Sunday, September 24, 2006

Paul broke the teapot and was reprimanded by his mum for being such a clumsy child.
Ralph knocked the glass bottle over, but mum tells him it's ok, because he's an adult.

Elizabeth mixes around with guys and she's a bitch.
Justin is popular because you see girls around him all the time.

'Underneath the Muslim dress is a sexually oppressed woman', the westerners say.
Don't you dare fall prey to rapists with your scant western miniskirt.

Indian man wearing a sarong walking in a void deck was stopped by police officers.
'Can i see your work permit?' was the first thing the officer asked,
Even though he is a professor in sociology.

Prejudice. Based on a true story.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

There is a bump in the ground right in front of the abyss. Ordinarily, one would gaze upon its endlessness and see a patch of darkness, and would make themselves believe that THAT is the end of the drop.

Well, in a sense, that is true, even if that patch does not really represent the ground beneath the cliff, even if that patch just goes to show that even light cannot reach the deeper end of the hole. Because if someone were to fall into it, he would have experienced his end in the vicinity of the blackness, and from then on, if he ceases to exist, so will everything else.

And so, on one extraordinary day, i chose to be unaware of what my feet were doing and they took the liberty of tripping over the bump. I will explain the next everything in slow motion.

For about a short while(3 miliseconds, being the average human reaction time), i was still walking. Now this is important because this is the difference between a careful person and a dead one. The next thing that happened to me was my heart skipped a beat and i stopped breathing. My arms were outstretched hoping for an embrace but caught thin air instead. And when my body was in the air horizontally, i realised i was on my way down.

It was frantic. I couldn't think straight. I wanted to do silly things hoping for something unexpected to happen. in other words, i was hoping for the best but expecting the worst. But then, me being me, i told myself that i've already fallen, so might as well make the best of the situation.

And so i thought about the bump that caused my fall(yeah, blame it on bump), and wondered if i should been more careful. Rational. But i realised that no one is rational at all times. What is rationality anyway? How is it meaningful? Does it really prevent a fall?

And so i stopped blaming the bump. I stopped blaming myself. And i started to think about all the wonderful things that happened before feet hit bump. How do you recapitulate your life in 10 seconds? You don't. You don't even take away those that aren't on your priorities. You simply focus on what you cherish the most. I can tell u, having fallen to my death, that the mind works extremely quickly when deciding on such a complex task as arranging your priorities. Makes you wonder what you've been doing pondering over all your indecisions.

Next, i've sort out all my priorities, blessed my loved ones, threw away my wallet, took off my clothes and shoes and specs. Yup i was ready to return to mother nature as innocently as i've been delivered into this world. What is there to be afraid or ashamed of? I'm sure clothes aren't in that priority list 8 miliseconds ago.

And then i hit the blackness. Consciousness decided to bail out from my soul. And after some delay, i reached the ground. Splattered with guts spilling all over. Some shit from yesterday's beer hit an unlucky vulture waiting to pounce on my carcass(we're all animals). Vulture vomits in disgust. I'm dead, and there's no way back.

Have you died? I have, and it's wonderful, because you always die a better person. Next time i wanna die again and see if my mind can work faster putting my priorities in order. And i wanna find out whether they will consistently be the same again.

Can anyone guess what the bump is? And what did that death really mean?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Playing in the Just Intonation

The Just Intonation is said to be the most aurally intuitive intonation where 'consonances' are concerned. Whereas 'consonances' and 'dissonances' can be subjective, i'm inclined to the view that the fundamental intervallic components making up the basic 4-note jazz harmony(maj/min 3rds) are consonant intervals. Further, i should add that the perfect unison/octave and fifth are also widely accepted to be intervals of consonances. It is in this light that i wish to discuss, albeit in a limited fashion, the ways of achieving a Just Intonation in the playing of an ensemble. My discussion should apply to most instruments in the orchestra, except the piano and the harp. However, via my limited knowledge, i've often extrapolated my deductions from the humble flute. Also bear in mind that i'm not formally trained in music and so the arguments may not be tight, from the academic point of view. Nevertheless, i present the findings that i've made during the course of my playing and i stand by their truth as perceived with my aural abilities.

