Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Albums

Well yesterday was a hot day for the music industry! I was unaware of it until just now, though I say a day later isn't too bad. Two wonderful new albums came out in the States.

Regina Spektor's Far, which is AMAZING. I was not at first a fan of Regina Spektor. I was irritated by her vocal embellishment that not only sounded off, but sometimes painful. The edgy piano and guitar enticed me though. It was not until this past semester when my ex re-introduced me to her that I began to fall in love with her. Her voice had developed so much since the first time I heard her, and I finally was able to concentrate on WHAT she was saying. However, some of my change of heart was due to the fact that her new age vocal techniques remind me of Meredith Monk's Atlas, a modern opera sung almost completely on neutral syllables with strange new age vocal techniques. Enough history though, this album is the best I've ever heard from her. She has combined her naturally edgy style with some amazing beats and beautiful lyrics. She combines her classic mix of intense and piercing lyrics with those which are light and funny. If at this point I had to pick favorites I would have to say "Eek," "Machine," "Human of the Year," and "Genius Next Door." They each entice me for different reasons, but all have a sense of totality that, combined with her simple delivery, create a wonderful experience.

The other album is Michael Johns' Hold Back My Heart. I did not even know about this man until today when I was reading David Archuletta's blog and saw it. He is very soulful and smooth rock. I really love it, though I'm having a hard time concentrating too much on the message (a symptom I often get with entertainment music). His diction is a little strange, but its not too hard to get what he's saying. It inspired me to look at some about who inspired me. This led me to downloading The Very Best of Changing Faces, a compilation of works by Rob Steward and The Faces. They are really wonderful and very chill.

I also began my work with the chakra healing kit I received and I'm quite excited. I read through the chapters on the Root, Sacral, and Solar chakras. I did the exercises suggested and am now more convinced to the existence of the chakras. I also tried one of the deep meditation exercises and it was quite relaxing. It sped through what each chakra represented though and with time and more knowledge in each chakra I will be able to take better advantage of these recordings. I can not wait till I get into some of the subliminal affirmations because that sounds absolutely fascinating.

I should go to sleep. We'll see how well that works, lol. Have a good night everyone!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Good evening all. I am still very unsure as to the readership of my blog, but I have faith that it will eventually bring forth a decent readership. Until then, I will continue to write as I would if I were writing to a large audience. I have very recently becoming more interested in the working and writings of chakras and their balance. I will comment more as my knowledge increases. However, I feel that if much Eastern thought is connected to these main center's of energy, I should took a closer look. For the healing of the clutter of my mind, I have found that Eastern ideology has been extremely more effective then what Western culture has to offer. Damn, I am being picked up to go to dinner. I must end this blog short, but when I talk about chakra I will surely go more into this idea of Western vs. Eastern (for don't get me wrong, I love them both).

Have a good night everyone!

Friday, June 19, 2009


I have had quite a wonderfully productive day. Though I woke up quite late since my damn sleep schedule is so off, I was able to go to campus (George Mason University) and sing through and polish two of the seven Schumann Liederkreis which I am to perform on my senior recital in November. I also finished Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets, much to my delight since it has taken me almost three times the amount of time any of his other books have. I have now moved to one of his earlier novels (his second) entitled Treason which seems increasingly beautiful and remarkable as I turn each page. I also allowed myself the time to study the beginnings of Barber's Vanessa and Anthony and Cleopatra. I am unfortunately still awake, though I must wake up and be legitimately productive tomorrow (i.e go to Financial Aid and look for a job), but thanks to the ironic nature of creativity, my consciousness at 3:40am has inspired a poem. Please do not be hindered by the unsteady meter (many of the phrases, if you re-accent the syllables do create meter. Some just lack it). I tend to mix my meter quite often and am, at least now, blaming it on my own unique style. But enough apology, here is the poem:

Dream a Melody so firm
that Earth and Sky begin to form.
Then Harmony to crack the Stone
and Rain to heal it's saddened soul.

Hum the Song to bring forth Roots
and Wind to some day cool it's leaves.
Hum louder and the Birds will learn
and Insects, less, and yet immortal.

Sing the Song and Man will Build,
will Dream,
will Kill,
will Worship, and Die.

Then be the Song and the Universe
will soon know who you are.
Music as your eternal Soul
shall guide new Worlds to discover their own.


