Wednesday, August 31, 2011

pnin et la première rhapsodie de Brahms

I am so determined to learn this next. With every fibre of my being. Expect a video of me playing this in a couple years of so.

I've been spending my days reading, going to class, practicing, etc. etc. etc.

List of things to listen to / re-listen to:

This Heat - Deceit

True Widow

HTRK - Nostalgia


Magik Markers

The United Sons of Toil / Lars Bang Larsen split (highly recommended)

Jacques Ibert

Beethoven symphony arranged for piano by Liszt (?)

More Liszt

Georges Delerue

Also, I recently re-listened to The Chameleon's Script of the Bridge. I really, really listened to it. Every note, every word, every single change in sound, I tried to catch and piece together. Truthfully, that album is probably one of the most essential in all music. It covers so many different topics just in the lyrics, and if I could choose two songs that could easily sum up an entire generation, I would choose "Second Skin" and "View from a Hill." My favorite lyrics from "Second Skin" are:

It's like you fail to make the connection

You know how vital it is

Or when something slips through your fingers

You know how precious it is

Well you reach the point where you know

It's only your second skin

And from "View from a Hill" (possibly the most beautiful song ever created in the history of EVER):

Pick myself up and take the air

The fragrance of children everywhere

Slowly absorbed into my square

Debating what is and isn't there

Who cares

Ugh, if you ever have doubts about life or just want to lie alone somewhere and let your mind wander off, listen to Script. It holds so many answers in its multifarious layers, and to add to that, it is just so perfectly, piercingly beautiful.

Currently reading: Pnin by Nabokov (along with various Lovecraft fiction). Well, I'm basically finished with it, but I'm now going through it and writing down memorable quotes and other such thoughts that stood out to me. Here are some of my most favourite of favourite quotations taken from the novel:

"The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense."

"Unless a film of flesh envelops us, we die. Man exists only insofar as he is separated from his surroundings. The cranium is a space-traveler's helmet. Stay inside or you perish. Death is divestment, death is communion."

"My patient was one of those singular and unfortunate people who regard their heart with a queasy dread, a nervous repulsion, a sick hate, as if it were some strong slimy untouchable monster that one had to be parasitized with, alas."

"Pnin of course would have given her a divorce as readily as he would his life, with the wet stems cut and a bit of fern, and all of it wrapped up as crisply as at the earth-smelling florist's when the rain makes gray and green mirrors of Easter day..."

"Pnin would get drunk on his private wines..." (Meaning, Pnin would reminisce about his past and it would fill him with such joy and mirth he would laugh uncontrollably, or smile in some infectious way).

"[The Egg and We] was ... a recently inaugurated and not very successful little restaurant which Pnin frequented from sheer sympathy with failure." (I included this simply because of the magnificence of the sentiment).

"Is sorrow not, one asks, the only thing in the world people really possess?"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Bats - Daddy's Highway

1987; 17 tracks

The Bats are an influential New Zealand-based band with a discography that is still growing. This was their debut album - cold and melancholic, yet poppy.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

audiation and wetsuits

In class yesterday I learned about a new word...


It is a skill that, I'm guessing, doesn't come naturally to everyone. To audiate is to hear a melody in your head, to create notes in your mind without using your vocal chords or playing any instruments. Audiation is taking audible music you hear and playing them inaudibly in your head. If you've ever "had a song stuck in your head" this has most likely has happened to you, but if it was just "Bad Romance" or some other popular track that was clinically designed (YES, IN A WHITE-WALLED LABORATORY) to become stuck in your head, I don't think that really counts. The word "audiate" is just so wonderful to me. Beethoven apparently audiated his later works, penning them completely without help from anywhere but his inside of his mind. Imagine hearing the complete Ninth Symphony, every note, every dynamic marking, every single instrument in the orchestra, all in your head, all at once. Wouldn't that make you go crazy? Still, it is one of Western music's finest creations, and Beethoven should rightly be considered a genius for the incredible skill with which he wrote it.

