Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Disappear forever?

Wanting respite
Where is the space to hide?
Seeking refuge
Where can one find peace on Earth?

At times I wish to vanish in thin air
Yet maybe it isn't my real wish
To disappear forever
I merely want a place of respite
From the endless craze the world throws at me

Dying?
Or just simply indications that
I am living?

Museum visit on a recent Saturday



I made a second visit to the exhibition, Maria Theresia - Mother Empress of Hasburg Austria held at the National Museum of Singapore.

More accounts can be found here: Second visit to the exhibition: Maria Theresia

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The noises are driving me crazy, and I am in pain

I can't believe it. In order to get the lift-upgrading at my block done by next month, I have to put up with drilling at 10.15 p.m. The initial date of completion of the lift-upgrading was sometime in April this year.

Recently, I saw a notice being put up on the lift that in order to get one of the lifts completed soon, the workmen will be working extended hours. We were asked to lend our understanding in the matter. Well, I just hope the drilling could stop soon. It is now driving me crazy! I think I would put on ear plugs soon...

**

Now, with the ear plugs, I can still hear the knockings and the drillings. The only good thing is that these noises are less deafening and more bearable. If the drillings continue, I shall probably end up having to need trucks of ear plugs, won't I? But I dislike the trouble of having to wear ear plugs.

If there is one great invention for me in this century, I think it will be the invention whereby all drilling machines no longer produce the machinery-drilling sounds but instead, produce sounds similar to those from a piano player playing Chopin's Nocturnes at only 20 decibels or lower. Ideally, such drilling machines can be produced at very low cost so that they can be mass-produced. Then drilling could be music to my ears.

My body has been sending out signals of pain. The headache strikes again. The noises make it more challenging for me to cope with the pain.

All machines and non-living objects, beware of me. I can get more irritable nowadays if you fail to function in good order. Unless, you sing me nice soothing tunes like Chopin's Nocturnes. If you don't sing, maybe I shall sing.

For now, I shall be prepared that the drilling may possibly continue beyond midnight.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A mystery to me

Zapped of energy
Body feeling weak
Bones just want to lie on the bed
But a mountain full of things to be done

Wanting to do things
That would reap greater fulfillment
But the search for these
Seem to be a mysterious trail

Shall I let it unfold by itself?
Or set to plan the path to be trudged upon?

A post inspired by a recent visit to the museum



Just last Friday, I was at the National Museum of Singapore with one of my friends, Xiaofen, after our dinner. Inspired by one of the exhibits that I have seen on that visit to the museum, I have written a post in response. The post can be found on my other blog. Please check the post titled: Sightings at NAMOS: The making of love letters.

Special thanks to Little Miss May for giving me the permission to use some of the photos that she has taken. Also, here's to thank Xiaofen for sharing with me her adventures of making love-letters.

PY's museum visits

For the past two weeks, I have been visiting a few of the museums in Singapore. If you are patient enough, you will be able to read about my accounts of these visits soon enough.

Meantime, here is to share with you some snippets of my visits. I recommend that if you are currently in Singapore, please do check out these exhibitions at the museums.

**

Maria Theresia - Mother Empress of Hasburg Austria
Venue: at National Museum of Singapore, till 31 Jan 2007

Last Saturday, I went to this exhibition yet again, for my second time. For my most recent trip, I finally managed to get myself onboard one of the guided tours. This is an exhibition worth visiting. If you would like an account of my first visit to this exhibition (in Dec 2006), you could check out this link. Do go for this exhibition before it ends on 31 Jan 2007.




Improving Life - The Design of Swedish Innovations
Venue: at National Museum of Singapore, Concourse, till 11 Feb 2007.


I don't drink, but it was interesting to know that the glass bottle of Absolut Volka is a Swedish design. The design of the glass bottle has made Absolut one of the best selling premium volkas in the world. It is amazing how design can influence the consumers' perceptions and buying choices.


National Museum of Singapore, Singapore History Gallery and Singapore Living Galleries.

Since I was already in the National Museum of Singapore, I decided it would be worthwhile to check out some of the exhibits found in the Singapore History Gallery and the Singapore Living Galleries. Museum visiting nowadays are getting more and more appealing for the technology-savy visitors.




