at their highest speed. This should ensure adequate flames for cooking your Conductor. If not, insist on taking every repeat and be sure to add the second repeats in really large symphonies.

Ideally, you should choose your repertoire to have as many repeats as possible, but if you have a piece with no repeats in it at all, just add some, claiming that you have seen the original, and there was an ink blot there that "looked like a repeat" to you and had obviously been missed by every other fool who had looked at this score. If taking all the repeats does not generate sufficient flames, burn the complete set of score and parts to all of the Bruckner symphonies.

When the flames have died down to a medium inferno, place your Conductor on top of your orchestra (they won't mind as they are used to it) until it is well tanned, the hair turns back to its natural color and all of the fat has dripped out. Be careful not to overcook or your Conductor could end up tasting like stuffed ham.

Make a sauce by combining the ego, sprouts and ketchup to taste, placing it all in the blender and pureeing until smooth. If the ego is bitter, sweeten with honey to taste. Slice your Conductor as you would any turkey. Serve accompanied by the assorted yuppie food and the remaining wine with the sauce on the side.

WARNING: Due to environmental toxins present in conductor feeding areas, such as heavy metals, oily residue from intensive PR machinery manufacture, and extraordinarily high concentrations of E.coli, cryptosporidium, and other hazardous organisms associated with animal wastes, the Departments for Conductor Decimation (DCD) recommend that the consumption of conductors be limited to one per season. Overconsumption of conductors has been implicated in the epidemiology of a virulent condition known as "Bataan fever." Symptoms of this disorder include swelling of the brain, spasms in the extremities, delusions of competence, auditory hallucinations and excessive longevity.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

blogging for me...

Just a warning, this post is less for wittiness and more for me to try to work something out in such a way that maybe it makes some little bit of sense. Though I'll give a tiny bit of background.

I'm taking a really neat class in adaptation in Film theater and opera. I missed the first class because I was in New York City for a week. When I came back and looked at the syllabus I freaked out...a creative project at the end having to do with adaptation! maybe I should drop it and petition to take only two classes this quarter since I'm a senior. I go to the next class; it rocks, the professor is really interesting active and articulate. The students are 2/3's graduate students so they really know what they are talking about and are able to have interesting conversation. I do the first assignment, it's totally out of my league, but I give it a shot. I do passably well on the assignment, am criticized for being too general. I am however a "big picture" learner. I freak out again about this final paper (it can now be a critical paper) I can't do it, professor thinks I can, Embly spends some time in the library.

Adaptation as parody. The first edition of the Beggar's Opera was published in in 1728 by John Gay in London. He had up to this point been a fairly unsuccessful author of plays and other verse. The Beggar's opera is the first successful example of the ballad opera. In fact this piece is credited for starting the genre. There are 69 songs in the work 28 are derived from English ballads the other 18 are drawn from Purcell, Handel, and other composers (this is taken from Grove Music Online, I'd link it but you'd need an account to get in) The name Ballad opera is a little deceiving because it is not so much an opera as a play with pieces of music in it, however 69 pieces is a bit hefty to call a

The beggar's opera was successful because of several different factors. First off it is a parody of Opera Seria. Specifically the Italian opera of the time. The opera seria deals with "lofty" subjects kings and queens, classical subjects (Greek myths) and is generally attended by an equally lofty audience, the aristocracy, and the aristocrazy (Greek myths) . There is a lot that is contrived in l'opera seria, entrance arias, exit arias, a set number of arias for the leading couple...for the second couple, the tenor is yon love interest, the bass is yon bad guy...also lots of castrati roles, these are sometimes later delegated to women. The exit arias are the hardest, because sometimes the plot does call for an aria as someone leaves, and sometimes the librettist really has to stretch the plot. the beggar's opera deals with entirely everyday subjects. Mack the knife is a captain of a gang of thieves, Mr Peachem, is the king of the beggars (or something). Among other things I have not heard the word slut thrown around so much as I did in this opera. The piece ends happily, but only because the narrator insists that opera must end happily.

There is political satire, I am actually much less clear on this. So when we interact with government officials in this opera they are all being bribed, and are all in all not so wonderful people. Is it the power of a beggar? Is it just the show of how in decent we are as people? I am less than clear.

