Thursday, August 31, 2006

Test of Purple Hue

You Are Grape

You are bold and a true individual. You are very different and very okay with that.
People know you as a straight shooter. You're very honest, even when the truth hurts.
You are also very grounded and practical. No one is going to sneak anything by you.
People enjoy your fresh approach to life. And it's this honesty that makes you a very innovative person.

What's up in Singapore this September?

Here are some events held in Singapore that are worth taking note of:

1. Singapore Biennale 2006

- Singapore's inaugural international biennale of contemporary art. This event will open to the public on 4 September 2006.
- BELIEF is the theme for Singapore's first visual arts biennale.
- http://www.singaporebiennale.org


2. Singapore 2006

- http://www.singapore2006.org

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Walking and sightseeing


Alkaff Bridge.



Sometimes, one of the better ways to enjoy Singapore is to travel on foot. I have found that walking along the Singapore River in the evening from about 6.30 - 7 p.m. can treat one's eyes to some beautiful sceneries. Furthermore, it is usually not too hot during that time of the day.

A few weeks ago, I was at Tiong Bahru area attending a meeting. After the meeting, I decided to walk about taking photographs. I started my journey, and without realising, I had actually walked from Tiong Bahru area to Robertson Quay, then to Clarke Quay and to High Street, and finally stopped at Raffles City shopping mall.

The walk was a fairly therapeutic one. There was a nice breeze that day, and while the sun wasn't the most ideal for taking photographs, the air was fairly bearable that day. The best part was that it was fairly peaceful along the stretch of the Singapore River, from Robertson Quay to Ord Bridge.

Now I shall let the photographs do the talking:



A house that caught my eye along the way. Tiong Bahru area.





I am attracted to the simplicity of the basketball court and the trees.





Jiak Kim Bridge, if I've got the name right.





It felt peaceful.





Contrasting godowns. New versus old.





Taken near Robertson Quay





Ord Bridge.
"Ord" is the abbreviation of "Ordnance".





Clarke Quay.


If you like the sceneries in the photos, you might wish to travel alongside the Singapore River too.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Trying to digest those heavy theory

Elementary Modulation isn't as elementary as it claims to be. In fact, I am struggling to understand some parts of it.

The only reassuring thing is that I just have to do my part to read the chapter on Elementary Modulation so that I can have a good idea which are the parts that I don't quite understand. Afterwhich, I can get the music theory tutor to go through those parts with me this coming Thursday.

I was reading the chapter on Elementary Modulation from Lovelock's First Year Harmony. Sometimes, the hardest thing I find in studying music theory is that I don't quite figure why certain things have to be done in certain ways. Sometimes, the rules just seemed to be "fixed". It is similar to: why 1 + 1 = 2, and why the sun is understood to rise from the east.

What exactly is false relation? I am aware that we should avoid having "a note in one part in one chord followed in the next chord by the same note chromatically altered, in another part". But I can't truly appreciate why. Maybe I just have to hear how a false relation would awfully sound?

It also took me a while to understand this principle that goes: "the leading note of a minor key is normally sharpened; so that it appears unsharpened and falls a step, it counts as a flattened note."

Understanding is one issue. Applying the concepts is another. I guess I could only try to read the chapter and assimilate as much as possible. Whatever that remains can only be dealt with this Thursday.

Whatever it is, hopefully, understanding elementary modulation would help me better appreciate the music that I will be playing in future.

Today's obsession

I wonder why. The melody from the last movement of Beethoven's 6th Symphony keeps running in my mind. I even find myself humming it.

Then I keep having this rhythm in my mind:
1 2 3 4 5 6

Maybe this is today's little obsession?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

An empty space

This afternoon, I have sent my dear double bass to the Luthier for some works.

After some investigations, the Luthier managed to identify that the source of the buzzing sound that is occasionally emitted from the double bass. The source was the vibration of the unnecessary long end-pin. So our decision is to cut the end-pin to a slightly shorter length. Afterall, yours truly doesn't need to play a double bass with a very long end-pin. And this should kill two birds with one stone, I can finally have a removable end-pin.

The crackline on my double bass which I was bothered about seem not to be a big issue to work on at this point in time. I just have to monitor the crackline from time-to-time, and get help when I see it aggravating.

There will also be some works done on the bridge to ease playing.

I will not see my instrument for a while. Now there seems to be a stark empty space where the double bass used to stand. Anyway, this should be for the better.

WWII accounts



Noelbynature has put up a post on Yesterday.sg that lead us to a link to the section titled: Fall of Singapore 1942, from BBC People’s War Project.

This will be nice reading for the weekend. I still can't believe that it will be Monday tomorrow. This weekend seems short.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Something to rejoice about


My double bass
which I affectionately refer to as "my husband".


I don't know whether I am considered a workaholic, but I had actually worked more than ten hours on a Saturday, today. The official working hours on Saturday at my office is from 8.45 a.m. to 12 noon. It can be interesting to work as a social worker and to serve othes. Possibly the one thing that may make me unsatisfied with the work is to have more workload that I can humanly manage, and having to compromise too much of quality for the sake of keeping up with the given quantity.