I watched The Graduate last night for the first time. I really loved it. I think it was one of the most well-made films I've seen, but I haven't really seen that many. Every scene and shot was like a perfectly coordinated work of art. The music (written especially by Simon & Garfunkel) was also a wonderful aspect, it threaded its way through the film wonderfully. I loved the contrast between Ben (Dustin Hoffmann)'s sullen, bored, uninspired attitude and the overwhelming happiness and optimism of his family and friends. It is so twisted, but so lovely. At one point in the film, Ben's 21st birthday party, his parents give him a full-body wetsuit (or whatever they're called) and tell him to come out and show it to everyone/demonstrate it. Even though he thinks it's ridiculous, Ben still walks out to the pool area and looks at the clownish people laughing at him. All you can hear is his steady breathing, and all you can see is the silly, made-up faces wearing hats and sunglasses and fashionable 60s outfits. He jumps into the pool, tries to float up but his father pushes him back in, and then he realizes how peaceful it is in the bottom of the pool, and sits there without moving. Maybe he just wanted to escape the stupid things people say when they want to humiliate you, but it was a very poignant scene, at least to me. Ben reminds me a lot of some character from a Murakami novel, I think it must be Toru of Norwegian Wood. Toru was a college student with not much drive, and not much desire for company. He just sort of drifted through life and people, girls and friends, with a keen interest in keeping to himself and developing his own personal interests such as books, records, films, etc. Behind all that, too, there is a sadness that builds only as his relationship builds with Naoko. Ben is a little different from that, but his attitude is all the same. He'll do anything to stave off the boredom, he'll be anyone, but he isn't really interested in anything. When something, or someone, comes along to completely enrapture him and give meaning to the meaningless, life becomes so much more than nothing. So, it's not bad to just flourish within yourself. To wait, and hope. Or something... It seems to me like that is one of the greatest ways to be. I might be wrong.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Best of Shostakovich (1906-1975)

1999; 14 tracks

My piano teacher gave me this CD almost 6 years ago when I was still very innocent of not only Soviet music but most great classical music and composers. I am eternally grateful for this present, even if it is a slightly small compilation of the masterpieces he created, as I am now one of the biggest lovers of Shostakovich's music and story. This is a collection of various Shostakovich pieces and movements that may or may not be familiar. If you like a certain track I encourage you to seek out the full piece as these things are best appreciated in context...

P.S. I really love the second movement of the second piano concerto, but I think everyone does.

01 Festive Overture, Op. 96 (Christopher Lyndon-Gee / New Zealand Symphony Orchestra)

02 The Gadfly, Film Score Suit, Op. 97a - Interlude (Theodore Kuchar / National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine)

02 The Gadfly, Film Score Suit, Op. 97a - Barrel-Organ Waltz

04 The Gadfly, Film Score Suit, Op. 97a - Galop

05 The Gadfly, Film Score Suit, Op. 97a - Romance

06 Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93 - Allegro (Ladislav Slovák / Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava)

07 The Age of Gold, Ballet Suite, Op. 22a - Adagio (Christopher Lyndon-Gee / New Zealand Symphony Orchestra)

08 The Age of Gold, Ballet Suite, Op. 22a - Polka

09 Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102 - Andante (Michael Houstoun - piano, Christopher Lyndon-Gee / New Zealand Symphony Orchestra)

10 Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10 - Allegro (Ladislav Slovák / Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava)

11 String Quartet No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83 - Andantino (Éder Quartet)

12 Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 70 - Allegro (Ladislav Slovák / Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava)

13 Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67 - Largo (Stockholm Arts Trio)

14 Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47 - Allegro non troppo (Ladislav Slovák / Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava)


Thursday, August 25, 2011

walking through allie's forest

"He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about..."

R. Stevie Moore - Showing Shadows

Pogo - Finding Her Not

Maurice Ravel - Le Tombeau de Couperin, II. Fugue

Eric's Trip - Beach

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mix No. 5 - Laboratory Under Blue Sky

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anika - Anika

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

i'm going to uni like tomorrow... i probably won't really post anything anymore... this blog kinda sucks anyway.

but here is a picture of me getting ready to go to space and another one of me as a displeased human child.

