November 26, 2011

Forum round up, more of


Have been trailing around under a cloud all day, a cloud of Handbell Worry.   I have enough worries.*   

            So let’s have a little more forum round-up. 


What anime were you watching? 

The first feature was Aeon Flux.  There’s a lot of stuff on the web—including YouTube clips—about it.  I’ll just say that it’s a lot creepier in the dark of a theatre than it is in snips on your computer screen.  Also, what we saw was silent, which was part of its anti-charm**, and monochrome—all beige and black.  Much more unsettling.***

            The main feature was Akira.  Ugh.  Sorry.  But ugh.†  But I loved Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro, so I am not wholly lost to anime.  

Maren quotes:

LRK wrote:

. . . the tree was full of peacefully munching, perfectly relaxed, goats! . . .

I don’t know the specific documentary, but I think it was probably these guys. It looks like there are lots of pictures and YouTube videos if you Google “goats in trees”. 

I want to see a video of them running up the trees in the first place.  I’m not nearly so impressed that they can run down.  

It is a misconception that goats will eat anything. They . . . are pretty much the pickiest animal on the farm. . .  They would certainly never stoop to eating a rope. Now that is not to say they might not pick it up and mouth it a bit, but eat?  Never

Well, it depends on your goat, doesn’t it?  I actually know the ‘fussiest eater’ version of goat keeping more than I know the ‘eats anything’ myth, but friends who’ve had goats say that it’s more that you never know what goats may take into their heads to decide is a delicacy, which may include things like the (human) kids’ winter coats and house shingles (which I would have assumed would be full of poisonous wood preservatives, but apparently not in this case).  And rope.  At least one goat couldn’t be staked out because she’d eat the rope and trundle off cross country.  And she didn’t just gnaw it through.  She ate it.  (Again I’d’ve thought this would play havoc with her digestion . . . but I guess not.)  But this sort of thing must be where the myth got started . . . ?  And why goat keepers often have grey hair within their first year of goat-keeping, from worrying about what the goats have unexpectedly been eating.  Speaking of worrying.  


Youtube is both awesome and really, really annoying for teachers. . . . watching blatantly wrong performances . . . is not an insignificant problem, particularly if students’ music-reading skills are sketchy. If you learn by ear, you may not catch a mistake in a recording. And if you learn it wrong, it’s a total pain to fix it, both for the teacher and the student.

For the . . . student who will . . . check what the singer sings vs. what’s on the music, Youtube (and . . . recordings in general) present a different problem. Your interpretation of a piece is supposed to be yours. What frequently happens is a student falls in love with a particular recording . . .  and then tries to imitate it. Sometimes the imitation is just in phrasing/interpretation . . .  but frequently there can be subconscious attempts to make one’s voice do what the recording artist’s does, whether or not your voice is made to do that – which is what Nadia was worried about. This is a bigger problem, as voices that are trying to do things they can’t (yet) can end up . . . very messed up. . . .  

My teacher’s opinion on recordings was always . . . : when you start learning the piece, leave the recordings alone. After you get the notes/rhythms/basic interpretation under your belt, listen to as many recordings as you can. This theoretically gives you oodles of exposure to lots of different interpretations, so you can grab her breathing spot, her phrasing of this particular passage, etc. . . . 

Harrumph.  Well, since Nadia is catching me up about listening to YouTube, I must have to take some of this seriously . . . but basically I’m going to say what I more or less said here on Monday:  I haven’t got enough frelling voice (yet) to try and make it do anything except totter anxiously through the notes in more or less the right order, speed, and pitch. Try to sound like Marilyn Horne?  Hahahahahahahahaha.  And I’m going to say this to Nadia next week too††, and see what she says, since I have to assume I’m missing something.  Meanwhile I am trying to learn Dove Sei cold turkey and . . . 


And then she reminded me that if I’m serious about this better-choir thing I need to start thinking about learning to sight-sing. AAAAAAAAAAUGH.

I admit it. I laughed my evil teacher laugh when I read this. 

Sigh.  And did I tell you on Monday that I took a deep breath and said, okay, when my hour lessons start?  That was before I found out they were starting next week. 


