ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
Having played more of T2, my current evaluation is "what I wanted diablo iii to be". Plus, you know, fishing. And pets. Who can run to town to sell stuff for you. And also look cute.

Don't know how long I will be able to keep playing at the rate I did today, because it is intensely mouse-based (keyboard used mainly for potion hotkeys) and my wrist doesn't like that very much.


Been watching Orange is the New Black, but I've hit an embarrassment squick wall. Not unexpected given the power dynamics of prison, but there is a part of me that doesn't want to watch the next episode because of fallout. spoilers for 1x06 )


Chorus is doing Mozart Requiem this quarter. Proper version, too (the Süssmayr version that I am most used to, rather than the Levin version we sang last time, and there's at least one more version out there if not more). I am very happy.
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
Today is FOP Awareness Day, and I, well, kind of don't want to talk about FOP. Because it sucks. I wrote up something (filed under personal: about me, if you want to look it up) a few years back, but talking about FOP is just... I don't know. Depressing. Because FOP is more relentless than brainweasels, and there's still no cure and no treatment -- yes, the date is because of being the anniversary of when the relevant gene was discovered, and maybe knowing the gene will eventually be a useful step in treating or curing or preventing FOP, but for right now it really means fuck-all to my life as a person with FOP -- and I have lost so goddamn much, and it isn't going to get any better.

(I do have a habit of obsessively checking the feet on any babies I see, in person or in picture, because malformed big toes are a strongly linked first sign way before any flare-ups or bone growth start doing their fun, but I have no idea what I would actually do if I saw one, because "Um hi, I think your baby has this horrible untreatable genetic condition that will have lots and lots of bad effects on hir life, google IFOPA for more information" is awkward even with people I know, let alone strangers. "No, I'm not a doctor, but...")

(And for not wanting to talk about FOP, I just spent two paragraphs talking about FOP. Sigh.)

...so instead, I shall talk about music.

Like the fact that we're doing Eric Whitacre's Alleluia as one of the pieces this quarter, and I just adore it way too much. (It's probably on Youtube somewhere; I'm just too lazy to look it up right now.) It's -- well, the text isn't hard in the sense that there are precisely three words, two of which are variants (allelu, alleluia, amen), though there's complexity in when the syllables fall, because sometimes the first a- is held out and sometimes we rush through to the -lu, but ah and ooh are both fun to sing (unlike, say, 'e' vowels, either the eh sort or the ay sort ) and the harmonies are rich and deep without being aurally obnoxious, and it's fun.

It's also brain-breaking in places -- there's one bit where the tenors have this ugly-looking line with a lot of accidentals, except it sounds nice and straightforward, and then the conductor pointed out that those two measures were just *in the key of E* -- they *looked* horrible because the key signature was five flats and then there were additional flats thrown in to make things like F flat (which is really E natural) and B double flat (which is really A natural) and I have no idea why he chose to flat flats to get something that sounds like E major rather than naturalizing flats to bring it up but whatever, not my call.

Or like the fact that the TA we have this quarter is ... he's a very nice person as far as I can tell, and he's decent at accompaniment / piano playing, but he is utterly crap at teaching music or at leading groups. We sometimes split up into semi-sectionals, going into two rooms -- either SA in one and TB in the other, or ST and AB -- where the director takes one group and the TA takes the other. It saves some time in learning music (because if, say, the tenors have to go over their part alone, there's only one section that's twiddling thumbs while they work it out, rather than three) -- but only if both groups have at least somewhat competent leaders.

The choir director has my absolute loyalty. I would do just about anything he wanted, musically. Last quarter's TA was also amazing (and had the sort of quiet competence of Getting Stuff Done that is just impressive). This quarter's TA can't quite lead a choir out of a paper bag. I feel a little bad since I probably wouldn't do any better, but then again maybe I would, because I at least know that a) spending a lot of time on easy parts kind of screws the whole choir for working on the hard parts, and b) it's good to actually let people hear what their part is supposed to sound like. Also c) if someone in the choir says "can we please work on X" then maybe actually working on X would be nice.

...today, the division I was in (sopranos and tenors) had the choir director, which was awesome for the semi-sectionals but then things fell apart when we got back together because the TA doesn't really have what it takes to work on stuff in parallel.

(I know that leadership is a learned skill, and choir leadership is a learned skill, and knowing which parts are going to be hard is a learned skill that is imperfect in anyone even when they have tons of practice, and being able to hear where things are going wrong is a learned skill, and that a lot of that stuff can only be acquired by trying and doing, so it's a little unfair to take someone who is basically a grad student with no choral background and expect him to be stunning, especially coming on the heels of almost two years with the previous TA who was astoundingly good especially towards the end, but at the same time, ARGH.)