PS: Thanks to the wonders of Twitter, I have found a really wonderful artist that I must spread around. Her name is Fang Ling Lee. Please check out her work, it is absolutely phenomenal! http://fanglinglee.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Weird Deams

Since I went to sleep at a decent hour last night (10:30ish) I was able to get up at this completely unreasonable hour, lol. Anyways, I need to get out the details of these trippy dreams before I forget.

1) It is the end of the world. I have two choices: go to another planet (I have this option because I am part of some higher class family), or I can stay on Earth and either fight for the army or fend for myself. I actually (thanks mind) am able to know the outcome of both choices. If I leave I am talking with my friends about how ill-suited I would be for the army and then find myself in a strange bathhouse, most of which gets sexual, and most of which, honestly, I don't remember. I just remember a lot of red. Anyway, the more interesting is if I stay. I discover my sister has chosen to stay as well and I say that I will protect her. We go to an abandoned warehouse. Then my vision switches to these two people in a car driving by. One man and one women, but in their mid-twenties. An oil-tanker cuts in front of the man who is driving and immediately pulls over and threatens to kill the man. They are now under a tunnel and I can see a small office with a women sitting at a desk under the bridge. The man walks off and the woman follows. When the women reaches the other side of the tunnel she sees the man take out a needle, as if he is going to shoot up. She starts to sneak backwards towards the office and she notices she too has a needle in her hand. She slowly opens the door to the office (I now see through her eyes, not third-person) and mouths the word help. In place of the women at the desk the man stares at her wide-eyed with at least 5 needles sticking out of his upper and lower lips. It was such a disturbing image I immediately woke up.

2) I am at some summer camp and at some point I end up getting locked in the manager's office for multiple weeks with someone else. We trash the place since we have to rummage for food. Before we realize it, our camp has left and a new camp settles in and the head leader, a nun or something like that, comes in and lets us out. I then go to the movies and see this preview for a movie, but soon I become the man in this preview. I have the ability to take a part that is missing from something, and, with the help of any animal in the area, I can find the whole that the part is missing from. I spend a long time doing this for various people even though most people think I'm a fake. I think I've gone crazy. Then I realize that I am in an elevator, and I think to myself, "If time-travel is not possible, how has this elevator been going full speed down for the past 11 hours?" I realize that I am not showered and smell awful but I have no way to change that. The door opens and a couple people walk in. One lady in particular shows finds it difficult to show her not show her disgust. I am unable to shake that fact that I still think I'm nuts and have this power. I don't remember trying to use it again though. This is all I remember.

3) I am part of a large choir. My old high school choir director is leading us. We are singing this new piece that was quite modern, but simple and accessible at the same time. There are four soloists and I am the tenor soloist. I sight sing decently well, but not perfectly. Still it is acceptable and I absolutely fall in love with the piece. I only wish I could remember the actual musical content of the dream or I'd write it. So we finish and my director asks a bunch of the men to leave cause he doesn't want us to hear the next song. I have no idea why, since he then says (though it may have been a joke), "Your going to play the piano." I find some of my friends outside and we talk and start hearing them sing. Strange oh well.

Wow, I'm so glad I can remember my dreams again. There was a good bit of time that I could not. I hope this keeps up.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ugliness in Music

Hey all. I was planning on writing another semi-lengthy piece. But I'm quite exhausted and so I'll only give the highlights of what I want to talk about today.

Let me preface this but trying to allow you to understand that while musical taste (as in taste in all art)is a very real thing, the majority of the population takes it extremely for granted. Taste to the masses means what they are used to, or similar to what they are used to. In other words, comfortable. How are we to grow as intellectuals if we stay in our comfort zone? The only way to truly broaden our musical experiences is to leap headfirst into the unknown, not just take a listen and say you don't like it.
People who know me will probably know where I am heading. I am speaking specifically (though no exclusively) about modern art music. Music for so long has been a creation of beauty and relaxation, which it most effectively does. However, music is so much more rich than just that. While plenty of operas and orchestral pieces have touched on the subjects of grief, pain, and death, it is not until the 20th and 21st centuries that music began not to examine or comment on these hard topics, but to actually create them through their music. While pain and suffering has been around since mankind began, as therefore as long as music has existed, the modern centuries have experienced new and more powerful negative emotions due to modernization and industrialization. I feel that even with the great leaps that tonality has evolved, it is still unable to grasp the horrors of modern society.
The general point I am trying to make is that if music has the ability to portray almost perfect beauty, then it can, and in my opinion, must portray the ugly. When you allow your mind and ears to open to the understanding that all music does not have to make you feel good, then you can breach into a new realm of music. If something about a piece makes you feel uncomfortable, instead of pushing it aside and saying it sucks, think about why the composer wrote it that way. Any real composer has a reason, and when you understand this premise, you can begin to unravel its meaning and fine a new beauty in the ugly.