The presence of overtones is more apparent in lower instruments than in higher ones. However, insruments such as the oboe have rich overtones that are easily detected especially during the low notes. In addition, the characteristic odd partials of a clarinet can also be easily heard. Hence, a method applicable for these instruments is to use these overtones as tuning anchors. Recall that the overtone series are in fixed mathematical ratios corresponding to the just intonation. In my opinion, it is impractical to attach a number to the relative intervals. For example, saying that a certain interval should be 'x cents flat' does not directly enable a player to execute that 'x cents flat' phenomenon quickly enough, as the player is inclined to play at the Equal Temperament before making the necessary adjustments. This method of overtonal tuning reduces the difficult task of playing in Just Intonation to that of playing in unision with the overtones. I believe that daily practices facilitated by chorales(esp by Bach) facilitate playing in the Just Intonation.

However, the above method is rather restrictive. As the pitches become higher, the overtones become less audible, even for the lowest instruments. There comes a time when it becomes impractical trying to pick out an effectively non-present overtone. In addition, the overtone series become increasingly crowded. Mathematically speaking, they converge, according to the Dirichlet test. That is to say, if the intervallic distance is great(spanning about 4 octaves), a player may find it hard to find the desired overtone to tune to(if he can hear it in the first place) because there are too many overtones that are within the vicinity of the desired overtone. In this light, i recommend what i call the composite tuning method.

The composite method is so named because it utilises the method discussed above(albeit applied in a slightly different fashion) and superimposes the method with aural perception. I shall first discuss the latter.

It has been experimentally verified that the human ear is conditioned to accept Just Intervals as the most pleasant interval(as compared to other kinds of intonation). This aural perception will facilitate(in fact, it should be pivotal) the player to execute a Just Interval. However, the player must have already achieved a good degree of aural finesse in order to be able fully utilise the method. The best way to achieve this is via singing the intervals themselves and adjusting the voice in minute pitch adjustments to abolish the beats/noise heard in an imperfect interval. One will find that at the onset of the disappearance of the beats/noise, that interval will be Justly tuned. One should be cautioned that only close harmony should used for this training purposes.

Having achieved the aural facility required for Just Intonation, the player can then apply this skill to open harmonies by using the overtones that allow them to close the harmony. For instance, if a tubist is playing a low C, and the flutist is playing a fifth space(treble clef) E, the flutist can use the tuba's overtone that occurs at the 3rd space C on the treble clef. Effectively, the flutist's task is reduced to playing in Just Intonation in a close harmony, because he will be effectively tuning a pure and Just major 3rd.

The composite method will only manifest itself as a excellent method via good aural training. If utilised by the rough ear, the method will seek to destroy the very hopes that it wishes to achieve. It is expedient to be unwaveringly critical of one's hearing in order to achieve a pure, clean harmony.
what is it that colours have that make people love what they see? what is it about serenity that people are comforted? what is it about music that soothes the soul?

i'm not sure whether i've overscrutinized the limits of cause and effect, that some things just cannot be explained. But my mind tells me that there IS something about pleasant things that make us feel pleasant.

look into a pond, at your own reflection. what makes you want to make a ripple? what makes you want to follow the ripple till it disappears into the horizon? what makes a child adorable?

and what makes us ponder our existence? and what makes us think? just notice the impossiblity of NOT thinking, not having the tiniest of thought in your head. does closing the eyes help? it is impossible to be not thinking when you're conscious isn't it?

The mind can fathom that which is vast and even that which is miniscule. But the mind cannot fathom nothingness, for IF it does, it cannot be conscious of it, otherwise it wouldn't be nothingness.