Anyway, after a tiring day at work, the best thing that happened today was to receive my music practical exams results.

I was a little nervous while opening the envelope. While I felt I could secure a pass, I wasn't sure what would really be written on the examination mark form.

Anyway, the result of my ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) Double Bass Grade 8 practical exams is as follow: Distinction. I've passed!

Scoring a distinction has certainly brought a wide grin on my face. This is something worth to rejoice about this weekend.

A recapitulation of my afterthoughts after my Grade 8 exams can be found here: Reflections after the exams.

I took some time to read through the comments given by the examiner so that I could know where I needed to work on. It seems that the rendition of Ridout's Concerto for Double Bass and strings, Marcello's Sonata in g minor and the orchestral excerpts that I have played under List C of the syllabus have all helped me to score for the exams. Credits go to the tutor for his guidance, and my piano accompanist for listening out for me and giving me tips on my playing. Thanks folks. Alright, I shall take ownership of part of the credits, I did practise quite a fair bit afterall.

My playing of scales and arpeggios for this exams have improved compared to my playing of scales and arpeggios during my Grade 7 exams. Still, I could continue to work on this to play scales and arpeggios better.

Sight-reading certainly needs more work. I scored 16 out of 21 for this section. The passing mark was 14.

Putting time aside to study for the aural tests was worth the effort. I think scoring fairly well for this section has helped me gain enough points to score a distinction. I studied the aural section almost entirely on my own, so I am happy that I had scored 16 out of 18. Admittedly, I think I had some stroke of luck during my exams and that has helped.

To all who have encouraged and supported me along the way, thank you. I've made it.

Yeah, I'm so happy that I have passed the exams.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Feeling blue




Feeling blue,
Disoriented
Tummy feels upset
The cut on the thumb is causing me pain

Spinning in a crazy world
Can't wait to find some peace

Quiz of the heart

I came across this test while I was visiting JY's blog. Here's my results when I took this test.

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to obedience and warmth.

In love, you feel the most alive when your lover is creative and never lets you feel bored.

You'd like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was emotional, moody, and difficult to please.

Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage something you've always wanted... though you haven't really thought about it.

In this moment, you think of love as commitment. Love only works when both people are totally devoted.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pain

Pain (any pain--emotional, physical, mental) has a message. The information it has about our life can be remarkably specific, but it usually falls into one of two categories: "We would be more alive if we did more of this," and, "Life would be more lovely if we did less of that." Once we get the pain's message, and follow its advice, the pain goes away.


-Peter McWilliams, Life 101

(Found the above quotation from http://www.quotationspage.com/)

***
Wish me health, I am feeling unwell.

Small things do matter

This afternoon, I had double bass lesson with tutor, MJ. We continued to work on the basics. I think it was helpful to do so.

The work today consisted of guiding me to work towards achieving a relaxed and natural hand-and-arm-shape for the left-hand. Today, I was asked to play up to three octaves of the G major scale. It felt awfully challenging to play the notes in the third octave of the scale. I still need quite a bit of work to achieve a more natural posture when playing in that range of notes.

MJ reminded me to be mindful in maintaining a curved-shape for my fingers of my left hand. This does help to allow me to gain better control of my playing. I marvel at how small things like this (shape of my fingers) can make such a big difference to the level of ease and control I have over my playing.

I hope to practise and work towards achieving greater ease and control in my playing as much as possible. Practice time of late has been short due to work commitments, and I'll be sending my double bass (the husband) to the Luthier this weekend for repair. Anyway, it is worthwhile to go back to work on the basics.

Noteworthy

About more than a month ago, I had lunch together with Emily at the Botak Jones outlet in Ang Mo Kio. She has even written a post about the lunch. It seems like there could be more reasons for her to visit Botak Jones again.

According to Veron's latest post, Botak Jones will have a new stall opening at 325 Clementi Avenue 5 within these two weeks. I checked the streetdirectory.com and this place is fairly nearby the Clementi MRT station. There is a direct bus from the university to Clementi MRT station and this should make Botak Jones more accessible to students like Emily.

So, Emily, this post is for you.

Waking up in the middle of the night

In the middle of the night, for seemingly no reason, one actually wakes up fully awake. Strange that the mind may be, it actually alerts one to an oversight. So one gets up of bed trying to salvage the situation. In the end, I decided the solution was to take urgent leave from work to do my part to salvage the oversight, and this had to be done by this morning. Now that the issue has been addressed, at least I could say I have done my part.

Is the sudden, unexpected waking up in the middle of the night a reflex of the mind? Or is it a demonstration of one of the mysterious ways that our intuition works?

I wonder: How do we tap on and make wise use of such intuition to serve good purposes?

A world gets darker

I wish something the air was better. Smoke has been lurking in the air, and this has been irritating my windpipe.

My hip continues to hurt. Perhaps the blessing in disguise is that I could still walk without an obvious limp.

The air and the hip aside, something doesn't feel right. I have yet to learn how to articlate it. That feeling is more than a sensation that makes one feel down. It is something that makes one feel like giving up on things.