I'm sorry but I am too tired to go on. Let me just challenge you to take that next step into the unknown, and if after serious thought and contemplation you still find yourself not into the music, then fine. I only ask that you give every piece a chance. Regardless you will have experienced something new and you will learn.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fiction vs. "Reality"

Good morning my non-existent audience. I have just finished reading Shadow of the Heagemon (sp?) by Orson Scott Card. The book is not terribly important to what I have to say here but I strongly recommend any lover of sci-fi and also any lover of good writing to read Ender's Game and the subsequent books. I stray. I mention this book because occasionally Card writes an essay at the end of his book that he masks as an "Afterword." They usually consist some of how and why the book was written including sources and influences (very helpful for anyone wanting to futher pursue some of the advanced concepts he deals with in his writing). However, much of this "Afterword" deals with various concepts of human nature. Do not overlook science fiction writers for they have some of the most intelliegent minds of our world.
Card's books allow me to further open my mind and educate myself in humanity on a personal level, in the ways humans interact closely with one another, with humanity as a civilization, and (do not take this lightly) humanity as a species. I will not get into any of these because this is not the purpose of my writing today, though I feel that it gives appropriate background.
Wonderfully ironic is the fact that I grasp completely different things from the book as a work of fiction and from the essay as a work of "reality". I hate to use the word reality for I feel that fiction is its own reality. Without it, the individual human mind could not share each unique version of their imagination. This would truly be a mistake as we can only fully learn about the world by interacting with others. The fact that Card's fiction is only an imaginary manifestation of "reality" is only relevant in our mind's digestion of the concepts. I have found that, due to the fact that it is indeed fiction, I can declutter my societal and personal expectations of touchy subjects such as religion and politics. This allows the reader to not only learn about new ways of thinking, but (even if only on a subconcious level) allow the reader to relate to these new thoughts in new ways. An essay or lecture, which inherently carries the title of "Truth" can cause what seems to be an automatic shut-out of the concepts (again even if only on a subconcious level) (i.e in one ear out the other) if the concepts are contrary to what the individual believes as "Truth." Fiction has the ability, since it gives an odd sense of saftey, to more deeply influence the way we percieve the world. An essay could be devoted to just this concept, but suffice it to say that, in my experience, this stems from a masterful writer's ability to create a believeable character. We therefore relate on a personal level to them even though we are well aware (though even I find myself lost in each fictional world) that they are not "real."
However, as stated earlier, essays have a unique way of teaching that can also help progress the way we believe. The fact that essays, usually, are written specifically for the use of human development (while fiction can be often coined as entertainment) allows a more direct and blunt expression of ideas. This directness is what leads people to drastic changes of ideology and therefore is a very effective means of expressing ones ideas. This directness also plays with the reader's subconcious by implanting a firm concept (dependent on the writer's ability to adequately express and the reader to comprehend) which, after a matter of minutes, may fall out of the concious mind and therefore be subjected to the yet undiscovered parts of the unconcious mind. This often reveals itself as important questions we ask ourselves that seem to sprout out of nowhere or as sudden impluses in stressful situations. The best example I can give for this is a personal one. I am a devout Christian but in no way does that limit me from reading anything and everything that draws my interest, regardless of whether the Church deems it worthy. This often leads me to reading essays which blatently deny ideas that I hold dear. While bothersome at first, I have learned by now that the more I know, the better, regardless of how it makes me feel. Such is usually the case when one leaves their comfort zone. However, soon these contradictory ideas leave my concious mind to pursue something else, yet in no way do they suddenly vanish. Then, at a later date, questions seem to arise out of nowhere which make me question parts of my belief. Interestingly enough, however, they are not always directly related to the reading which has originally implanted the contradictory idea into my mind. Thus is the mystery of the human psyche. What I have found fascinating, though, is that rarely do these questions destroy my existing beliefs. Rather, once I allow myself to grapple with both, they further flush out what I already believe into something more personally coherent.
At this point I must allow myself to take a detour. In no way am I judging my readers' open-mindedness. I myself strive every day to be as open-minded as possible for we all see the world differently and we can all learn from eachother's unique views. I am merely stating that regardless of how "open-minded" we percieve ourselves to be, we all believe what we believe. Our own society has been influencing us since birth (and science has proposed to say before birth), long before we are concious of ourselves. Therefore, our unconcious has been working and working to structure our beliefs before we even knew what beliefs were. A wonderful Antrhopology teacher I had in undergrad once said that we can never objectively study our own society due to what she termed the "pink-shaded glasses." The term basically refers to the fact that we may be able to anthropologically express our own society in some aspects, but due to our natural growth in said society, we can not see many of the unique qualities that a non-native would see. All of this is merely to say that we can always strive to be open-minded, but until we are willing to put our most natural and basic beliefs on the line, often which we are unaware of, we can never truly question our existance.
Oh the irony of my mind. This whole essay did not turn out as I planned. I wanted to focus this essay on an element of essay writing that became concrete to me after reading Card's essays. Card is very opinionated in what he writes and he rarely (unless he is attempting to comment on something which is truly far from his field of knowledge) appologizes or sugar-coats what he says. This is fascinating to me because I always had the impression that to reach the vast majority, those appologizes were necessary to keep people happy and reading. I now realize that these appologizes only serve to discredit the point that you are trying to make. I therefore am trying to be more blunt and direct without appology in my essays and I believe I have taken this idea to heart through this essay. If someone is offended by or disagrees with something I say, then go ahead and refute it. I don't ever pretend to know it all. As I stated earlier, the best way to allow our minds to expand is by our interactions with others. Therefore refute away, because even if we both disagree with eachother, I have still left my kernel of knowledge in your mind, and you have left yours in mine. In fact, if this is truly an important aspect of the way we learn from eachother, then a direct statement will more likely yeild a response and therefore begin the cycle anew.
Not that I expect many people to have the patience to read to my ramble, but I really believe that the unique and equally important aspects of fiction and essay, when understood, can allow new levels of knowledge to build. Afterall, awareness is everything.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Singing at School