EDIT: i'm also a little crestfallen due to the realization that my so-called mixes have gotten progressively boring.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mix No. 4 - tosaerba suono no. 18

Monday, August 15, 2011

Excuse 17 - Such Friends Are Dangerous

1995; 13 tracks

Angry girls. Angry girls everywhere.
Excuse 17 was a Washington-based trio including Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein, Becca Albee, and drummer CJ Phillips. Such Friends Are Dangerous was their first album.

"It's a disservice to remember this band solely as the practice run at Sleater-Kinney, but then again, S-K were so monumental, so earth-shaking that it can hardly end up any other way. Listening to this again for the first time in ten or so years, I'm amazed at how well-formed, confident, and bone-cuttingly visceral they were. Of the two pre-Sleater-Kinney bands, (we'll get to Corin's Heavens to Betsy tomorrow), Excuse 17 sound the most like what's to come, with their dual, tangled, razor-wire guitar attack, back and forth vocals, gut-wrenching screams, and sense of moral urgency.

Like much of the work Carrie's associated with, it's an album of catharsis. Whether on the bouncy standout track "Watchmaker" (a dig at music journalists and scenesters), the painful "This is Not Your Wedding Song," or the biting "The Drop Dead Look," their combination of pure punk fury and tight musicianship is some pretty righteous shit, no matter what came next."

he'll say anything to get inside of you

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rah Bras - Ruy Blas!

2001; 12 tracks

Ruy Blas! is one of the most lovely, strange albums I've ever had the chance to listen to. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am insanely infatuated with it.

Rah Bras was a trio from Virginia consisting of brothers Boo and Jean Rah and Isabellarah Rubella that disbanded in 2007, but plan to return to the music scene in 2037. B. and Jean Rah were also members of Men's Recovery Project at one point.

They are noisy and nonsensical. While listening I couldn't help myself but think of their overwhelming similarity to The Residents, even though it is clear they are two totally separate entities after all. With mysterious changes in mood and atmosphere, Ruy Blas! rarely meanders in the direction you expect it to. Isabellarah's voice is very beautiful and foreign-sounding, and I especially love her part in "Civic" (and how she says the word "hummingbird"). From a techno-infused, neon-lit night club, one might be swept instantly to, I don't know, a marketplace on some alien planet where noisy bees accompany even the most James Bond-like melodies. That probably made no sense. Truthfully, though, this is an incredible album of experimental electronoise, I guess you could call it. "Hardvard" and "Bitchin Fissure" are probably my favorite songs.

"Consisting of a gigantic keyboard, bass, and drums, Rah Bras layer provocative vocals over tight little riffs and throbbing tempos. Ruy Blas! is an audacious concoction of pop presence and electronic abrasives that gallops the gamut from gamelan to garish."


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Puka Puka Brians - Love Warrior

2001; 25 tracks

This is the fourth album by Majikick label's
Puka Puka Brians, the brainchild of Japanese musician and songwriter Ueno Takashi (or Takashi Ueno), along with the addition of several other members (including his wife). With influences in the likes of Frank Zappa and other experimental rock artists, this is a very unique release. Takashi is also one half of the husband-wife duo Tenniscoats, but there are hardly any similarities between the two bands.

The vocals are hard to describe, and while they are sometimes off-key, sometimes unrecognizable, they are still very well-paired with the music. Using various instruments and nearly no consistent structure, Puka Puka Brians have created a diverse set of tracks varying in style, rhythm, and nearly all else. Love Warrior starts off with "Love Warrior," a really awesome track with a cool riff. I can't think of what else to say right now, but I really enjoyed this.

"... Allegedly, 'puka puka' is Japanese slang for floating, and 'Brians' refers to Brian Jones, the Rolling Stone who drowned."

the spinning musical instruments are multiplying

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mix No. 3 - Good Friday, 2033

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

mon anniversaire

Tomorrow is my birthday! I'm going to be 18!!! I'm so excited I don't even know what to say :33 Today I recorded myself playing a Chopin Nocturne that most people are familiar with. It's not exactly a favorite, but I find it fun to play sometimes...

