Saturday, September 30, 2006

Nostalgia

Just a moment ago, on one of the channels of Starhub CableTV, it was showing a recording of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2005.

Seeing the Edinburgh Castle on television and hearing the sounds of bagpipes brought me fond memories of the few hours that I have spent in Edinburgh last year. I hope to have a chance to visit Scotland again.


Parts of the Edinburgh Castle. Scotland.





Bagpiper. A wax model.





Outside Edinburgh Castle. People were waiting to buy the tickets.




To find out more about the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, please check out: http://www.edinburgh-tattoo.co.uk/index.html

Would it cheer?



Feeling down,
and lifeless
Would a bright flower like this
bring some cheer?












This photo was taken nearby the National Museum of Singapore.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Music can be healing

As it seems to be a rare affair to hear Franz Joseph Hadyn's oratorio The Creation performed live in Singapore, I decided that I would stretch myself a bit by dragging myself to the Esplanade Concert Hall this evening.

It proved that I had to literally drag myself there. I don't feel well. The nausea feeling continued to haunt me for a great part of the afternoon. It did not help that I was almost constantly coughing due to the poor air (and of course, the fact that I have yet to fully recover from the bad cough). I felt I was just mustering whatever patience that I have to prevent myself from blowing up from the irritability caused by the feeling of discomforts.

Hoping to comfort myself from the discomforts of feeling unwell, I decided to pamper myself by having dinner at ichiban boshi at the Esplanade Mall. It is a nice place to unwind, and I managed to get myself a seat that faces the Esplanade Promenade. The food is nice too. I had a dinner-set consisting of beef udon, tempura, sashimi, sushi and a red-bean pastry. I felt pleased that I have ended my dinner with a sweet pastry. Isn't it nice to end things sweet?

The dinner helped me feel a little better, and I felt ready to listen to The Creation performed live.

The hardest part to bear for tonight's concert was trying to inhibit myself from coughing. But in the context of a concert hall, this was much easier to be achieved.

Firstly, the air in the Esplanade Concert Hall was well-ventilated and not too humid. Next, with such world-class acoustics, I could hardly hear the noises from outside the concert hall. With few noise and no disturbance, I found myself better able to bear with the discomforts that often comes from inhibiting myself from coughing. But admittedly, there was one point when I had successfully inhibited myself from coughing, but I felt my entire face turning bloated. Thirdly, music can heal. It can be a joy and relief for the mind to simply focus on a nice piece of music and be temporarily relieved of one's discomforts. In addition, I have prepared myself some lozenges to soothe the throat.

Anyway, as the title of this post says it, music can be healing. I felt a sense of balance and a general relief from the discomforts (except for those points when I had to inhibit myself from coughing) during the concert.

Maybe I can't have enough of aural tests, I found myself trying to guess the chord progressions as the orchestra was playing The Creation. I am still not very competent in this. I can only say that I am fairly confident at recognising the V-I cadence. Aside from hearing out for the chord progressions, it felt fun to hear how the different instruments relate to one another.

For tonight's concert, I particularly like the recitative sections sang by the bass-baritone, Andrew Greenan. I like his deep voice. I like voices that are rich and deep.

Whenever the chorus sang, it felt uplifting. I also realised that I was fascinated when I heard the chorus singing in an undertone.

The Creation was the only programme for the two-hour concert tonight. To be able to keep me interested for two hours without me falling half-asleep, I think the performers must have played fairly well. A fairly inspiring concert.

Music, it seems to have certain healing powers.

Ready to discover more of Singapore


It has delighted me that I have managed to get myself a copy of the Singapore: The Encyclopedia today. According to sources, this encyclopedia is the most comprehensive reference on Singapore to date.

I reckon that this encyclopedia would help me gain a better understanding of this country that I call my homeland. I suppose it would also serve as a good source of reference for me when I want to find out about the various places that I have been to in Singapore.

Special thanks to toycon who has helped with the purchase.

Toycon happens to have posted several interesting trivia that are found in Singapore: The Encyclopedia. Here are some of these:
...the first person to put Tamil on the internet
...the Sultan Mosque was designed by an Irishman
...Metro is named after Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer(MGM)
...coconut oil was once used to light street lamps in Singapore

For those who are keen to purchase this encyclopedia online, I have managed to find the link to its publisher's website (Search under "Encyclopedia & Reference"): http://www.edmbooks.com/FS_bookstore.htm
(I think this encyclopedia is also available from major local bookstores.)

I don't know if you would find this encyclopedia worth buying, but I dare say that I believe it will be one of the best reference books that I have invested in for the year 2006. It will bring much delight to be able to gain more insights to my own country.

Thanks to those who have made this encyclopedia possible. I suppose there must have been a lot of good work put into this.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Disorientation


The white building is the Stamford House. Singapore.
According to G.Byrne Bracken's A Walking Tour: Singapore,
this building was constructed in the Venetian renaissance style.




Feeling down and ill. When one feels this way, the world looks disorientated.

Senseless

The coughing did not seem to get significantly better. I don't know how long it would take to recover from this senseless cough.

Except for the time when I was playing on the double bass, I was feeling out-of-balanced most of today. While playing on the double bass, I found myself more mindful of the way that I place my left thumb. Little thing like this actually makes a difference in my playing. Once I've managed to correct my previous bad placement of the left thumb (it used to be pointing up many of the times), it becomes easier to play more fluidly. Today, I found myself getting excited that I could actually play Marcello's Sonata in g minor much better and with more ease than I have done before. Cheers to MJ for all his guidance.

**
The drillings from the unit nearby can drive one's mind irritable after prolonged exposure. And pardon me, I have low threshold for noise and 10 minutes can be considered a fairly long time.