Does nothing coexist with everything?

Monday, July 10, 2006

How come nochet sleep

JUST for the radio gig, i slept early. And JUST for once, i woke up after sleeping for only 3 hours. And i couldn't get back to sleep after that. Don't tell me it's nerves.

I hope this doesn't affect my voice man. First time soloing so many songs. I've become a Scary Mary(chok, 2006).

Oh anyway, for those who're interested, VoCollision(which is my a cappella group) is singing today at 10am at 93.8fm. Feel free to tune in!

This and next month are going to be hectic. Tonnes of gigs, a cappella championships, 1 band concert, 1 song to write, and my flute exam! Life as a performing artist is never dull, eh?

Ok lah, i have to get ready for the radio show. Will do a proper update when i'm done with it(if i'm not tired out by my lack of sleep by then).

Friday, July 07, 2006

Have you ever met someone who makes you feel as if you've known the person for longer than you've met?

Shinni's one of those. We met when i joined Resonance 3 years ago. She was already in the club before i joined(she's 1 yr younger than me, and i had army. go figure.). Well i'm not about to summarise 3 years into1 blog so i'll not do so here, but let's just say that she has since become a very good friend of mine.

So we were chatting after Equivox practice today. Talked about the future of Equivox. Shared thoughts about what's up next. Laughed at how we anticipated(correctly) what each other's about to say. Bitched about people and the current state of affairs, and bitched freely we did, knowing that this will be kept(or forgotten?) secret by a trustworthy friend.

She also told me what false consciousness is, and how it is related to capitalism. She also applied the theory to the army! Sociology majors have great ideas man. Ideas that are revolutionary and can make or break nations of peoples.

But what surprised me was that she's starting to be concerned about her weight. I know, i know, guys don't notice the small changes in women's figures(even though i was quite sure i stare intently sometimes), but she's usually not the type to think about such stuff. She even suggested we eat salad. But i managed to salvage the dreadful situation of having to eat salad for dinner by asking(telling) her this:"you sure it's enough or not? cannot one lah". We shared a 2-person serving of Spanish paella, whatever that was. Without beer coz they didn't have beer. Which is terrible.

The thing about Shinni is that i am absolutely myself when i'm with her. She makes me feel at ease about doing and saying anything. I can make a dirty joke, curse at noisy little children, or even say out my evil thoughts without me feeling guilty or worried that i might have given myself a very bad impression. I don't have to put up a facade about what i feel about things when things are bitches. I don't have to pretend that anything is nice when it isn't. And that is about as cool anyone can get.

To top it all, she is articulate, independent and understanding. And she loves beer too. Oh, and did i mention that she's also pretty? And likes jazz?

I have cool friends.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Temptation is....

Temptation is.....

......when i stare at the Kim Crawford Merlot that i bought for dine, thinking about whether i should finish it.

......when i discover i have leftover bratwursts just before going to sleep.

......when i see people exposing their buttcracks with their (hipster?) jeans. I call them ass-cracker jeans. I really want to pour cold water into the offending crevice and watch what happens.

......when that top fits nicely without showing my manboobs, but i'll be broke after acquiring it.

......when someone sings off-key, and i want to correct it.

......when someone sings on-key, and i want to harmonise it.

......when someone is in sitting in a knee-jerk position, and i want to test it. Incidentally i seem to be unable to do that to myself.

......when i see nice, tanned legs. Enough said.

......when that fucker with oversized balls sits beside me on an MRT/bus and opens his legs wide to air them, and i want him to be the wall of my free-kick. Ask Dwight Yorke.

...... when i smell apple crumble. Enough said.

Oh, speaking of which, here's a joke i heard from somewhere: How do you make an apple crumble? Ans: Kick it in the balls. That is ultra cool. Use imagery if you don't get know why it's so funny.

It's 7.07am. Good morning, Mr Sunshine.
It's really unexpected.