...hmm, music doesn't seem to be any less frustratingy to talk about. Perhaps I shall go crochet instead.


May. 17th, 2011 04:46 pm
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
So I sort of accidentally tripped and signed up for voice lesson auditions.

I didn't mean to. Well, not yet. I kind of had an at-some-point-I-might. But I poked my head into the music office to see if they had guidelines (figuring I could prepare something for next fall or whatever), and ... they did, taped to the inside of the folder that also had the sign-up list for June 1 auditions.

aaaaaand so I sort of ended up putting my name up.


(Now I need to find something to audition with. They want a solo piece, "preferably classical", memorized but with sheet music brought. Somehow I don't think that either a) the soprano part to the choral bits of Mozart's Mass in C, or b) eastern european folk tunes (especially the hard-voice ones ahahahahano), counts.

So, um.

Any suggestions for something I can learn in half a month? >_>
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
Had this quarter's chorus concert last night. Usually the spring concert is in June (the operating rule seems to be "the last possible Sunday (or sometimes Friday) before finals"; for whatever reason, this one was mid-May. (Which also has the amusing side effect that, chorus being a university class, we have rehearsals until the end of the quarter, never mind that it's post-performance.)

I still like the Requiem better than the Mass (we were doing Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor), but it was fun. And kind of exhausting. And I managed /not/ to have any coughing fits, go me.

The time dilation that comes with a performance is always interesting. We spend weeks learning and rehearsing and re-rehearsing and getting it learned in physical memory as well as mental memory ... and then the concert comes and it's all over in a split second.

...not really, but it feels that way.

The solo movements, even when they are shorter than the choral movements, always feel like they take forever, because we haven't rehearsed them to death (and because we aren't doing anything other than staring at the conductor and trying to catch our breath). The choral movements? Go by way too fast. And once they're over, they're gone.

In some ways it's a little bit anticlimactic.

(Now I am listening to Carmina Burana and other similar things to get the Mozart out of my head, because it always gets stuck on annoying six-measure loops.)


Dec. 3rd, 2010 10:47 pm
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
Musica Dei donum optimi / Music, the gift of the supreme God,
trahit homines, trahit deos; / draws men, draws gods;
Musica truces mollit animos / Music makes savage souls gentle
tristesque mentes erigit /and uplifts sad minds.
Musica vel ipsas arbores / Music moves the very trees
et horridas movet feras. / and wild beasts.

Concert is done.

...my resolve to fake-sing the first half to save myself for the second? Totally shot within two measures of the first piece. ;_;

(which is not what I quoted above, but.)

Apparently the siren call of music is too strong to resist, when it's music I've rehearsed this much and know so deeply. Especially after having forced myself not to sing in the last two rehearsals.

Also, my conductor is so totally fucking made of awesome; I would follow him anywhere omg, I swear. ♥

(the soloist wasn't bad either; countertenor with a very pure, very sweet, very mesmerising voice.)
ysobel: (batman)
I actually manage to approximate a functional adult today :D

...by which I mean I went to the store, got everything I needed -- diapers protective underwear, of which I was down to two, excedrin store-brand painkiller with caffeine, of which I had consumed my last today to kill off a headache, echinacea, of which Firefox still does not approve the spelling, and cough drops -- without a) forgetting any of it, or b) getting sidetracked by candy or cute winter hats or anything similar. /and/ I managed to remember to ask for a raincheck (the echinacea was BOGO but they only had one in stock, so I now have a raincheck for a free echinacea yay)

also, I am in concert dress, an hour earlier than necessary and without any "omg where did I put my X" flailing, and with my music in the proper folder in concert order.

go me.

(hey, it's small victories in the grand scheme of things, but when I'm sick I'll take them however they come. ...when I'm not sick of course I demand superhuman perfection from myself, and sometimes I do even when I /am/ sick, but never mind that. right now I'm in the floaty wheeeee area of being sick -- er, the mental floaty wheeeee area, wherein I have no brain cells and also apparently not much of an internal censor, even though it's physically an oh crap area -- so um yeah.)

...it would probably be saner of me to stay the fuck home tonight, but dammit, I did not rehearse all quarter just to miss the concert. never mind that we are likely to be out of tune and uncertain in places because our conductor gave us a crazy amount of stuff to sing and not everyone is quick on the musical uptake. and chichester psalms, which is my favoritest thing ever (well, up there with mozart requiem), is likely to suck the hardest, which is saaaaaad, but MUST SING ZOMG.