Frédéric Chopin - Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2 from allison miranda on Vimeo.

Listening list as of late:

Eric's Trip - Purple Blue

Toy Love - Cuts

Jandek - Raining Down Diamonds

Men's Recovery Project - The Golden Triumph of Naked Hostility

Tall Dwarfs - Hello Cruel World

Dmitri Shostakovich - Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op. 40

Learning on the Piano:

some beethoven sonata

some scarlatti sonata

Sergei Prokofiev - Piano Sonata No. 1 (Just started that yesterday)

Well, basically I've been looking through some of my less-touched piano books and trying to figure out what I want to learn next. Usually I go to Youtube and see how the song sounds before I play (it helps a lot when I'm just getting started), and yesterday I made the horrible mistake of watching a Martha Argerich recording of a certain piece. Needless to say, any hope I had of conquering the piece, in any shape of form, was shattered instantly. She is an impossibly perfect pianist and preformer. I'd like to learn some of the more pretty Chopin pieces, like maybe an Impromptu or something, as I have seriously been lacking in Chopin lately. I think people will take me more seriously if I finally do a Prokofiev piece, and they don't look too terrible, so I'm going to give the First Piano Sonata a shot. Hmmm, what else... I have a book of Mendelssohn piano works but I don't really know where to start with those either! :( Oh well I guess it doesn't really matter... you can't learn everything.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jale - Dreamcake

1994; 12 tracks

Jale was, at first, an all-female indie rock group from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their name was derived from the first letters of the four initial members of the band - Jennifer Pierce, Alyson MacLeod, Laura Stein, Eve Hartling. This was the band's first album, and they went on to release another full-length and an EP. Although it sometimes gets a little slow, Dreamcake is an innocuous indie/pop rock record, very catchy and pretty. :3


Here's the opener to the album, "Not Happy," which happens to be one of the really awesome tracks (I also like "Emma" and "3 Days").

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Engine Kid - Bear Catching Fish

1993; 8 tracks

Bear Catching Fish is the first album of Seattle-based math rock band
Engine Kid, whose prominent inspiration was the memorable math rock / post-hardcore band from Kentucky, Slint. The likenesses between the two bands, especially on this release and Slint's Spiderland, are striking. Some might go as far as to say that this album is "pure Slint worship." In my eyes (or ears), Engine Kid's affinity for the music of Slint is portrayed respectfully, and elements of jazz and doom even come into play at times. Engine Kid has released a small number of other EPs and splits, as well as a second full-length, Angel Wings.

As I listen to this I feel a sense of desperation build up inside, as if I were stuck inside a cabin on some lost and lonely mountainside far away from any human contact. The intense loneliness and pure weirdness of Engine Kid's musical/vocal atmosphere is beautiful and frightening. If any of you remember Spiderland's specific ambience, there is an incredible holiness, or warmth, about the feeling. It isn't something you connect with on contact, as most are averse to feelings of despair and loneliness, but I just... wonder, sometimes, if maybe that is a prospect much preferable to the fruitless seeking of happiness. I guess I'm just trying to say that Engine Kid encapsulates quite magnificently that -lost- feeling.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Mix No. 2 - la bête et la baie

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Magic of the Guitar

1993; 18 tracks
Turíbio Santos, guitarist

Here is a collection of various guitar pieces, some arranged for the guitar and some composed specifically for the instrument. I posted some of Villa-Lobos' guitar music a little while back (link
here), but most of the composers on this release were unknown to me. There is quite a mix of styles here - some are Bach-like in textures and progressions, while others are gentle and sweeping (especially the Granados piece, which was originally written for piano and is incredibly lovely), and still others exude the sensual, dance-like rhythm of Spanish orient. It is very easy, enjoyable listening. A little more information on the performer...

"One of the most important Brazilian classical guitar performers, Turíbio Santos has recorded over 40 LP's, deserving a special mention his efforts to bring popular music, and specifically the choros by João Pernambuco, to the realm of classical execution. Son of an amateur guitarist, Santos started at the guitar at three, and, after he was ten, he took as his mentor Oscar Cáceres. Debuting in 1962 in a concert in São Luís (Maranhão), he performed in Rio de Janeiro in the same year, meeting Arminda Villa-Lobos (Heitor Villa-Lobos' second wife), by whose request he recorded Villa-Lobos' 12 studies for guitar. In the next year Santos realized the world debut of Villa-Lobos' Sexteto Místico."