There are many moments in life that cannot be anticipated. It's like strolling barefeet along the beautiful coast and stepping onto a grumpy crab.

And it's difficult to describe the loss I felt when you decide that the time has come for you to leave. There are many things that I want to say, but I guess i won't have the chance to say them, and even if i had the chance, i won't be able to bring myself to say them.

But i know you understand better than me, that you will be happier this way. And you have my blessings, and gratitude for just having been there for a while in this transient existence of life. I'm not sure whether you'll come back again, but the door's always open.

Life will go on, and it'll be tough for now. But i'm sure it'll still be hell of a ride.

Missing you. Always.
I love Stacey Kent. Especially on rainy days like today.

Rainy days like this are strangely thought and emotion provoking. It makes you want to look at the sky and ask questions about things you've never thought about before. Or maybe you have thought before, but that's during another rainy day. Incidentally, this day, being a very beautiful rainy day, i thought about beauty. A beauty that's less visual. A beauty that is precious and sometimes, hard to get and easily lost.

To me, freedom is beautiful. Freedom to be with the ones you love, freedom to watch the day go by when you really just want to watch the day go by. Freedom to savour the scent of a used flute. Freedom to sing. Freedom to make beautiful chord changes. Freedom to do what you want.

Ability is freedom. You must be able to hold the brush properly to paint. You must have the ability, the will-power to take time out from a busy schedule to be able to appreciate the company of loved ones. In short, you must have the ability to love.

Sometimes we fight for freedom. We rebel and make big sacrifices in exchange for a freedom that is only transient. We are proud of our sacrifices until the day we regret our actions. And then everything falls apart, because we think it was a foolish sacrifice. And then we begin to wonder why we craved for freedom in the first place.

I think i have fought for a lot of kinds of freedom in my life. And i appreciate every of the freedom that i had/have. Sure, there have been wrong decisions and perceptions about things that i fought for, but as long as i was there to enjoy my beautiful freedom, i think i came out of my mistakes a little wiser each time.

Embrace freedom. It is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

One thing about this layout is that the text space is a little too small lah. I shall wait until my procrastination goes away before attempting to fix that.

Welcome back Simon, hiatus after hiatus. You've effectively removed yourself from your blogging community by your inactivity and have, until now, existed in the world that seems real to you. And yet, you may argue that the only 'real' difference between the blogging world and the world as you know it, is that fingers do the talking in the former. You may object and say,'nope, experiencing the real thing is really much different from living a fantasy.' But you will be shocked.

What is 'reality?' How different is it from 'fantasy'? If you've read Descartes, you will know that you think, therefore you exist, and that your bodily sensations may well be just figments of the devil's persuasion that have tainted your mind powerfully in more ways than you can imagine.' Now i know you seek not to be put into a philosophical mode right after Italy won 2-0, so i shall just leave you with the 2 questions that 'I' have posed to you.

Let's move on, with the assumption that 'I' is Me, Simon is Myself and each is no different from the other insofar as I am Simon. The past one year or so has been fantastic for me. In fact, maybe my whole life has been a fantastic journey. I've become more intimate with my creavity, more in touch with my music, made new and good friends along the way, understood more about nature in the form of mathematics and physics and in the midst of it all, still managed to only get drunk once or twice!

There are so many things to talk about that i don't even know where to start, but let me just quote an example of what i learnt in mathematics. Stop groaning. You only do so because you are not facultied for the slightest moment of a ponder. Here is the proof that empty sets exist(John D. Barrow, The Book Of Nothingness). Behold: The empty set exists, for if it doesn't, then the set of all such sets are empty, thereby showing that the empty set exists yet again. Elegant. If you don't understand the proof, read those italics very very slowly, like a true mathematician, and with patience, you should get it.