Berthold Brecht, re-writes the piece as the Threepenny opera. The plot remains about the same, however since it is Brecht there is a large stand against the evil of Capitalism. Also the king comes and saves Mackie Messer at the end. The music is almost all newly written by Kurt Weill. This piece too is tremendously successful. It is in fact one of those pieces that is thought to have revolutionized modern musical theater...who knows.

Here is the dilemma...where is the thesis? How can this paper not simply be, this is the form of opera seria, this is how gay diverges from it. This is the Beggar's opera, this is how Brecht diverges from it. The form of the Ballad opera is not at all like what the Opera seria was. Nor was it really an opera at all, it was performed by actors that could sing, rather than singers...the pieces are all very simple AABB pieces. This is not even the da capo structure that one would expect out of opera seria, it is however still very regular with-in itself.

So can we see the series of changes made on a genre (with in the microcosm of these works) as a deconstruction of form? Each piece can stand on its own, and each piece brings something new to the overall work of an art form, and how and what is the adaption (something that I am far less clear on defining now on this end of an adaptation course rather than before it)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


So I have posted a few what I found interesting posts this month: I have once more decided that musicians can be creative, but I'll talk more about that later. For now I think I'll actually talk about what I've been up to for the month.

so I have been applying to Masters programs in vocal performance. I already have things that I would have done differently and the results are not all in, but more on that in the event that I am not accepted any where.

I vacillate between feeling confident about my ability to get into programs and thinking that I don't have a chance. Why I vacillate this way is partly confidence and ego and partly that I am a slightly different candidate than most people applying for masters. My undergraduate degree is fully theoretical...not that the degree is is a literal degree, but that the things that I study are theoretical. So I've taken some killer courses on cognitive science and musical theory, Galileo's astronomy, astro-physics, and other such gems. However I have not been trotting to Juries every few months, I have no diction classes, no movement courses...and gladly no review "Art song through the ages". I just made that up, but it seems plausible.

So that said I'm super ready to just focus on singing for a while, because it is what I love the most, and what I'm best at.

This month I've been to two cities that I've never been to before! Both for under 24 hours. The audition in California went really well! they were positive and even worked with me on a technique they were interested in seeing me develop. They chatted with me for some time, and expressed that they saw a lot of potential in me. However they also said that they would call, and they haven'

Texas was sort of mechanical. I was in and then I was out, I don't even know if they will remember me. I'm just another lyric soprano in the crowd. I also heard rumors that they call there too...again nothing. The people there were very nice though, and the guy adjudicating the enormous test we had to take was nice...the test was also not too bad.

Chicago audition for north Carolina school was disappointing. I sang fine...but I just sang fine. I was also the youngest there by I'm not holding out any hope for that one.

Chicago audition...went really well! They had a really good set up where they had a undergraduate and a graduate student in the little stage anti-room where you stewed before your audition. they convinced me to sing the Laudamus Te (Mozart) even though it's long...because I sing the crap out of those runs. you should have seen the smiles on their faces when I sang them! They also knew both my teacher and my coach. So I'm really hoping hard for that one.

Anyhow that's the potential excitement/disappointment in my life.

someone took my hat and gloves


Monday, February 19, 2007

creative musicians?

I was pondering a project for a class that I am taking and deciding whether to do an analytical project or a creative one, when I had some troubling thoughts:
What could I possibly do that is creative? I'm not particularly creative....but how could that be? I'm striving to be a musician! being creative is part of the whole allure...yes?

Well if you think about it a musician could get along without being creative at all. If you just do what everyone tells you to do you'll be fine.

of course of course there is more to music than notes that are put together.

but think about it. A musician learns a piece for notes. Then depending upon the piece you get another set of information from the composer, how is it to be played when? You go to a teacher, they explain what technically will make the piece wonderful. You go to a coach they tell you what specific emotions to place with the music...perhaps they ask you to come up with what you think the emotions should be. Finally it is the musician's job to take all of these directions and perform. Notes, language, history, emotion all of these things are wrapped up in a performance, but is creativity?