Strange it is, the human beings often put themselves in a contradicting position. On one hand a part of oneself feels like surrendering to the world of darkness, the other part of oneself urges one to hang on. The pit below now seems darker and deeper. Is there a reason to have a survival instinct? Maybe falling isn't that bad? At least, one isn't stuck, and there's a direction to head towards for?

Anyway, playing music in an orchestra this evening helps one keep afloat on a life-buoy. This evening, we played the "storm" section of the Beethoven's 6th Symphony. I was told that it is the third movement.

Playing in an orchestra and listening to everyone play can be more interesting than sitting down in a concert hall and listening to the performers. At the very least, one gets to listen, to participate, and to be part of the music-making. Yet, it might just be a temporary jab of endorphin? That bugging feeling is just a symptom to an unrecognised problem, and unless its roots can be found and addressed, the pain remains.

A world gets darker. For the night has come.

Spread one's arms, and allow the free-fall to start, in this darkness.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

All mixed up

Is there a time when you feel tired, but you don't wish to sleep. It is as if sleep does not lend one the required peace of mind. It feels as if something is missing, and sleep does not help to fill that empty void.

While trying to fill that void, I browsed for photographs taken about a year ago. It is now 00:27 in Singapore. But if I am right, it should be about 13:27 in London. I am imagining myself being stuck in this problem of time differences between two different worlds. A year apart.


The Millennium Bridge and the St Paul's Cathedral.


I particularly like this part of London.

**
Would I get a restful sleep tonight?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This time of the night

I am feeling tired.

At the same time, the non-intoxicated me may be missing the embrace of the double bass. I wish to practise the "storm" section from the 4th movement of the Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. It is 11.30 p.m. My neighbours might appreciate a peaceful night. I am feeling tired.

It is noisy at home because of the loud volume of the TV. Am I the one having the problem to continue to perceive that this world is extremely loud for me. The sign at my cubicle has been indicating "Don't disturb" for the past month. Yet, peace seems not for long. Maybe the best present for me is a noise-reduction handphones? Not really, I just need peace and quiet, and good music. I am more productive this way.

I am missing the sound of the double bass. Jason Heath's blog provides a nice relief. I am now listening to the playing of the D Harmonic Minor scales, in third octaves! At this point in time, I can only confidently manage to play up to two octaves. Thanks Jason for providing a practical help to fellow double bassists with your recordings of double bass scales.

If you miss the sound of the double bass, please check Jason's post here to listen to scales and more scales:
http://jasonheath.blogspot.com/2006/08/jazz-practicing-resources.html

**
Ending this post, life seems unpredictable. We just don't know when life may slip away.

At this time of the night, could someone play for me a melancholic tune on the double bass? Sometimes I wish I was living inside a bubble. I can play anytime I wish, even at this time of the night.

Watery Eyes

Our body seems to have its ways to communicate to us.

Watery eyes.
This is what happens when my body is feeling tired.
Tears kept flowing from my eyes for a while this evening.
The signal is clear.
My body is tired.

What kind of signal does your body gives you under a given circumstances?

Monday, August 21, 2006

See the world

Jane has put up some nice photographs of her trip to Cambodia, Angkor Wat, on her blog.

Check out this link.

***
And I simply love the photos that Wrkshy has taken of Europe. Here's the link to her blog: http://wrkshy.blogspot.com

Left vs Right

You Are 30% Left Brained, 70% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.


For a while, I had thought that I was balanced-brained. This test tells me that I am right-brained. I am right-handed... but I start to notice that I can unconsciously wave "hello" at people with my left hand.

Right or left? Backward or forward?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

It is Sunday

It is Sunday, and I spent at least 6 hours of this Sunday in the office. For your information, Sunday is not the official workday. I just happen to need to be in office to attend to a meeting, and to clear some work.

Actually, it wasn't a bad thing to go back to office on a Sunday. At the very least, it was fairly quiet in office. I think I thrive and am more productive when there is peace and no noise. As such, I could get quite a fair bit of work done earlier today in office.

The only thing about working on a Sunday when I don't usually do so, is that somehow my biological calendar seem to get upset. I still keep feeling that it is either a Saturday or a Friday today! The thought about reporting to work tomorrow just did not settle well in me.

By the time I was done with the conference, it was close to 5 p.m. I might have continued staying in the office, but I decided it was better for me to join a few fellow double bass players for dinner in the evening. Reflecting, it was a sound decision. I was feeling tired from working at least 6 hours in the office that by 5 p.m., my productivity level had decreased. I may need longer time to get the same amount of work done, so time might be better spent with good company. The company of fellow double bass players has helped brought some sanity to life itself.

Met Princess Dinah, dear Emily, and XM for dinner. Oh, and I got to hear about the name that XM has just given to his double bass. She is called Grace. Well, I guess this is not the first time that I have heard people giving names to their instruments. Grace should be in good hands with XM.

By the way, XM will be sitting for his music practical exams very soon. I have heard his playing, and I have good vibes that he will pass his upcoming exams. Meantime, here's wishing XM good luck for his exams. All the best XM.

