Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
I started today in a right foul mood. Why isn’t important, just that I was severely cranky. So, like any good addict, I updated my Facebook status: “Diane is angry, but has no one to be angry at. I guess she’ll have to cheer up then.” (I should write an ode to Facebook or something. Damn site practically… well it doesn’t run my life… it just runs commentary on it.)
Anyway, sometime later, my cousin responded, reminding me of what my dad might say: “Don’t worry, be happy!” Well, that came, of course, from the Bobby McFerrin song circa mid-1980′s. With that song, immediately came a flood of memories, that song coming out, being played at someone’s birthday party (either the cousin who responded on Facebook, or his sister, or his mother… I can’t be sure, I was little! … or at least young… I’ve always been ridiculously tall), listening to the tape in the car… the new car… must have been the Taurus… brains are special.
So I decided to go get it from iTunes. This is when I discovered who wrote it, seeing as I’m an idiot and couldn’t remember. The name Bobby McFerrin immediately reminded me of the album Hush that we also listened to quite a bit when I was a kid. Only it was a cassette tape. So who knows where that thing is, and I wouldn’t have anything to play it on anyway.
So I looked on iTunes! Low and behold, there it was. Of course I bought it too.
Seeing as my foul mood wasn’t really improving, I went immediately to the obvious cure. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” had me smiling by the first chorus. And now I am reveling in the combined sounds of voice and cello. Man… music is magic.
It’s true. I’m addicted to American Idol. I kinda knew this to be the case from when I started TiVo-ing the show, but the real kicker came last night. I bought Blake Lewis’ album. And I love it.
And in other American Idol news, America got it wrong! I was very sorry to see Danny go. I didn’t really like seeing Asia’h go either, but at least Kristy has redeeming qualities. But Chikezie? Seriously? *sigh*
I had to make a couple lists to follow up my last post. They are incomplete, but hopefully will be enough to knock some sense into me.
Reasons why I want to buy this:
- It’s really pretty
- It’s super-neat
- It doesn’t cost as much as I thought it might (the internet suggests a range in the low to mid $2000 range, my brain initially assumed more like $10k)
- I’ve lately been thinking that I want an electric guitar to go along with my basic acoustic and my electric-acoustic
Reasons why I should not buy this:
- It will probably sell out and be a big crazy disaster
- It still costs way more than I should spend
- If I bought it I wouldn’t be able to buy a new computer any time in the next decade (which I was hoping to do)
- My Ovation is sitting upstairs feeling unloved (and probably dehydrated, I need to get a humidifier up there) because I don’t play it nearly enough as it is
- I don’t need a new electric guitar
- The internet says they’ll be coming out with a less limited (and theoretically less expensive, though probably less pretty) edition next year
Okay, down off the ledge. I will not be making an appearance at Guitar Center tomorrow. Thanks, brain, for calming yourself down.
We were down at my parents’ house this past weekend to celebrate Christmas with my family. It was quite nice and almost Christmasy. At one point, I was bored and wandered into the living room and played the piano for a while. My dad has these easy-to-medium level Classical pieces that I can usually sight read and enjoy playing.
When I play the piano, especially Classical (where I’m using that term to loosely refer to music older than a hundred years or so), I tend to float off into my own little world. Nothing is sad there. Even when I flub notes or stall while I analyse the best way to continue, my thoughts don’t wander away. It’s calming.
This is why, when I’m upset, I generally gravitate to the piano. It slows down the crazy thoughts. It cuts off the outside world. It makes me feel peaceful.
I played a few pieces that I know by sound but not by name. One I hadn’t played before, so I went ahead and played it twice in a row. I have this odd problem, though. I’m pretty good at sight reading music for the piano. But the second time through a piece, I generally fuck it up royally. I don’t know what happens. I probably stop paying attention to the notes too early in the learning process. But because of this, I generally don’t bother to learn any music. I just sight read for my own enjoyment.
There are some pieces, however, that I will enjoy a thousand times. My dad’s book of Classical music did in fact have it. Satie isn’t one of the best known piano composers. He’s difficult to find on the internet (especially when you can’t remember his name, except that it’s five letters and starts with an ‘S’, and as a bonus you can’t remember the name of your favorite piano piece until you see it). But here he is and here’s that piece. Well played, it could put you in a trance. When I play it myself, even though I know I don’t do a perfect job, it has the same effect on me.
So after playing that, I wandered away from the piano and found Mike sitting on the far-too-tiny couch in the family room. I sat with him, and he immediately asked, “Who are you mad at?”
How sad is that? My poor innocent piano. I’ve been playing since before I could read. Before I could properly speak. I very often tell people that my first language is music. But what does my piano at home do? It sits there for weeks at a time. It waits patiently for me to be cranky or pissed off so that I require some piano time. Why do I abandon my poor innocent piano?
The damn thing did cost me nearly two grand when I bought it. I was still in college. It was pretty much all of the money I had. At the time, I had the tendency to work a job for a purpose. I worked at Hallmark so I could buy a guitar. I worked at Friendly’s so I could pay to fix my car after an accident involving black ice. I worked in the Web Office so I could buy a piano keyboard. It wasn’t until my internship with that company I used to work for that I started working for working’s sake – for my brain and for my career.