...but nowayinhell am I actually singing the first piece, which has lots of loud high notes that will totally shred everything in my throat and also I don't like it all that much. Don't worry, I am v. good at looking like I'm singing even when I'm not! And I will be singing as much of the rest of it as my voice lasts.

getting sick right before choral performances = not the most fun. (but then tehre was that one time when I went to an orchestra rehearsal with a 104° fever from a kidney infection. talk about surreal.)

so. concert. and then if I have any voice left tomorrow, a performance with a different group. And /then/, if I have any voice left which I quite probably will not, a performance with yet a third. But the third is the one that matters the least overall [i.e. they can get by without me and I have no strong fondness tying me to the music] so that's okay.


May. 28th, 2010 11:52 pm
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
So, despite yesterday's rehearsal*, the performance was awesome. Er. The piece with the TA conducting was probably the worst (and omg the German pronunciation was horrendous. dear choir, the last syllable of "Weine" does NOT sound like "nay"...), but the first piece and the last piece were pretty damn close to perfect.

(It helps that I adore the conductor to itty bitty pieces and would pretty much do anything he asked.)

(It also helps that the conductor is really really good.)

I am waaay too hyped on post-concert adrenaline to actually go to bed. Heh.

[* for those less acquainted with theater luck, there is a strong correlation between disastrous final rehearsals and excellent performances, and vice versa. which is why having a really good rehearsal was a bad sign, except for the part where it turned out not to be.]
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
yeeeee. I always remember that the saturday rehearsals (9:30-5, with a lunch break that is at least fairly relaxed) are exhausting. I just tend to forget /just how bad/ they are.

luckily, I have some really awesome roommates who understand ... whateverthehell stage that's below zombie brain and fire-bad-tree-pretty ... and also understand the need for tea. (lemon ginger green tea, in this case.)

there's an incredibly stupid mattress ad where the people come home from vacation, travel-dirty and obviously just in the door, and just kind of faceplant onto the mattress and mumble about how much they missed it. that sort of faceplant is so what I would be doing if I could.

*eyes cross*

I am bailing on church tomorrow. hopefully no one will kill me for that or anything.

*gulps down more tea*
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
Ending of Rossini: one glorious movement of nonstop awesome.

Ending of Bruckner: OMG KILL ME NOW.

This is mainly because the end-of-Bruckner soprano part has about eight measures of (top-of-staff) F#, one F## for transition, eight measures of G, yadda yadda nonstop ascending chromatic yadda, all the way up to a Bb, all without any sort of break. And some of it is pp. Hah. And then there's a high C at the end, that, ironically, is easier than the long floaty notes.

(Translation for non-music types: it has lots and lots of high long notes. yes, we're sopranos, but it is still ow on the voice.)

Mind, the Rossini is somewhat similar in that the final post-fugue section has a lot of sustained G/Ab/G/F# stuff, but it doesn't go as high, and we get breaks (and official places to breathe) and it's a hell of a lot more fun.

I am, however, absurdly glad that I did not get around to doing the assigned work of manually writing out measure numbers.

See, okay. Chorus and orchestra often have different scores, with different conventions, and it's nice to have everyone know what "measure 97" is or whatever. On one piece, we have measure numbers along with rehearsal letters, but the numbering starts fresh with each movement, and we were told that the orchestra had no letters and that their measure numbers were consecutive throughout the entirety of the piece. On the other piece, we have nothing -- so were using page number, staff-on-page, and measure-within-staff, like "top of 62" or "page 81 middle system last measure" or whatever -- and were told that, again, the orchestra had consecutive measure numbers.

For the first piece, the TA gave us measure numbers for the beginning of every line. (I generally just wrote the beginning of every page because I am not that fast at writing stuff on music and also I can, you know, count.) For the second, the TA gave us measure numbers for the first movements (we sing movements 1,5,8,10) and then told us how many measures were in 2-4 combined and told us to work on it from there.

Some of you may have lertishly picked up on the fact that I said "we were told the orchestra has" XYZ, not "the orchestra has" XYZ.

This would be because, well, what we were told was /wrong/.

First piece, the orchestra shares our rehearsal letters, and doesn't have any measure numbers. (At least, I am assuming this based on cues like "13th measure of T" or "7 before Y".)

Second piece, the orchestra does indeed have measure numbers, but they start fresh for each movement. So, say, the fugue in the last movement? begins on measure 13. not measure onethousandfuckingwhatever.


...I picked up on this more quickly than some, and was able also to pick up measure numbers based on where he would have the orchestra start, and do quick measure-counting from those spots to key locations, so I was able to call out, like, "last measure on page 89" when the conductor gave a measure number. But. Yeah. Reeeally glad I didn't go to all of the trouble of /counting all of the fucking measures in the piece/ omg.