I haven't seen Princess Dinah for a long while. I can't help but feel inspired to see her and Emily. Both of them, in my opinion, have way better sight-reading skills than I do on the double bass. Anyway, I shall work on my sight-reading during my next practice on the double bass. 15 minutes each time. Wish me all the best. At the same time, wishing that life will be nice and kind on these two dear ladies. They are nice people to have in this world.

After dinner, we headed for the MRT station. On the way, we somehow spoke briefly about the difficulties faced when transporting a double bass by plane. That reminded me of a post by Jason Heath, if you would care to read: http://jasonheath.blogspot.com/2006/08/flying-with-bass.html

Anyway, I parted with the three fellow double bass players at the MRT station, and headed for the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. I spent the rest of the evening alone to return a library book and to make some purchases at the nearby Marina Square Shopping Mall.

Now, I am at home, feeling tired. It is a Sunday night, I wish it was quieter at home...

The extreme?

You Are 10% Extrovert, 90% Introvert

You avoid people at all costs
You aren't one for social interaction
And you limit your interaction to a select few
Thank God for self checkout!


If I were to see you on the streets and I don't do anything more than to nod to acknowledge that I have seen you, it is not that I don't like you. I just need a large personal space.

As you please, you may love me or hate me, for my strong need for personal space. I guess I could not help but acknowledge that some folks find me distant and hard-to-know. I can't please everyone, so I shall just stay true to myself.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Right here waiting?

I feel as if I am waiting. Waiting for comments to come by.

It has been a fairly quiet day. The hip pain came back again. I think I am tired about seeing the doctor to get the same reply: that it is muscle strain.

A major part of the morning was spent blogging and reading blog. My readers: What do you like about this blog to make you come back? Who reads this blog? I am just curious to know, even though I may not change my style of writing to win your favour.

Secretly, I am hoping someone could just lavish me with compliments about the photographs that I have taken. Then again, it won't hurt to get some constructive criticisms that would help me improve on my skills. I decided not to invest in high-end camera for now. This money might be better spent on double bass lessons.

In the afternoon, I practised C major scales. I also practised selected parts of the "storm" section from the 4th movement of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony.

This evening, I read an online article on sight-reading. The article reminded that I should put aside 15 minutes from each of my future practices to simply sight-read. The thought about starting on this can be a little appalling. I know that I have to learn to face those feelings and just do sight-reading anyway. I shall choose a page from one of the sight-reading books for my next practice to work on. Using the metronome for sight-reading practices should come useful too.

Part of this evening was spent working on my music theory homework. I find myself cracking my mind to figure out the key of a particular section of a given work. I still have some sections of my homework uncompleted.

Anyway, this is how things have been today. Plain and simple. It gets a little boring by this time of the night.

The tour that I went on this Thursday



This Thursday, I joined yet another of The Original Singapore Walks by Journeys Pte Ltd. Here's a link to a post that I have written about my experience onboard the walk: Sultans of Spice: The Kampong Glam Walk.

Don't miss it. That is all I can say.

Ideal careers?

Your Career Personality:
Idealistic, Service-Oriented, and Future-Oriented

Your Ideal Careers:

Alternative health practitioner
Architect
Environmental lawyer
Librarian
Magazine editor
Museum curator
Novelist
Nutritionist
Photo journalist
Playwright


Hey, some of these careers are ones that I have not considered. How accurate is this test?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Worth reading: Yamashita's Last Words


Sculpture of General Yamashita Tomoyuki.
Photo taken at Memories at Old Ford Factory, Singapore.


There is a lot that we can learn from the lessons in history, if we take time to reflect on these.

While I was reading one of the posts from Yesterday.sg, I came to know of an article by Yuki Tanaka. The article is titled Last Words of the Tiger of Malaya, General Yamashita Tomoyuki.

These are words of General Yamashita Tomoyuki caught my eye:

It is not enough for a mother to think only about how to keep her children alive. She should raise them to be able to live independently, cope with various circumstances, love peace, appreciate cooperation with others and have a strong desire to contribute to humanity when they grow up.


I personally don't think it is just the responsibility of the mother to do so. It should be the responsibility of the parents, and the rest of the community.

Anyway, the article is worth a read, even if it looks fairly lengthy.

To read the full article, please click on the link on the right: Last Words of the Tiger of Malaya, General Yamashita Tomoyuki.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Everything music

This afternoon, I took time-off from work.

I had double bass lesson with MJ in the afternoon, for an hour. In the evening, I had music theory class because today is a Thursday. Maybe it isn't wrong to label today as a day of music?

Double bass lessons have been getting interesting, especially without the pressure of having to practise so that one could pass the exams. I am liking the idea of having to work on the basics.

As I play the C major scale for almost more than half the lesson, the tutor continued to help me find what is the more natural way for me to play the double bass. It felt delightful to play the double bass with increasing ease.

The tutor also worked on techniques of doing a vibrato. It proved to be tricky initially, but was rewarding when I could get a better vibrato than I used to have. Yet, I think I still have to practise more in order to master how to do a good and well-controlled vibrato.