So is emoting on stage an art? Is creating a sublime integration of what you know about the piece for the performance creativity?

I once told someone that a singer can move you even if they don't know what the piece is about. That part of performing is knowing how to move people.

I'm not sure that I really believe this, but there certainly can be artists that simply are able to be vessels of other people's creativity.

I like to think that the best, and the greatest musicians are tremendously creative. The most moving performances must come from a deeper well than years of coaching. Look at Yo-yo Ma. He is one of the musicians whom I respect the most. He is truly a musician and an artist. He is not simply a fabulous cellist but an innovative thinker who is interested in exploring and creating new music. Take a look at his diskology, there is tremendous depth and variation. He is not afraid to go and explore a music that he has no familiarity with, he does not simply stick with "what has worked" but pushes at the boundaries.

In conclusion I love Yo-Yo Ma

Saturday, February 10, 2007

a sample of my distraction

I just watched an episode of the OC....I know I know my brains are going to rot out and die, but I just have a question.
how old are these kids supposed to be? 15? 16? and 17? I mean they're all played by actors my age at the very least. Which isn't all that much older, but those 4 to 6 years at this point in our lives makes a tremendous difference.

on a more serious note I have to write this dialoge as several critics reviewing a concert by Uri Caine.

Uri Caine is an avante garde jazz musician who does....well the best word I've heard used for it is deconstruction.
He takes Mahler, Beethoven, Mozart, and does adaptations or interpretations of their works. It's pretty cool. I'm not as a rule a tremendous fan of avante garde Jazz, I in fact take up large issues of continuity and form (I know I know the very things that they are rejecting) with them.

But in any case this is interesting because I know the pieces that he is playing with and can therefore take pleasure in his changes. I like it, I don't think that it is something I want to listen too on a regular basis, but I really like it as an intellectual exercise regarding "classic" music.

Well that above statement brings up two things in one go:
1. what is the point of music if you don't want to listen to it on a regular basis
2. is there any music that one actually does want to listen to on a regular basis, and does it have more or less value if you do?

it would seem that all music is written with the intention that it would be listened to. I'm not actually sure if on a regular basis is actually necessary, but to be listened to and enjoyed to such an extent that one would wish to listen to it again. There are certainly some composers out there who do not write in such a way, but they are trying to stick it to the man, and well for them it's lose lose. They lose if they are (by their own definition) successful because no one listens to, knows, cares about, and therefore buys their music. they lose if they are (by society as a wholes definition) successful, because people listen to the music that they did not mean to be listened to.
And of course if they are really successful they can only be seen as a sell out. And as Adorno so kindly puts it, this results in the complete emasculation (actually I think Adorno says castration) of the musician

for me there is actually no particular type of music or piece that I want to listen to all the time. Certainly I go in and out if phases of certain music that I want to listen to at a certain point, but never am I compelled to listen to listen to a certain type of music all the time. That said I don't even desire to listen to music all the time. I have absolutely no desire for an I-pod at all, nor do I listen to music all the time in my room. In fact I listen to music less and less as I study music more and more. I guess I find myself too engaged in the music to have it merely be background music...there's a pretentious word for this..diagetic music??? It appears I just made that word up....I remember my second year of college I took the required intro to ethnomusicology class an we had to make a list of all of our "musical interactions" of the day. This included things like rhythmic tires and feet and birds that we noticed that day and made us think of music as well as music we listened to and rehearsal that we went to. I remember one guy in the class, in the usual pretentious way, made the comment that he could never listen to music as merely background music, or something to manipulate his mood, this would be degrading the status of music as it is art that one should be engaged in. I thought he was completely full of it (this is the same kid who last year when we had to write a canon for musicianship skills chose the chords D flat diminished and C augmented (or something to that effect) to write it over but that's another rant for another time) but at this point I can sort of understand why he said that. I certainly don't agree with him, I certainly do listen to music as background music, and use it to manipulate my mood, yet I understand the desire to actively engage in it.
That all said I guess my feeling is that if you listen to a certain type of music all the time you might be cheapening it for yourself, and that no great music is not something that someone wants to be immersed in all the time.