**
There were times when the drowsy feeling struck me. I felt nauseous. Out-of-balance, as if I could not fit in this strange world. "Would it matter to hold on?" I could only remind myself that all those were the temporary ill-effects of being ill.

At times one feels as if one is spinning in this senseless world. Change it, face it or leave it?

What art movement am I?

You Are Impressionism

You think the world is quite beautiful, especially if you look at it in new and interesting ways.
You tend to focus on color and movement in art.
For you, seeing the big picture is much more important than recording every little detail.
You can find inspiration anywhere... especially from nature.

Journeys: The Road to Self-discovery

An upcoming event that may be of interest to some of you:

Date : 30 Sep 2006 - 01 Oct 2006
Time : 2.00pm - 9.30pm
Venue : Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place), Ngee Ann Auditorium
All screenings are free. Admission charges to the galleries apply.

Co-organised by the Embassy of Japan, Singapore.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Singapore, and the fruitful journey the two countries have walked in partnership, Screen Shots is proud to present a weekend of Japanese films.

Based on the theme “Journeys”, these six films tell the stories of young Japanese from all walks of life, as they grow through journeys of self discovery and learn important life lessons about themselves and those around them.


Details can be found here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The MPH Building



1908

I have just wrote a post titled Memories of the MPH Building.

Does if anyone have memories of this building to share?

Photo editing

Thanks to photo editing software, I am able to recover some of the photos taken on 15 Sep 2006. That day, I had dinner with my friend, Mystic, at Tavern Brasserie.


Chicken Cordon Bleu




I had steak with goose liver


Credits: All the above photos were taken by my friend, Mystic.

Talking about good food, does anyone here know of other places in Singapore that serves good food?

How to ease the pain?

It is just 8.27 a.m. in the morning and I can audibly hear the drillings from a nearby unit. The drillings do not make any musical sense to me. I have no wish to imagine them as percussive rhythms with mechanical sound quality.

Thank you for your good wishes, the running nose and the blocked nose that I was having have subsided.

However, the cough has gotten worse. The throat simply feels so irritably itchy, and that makes me cough much more frequently and violently than before. Now the muscles near my chest and abdominal areas hurt whenever I cough. Being sick is such a pain. I could hardly feel like talking to anyone these few days. Any attempt to do so was solely to express myself out of necessity. I can only be thankful that I am literate and can type to express myself. I can sign in simple sign-language (I sign using the Signing-in-Exact-English system) too but I hardly have anyone to sign with.

I went to see the doctor again last evening as the cough has not gotten better. Hearing how bad my voice sounded and the conditions of my health, the doctor gave me medical leave for today and tomorrow so that I can rest my throat. I wish I can feel better soon. It hurts a lot to be coughing so badly but I have no clue how to ease the pain except to follow the instructions to take the medications.

There is still so much work to work on in the office. Then again, life isn't about work. I suppose good health is important to the well-being of one's life. Maybe this bout of poor health is sending me a reminding message?

Now, the drilling continues. Ears plugs do not seem to help. If I feel a little better from the drowsiness caused by the medication, I shall play on the double bass for leisure. I just hope that doing so may help distract me from the noises. I wonder if anyone has invented a cost-effective silent drilling device?

How does one bear with the noises? I would rather, walk out.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Song Tag

I picked up this tag from one of Mistipurple's post.

For this tag, I am to list out seven songs, which can be in any genre; with or without lyrics; that I enjoy listening to, without getting bored.

(In no particular order)

1. Over The Rainbow. (From The Wizard of Oz. Music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg.)(I love its lyrics.)

...Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Some day I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me...


2. All I Ask of You (From The Phantom of the Opera.)

3. Goodbye to Love (By Carpenters.) (I love its guitar solo and vocals-fade.)

4. Yi4 Qi3 Zou3 Dao4 (by Stephanie Sun, I prefer the Mandarin versions for its lyrics.)

5. If we hold on together (By Diana Ross.)


**And I shall stop at five. The bad throat and cough is affecting me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Remedy for an injured tongue

Maybe the flu or the medication is making me feel drowsy. I had bitten my tongue by accident while having dinner. It hurts.

My youngest brother suggested that I drink iced-water to help reduce the swelling. It has helped quite a bit. He said it would be too painful to place ice directly on the tongue. As such, iced-water serves a better option.

Gosh, my tongue and throat are in pain. Please pardon me if I don't wish to talk.

October 06 in Singapore

It is rather hard to sleep with noises and bad weather, I might as well compile a list of notesworthy events and activities this coming October.

1. Mid-autumn Festival celebrations at Chinatown
16 Sep - 15 Oct 06

The blog, Bullockcartwater, has a post on the Mid-autumn festival celebrations at Chinatown. Please check it out for more details:



2. SSO @ The Racecourse
1 Oct 06 (Sun)
7.00pm,
Singapore Racecourse (at Kranji)

To be truthfully, I have never been to the Singapore Racecourse as Kranji yet. I have no idea what would be played, but this concert appears especially for those with young children. Admission is free furthermore. Good music brings quality to our lives.

3. The Twin Exhibition
now until 8 Oct 2006
Venue: Malay Heritage Centre

The exhibition brings guests on an insightful journey into the ancient links of the Bugis from Riau-Lingga with Singapore, through trade and early settlements.