After all the earlier work on the basics, I played the first movement of the Marcello's Sonata in g minor. For the first time in my life, I could feel a much greater ease in playing this sonata. I did not have to actually work very hard to play this sonata, and it still sound nice, if not nicer, than I had played on my recent exams and the earlier practices. Yes, basic techniques do matter. I am happy that I am now working on it with the tutor. For the rest of the time to come, it shall be practice and more practice.

I am looking forward to future lessons.

**
After double bass lesson, I headed for Toa Payoh Central. I spent some time there. At about 4.40 p.m., I happened to chance across the HDB (Housing Development Board) Gallery and I went it. It was a gallery consisting of various exhibits that outlines the history and development of public housing in Singapore.

But at 5.15 p.m., when I was done with the viewing of the exhibits, I found myself locked all alone in the gallery! I tried opening the main door but it was locked. I walked up the stairway and was directed to a back entrance, but it was locked too.

The only good thing is that the back entrance allowed me to get hold of the attention of a passerby. I asked the passerby and her companion for help to get the security. It was so kind of her to do so. After a few minutes, the security came and directed me to head for the main door. I waited for yet another few minutes before the door was finally opened. Thank goodness.

For this evening, I did not have dinner at my usual favourite place. I was meeting a friend, H, for dinner. It was nice to catch up with H this evening. It was good to know that she is doing fine. I thank her for the tips that she has given me during our conversation.

***
In the later part of the evening, I had music theory class.

The music theory tutor explained to me on how I could recognise syncopated rhythms. He also clarified on the definition of a few musical terms. He also showed me how I could look for clues to determine the key of a particular section of a piece of music. He spoke about how the knowledge of harmony could help us understand the flow of a piece of music. I think the knowledge in these areas would come helpful when I play and interpret a piece of musical work. I am glad that I took up theory lessons.

**
Now, I am feeling that my body is aching from a day of walking about, and carrying loads of music books and scores, and the double bass bow in bow-case throughout the entire afternoon.

My right hip is hurting, again. I wonder why.

Anyway, I like today. It was well-spent. Perhaps like the words on the poster that I had saw this afternoon: "Music is a gift from heaven" and it brings some joy to one's life.

Sectional hours ago

Double bass sectionals are always something to be looked forward to. Some hours ago, I was having double bass sectionals.

It was not intended that we had to have double bass sectional today (16 Aug 06) in the instrument store, but thank goodness that everyone in the section (including our tutor) were cooperative and patient enough to lend their understanding on the matter. Hopefully, we would have a proper venue in the future.

We practised Beethoven's Sixth Symphony today. I would be nice if we could play the entire symphony, but I heard that the orchestra may only play certain movements. Perhaps, I can't even be definite if we would be playing this symphony.

The section that is marked Gewitter, Sturm has some especially challenging parts. We spent simply close to an hour practising that particular section of about 150 bars!

We also went through the first movement of the first symphony today. It looks like we have done quite a bit today even though we aren't able to rehearse the entire symphony. Between quality and quantity, I would prefer the former. Today's double bass sectional has been productive, and I am glad to have attended it.

Things to follow up on after today's sectional: Practise and memorise that "storm" section.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Distinguished email from the artist

Today, I have received a special email. An email from Mr John Cheung, the artist who has created the sculpture The Descent of Man mentioned in my post titled Pause to see. I did not know how he has managed to chance upon my blog, but I suppose technology has the power to bring people together?

The Descent of Man
The Descent of Man. By John Cheung


I felt the sculpture has clearly protrayed a sense of agony and remorse. In addition, what struck me was the words printed on the plaque next to the sculpture. I could not remember the exact words, but it was very nice that Mr John Cheung has quoted the words and shared it with me in his email. Please take a moment to read the statement:

Since the new Millennium, we keep hearing news of unending carnages and man-made catastrophes all over the world. This artwork expresses the feeling of agony that humanity is on a sinking descent, even dragging down the animal species from which the human species descents. We all have to play our part to do something about this. This cannot be Man’s fate.


As I reflect upon these words, I could not help but think of wars, acts of terrorism and man-made destructions of the environment.

The statement has made me ponder for a while...

***
Mr John Cheung also pointed out in his email:

"The Descent of Man" is originally the title of biologist Charles Darwin's book about evolution, and how the human species are descent from a variety of animal species. In my artwork, I use the other meaning of 'descent', which is a downward movement.


**
Question of the day: What response did you have when you saw this sculpture?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Aches

My muscles are aching. They have been so since this evening. Legs, back, arms, shoulders, and the head. The aching isn't very painful but it is certainly bothering. I am in pain. I wonder if the aches were due to the flu?

Listening to Chopin's Nocturnes played over the radio has actually helped to make the aches less bothering.

Exactly one year ago, on 14 Aug, I was in London, checking out several museums in one single day. My leg muscles were probably aching from all that travel. But the thing is that I was in London on vacation, and my hand muscles weren't aching then.

Now, a photo taken a year ago:


The Great Court. British Museum.

Pause: 1 minute before the show

Last Thursday, we had double bass section's dinner at Spageddies Italian Kitchen. Thank goodness that it was the music school's school holidays last Thursday, and I did not have music theory class and could be present for the dinner. It was good company and good food.