That Marilyn Horne recording is the one I remember from my art song literature class a couple years [ago]. Sooooo lovely. I’m absolutely in awe of her breath support and those long legato lines! 

Yes.  She’s a whole book in herself about breath support.  I’d loved her for years before I was lucky enough to hear her in person and . . . I was completely dumfounded.  It’s not that I thought there was any hocus-pocus about the recordings, just . . . the human mechanism can’t do that.

I usually start with Youtube when I’m learning an unfamiliar song, too.

Oh.  Yaaay.  Whew.  I’m not just lazy and backward. . . . 

I try not to listen to the same performance over and over, though, so that I don’t end up singing it exactly like whoever I’m listening to. 

Well, see above.  I can’t.  But without thinking about it I automatically prefer to hear different versions because I’m looking for a rough guide not a perfect template.  At my level a perfect template would just be depressing. 

But, though I’m capable of sightreading, I do find it easier to have some idea of what the song is supposed to sound like before I start beating out notes and rhythms! 

Well, this is my excuse—and what I’m going to try on Nadia when I see her again.  My sense of rhythm is a little unpredictable and it’s quite a good idea that I check against someone who knows what they’re doing occasionally (speaking of having to relearn after mistakes).  And as soon as I get away from the gorgeous professional recording or superlative student recital and back to my piano, my music and my . . . ahem . . . voice, the gorgeous-professional fades rapidly under the onslaught of the real

Jeanne Marie

LOVE Marilyn Horne!

And, after listening to Dove Sei, I couldn’t resist listening to THIS 

And what a good way to end a blog.  With cookies.††† 

* * *

* Tower Bell Worry, for example.  We had enough of a turnout tonight that I got to ring Cambridge, which of course means I screwed it up:  which is doubly^ annoying because I’m fairly close to being able to ring the wretched thing.  I just never know from one month to the next when I’ll get the chance to try.  But the current worry is that we’re about to spend fabulous amounts of money on getting our bells all fabuloused up . . . and then won’t have anyone to ring them.

            Niall had told Penelope Colin’s shocking news and she got me in a corner tonight and started telling me forcefully—as only someone who has taught classrooms full of junior high boys can be forceful—that I would certainly fit into one of Niall’s other handbell groups and that it would be fine and that furthermore the energy spike^^ of learning to ring with a new group would have me ringing Doohickey Surprise in no time.  Uh huh.  And I will have SHADOWS finished by the end of January.^^^ 

^ Or, possibly, spliced.  Splicedly?  

^^ What she means is ‘adrenaline panic’ but she’s too nice to say so 

^^^ IF IT WERE DUE IN AUGUST SHADOWS WOULD BE GOING BRILLIANTLY.  Well, it is going pretty well.  It’s just not going end-of-January well.  Speaking of worries. 

** And was pretty much the reason for its inclusion, since one of the board of three who are trying to get this show on the road as a regular few-times-a-year feature of Weird Alternative Cinema, is a composer of off the wall electronic music.  He wrote a sound track, and it worked extremely well. 

*** And it was unsettling, although I’m easily unsettled.  I spend too much time officially out of my mind and planet and I don’t really need anyone trying to yank my chain.  On the other hand, I’d been warned it was going to be sexually kinky.  Either they’d had to cut the extreme bits to get permission to show it, or I had a more comprehensively experimental youth than I realised.  

† And about the loathly lady story:  there is pretty much a loathly-lady story for all occasions.  It’s really only the reverse of Beauty and the Beast, and every human culture we know enough about to know the stories it tells has some version of Beauty and the Beast.   It will not amaze you that I have the McKinley version of the unsatisfactory King Henry in hen-scratches in a paper file folder somewhere, waiting for time to write it up.  

†† Eeeep.  Speaking of worrying.  I am going to be in a complete falling-down-and-biting-the-carpet frenzy of terror by next Wednesday.  The combination of going to her home for the first time, and having the first of my hour-long lessons is rendering me incapable of believing that I am capable of learning anything at all, let alone filling up an hour. 

            I am so frelling hopeless.  Gaaah. 

††† What I missed, having been born too early for Sesame Street.


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