01 Isaac Albéniz - Cantos de España, Op. 232, No. 1, Preludio (Asturias, Op. 47 No. 5)
02 Heitor Villa-Lobos - Chôros No. 1 for Guitar
03 Heitor Villa-Lobos - 12 Etudes for Guitar, W 235: No. 1 in E minor
04 Antonio Lauro - Valses venezolanos for Guitar, No. 3, Natalia/Criolla
05 Guido Santorsola - Suite all'antica: Prelude No. 1
06 Fernando Sor - Leçons progressives, Op. 31, No. 5 in B minor, Andantino
07 Fernando Sor - Etudes for Guitar, Op. 6, No. 12 in A major - Andante
08 Fernando Sor - Etudes for Guitar, Op. 6, No. 17 in E major
09 Fernando Sor - Etudes for Guitar, Op. 6, No. 9 in A minor - Andante allegro
10 Heitor Villa-Lobos - 12 Etudes for Guitar, W 235: No. 11 in E minor
11 Heitor Villa-Lobos - Suite populaire brésilienne, W 20: No. 3, Waltz Chôro
12 Agustín Barrios Mangoré - Prelude for Guitar in G minor, Op. 5, No. 1
13 Joaquin Rodrigo - Piezas españolas for Guitar, No. 3, Zapateado
14 Joaquin Rodrigo - Piezas españolas for Guitar: No. 1, Fandango
15 Isaac Albéniz - Recuerdos de Viaje, Op. 71, No. 8, Rumores de la caleta
16 Isaac Albéniz - Barcarola for Piano, Op. 202 "Mallorca"
17 Enrique Granados - Danzas españolas for Piano, Op. 37, No. 5, Andaluza
18 Manuel de Falla - Homenaje "Le tombeau de Claude Debussy"


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mix No. 1 - I'll just go birdwatching.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I've come up with a GREAT idea, I think. I'm going to start making a ton of mixes (aka playlists). All kinds of them... I keep listening to new music and finding tracks that I like on some albums and I want to put them together somehow. They won't have a consistent theme, I don't think, so there might be classical right next to rap or something. Sounds pretty awesome to me. I'm going to start on that right now. I'll post the ones I like on here.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Frédéric Chopin - Essential Chopin

2003; 2 discs, 27 tracks
Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist

Some of the most popular Chopin piano pieces all put in one place. Pretty nifty.

Disc 1

01 Grande Valse Brillante, Op. 18
02 Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op. 66
03 Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2
04 Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2
05 Mazurka in D Major, Op. 33, No. 2
06 Scherzo in B-flat minor/D-flat Major, Op. 31
07 Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No.1
08 Nocturne in F-Sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2
09 Waltz in B Minor, Op. 69, No. 2
10 Ballade in G Minor, Op. 23
11 Mazurka in B-Flat Major, Op. 7 No. 1
12 Waltz in G-Flat Major, Op. 70, No. 1
13 Nocturne in B Major, Op. 32 No. 1
14 Polonaise in A-Flat Major, Op. 53

Disc 2

01 Ballade in A-flat Major, Op. 47
02 Prélude in C-sharp minor, Op. 45
03 Waltz in D-flat Major, Op. 64, No. 1 "Minute"
04 Waltz in C-sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2
05 Étude in C minor, Op. 10, No. 12 "Revolutionary"
06 Étude in G-flat Major, Op. 10, No. 5 "Black Key"
07 Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, No. 1
08 Polonaise in A Major, Op. 40, No. 1 "Military"
09 Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60
10 Prélude in D-flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15 "Raindrop"
11 Étude in A minor, Op. 25, No. 11 "Winter Wind"
12 Étude in E Major, Op. 10, No. 3 "Tristesse"
13 Scherzo in C-sharp minor, Op. 39

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