Our orchestra's double bass tutor was present for the dinner. He shared his insights on various topics, one of which was on the designs on certain public facilities in Singapore.

His comments led me to think of the scene that you see below. I took this photograph a month ago. If I am not wrong, it was just 1 minute before the start of the opera Marriage of Figaro.



Strange sighting. One minute before the show starts, and a long queue!



I wasn't at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay that day to catch the Marriage of Figaro. In fact, I had felt thankful when I saw the long queue that I had enough foresight to enter the Theatre at least 15 minutes before the start of the opera when I had caught the same opera a few days before.

Not forgetting to mention, the Esplanade Theatre has fairly strict security measures and every member of the audience must have his baggage checked before he could enter. So those at the back of the queue would likely be late for the show.

The consoling thing was that the queue had cleared much faster than I had foreseen. Thanks to the professionalism of the usherers and staff members of the Esplanade. They do take a lot of pride in their work.

But the lesson to learn is that at the Esplanade, do not try to attempt to reach the Theatre or the Hall just one minute before the start of the show. If 10% of the audience tries to reach the venue only a minute before the show, then the worst that could happen is that these folks would find themselves missing the first part of the show.

It seems that the calculations for the Esplanade Theatre and Concert Hall could have been made with the assumption that all the 1600 to 1900 members of the audience will spread themselves out and come at different intervals over a period of about half-an-hour. Bear in mind that it was never designed to allow all 1600 to 1900 members of the audience to enter and exit the halls at the very same time.

But in reality, the observation is that most people may come at about 10 minutes before the start of the show. In some scenarios, as you would have seen on the photo above, people rush in 1 minute before the show, thinking that they are on time. However, the venue is not made to cater to such an influx of audiences at the last minute, it seems. That is probably why we can find signages at the Esplanade that encourages audience to enter the halls 20 minutes before the start of the show.

So if you think you are 1 minute early, think again. You may actually be late!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Exercising the mind

It has been dreadful to be ill. I have been sleeping for more than 12 hours yesterday. While this is good for recovery, it has somehow made the mind feel a little unproductive.

I had intended to approach a Luthier today, but decided to do it on another day as I was quite weak today to travel and carry a double bass over long distances.

In the evening, when reading felt boring, I attempted to do some sight-reading on the double bass. This is one way to work out the mind, and a bit of the body. The practice this evening is not too intense. I was merely doing sight-reading.

I first started with playing C major scales.

That was followed by sight-reading of the following:
Franz Keyper's Romance and Rondo
Capuzzi's Concerto in D
Telemann's Sonata in a minor

I noticed a bit of improvement in my ability to sight-read. However, I struggled with certain sections, especially those in treble clef, and uncommon rhythms. Anyway, I quite like the three works.

Whatever it is, the practice this evening reminds me that the double bass is my good friend. Good for the body, and the mind.

Pause to see

There are objects of art in our everyday life. If we care to pause, to see, and to reflect the messages behind.

This sculpture by John Cheung is now on display at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore.

The Descent of Man
The Descent of Man. By John Cheung




Can you feel the agony protrayed through the sculpture?

What kind of Food am I?

You Are Italian Food

Comforting yet overwhelming.
People love you, but sometimes you're just too much.


Forgive me if I have been overwhelming.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Part II



Due to poor health, I am now at home. To kill the boredom and to distract myself from the discomforts of the illness, I worked on Part II of Back to the ancient world. As such, readers get to read the Part II much earlier than I had initially intended.

Back to the ancient world, Part II

**
And there's another post that I have titled: Back to the ancient world, miscellaneous

**
(Click to read Part I of Back to the ancient world)

Wish me good health

Blocked nose. Runny nose. Feeling drowsy. Having a slight temperature. Occasional headaches.

The doctor has prescribed me with medications for flu and blocked nose. I am feeling grouchy. Wish me good health please.

I hope today would be a relatively day for me to rest and recuperate. I dread that noises can upset me, terribly. I need a lot of peace, and good air.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Learning more about dinosaurs


Hear it roar!


Is there any folk reading this blog who will be interested in my visit to the exhibition: Dinosaurs! A T. rex named SUE and Friends?

I was there yesterday. You may read Back to the ancient world for the account of my visit.

***
By the way, does anyone know any good remedy for sneeze and blocked nose? Yours truly seems to have symptoms of those.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

National Day



Today is Singapore's National Day.

In the photo taken above, you can see the red and white colour that are present on the Singapore's national flag. While I was sitting down at the Library@Esplanade, I was quite fascinated by the way this flag-like object waved with the breeze. I later took several photos of it from various angles.

For the dear readers who are not familiar with Singapore's history, this link (http://www.sg/explore/history_independence.htm) provides a brief outline on Singapore becoming an independent nation on 9 August 1965.