Today has been such a wonderful and lovely day. Weather-wise that is. Emotionally I'm pretty decent though. No crazed Brian running around trying to find the meaning of life, lol.

I did want to talk about reading though. I know that in this day and age, reading has taken a back-seat to gaming, tv, and various other electronic passtimes. Not to say that each of them is not widely entertaining (I myself find myself spending way too many hours on my DS), but I am saddened by the lack of avid readers I meet. Reading is an entertainment that is so radically different from electronics that I'm confused as to why more people don't involve themselves in both.

I believe that this is partly due to the education system. We are given all of these wonderful works of literature and then time limits to read it in, then tests to show our knowledge. While I understand the necessity of both of these items, I am sorry to say that they seem to be the main reason I feel reading is falling out of this generation. While I didn't enjoy EVERY book we were given in high school, I enjoyed the vast majority of them and am grateful to have been exposed to them. However, I admit that I too was caught up in the boredom that is rushing to read a required book at midnight the night before the test. I found that so many of the books I now know and love dearly are those that I was not forced to read, or if I was forced to read them, they were damn good, lol.

As to a solution to required reading, I'm at a loss. Reading should absolutely be required, but the way that teachers present it so that psychologically kids accept it more fully is a realm which is way over my head. As for tests, I do have somewhat of a solution. It is not new or unheard-of. In fact, it was used in quite a few of my upper level English classes. The idea of the circle discussion is a way for kids to openly talk about books (and even become interested) while still allowing the teacher to judge if the children were actually paying attention. This is achieved by giving the kids a minimum number of times in which they are to bring up a point, and a minimum in which they are to respond to other's points. This allows kids to think of the book more fully and in context, as well as allowing them (and even the teacher) to learn new points of views.

Personally, I'm a reading nut. I devour books and am constantly in search for the newest of some series or author. I love looking at large literary contests (Noble Prize and down) as well as questioning my friends to create my reading lists. I am pretty openminded as to what I read, but I enjoy modern fiction and fantasy/sci-fi the best. Anything that will stimulate my imagination, however, is welcome on my bookshelf. I am currently reading the Bean or Shadow stem of the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card (having already finished all of the Ender stem). I am also reading, for my modern fiction, Falling Angels, by Tracy Chevalier (the author of Girl with a Peral Earring). I am eagerly waiting for a new Ursula LeGuinn(sp?) book that was nominated for the Mythopoeic Awards. Its probably quite short because it only cost me $1.80. I had to have it.
Well thats probably enough babble for today. I don't expect many people to read what I write anyway, but on the slim chance someone is interested I like to express my ideas.

Have a good evening!