There is a post on the Twin Exhibition here: Bugis Baubles

4. Let's Go Japan!
15 Oct 2006 (Sun)
10.00am - 7.00pm
Venue : Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place), River Room

Be heralded into the museum with a resounding opening of Taiko drums. Enjoy a warm cup of green tea as you observe the quiet art of the traditional tea ceremony, the contemplative way of Ikebana and the intricacy of wearing a traditional kimono. Try your hand at making traditional Japanese paper from scratch. Be mesmerised by the grace of the buyo dancers... (more)

On Medical Leave

At the verge of losing my voice. It is now hoarse and husky. I just simply don't feel like talking because the throat is hurting. There's a lot of work waiting to be worked upon, but my body is telling me that I must rest. It is protesting with mild fever, blocked nose, running nose, inflamed throat, general lethargy and a mind that feels heavy. As such, I have to take medical leave from work for today. The doctor gave me antibiotics and a few other medication.

It is a hazard, however, to be at home on a weekday. The construction site nearby my block makes more noises on a weekday than on a weekend. What is more, I can hear the noises of drilling from units above me. It did not help that there is also a lift-upgrading works at my block and that means more NOISES from the hacking and drilling.

A pair of sensitive ears can be a blessing to someone who plays music. Then again, it means one must protect oneself from the noises of the world out there. Maybe I should ask for ear-plugs for presents? But I do have quite some ear-plugs with me at most times. Though admittedly, using ear-plugs may not solve the problem, because I can feel the vibrations of the noise. I would have to live in a vacuum in order not to feel the vibrations of the noise.

I guess I shall play some music that I like so as to distract myself from the noises. Wish me health and a speedy recovery please.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Angels



A few weeks ago, I visited the Church of Saints Peter & Paul. I have passed by this place previously, but it was only a few weeks ago that I took notice of the beautiful angels. They seem full of inner peace. They look as if they would be there to guide one in one's course of life.

For more, check out: The angels at Sts Peter & Paul

May you notice the angels who are around to guide you along.

No thanks to poor health

I have been staying at home most of today hoping to get enough rest to get well. (I had only left home to take lunch in the afternoon.) But I had not seem to get better. It took longer time for me to answer one question from the modulation chapter of the music theory homework. The mind just felt heavy.

In the end, I decided that I shall just answer three questions from the modulation chapter. I am taking advantage of the situation that my music theory teacher has not assigned me any homework from past-year ABRSM music-theory exams for this week. I don't know if he had done so intentionally or if he had forgotten to indicate that I should be doing it. Anyway, with poor health this weekend, I gathered that I shall just complete those three questions from the modulation chapter.

**
No thanks to poor health, I have to shelf my plans to go to the City Hall to catch the Singapore Biennale 2006. I can only console myself that the Singapore Biennale 2006 won't come to an end until 12 Nov 2006.

I am hoping that once the nose doesn't feel so blocked, I could find some time to practise on the double bass. I haven't had the chance to do so the past few days due to long working hours. For this week, I have actually a fairly bit of things to work on on the double bass. These are:

1) Practice scales and use vibrato on every single note of the scale. In addition, I must aim to ensure that the speed of the vibrato is moderate (not too fast, not too slow).

2) Do the right-hand exercise of using only the wrist and finger to 'pull' the bow for a few minutes (in two different ways: wrist moving in the horizontal direction and wrist moving in a circular direction).

If there is time, I hope to practise the various sections from the first and second movement of Marcello's Sonata in g minor.

Meantime, I am simply bidding my time by reading past entries of my trip to UK a year ago. I miss Scotland, and London.



Blue skies of Aberdeen. At the Hillhead Hostel

Cutie Pie?

No mood to write much, so I did this test.

You Are A Romantic Realist

You tend to be grounded when it comes to romance.
Sure, you can fall hard... but only for someone you've gotten to know.
And once you're in love, you can be a total romantic goofball...
But you'd never admit it to your friends!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wish me health

I'm feeling so tired after a long day of work. There's still lots of work waiting to be done. This afternoon, there was an event to celebrate for seven children who have successfully completed a groupwork programme. These children have put in quite a lot of effort in learning and applying the skills that were taught. Congratulations to them.

Meantime, I am not in the best of health. My family doctor is not available for consultation tomorrow. With the long hours of work that I will be scheduled to do on the upcoming Monday, Tuesday. It appears that if I need to see a doctor on Monday or Tuesday, the best way is to take a day of medical leave from work.

Wish me health meantime.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The voice that melts the heart

Special thanks to Jason Heath who has graciously shared on his recent post the recordings of his renditions of various double bass solos.

Check out: Tackling the 'Amati' Bass - Part II

For a start, non-double-bass-players might wish to listen to Massenet's Meditation (from “Thais”) performed by Jason Heath on the double bass. It is a fairly familiar tune, but I personally prefer to start with the Eccles' Sonata movement 1.

The voice of the double bass can melt one's heart. I love its resonating deep mellow voice.

I wish to play as good as Jason, or better. Now that means practice and more good practice.

21 Sep 06

I have been sneezing occasionally. I hope my health won't go any worse. Having flu or colds tend to aggravate the cough that I have been having.

***
I feel that I am spinning!
I have no mood to elaborate on the matter.

***
Slow down the pace please
More haste less speed
I made a few oversights this afternoon
Thank goodness the folks affected were patient enough with me
And the issues were rectified
But this is a reminder that I work better at a moderate pace.

***
Double bass lesson today has helped put some balance back to my life. I love double bass lessons.

Today, MJ showed me some ways that I can practise and train the right hand so that I can increase my competency in playing running notes.

Today's lesson continued to work on getting me to play the first movement Marcello's Sonata in g minor with the appropriate phrasing. I wish this had came in more naturally for me, but I suppose more practise and more work on music theory would help?

***
Music theory lesson today was fine but I felt too tired to show much enthuasiasm. Hopefully, I would feel better soon.