One of the ways that National Day is celebrated is with a National Day Parade. The National Day Parade seems such a major affair of our National Day that National Day will not seem complete without a National Day Parade. You can find a nutshell of the history of the National Day Parade here: http://www.ndp.org.sg/index.php?id=23

This year will be the last year that the National Day Parade will be held in the National Stadium. If you are interested, you can catch the live webcast of this event here: http://www.ndp.org.sg/index.php?id=29
(Note: The live webcast of National Day Parade 2006 will begin at 1800hrs (GMT +8) Singapore time on 9 Aug 2006.) If you have missed the live webcast, check out the photo gallery: http://www.ndp.org.sg/index.php?id=27

***
Recalling...
One year ago, on the 9 Aug, I was singing our National Anthem, in the town of Tarves, Scotland. I miss Scotland.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Take a breather













Taken from Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. Promenade. Singapore.


One way to take a breather is to look at relaxing sceneries. The water and the colour blue seem to have calming effects on me. I need a breather. Anyway, enjoy.

By the way, did you spot the Merlion?

Maintenance & repair

The dear double bass of mine seems to need some maintenance and repair soon. It may even need a new set-up?

MJ was inspecting my double bass last evening, and he said that the distance between the A and the D string (at the bridge) was too wide for optimal playing. He said an ideal width was about 2.5 centimetres, but this particular width was 3 centimetres on my double bass. He said I should consider having the width reduced to at least 2.7 centimetres.

Even the G string on my double bass, as MJ said, should hang slightly inwards, away from the edges of the fingerboard. This is so as to ensure optimal playing. MJ said I could do all these on my own or get a Luthier. I think getting a Luthier might be a better idea.

In addition, I would need help to do something about the tailpiece that has been breeding some fungus already due to the humidity. There is a crack-line at the back of my instrument too. I would also need some help to make the end-pin a removable one.

My question is: Should I go to a Luthier whom I know of or just simply go back to the shop where I have brought my instrument from?

Do the above-mentioned repairs need more skill and care? If the repairs and works are simple, I might go back to the shop where I have purchased my double bass from. It is supposed to provide my double bass with free workmanship should I go back for assistance.

I wonder how long the repair might take too. I know I will miss having my double bass around.

***
On the side note, Jason Heath has written a post on Buying a Double Bass. A useful post to refer to.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Back to basics

This evening, I had double bass lesson with my tutor, MJ. That was the first lesson after the Grade 8 exams. Without the pressure to prepare for exams, today's lesson focused on the basics. Simply basics.

I could only remember that a large part of the lesson was spent playing the C major scale so that MJ could correct my posture, and help me find a more natural posture to play double bass.

It was fun. Fun to learn. Fun to find better ways of playing the double bass. It was actually difficult at the beginning because my muscles did not seem to get used to the new posture. After some playing, the new posture worked better. My goals for my upcoming practices (practising on my own) will be to play C major scale with a natural posture.

MJ for some reasons wound rubber bands onto the frog and stick of my bow. He said it was to help guide my fingers to hold the bow more appropriately. Hey, it works. The tone of my playing became more verstaile and better once I became more aware where exactly the fingers of my right-hand were placed on the bow. This method was good in that it freed me to work on improving my left-hand posture.

Rubber bands: cheap and effective methods. Is it meant to be trade secret where the rubber bands should be placed? Anyway, don't ask me to share the trade secret. I haven't learnt and mastered it well enough to share it. Furthermore, I don't have the copyright to the trade secret, do I?

It was enjoyable learning the basics. I think that's an area where I am lacking strong foundation in.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Use some imagination



Look across at the background. Imagine that it was night-time. That was where the fireworks were fired from last last night.

Miles away, back at my home, I was trying to visualise how the fireworks might have looked like if I were to watch it from the Promenade of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Our imagination can serve us well.

Watching Fireworks from Home

At about 6 p.m. yesterday, I was at the Promenade area of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Yesterday was the debut of the Singapore Fireworks Festival 2006, and there would be fireworks displays at 9 p.m. I had initially wanted to watch the fireworks from the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. I had even found a relatively good place to sit and watch the fireworks. Since I was early, it would mean that I had to wait for three hours.

I decided that I could make the waiting time productive by working on music theory assignments. I sat down to work on two-parts writing.

It eventually proved to be inconducive to do my assignments at the Promenade. Across the distance, there was loud music being played from a stage located at the Merlion Park. Even ear plugs won't help reduce the noise level dramatically.

In the end, I decided to return home. The combination of noise and crowds is something that I could not bear sanely.

Thankfully, I live on a flat unit at least twenty-storeys above the ground. I waited near the window of my bedroom from about 8.55 p.m. At about 9 p.m., the night skies at a distance was lit up with beautiful fireworks. The fireworks looked beautiful.

While several other skyscrapers has stood in the way and hence I had an obstructed view of the fireworks, watching fireworks from home meant that I could catch a glimpse of the 15-minutes of beautiful fireworks away from the crowd and the noise.

I figure that I need respite from this world. Watching fireworks from home proved to be a good solution, for last night.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The library's a good place to be in

For the past week, I have found myself needing more quiet time. Taking a breather from the world's noises seem vital for me to recharge.

Today is a relatively hot day. I decided that I shall spend some time reading, and the library ended up to be the prime choice for the day. For the benefit of all users, libraries have been known to have the rule of "Please keep quiet". Although occasionally, one may still find mobile phones ringing at a loud volume and people speaking, the library has proven to be a relatively quiet place to be in this afternoon.