I bought that piano at the Guitar Center that had only recently sprouted up in my home town. They had a room set aside for electronic pianos ranging in quality from the 40-ish key spring boards to full blown 88 weighted keys. I tried every single one of them. I couldn’t bring myself to purchase a spring-loaded keyboard. It just didn’t feel right. Or, for that matter, sound right. So I went for the weighted keys. But I thought I’d get something a little bit portable, so I got one that had a collapsible stand and carrying case. Never mind that the thing weighs over 80 pounds. Portable my ass.
I bought every attachment. Bench, stand, music stand, headphones, and cables galore. The sales guy was so excited he threw in the case for free. Man, that was a lot of money. It may still be one of the most expensive things I’ve ever bought. Actually, I think the only things more expensive would be cars.
And I did play it. I played it almost every day when I lived in Worcester. But then, I was almost always mad at someone then. When you interact with that many people, you’re bound to run into someone who makes you batty almost every day. Plus I was kind of my own spaz. And I was constantly arranging songs for I8 – though I usually did those using a letter keyboard and Note Worthy Composer. I was a speed demon at NWC.
But here I am today, with a piano that sits neglected in the spare room. But it’s always there for me when I need it. And sometimes, I really do need it.
Before you read this, go ahead and watch this awesome YouTube video.
I… uh… I actually watched it twice, so if you want to go watch it again, I totally understand.
Really back now?
I too played the cello.
That bit brought back memories of picking the instrument. Man, I really wanted to play the bass, but I was “too short,” which anyone who knows me now would find hilarious, as I have grown to 6′ tall. But the cello was an acceptable alternative.
I grew to love the sound of the cello. I love Yo-Yo Ma. I mean, love him. The sounds he evokes from his instrument, named Petunia, are just… sublime.
I wasn’t bad at it, though I could never hold a candle to the master. I did get to be first chair of the youth orchestra at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. They wanted to “promote” me to the top level Suzuki orchestra, and I tried it out, but it wasn’t as much fun. I had to sit in the back, and the director was boring. The director of the second-to-best orchestra was much more fun, the music was much more fun, it was a full symphony orchestra, rather than a string ensemble, and I was the most important.
Man that was good times.
I kind of left my cello on the curb after my sophomore year in high school. I picked up singing as my primary instrument and haven’t really looked back. I did play the cello in college until the director fired me because I was incapable of being at two dress rehearsals at the same time. (God forbid I chose I-8 over him, I mean, really, the last chair cellist not being there for the dress was really ruining his life? In Interstate 8 I mattered, in orchestra, I was filler. Obviously I didn’t matter that much if he didn’t let me play in the concert. Which he didn’t tell me directly. He told my roommate when she brough my cello down to the truck because I had church that morning. And by the way, my parents were in town to see both the I-8 and the orchestra concert. They stayed the night so they could see both. Great, thanks, professor. …He did, three years later, give me an A on my MQP though…)
I literally haven’t picked up my cello since. The poor thing is probably lonely. I wonder if I still know how to play. I mean, I’m sure I still have the mechanics, but I wonder if I can still make pretty sounds.
Man, I love music.
But boy, oh, boy do I hate Pachelbel.
In middle school, we had this special group called the Chocolate Cake Orchestra. We were the best of the regular orchestra, and we did one extra piece a semester, rehearsing after school on Tuesdays, I think it was. The best part, the late bus ran an hour and a half after the regular bus, and we only used the first hour for rehearsal. The last half hour was for eating chocolate cake. We took turns bringing in chocolate cake. Really, how can you go wrong with music and cake?
But we did play the wretched “Canon in D” one year. She had special clinics with the violins and violas to get them to feel the drama of their lines or whatever. The cellists? Bah. We had it memorized after one rehearsal.
I had one hell of an interesting experience on Saturday.
When we were growing up, my dad always sung the UConn fight song to my sister and I. Usually during bath time. But anyway, as a result, I have the damn thing memorized. And that came in quite handy at the new stadium the other day.
Sa got Mike and I tickets to the UConn vs. Cincinnati game. It was quite the adventure. She was mostly interested in getting us to come with to the pre-game parking-lot tail-gating bash. Apparently, all of the ex-band members get together and have a themed tail-gate for every game. There was a Mexican day, which comes up in conversation from time to time as being a very drunk day for my sister. But this week was apparently Thanksgiving. Someone brought an entire turkey. It all went.
We, of course, did not get the theme memo until after we’d hit the grocery store on Friday. We just went for some standards and got a couple different kinds of sausages and rolls to put them in. We also picked up a six-pack of girly beers and a twelve-pack of Coors Light.
We arrived in the grassy muddy lot at around 9:30. In the morning. Yes, we did intend to eat sausage and drink beer that early. We joined up with Sa’s group, and trust me, we were not the morningest of morning people among them. There were definitely some people already half drunk, and the turkey was almost completely picked apart. The next car over had a beirut table set up behind it, and games were definitely in session (though I did hear one guy claiming to be too old for early games).