***
Under the weather. I am not in the best of mood today, but the results of the test below told me I have good karma.

You Have Fantastic Karma

You are a kind, sensitive, and giving person.
And all your good deeds will pay off - if they haven't already.
But you're not so concerned with what you get in return anyway.
You have an innate caring nature - and nothing can change that!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The line

Look not my eyes
Both plagued by tiredness
Now day and night
Merge with no break for a rest

Look away
Into one's space
Find peace in solace
Find hope in peaceful moments

The sacred private space
Feels awfully intruded upon
How can external noises learn
That there has been a clear line drawn?

Worth reading: A tribute to a humble profession



Chun See has written a post on the night soil carrier.

To find out more, please check out his post titled Tribute to a Humble Profession.

I happen to have taken some photos related to the subject of the night-soil carrier. Look below.


Opening like the one above (found at the backlane of a shophouse) provides the night-soil carrier with access to the buckets. With such opening, the night-soil man would not need to knock on the main-doors to gain access to the buckets.




A replica of a toilet cubicle that used the bucket-system. I took this photo at the Chinatown Heritage Centre, Singapore.

Untitled

Too tired.
Head's spinning.
Sneezing once again.
Whose ears,
Hear my woes?
Could send a little cheer?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This weekend in Singapore

In Singapore this weekend, lovers of the classical guitar can get themselves treated to music by Iwanaga Yoshinobu, International Classical Guitarist. Here are the details which I have extracted from an email that I have received today:

Classical Guitar Recital @ Shaw Foundation Foyer
Venue: Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place), Shaw Foundation Foyer.
23 September 2006, Saturday, 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

Limited seating is available. This performance is free. Admission charges to the galleries apply.

Out of curiosity who Iwanaga Yoshinobu is, I searched Google. I think I might have found a website on him: http://www2u.biglobe.ne.jp/~iwanaga/english_index.html

**
What is more, on 23 Sep 06, children can visit Asian Civilisation Museum and learn to fold origami. Details are as follow:

Origami
Venue: Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place), Main Lobby
Click this link for booking details.
23 Sep 2006, Saturday, 1.00pm - 4.00pm

**
For those of you who are keen to learn about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, please check here for more details.

**
The point that I wish to make here is that the museum can be a fun place to learn about one's culture and heritage. Enjoy!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Camera woes

I am feeling tired after a long day. The good thing would be that I have managed to find some time out of the busy schedule to practise on the double bass.

**
I have found that the Koday Easyshare CX7430 digital camera which I have been taking photos with is faulty. I did not change any of my regular settings. However, when I used the camera last Friday, most of the photos turned out dark and dull. I had thought that this fault was temporary but it persisted.

I took the camera to a shop yesterday to check if it can be repaired and was told that the LCD was faulty. It would cost about $180 to repair and the repair would take a month. The camera cost less than $500 when I bought it two years ago.

In the end, I decided to get myself a new camera. Hopefully, the new camera would work well for me just like my previous camera.


Picture taken using Koday Easyshare CX7430


I am now starting to miss my previous camera...it had served me well...But to repair it at $180 or more, I would rather buy a new camera. I can only secretly hope that I can find a reliable and cheaper way to repair my previous camera.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Unwell

Feeling unwell.
Have a sore throat.
A mild headache is striking.
When would I get better?

Good company good food

Mystic and I met last night to celebrate my scoring of Distinction for the ABRSM Grade 8 double bass practical exams. We had dinner at The Tavern Brasserie.



For the appertizers, we had portabello mushroom and escargots. I felt the appertizers we had ordered were average. Mystic said that the portabello mushroom could be improved upon.

For our main course, I had the steak with goose liver while Mystic had the Chicken Cordon Bleu. The French fries that were served with the Chicken Cordon Bleu tasted way better than the French fries served at MacDonalds. I think I had openly helped myself to the French fries from Mystic's plate.

Mystic specifically highlighted that I should sample the goose liver from this restaurant. Before I took the goose liver, I was doubtful if I would like it. But when I tried it, it proved to be very nice. Just as Mystic had described, it is crispy on the outside and the inside melts in one's mouth. Marvellous. It went well with the steak.

When I was at The Tavern Brasserie last night, there was nice music played. The music was loud enough to be heard but soft enough so as to allow customers to converse comfortably at a normal volume. The relatively comfortable volume of the music had made it possible for me and Mystic to catch up with one another with ease. I like the ambience there too.

For desserts, we had Peach Melba. I decided it was essential to order an item of dessert so as to end the meal on a sweet note.

We had taken a few photos while we were at the restaurant but my camera had failed on me last night. My apologies that we won't have the chance to witness Mystic's skills in taking good photos of food.

Overall, last night dinner was one of good company and good food. I count my blessings to have friend in her. Thanks a million to Mystic for the treat though she shouldn't have.

2 years in blogging

Two years ago, on 16 Sep 2004, boredom from having to stay at home so as to recover from a wisdom-teeth surgery somehow prompted me to search for activities to do, and I chanced upon Blogger.com. This was how I started out blogging.

Naturally, my first post on this blog community is related to wisdom teeth and boredom.

Today is the second anniversary of this blog, so I suppose it is worth a mention. Thank you for the fellowship that fellow bloggers and readers have been showering to yours truly.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A test for today

I badly wanted an early rest tonight, so there will be no lengthy post today.

I met my friend, Mystic, today and she reminded me not to take family and friends for granted. Perhaps I do appear to take them for granted? But this aside, the results of the test below suggest that I can be a good friend.

You Are A Good Friend

You're always willing to listen
Or lend a shoulder to cry on
You're there through thick and thin
Many people consider you their "best friend"!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mesmerised by Music

This morning, I just felt an urge to hum. To hum some tunes. It is as if the words in this world are not sufficient to fully express the feelings and thoughts that run through my mind. But music can do so!