Now on to singing. I've realised, after all these year, that i've been singing the wrong way. Wrong because it harms my vocal cords. Oh well, mistakes happen. At least for now my sound is clearer and more even throughout the registers. I now have a 3 octave range, and am looking for the 4th! Anyway, if you did not come for Vocal Obsession II, which is my NUS a cappella group's concert, you ought to be shot. because it's good. VCDs available at 15 bucks each. order through me. More on a cappella in later entries. Oh, and if you ignoramus still think i'm in a choir(no disrespect to choristers out there), i'm not. I'm in a contemporary a cappella group. Actually i'm in 3. VoCollision, Equivox and Resonance. More about this later too.

On to alcohol. I went alcohol shopping today. Bought Irish Cream, Kahlua, Southern Comfort and Grenadine syrup. With my current collection of vodka, tequila and jack daniels sour mash, i should be able to do a few potent concoctions. Learnt how to layer my shooters, albeit in cocktail glass. This is where physics kicks in. You need to know the specific gravity of the liquids to determine the order to float the spirits. Cool. Shall get my shotglasses and barspoon today. And Beer and stout and wine.

No i'm not alcoholic. I'm an alcohol lover. Think about this: If you call me an alcoholic just by hearing me talk about alcohol, would you call an accountant a mathematician after he/she crunches a lot of numbers in his/her head?

Actually I could hear many people saying yes already. You all got it wrong, darlings. Awfully wrong. I shall not elaborate. Moving on.

Was shopping with Audrey for the liquors at Bugis today. She mentioned to me about how her friend told her she put on weight and had invited her to California Fitness and signed her in as guest, while she allowed herself to be fat-probed(you know, those kiap kiap things) by the trainers there. She was saying how her friend kept saying that she(Aud) had put on weight, and ought to do some exercise.

And so Aud told me she didn't really like the fact that her friend was going on about her weight. Bombshell for Stereotypers: She didn't like it coz she's happy that she's a bit meatier, and she doesn't look so skinny. She has my respect because of her utmost confidence(In fact i agree with her about her weight).

Now i find that there's something peculiar about the general weight issue thing. Is it only me, or has 'weight' become a more polite substitute for 'fat(as in body shape)'? Think about it, when a person is a little on the round side, he should 'lose some weight'. While there's really nothing wrong with saying that, it is really irksome that people deliberately avoid the word 'fat', or 'plump'. Ask anyone in the know and you'll realise that muscle is heavier(denser) than fat. 2 people of the same weight can well be built very differently. It is time to stop giving 'fat' that negative connotation of 'ugly'. Being fat/overweight is just like myopia, or insomnia. It is a health condition, not an asthetic comment. Do something about it only if you think it's bad for your health.

And friends of fat(or even not so fat) people: Do you keep reminding your friends that they are fat, teasing them everytime you do so? Don't let your own insecurities manifest itself in this way. It hurts the person you call a 'friend', because people like you have been perpetuating this negative connation. If you are genuinely concerned. Take them for an exercise and do it with them. Think about this: How often is,'you're lazy. study harder' and effective advice, if you don't drag your lazy friend to study with you? Your insensitive comments don't help, because you're only sitting there comfortable, as if you're watching a soap opera, waiting for your fat friend to gather enough confidence(which unfortunately, has been crushed to bits by you) to hit the gym. Motivate, not label.

Anyway, to clear people's doubts, i AM a little fat, and i do need exercise. But i'm saying all these only because i'm seeing it happening to people everywhere. Call them fat all you want, but if you're doing if for the sake of doing it, don't blame them for calling you nasty names about your own blemishes. So, who wants to hit the gym with me?

Anyway to end on a high note, it's Geraldine's bday today. I'll be meeting her later to er, test my cocktail recipes. So i shall sing her her bday song later. Geraldine is one of my flute juniors. Oh, and she's thin. And she packs a potent pinch. Maybe it's because i'm fat.

Finally, a quote from the sage, Homer Simpson: Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand. Now that's what i call wise nonchalance.