At first, I have to say, it was terrifying for me. My sister’s roommate wasn’t there, and her closer friends seemed to be hidden (though one of us had talked to her on the phone only minutes before). I finally caved and took out a girly beer. (In case you care, we chose raspberry non-beer-beer.) Soon, two things happened. My anxiety calmed, and Sa found Phil.
Phil was definitely the captain of the tail-gate party. He owned the grill. He manned the table. People asked him if they could have a beer (in that case mostly because he was sitting on the cooler…). He was also a pretty nice guy, and very accommodating to our theme-free additions. In fact, he was particularly impressed by Mike’s choice of cheese filled sausage. Many people were, in fact, and the entire package was eaten rather quickly. The kielbasa didn’t take that much longer to get scarfed down either.
As I was finishing up my kielbasa (something about cheese in a sausage feels… wrong… to me), my sister asked me an unusual question. My answer was a skeptical yes, and soon we were both holding cranberry-jello shots. Oh the craziness of it. The girl who made it was very nice to me and gave me a vague approximation of the recipe. Two cans of cranberry sauce, two packets of cranberry jello, orange rum, orange juice, and vodka (amounts unknown, but probably enough to total the required liquid for the jello). Let me tell you, it was quite delicious.
Soon, it was time to pack up. We trodded our chairs and water back to the car, after donating the rest of the “silver bullets” to the college kids. My sister and I were finishing up the last two girly beers as we walked from her car (which, by the way, needs new brake pads NOW) to the stadium. We gulped down the last drops as we got to the kind police officer directing traffic. Across the street and in.
We had to go in through separate gates, as my sister is still a student. We passed each other in our attempts to meet in the middle, but cell phones eventually sorted that out. Bathrooms were visited, and our seats were claimed.
See, my sister had no intention of letting us go off to the middle of nowhere to watch the game from the last row. Apparently, no one gives a rat’s ass whether or not the students are the ones sitting in the student seats. The student seating area is all open seating, and apparently all of the alumni hanging out at that tail-gate all just squeeze right in with the rest of the crazy students.
Behind the saxophone section.
Oh, right, I forgot to mention, we were sitting right next to the band. My sister is in her fifth year of a five-year program as a string-centric music education major. Her freshman year, she was a member of the color guard, just like she was in high school. But apparently those girls annoyed her (she has a shorter fuse than I do), so she decided to pick up a marching instrument. She told me the other day that she picked the baritone horn because it was a C-tuned instrument that wasn’t a trombone or a flute. The trombone frightened her and she apparently has a mental block that prevents her from changing the pitch on a flute.
Anyway, throughout the game, my sister ran off to visit and hug various people. Mostly boys. I’ll get over that eventually. She introduced me to her accompanist, who apparently also plays xylophone in the band pit. And somewhere shortly after that introduction, my sister caught a T-shirt that was shot out of some kind of slingshot or something (I didn’t actually see it fired, I just saw her arm snatch it out of the sky).
Eventually, the game itself began. UConn didn’t look so bad at first. They had a good opening drive, and scored and everything. Also, during that drive, I came to understand a couple things about marching band that I never knew before. They are not allowed to sit throughout the game, unless a player is injured. They play some kind of something after almost every play. And, even though there were dedicated people with this job description, they really were the cheer leaders. It was loud.
I liked it.
There was a complex set of rules as to who picks what is played or chanted and for how long. Some guy on a headset was in charge of making sure no rules were broken. The drum line occasionally started up a chant on their own. But mostly, it was the drum major, making peculiar hand signals for short cheers and writing song titles on a white board for the long ones, who got to make the decisions. Even when the band started chanting for their favorite song, the drum major did not give in. He just appended his response to their subordination to the bottom of the white board. Much to wide disappointment, there would be no “Carry On my Wayward Son” that day.
We watched the half-time show from up where my parents’ season tickets are. My dad is a member of the alumni society, so they have tickets around the 45 yard line, and also get a catered meal before every game. My sister is definitely band-people. The half-time show seemed more important to her than the game. Also, she was in shock that the Huskies were winning after two well-played quarters.
We got some snacks on our way back to our seats… I mean… locations where we stood to watch the game. The cheering and chanting resumed. The most amusing one was the red-zone cheer: “Stick it in, stick it in, stick it in!”
The game was going so well… until the Huskies missed a point after, allowed Cincinnati to tie the game, fumbled, and let them win. Apparently, this is not abnormal. My sister claims that she was more upset in the first half because she knew that the winning attitude would only make the eventual downfall that more painful.
After the game, we did something I did not expect. We climbed up to the second tier at the fifty yard line, and watched all three of the season’s half-time shows strung together. Band people. You know, if I’d have gone to a high school or college with a marching band, I can almost see myself as one of them. But as someone who’s never marched holding an instrument or flag, it is a little foreign to me. After the show was over, the students on the field and the alumni (and my sister who quit band this year because it doesn’t fit in her schedule) all joined together, arm in arm, to sing the alma matter. Oh how cute.
My anxiety was returning, but that’s okay, because we were about to be on our way home.
My brain is still today singing, “Connecticut UConn Huskies, symbol of might to the foe…”