**
In the late afternoon, I had double bass lesson with MJ. Double bass lessons are fun and full of things to learn. Today's lesson focused on the left-hand technique. MJ constantly checked and corrected the shape of my left-hand. My left thumb often had the bad habit of being placed at the wrong angle and that had actually affected the dexterity of my playing. As such, part of the lesson worked on getting me to be more aware of my left thumb and on placing it at a more natural angle.

The good news is that I can clearly hear the improvements in my playing. Compared to the version that I have played during my grade 8 music exams, my rendition of the first and second movements of Marcello's Sonata in g minor today sounds better and more musical.

I guess that writing about the differences in the two rendition can't truly get the idea across. You might have to hear and compare the two renditions. However, my apologies that I do not have any recording devices to record my playing on the double bass as yet. I can only wish that either I get a hefty end-of-the-year-bonus or I win a grand-prize in some lucky draw, then I can happily have enough money to be willing to buy a recording device? Wish me luck. By the way, what kind of recording device is good for recording the sounds of the double bass?

Anyway, some hours of this weekend shall be spent on practising. Music can mesmerise one, doesn't it?

**
At 8 p.m. today, music theory lesson started. I spent a bit of time correcting some of the mistakes that I have made in the assignment that I had done over the past weekend. The music theory tutor told me that I should spend more time working on the sections related to Harmony. As such, I was instructed to take time to correct the mistakes that I have made in this particular Harmony-related section. It seems like Harmony is an important component in the learning of music theory?

Whatever it is, I can remember that I felt fairly hungry by the end of the 45-min music theory lesson. I had no time to take my dinner!

**
I had Japanese food for dinner at about 9 p.m. If you have been following my blog closely enough, you should be able to make a correct guess at where I have taken my dinner tonight.

I was quite famished and was muttering my orders such that it took a while before the staff at the counter understood me. Anyway, I ordered the Sashimi Special Set. I like the sashimi. It certainly tasted nice this evening, especially when my mind was full of tunes and musical thoughts.

Orange and Tangy

It is about to rain at this point in time. I am at home as I have taken time-off from work. In about a few hours time, I will be having double bass lesson with my tutor, MJ.

A tiring day. I am feeling a sense of general discomfort. Hopefully, I will get over it soon.

You Are Orange

Bright and intense, you embrace the world and all its opportunities.
Change does not intimidate you, even if it's a complete life overhaul.
You're a very real person. You aren't scared to show the world who you are.

Intelligent Practising

Thanks to Jason Heath's post titled Intelligent Practising, I got to know about this article that provides a good guide on practising a musical instrument: Doing it the slow way.

Do check it out if you play a musical instrument.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Test for 12 Sep

I decided that I have to leave the office by 9.10 p.m.

I am feeling too tired. I had wanted to practise on the double bass after work tonight. But in the end, I didn't. I figured that it won't be productive with a drained mind. Playing music feels good when one's concentration is fully into it.

Had received a call from Mystic earlier, and it felt nice to know that a friend cares.

Anyway, this is the test that I tried a moment ago:

Your Personality Cluster is Introverted Feeling

You are:

Tolerant, flexible, and open to new ideas.
A stickler for integrity and authenticity.
Passionate about causes, beliefs, or politics.
Likely to have many "best friends" from many walks of life

Monday, September 11, 2006

September

It seems that many news programme are doing coverage on the major event that took place five years ago.

Five years ago, I was a student. I can remember how those weeks following the event felt gloomy and full of uncertainty...

Anyway, there are a number of online sites on the matter for those who wish to read:
http://www.september11news.com/
http://www.911truth.org
http://911research.wtc7.net/
...(there are but I shall not attempt to list each and every one).

*

On the sidenote, thanks to my informant, the Rambling Librarian, I got to know about The September Project.
The September Project is a grassroots effort to get people together on September 11th to talk about issues that matter...

You may check this URL out: http://www.youth.sg/blog/2006/09/01/the-september-project/

What can ease the pain?

In pain.
The head is aching.
The body is feeling as if pins are piercing through from its internal.
Blood pressure is feeling low.
Fainting spell can make the mind spin.

I don't have a fancy to take Panadol.
Will there be any way to ease the pain?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Boring Sunday

10 Sep 06:

I somehow feel tired today and have no mood to practise on the double bass. I figured it may not be effective to practise when I am feeling too tired. My double bass is likely to be understanding enough to allow me to take a break, but secretly, I wonder if I have practised enough to play the Marcello's Sonata in g minor with nice phrasing by the end of this week.

My working on the music theory homework went fairly slow. I started working on the homework in the morning at 10 a.m. It was already close to 7 p.m. when I finally completed one set of ABRSM Theory Paper Grade 6 (year 2004). Well, I took breaks in-between, spending time to surf the internet, and to take an afternoon nap.

I don't like boring Sundays. It left me feeling unproductive. Hopefully, the feeling is inaccurate. Perhaps taking some rest to idle away may help me stay productive in the long run?

***
9 Sep 06:

I took time to prepare breakfast for myself. I had boiled eggs, baked beans and bread with cheese for breakfast. Yesterday's breakfast was considered time-consuming to prepare. Including the time to wash-up, I usually don't spend more than 15 minutes to prepare breakfast. Well, admittedly, I don't prepare food in a hurried fashion.

The rest of the morning was spent practising surfing the internet. In the late morning, I started practising on the double bass. It felt good that I had managed to set time aside to work on sight-reading.