There are a large selection of books at the library. My hand somehow dictated me to pick up the book titled Natural-born intuition: How to Awaken and Develop Your Inner Wisdom by Lauren Thibodeau. I spent close to two hours in the library reading half the book. I am thankful that I had managed to find myself a comfortable seat in the library. It was relatively crowded today.

It was a relatively pleasant experience to read in the library. My home does not seem to be a most conducive place to read in the afternoon if the weather was hot. Furthermore, the television set at home just seem to be always too loud for me, and I must admit that at times I have given up trying to fight the battle of lowering the volume. Somehow, someone else would think that they can't hear what was being broadcast on the television, and soon, I would find the television set's volume loud again.

But this evening, surprisingly I had turned the volume to level "12" and it has remained unchanged so far. I love the peaceful moments. Nevertheless, the library is definitely much more conducive place to read when one lives in a tropical country, with its air-conditioned facilities, good lightings and comfortable seats. Not to forget, one gets access to a lot more books at the library.

After today's positive experience, I shall make time to visit the library to read at least once a fornight. It is a good place both for the mind and for my peace-seeking ears.

On the side note, I must thank the National Library Board for making our libraries such a conducive place for learning. Thank you.

Friday, August 04, 2006

One year ago

A few days ago, on the Wednesday, I attended orchestra rehearsal. During the break, the orchestra celebrated the birthday of our conductor. The celebration reminded us of the birthday celebration that we had for him a year ago, in Aberdeen.

I am missing Aberdeen and Scotland. The weather in Aberdeen should be fairly nice at this time of the year, and there will be no smoke and ashes from the burning of incense paper (it is a custom for many of the Chinese to burn incense paper during the seventh month of the lunar calendar).

On 4th of August last year, I had the pleasure to take a train ride from Aberdeen to Edinburgh with QH, XM and LL. We visited the Edinburgh Castle and The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre. It still brings back fond memories to recall about what has happened a year ago.

Europe seems to be a captivating place to me. Some fellow bloggers have been to Europe recently, and here's sharing links to their blogs. Their recent posts are likely to have photographs of scenes from Europe:

Phototrippin'

A Creature called Jane

I wish to visit Europe again.

The Office of Yesterday's



It has sparkled much sense of interest in me to catch glimpses of the office equipment that were used decades ago. I was particularly intrigued by the manual cash register and the do-it-yourself cash register made from two tins, a rope and two pulleys.

To read more, please check out Vickoo's post titled Yesterday's Office Equipment (1)

Meantime, I shall be grateful that other than the time spent on meetings, the office was relatively quiet today for me to do my work. More work remains to be done. I hope I would soon be able to clear the backlog.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Treats for the taste-buds in Toa Payoh

I usually do not go to Toa Payoh, except when I have music theory lessons on Thursday evenings.

My favourite place for dinner at Toa Payoh would be the Koh San Japanese Food located at Toa Payoh HDB Centre's Koufu food court.

There are indeed other Japanese food-outlets in Toa Payoh, but I like this one especially for its fairly good and reasonably priced sashimi set. It is at $7.90 per set. The sashimi is fresh, and leaves a nice after-taste. The presentation of the sashimi is also good. I especially likes the way the boss, D*****, (at the sushi/sashimi counter) prepares the sashimi. She puts in a lot of care and thought, and takes pride in preparing the sashimi. It is the sincerity that goes into the food that counts, doesn't it? Service there is also good for a food-court standard.

In addition, today, I have chanced upon a shop selling freshly made preservative-free colourful chocolates at Toa Payoh Central. The shop's name's Jaime's Chocolates. I must confess that I prefer dark chocolates, and dark chocolates became the natural choice when I bought two pieces of the chocolates at Jaime's Chocolates to sample.

For its price, I think it is much worth it to treat oneself to a heart-warming piece of chocolate from Jaime's Chocolates to one from Godiva. The dark chocolates taste nice. It is made with care and thought too. More importantly, I prefer its dark chocolates varieties to those offered at Godiva. Furthermore, the chocolates at Jaime's Chocolates are much cheaper. The dark chocolates melt in one's mouth and have a nice texture.

Here's the location of Jaime's Chocolates
450 Toa Payoh Lorong 6
#02-07 Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre Singapore 319394


Next time when you are at Toa Payoh Central, you might want to check out these two places if you have similar tastes like mine.

Where's the augmented chord?

I was trying to do the music theory assignment. One of the questions required me to identify an augmented chord from an extract that was given. I have been trying to find the augmented chord at different sittings for the past few days, but I have yet to find it!

I wonder why? I have been systematically searching for the augmented chord bar by bar, but it remains unfound.

How does one train oneself to recognise an augmented chord easily?

Anyway, I decided to stop my attempt of identifying the augmented chord. I later went to attempt a question on melody writing. I am no aspiring composer, but I hope to write a decent of melody nevertheless.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Statements

No mood to write much.
The statement of the night.

If I put up a Do not disturb sign,
It is not for decorative purposes.
Come nearby if you please
But please lend me peace