(I am a teensy bit cranky at the TA. I suspect others are somewhat more so...)
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
So, the chorus concert last Friday?

Totally awesome.

Okay, so I still didn't particularly like the first three songs -- especially the middle one of the three, which had moments of beauty but moments of being way too modern, and the poems that were the lyrics were, I swear, written by someone with functional knowledge of English grammar and a very limited and dysfunctional vocabulary, because so much of it did not make any sense. Honestly, I find it easier to sing in Finnish (Aamulla varhain, kun aurinko nousi, kun minä unestani heräsin), which I don't know, than to sing something in English that is grammatical but bizarre (Nor change the Pasture, but the Place, to feed off Thee in Thine own Face wtf?)

... as an aside, I feel ... odd ... about the fact that so much of what we sing is Christian, or at best Judeo-Christian, in a choir affiliated with a university (rather than a church, and it isn't even a religious university). I know that a lot of good western-style music was written for churches, for masses, for a largely Christian-oriented society, but on the other hand, it's ... I don't even know. And I don't have a personal problem singing about Jesus, or about God, but I wonder if other people do.

But anyway, back to the concert. I had an urge, which of course went unexpressed, to tell the audience that the second half was going to be way better than the first half; I was worried that people might bail because the music was so weird. I don't know if anyone did, because while the first half was just us and an organ off to the side, the second half -- Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem -- had orchestra, so I couldn't see the audience at all.

(Where I sit -- where I have to sit, to the side of the main choir in the front because I can't really fit on the risers at all -- is, shall we say, entertaining, because in front of me are the french horns, and directly on my right is the percussion section. When everything's at full volume, I can't hear what I'm singing. At all.)

When we started the quarter, I wasn't sure about the VW piece, because it had some amount of clashy weirdness with shifting tonalities. It's not the soft gentle Dona Nobis Pacem round that most people are familiar with. It's a plea for peace, but it's also sounds of war, with a lot of lyrics coming from Walt Whitman poetry and from scripture (OT, not NT), and it's gorgeous and powerful and needless to say, over the course of the quarter, it grew on me. :)

It was kind of amusing at the end, though. As a performer, as a conductor, you are intensely aware of the timing of applause. With some pieces, the applause starts too soon, before the music has finished, or in the wrong place, regardless of the conductor's body language; the ideal, IMO, is a heartbeat or two of silence before the applause starts. Which we got with the first three songs.

But with the VW, which has a recurring theme of the change between dona nobis pacem and sounds of war, there's this wonderful climactic ending, loud and full-instrumented and full-voiced and gorgeous and glorious, that quiets down into dona nobis pacem, and at the end, just, pacem, alternating between the chorus and the soprano soloist, ever softer, pacem, pacem, with the soloist getting the last word in, ppp decrescing into nothing ... and then silence, for a long time. I didn't think to start counting seconds or heartbeats, but it seemed endless, us standing still and barely breathing, the orchestra still because it had been a capella for the last few pages, the conductor perfectly still with a look of satisfaction on his face. Forever silence, except not.

Granted, there were other points in the concert where dead silence didn't mean end-of-song, and other places where he wasn't conducting (when it was just the organist playing) or was conducting with minimal movement, so there were no obvious cues for the audience to follow.

It wasn't quite an awkward amount of silence, and it was appropriate for the piece; but from the perspective of a performer, it's just *strange* to have that much of a stretch of silence.
ysobel: A kitten on a piano keyboard (music)
...which is the wrong lyric language for the rest of this entry, but it's what we just finished singing. (Concert is close enough -- three rehearsals left -- that our director is getting super-frazzled; I totally just want to give him a big hug and a giant fluffy teddy bear and a cup of hot chocolate. With $booze_of_choice in it.)


So, anyway.

If you are within driving distance of Sacramento (the CA one, in case there are others) and are interested in eastern european folk music, there is a concert Sunday that you totally should go to! One of my singing groups is performing -- songs from Bulgaria, Russia, Bulgaria, Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria, all in the native languages -- as part of the Crocker Art Museum concert series, this Sunday, Nov 22, at 3pm. (Concert will last approximately an hour, depending on how long people talk and if we decide to cut any songs.)

... because the universe is annoying, we won't actually be performing *at* the Crocker; instead, it will be at Capistrano Hall, CSUS.

More details here. Tickets are (free for members, but otherwise) $12, or $5 student/senior.

Come! It will be awesome! You will even get to hear me completely butcher Finnish and Bulgarian all by myself in a couple of places! zomg!


ysobel: (Default)
masquerading as a man with a reason

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