In the afternoon, I spent some time at the National Museum of Singapore to catch some of the works of the Singapore Biennale 2006 (SB2006). I wished that I had used a notebook to jot down the names of the work that had caught my attention at the exhibition. I don't know enough of contemporary art, but it was an eye-opener to catch the exhibition. I just wished that I had joined a guided tour to gain better insights to these works of contemporary art. As such, I decided to take a better look at the schedules of the guided tours for SB2006: http://www.singaporebiennale.org/programme-education-tours.html
I shall make time to join one of the guided tours.

In the evening, I met one of my friends, SH, for dinner. We had dinner at Miss Clarity Cafe along Purvis St. That was my first time there.

The place has affordable, value-for-money food. At this cafe, there's even free broadband for the customers.

SH and I both ordered the Chicken Ballotine. It was certainly value-for-money at only $8, and there is no additional service charges etc here. I also requested for servings of a dessert, a drink and a salad. My entire order last evening came up only to a total of $11.

The baker (a blogger) has written a post on the cafe here. It has some nice photos of the food served there.

Miss Clarity Cafe is worth checking out. Although I did not particularly like the acoustics of the cafe, it was bearable. The music played there was fine but somehow there was too much echo within the cafe when the music was played. Thank goodness: having the company of a friend had helped diverted my attention from the poor acoustics. Other than this minor issue of the acoustics, I have no complaint about this cafe. Afterall, cafes with nice interior which offer good food at affordable prices are hard to come by.

After dinner, time was spent walking about. Yes, to the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

**
If you compare how I have spent Saturday this week with today, doesn't this Sunday seem much boring and unproductive in comparison?

Gloomy weather



The weather looks as if it is about to rain.
Grey clouds, heavy skies.
The roars of the thunder can be clearly heard.
But if the approach of the rain,
Could momentarily cause a stop in the noises of the construction works nearby,
Then the rain shall help bring respite to my ears.
I prefer the rhythmic sounds from the falling of the rain-drops,
To the sounds of hammering and drilling from the construction works.

**
On the side note, the PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) in Singapore had hit 60 on Thursday (7 Sep 06). No wonder my throat has been feeling irritated lately. Check this site for Singapore's PSI reading: http://www.nea.gov.sg/psi/

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Music updates for this week

Ever since my double bass lessons have been scheduled on Thursdays, Thursdays mean double-dosage of music for me. In the afternoon, it would be double bass lesson. In the evening, it would be music theory lesson.

According to my music theory tutor, the practical and theoretical aspects of music are inter-related. I suppose I could trust his words. However, I have yet to learn to fully integrate the two aspects in one.

**

Double bass lesson with MJ this week continued to work on vibrato and achieving inaudible bow changes. MJ said that the act of performing vibrato can be good for the muscles of the arms.

When we work on the Marcello's Sonata in g minor, the focus was on how to achieve a good sense of phrasing. Phrasing, MJ said, is most important. Good phrasing makes it easier for listeners to relate to the music. On the other hand, playing the right notes with poor phrasing makes a piece of music sound difficult to understand.

To demonstrate the difference between good phrasing versus bad phrasing, MJ played two versions of the double bass solo from the 3rd movement of Mahler's First Symphony. One of the versions has good phrasing; The other is poorly phrased. Indeed, with good phrasing, the solo passage makes musical sense.

I don't know why, but there seems so many things to assimilate from the lesson that my head felt heavy after the lessons.

**
When I had music theory lesson in the evening, I was clearly feeling tired and mentally drained.

That evening, the music theory tutor checked the exercises that I have completed on the topic of modulation. Almost all of the exercises that I have attempted need to be reworked upon. What had seemed to be fairly easy actually proved more difficult than it seems. Other than being careless in a few of the exercises, I was also quite ignorant to the option of using this chord progression: Ib, V7c, I.

In addition, my tutor said that where possible, it is better to use the "Ib, Vc, I" chord progression rather than the "Ib viib, I" chord progression. I wonder if the former sounds nicer?

**
It is Saturday today. I have just spent some time practising on the double bass.

About 15 minutes was spent on sight-reading. My attempts on sight-reading felt average, and mediocre. I was playing with a metronome clicking away. That has helped the tempo, but I was playing at a slow tempo of 40, and the performance directions indicated on the score reads Allegro. I can only coax myself: step-by-step, I will become more proficient in sight-reading.

In the attempts to learn strategies to improve on sight-reading, I've found these online resources:

-http://www.improveyourmusic.com/sight-reading-tips/
-http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Marble/9607/sight.htm
-http://perfectfifths.com/archives/2005/10/13/improving-your-sight-reading-skills

Friday, September 08, 2006

For the postcards lovers

Veron writes about her participation in the postcrossing community here: http://sparklette.net/?p=453

I find it interesting to receive surprise postcards from other parts of the world. To find out more about the postcard crossing project, check out: http://www.postcrossing.com/about

Images like the one below which are commonly found on postcards bring back fond memories:


Big Ben. London.

Awfully disturbed

Noises!
Stop crossing my line.
I urge for comfort and peace,
To my ears.

What you think is normal,
Isn't at all to my ears.
The world is too full of noises.
Too much, and we can now hardly hear
The simple melodies
That nature has kindly bestowed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The winner of two dinosaur-models

I have just read from a post on Yesterday.sg that I am the winner of the first prize of the Dinosaurs! Blog Contest.

If you would like to read the two posts that has won me the prize, please check the links below:

- Back to the ancient world Part I
- Back to the ancient world part II

I know of a boy who loves dinosaurs, maybe I could pass the prize to him as an encouragement?

Feeling down

The day isn't quite a bad one.

But somehow, it just feels as if my life is like a jigsaw-puzzle where all the pieces are scattered about. There's nothing to hold it together.

Feeling drained. A little moody. The worst thing that can happen is to have my ears intruded by noises. Actually, I have already turned the TV set to volume level 14, but it still feels loud to me. I must have felt the vibrations of the sounds from the TV?

The headache is striking again...

9984 days old

Thanks to Jane, I found out about the Birthday Calculator.

***
Your date of conception was on or about 15 August 1978 which was a Tuesday.

You were born on a Tuesday
under the astrological sign Taurus.
Your Life path number is 3.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 3, 6 & 9.
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 2, 5 & 11.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 4, 7, 8 & 22.

The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2444001.5.
The golden number for 1979 is 4.
The epact number for 1979 is 2.
The year 1979 was not a leap year.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 1/28/1979 and ending 2/15/1980.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Goat.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Beaver; your plant is Wild Clover.

You were born in the Egyptian month of Epipy, the third month of the season of Shomu (Harvest).

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 11 Iyyar 5739.

As of 9/7/2006 10:40:27 AM EDT
You are 27 years old.
You are 328 months old.
You are 1,426 weeks old.
You are 9,984 days old.
You are 239,626 hours old.
You are 14,377,600 minutes old.
You are 862,656,027 seconds old.

Celebrities who share your birthday:
Enrique Iglesias (1975) Darren Hayes (1972) Robert M. Hensel (1969)
Melissa Gilbert (1964) Toni Tennille (1943) Peter Benchley (1940)
Rick Nelson (1940) Don Rickles (1926) Bishop Fulton Sheen (1895)
Harry S. Truman (1884)

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 3.90763209393346 years old. (Life's just a big chewy bone for you!)

There are 243 days till your next birthday
on which your cake will have 28 candles.

Your birthstone is Emerald

The Mystical properties of Emerald
- Though not meant to replace traditional medical treatment, Emerald is used for physical and emotional healing.

Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)
- Agate, Chrysoprase

Your birth tree is
- Poplar, the Uncertainty

Looks very decorative, no self-confident behaviour, only courageous if necessary, needs goodwill and pleasant surroundings, very choosy, often lonely, great animosity, artistic nature, good organiser, tends to philosophy, reliable in any situation, takes partnership serious.

The moon's phase on the day you were
born was waxing gibbous.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Rehearsals this evening

It's tutti rehearsal today. We started the evening with Rimsky-Korsakov's Easter Festival overture. I finally managed to see some improvements in my playing of that syncopated rhythm section.

During the rehearsal, I felt that I have to revise Grade 5 theory once again, particularly the section on Reiteration and Repeats.

I had thought that a particular bar from the overture should be played eight quavers in a bar. Then, someone from a nearby section asked if it should be played four crotchets in a bar. Not being sure, I hesitantly agreed. But I was right in the first place. After the rehearsals, I went home and checked my own copy of the Grade 5 theory guide book and I found out that the notation indicates that one should play eight quavers in a bar.

Talk about not knowing one's theory well: The trap is that even when one is right, one does not realise, and would end up swaying to do what is actually wrong. It pays to know the fundamentals, I suppose?

***

After the break, we practised the 4th, then the 5th and finally, the 1st movement of the Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. The "Storm" section felt so impossible. We were rehearsing that section at a tempo at least twice faster than the tempo used during double bass sectionals. I think I shall practise it on my own at a much slower tempo. I remember a quote that says: "If you can play something slow, it will be difficult to play it fast."

This "Storm "section certainly demands more technical competency than what I have at this point in time. Playing more in the orchestral rehearsal would not help. The issue is not about not being able to play as an ensemble. Instead, having individual lessons or sectionals may better help improve the technical competency by a bit, so that maybe one fine day, while the impossible is still impossible but the storm effect could at least be better achieved.

Anyway, I'll end this post by telling you that I like the 5th movement of the symphony.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The sounds of piano from the unit above mine

My senses must be sharp. I have picked up the vibrations from the playing of the piano. If my senses and hunches are serving me well, the sounds of the piano are coming from the unit above mine.

I live in a flat. Despite the loud volume from the television set in my home, I've learnt to pick up the vibrations of the piano if the piano is nearby me. It isn't that difficult, afterall, I have a piano at home too (though I qualify that I don't play the piano).

Actually, it isn't anything new to be able to perceive sounds in terms of vibrations. I am definitely not a master in it, but I have read of people who hear by perceiving vibrations.

Evelyn Glennie's website gives an interesting perspective to hearing. Let me quote one section that intrigues me:

Hearing is basically a specialized form of touch. Sound is simply vibrating air which the ear picks up and converts to electrical signals, which are then interpreted by the brain. The sense of hearing is not the only sense that can do this, touch can do this too. If you are standing by the road and a large truck goes by, do you hear or feel the vibration? The answer is both. With very low frequency vibration the ear starts becoming inefficient and the rest of the body's sense of touch starts to take over. For some reason we tend to make a distinction between hearing a sound and feeling a vibration, in reality they are the same thing. It is interesting to note that in the Italian language this distinction does not exist. The verb 'sentire' means to hear and the same verb in the reflexive form 'sentirsi' means to feel. Deafness does not mean that you can't hear, only that there is something wrong with the ears. Even someone who is totally deaf can still hear/feel sounds.

(reference: http://www.evelyn.co.uk/live/hearing_essay.htm)

The quotation suggests that it is possible to perceive a sound without having to hear it.

If the television set at my home is switched off, I can actually hear the sounds of the piano. But I don't have to physically hear it clearly to know that the piano is being played.

Anyway, pardon my ramblings. I am just trying to suggest how unbearable it can be, at times, to live in a world whereby the people living with me think that they can only hear what is on the television programme if the television set is turned to volume level 20. For goodness sake, I find volume level 15 uncomfortable for my senses already! It is not just the sounds, it is the disturbances felt from the vibrations on my ear-drums!

I would rather listen to the sounds of the piano from the unit above than to the sounds of the television set from my own unit.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The double bass is back

My double bass is back home!

The Luthier does a pretty good job of reshaping the bridge, and now, it feels much more easier to play on my instrument. The Luthier also helped me rewind my strings so that they are wound the proper way, so that they rest at the right corner of the peg box.

For those who are in Singapore and have string instruments to repair or restore, the Luthier is one of those you can consider approaching.

***
Since the location of the Luthier was fairly within walking distance from a MRT station, I decided to commute with the double bass using the MRT train. From the North-east line, I transferred to the North-south line to travel home. It is usually cheaper to travel about using the MRT than the taxi.

I am thankful that there are now more measures put in place to make train stations more accessible with the installations of in-station passenger lifts and wider fare gates.

About ten years ago, such installations are rare. The lifts certainly come very useful for families with children in stroller as I could see a number of children in stroller while I was waiting for the lift.

In addition, it makes travelling about much more affordable for people who use wheelchairs. Such installations also benefit people like myself who need to carry bulky items from time to time. These installations are also great for people who find the speed of the escalator too fast, or the height of the escalator too steep. I admit that I am one of those who will prefer to use the lift if the escalator is too steep or high.

***
In the later part of the evening, I practised on the double bass. I am enjoying the greater ease of playing that I have on my double bass after it has its bridge reshaped.

Some time was spent practising on bow-changing. I think I have yet to fully comprehend how I can bow such that the bow-changes would be almost inaudible. I have managed to do so last Thursday, with the help of my tutor. The muscle memory did not seem to have recalled how that was done. To be fair, my bow-changes is now not so obvious, but it is still a little audible to a discerning ear. I guess I have to work on this again for the upcoming lesson.

I like mustard

This afternoon, I had lunch at one of the Botak Jones outlets. I had Cajun Chicken set and gumbo chicken for lunch.

One thing that I like about Botak Jones is that it provides mustard sauce to its diners to go with the food. I seldom get to see stalls selling Western food in the housing estates providing mustard sauce. The more common sauces provided are chilli sauce and tomato ketchup.

I like mustard sauce. I read that the ingredients contain vinegar and tumeric amongst other items. I don't know if I may like tumeric on its own, but I like the taste and smell of vinegar.

By the way, when I checked out Botak Jones' website for the locations of its stalls, it seemed to indicate that the Clementi outlet should now be opened for business. This outlet should get better business compared to the other outlets since it is much nearer a MRT station.

What kind of Blogger Are You?

Here's my results for the test:

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And make it as entertaining as possible.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What's my element?

I am in the mood of taking tests like these. I just can't remember if I have done the test below before.

Your Element Is Earth

You excel at planning and strategizing.
You could be a champ at chess or Survivor.

Well grounded, you are able to be realistic and rationalize.
On the inside, you have a hard core. It's tough to phase you.

You are super productive, and you are able to think anything through.
Focused and super charged, your instincts are a good guide for your next step.

Friday, September 01, 2006

This week with music

Double bass sectional was held this Wednesday evening. Double bass sectionals are worth looking forward to. At the very least, there is much delight to be derived from learning to play as an ensemble and to understand how to play the passages from the orchestral works more musically.

The "Storm" section from the Beethoven's 6th symphony is still something I have yet to manage to play decently. The golden words are: Practice, Practice and Practice.

***
Yesterday afternoon, I finally made purchases for the season tickets to Singapore Symphony Orchestra's (SSO) concerts for year 2006/7. Obviously, I am quite a loner, I've bought only one single ticket for myself to most of concerts that I will be attending. Then again, it might be better. I find it fairly hard to find good company who would be free to catch certain concerts with me.

I am hoping that the concert on 29 Sep 06: The Creation, would be a good one. That should be the first SSO concert that I will be listening to for the new season.

***
In the late afternoon yesterday, I had double bass lessons with MJ.

We continued to work on basic techniques. I worked a fair bit on the right-hand techniques. One of the tasks required was to bow and achieve a fairly even tone throughout ever single note of the G major scale. I was asked to aim to make all bow changes as inaudible as possible. This may sound easy, but it takes a lot of practice to master.

MJ also spotted a bad habit of mine. Strangely, I have a tendency to move my left-elbow before I move my left-hand when making shifts in positions. MJ said that the natural way is to move the hand first, before the elbow. I think it would help if I practise making shifts in positions in front of a mirror.

During the lessons, MJ shared with me that for certain works, I need not need to work too hard. For example, I have a tendency to use a lot of force to stop the notes when I play the Marcello's Sonata in g minor. I was told that the effect was ungainly as the notes that weren't meant to be accented felt as if someone had use a hammer to produce those notes. I shall learn to go easy where needed.

***
Right after double bass lesson with MJ, I took a cab to go for music theory class. This week's music theory class focuses on the subject of elementary modulation.

I attempted to do one of the exercises in the chapter. I did fairly well according to the tutor. My homework for the weekend would be four more exercises on the subject of elementary modulation.

***
Strangely coincidental, yesterday, both MJ and my music theory tutor suggested that I could consider a career in music. How is life like for someone who has a career in music, specifically as performing musician?

I enjoy experiencing an in-the-flow experience while playing music well. I have been playing the double bass as a hobby but I am not sure if it would be motivating enough for me to play double bass full-time as a musician.

***
Anyway, tomorrow my instrument should be ready for collection from the Luthier. I am looking forward to practising on it. One of the best way to learn is to practice and to apply.