NUS Museum

I checked out the NUS Museum before my orchestra rehearsal on a Wednesday afternoon. In particular, I spent quite a bit of time viewing the works by the late artist, Ng Eng Teng. Here's to share a work that I have found quite whimsical.




Mystery Men: Finds from China's Lost Age
Venue: Asian Civilisation Museum, Special Exhibitions Gallery,
16 Jan 2007 - 15 Apr 2007.

This is one block-buster exhibition that I would strongly recommend. Other than the interesting masks with protruding eyes and large ears, one can gain some insights to an early Chinese civilisation.



For more information on this exhibition, click on the following URL: http://www.acm.org.sg/exhibitions/eventdetail.asp?eventID=153

**
For now, if you would like to read the accounts of my visits, please be patient, and stay tuned.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

kiss goodbye



I blog-hopped to a^ben's blog while I was at Misti's blog. He is a violin major and flute minor studying in Sarawak, Malaysia.

This is a keyboard rendition of "Kiss Goodbye" played by a^ben for ah may. I think it is good playing for a non-keyboard major. I am sorry that I don't know who ah may could be. Anyway, enjoy.

Source: http://benmoh.blogspot.com/2007/01/especially-for-ah-may.html

Kontrabassist's post on A Journey through Time

Dress Rehearsal. Rehearsing Suicidal Tendencies. Photo taken by the Official Photographer of the chamber concert A Journey through Time.


Thanks to Emily in going an extra mile to obtain the photographs from the official photographer, I am pleased to share with you a link to one of her posts which contains photographs taken from the production of the chamber concert A Journey through Time.

Check it out:

**
Related posts:
The Day: 10 Jan 07
Upcoming: 10 Jan 2007 - A Journey Through Time

Week Four of 2007 on the doublebass

Week Four has appeared to be a comparatively less productive week where practising on the double bass is concerned. Anyway, I figured that I have still managed to reach my target set, i.e. practising on the double bass at least four days per week, at least 15 minutes on each of these four days.

22 Jan 2007, Mon: I can only be thankful that despite the increasing workload and declining state of health, I can still find about 40 minutes to play on the double bass on Monday.

23 Jan 2007, Tue: Practised from 10.40 p.m. to 11.05 p.m. I realised that my thumb seemed to feel tensed, and decided that I have to consult my tutor on the matter so that I can play the double bass with a more relaxed and natural posture.

I did not practise very intensely, but I did managed to play the following:
fourth movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major, selected section of the second movement of the same sonata.

I had played through the third movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major, and I actually like the sound of the double bass playing this movement with a practice mute on it.

24 Jan 2007, Wed: If you would consider playing the double bass during my double bass sectional and the orchestra rehearsal to be a form of practice, then I could count whatever playing I have done on Wednesday.

For the one-hour double bass sectional, we worked on the fourth and last movement of Beethoven's 6th symphony. I especially found the fourth movement to be most challenging. It looks like I have to set aside more time to practise it. I love sectional with my orchestra's double bass tutor, GM, for it was enriching and intensive.

For the orchestra rehearsal, we continued to work on the fourth and last movement of Beethoven's 6th symphony. Technically speaking, I did not play on the double bass for the full 2.5 hours of the rehearsal. That day, about close to half of the time was spent waiting while the conductor rehearsed certain sections played by other instruments. I wonder if I would be right to say that being an orchestra player trains one's sense of discipline and patience?

By the way, the NUS Symphony Orchestra will be staging a public concert at the University Cultural Centre. Check this link for more information. I have a number of discounted tickets (i.e. $9 each, after discounts) with me and I am waiting for people to order those from me.

25 Jan 2007, Thu: I had double bass lesson with my tutor, MJ, from about 6.20 p.m. I felt pleased that my rendition of the third movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major sounded much better after we had worked on it for close to half-an-hour. We also worked on the second movement of the same sonata.

MJ shared some insights on how to reduced the strain and pressure felt by the thumb. He said I could consider using sandpaper to rub against the neck of my double bass for quite a bit of time. He claimed that many double bass makers aren't double bass players themselves. As such, while the neck of the double bass may look good, the neck isn't most effective for playing, especially the faster passages.

I would believe MJ. The double bass which I use in the orchestra (affectionately known as "my boyfriend") has his neck shaved off of its varnish, and it is comparately much easier on my thumb when I play on "my boyfriend" than my own instrument (affectionately known as "my husband"). Now, where on Earth do I find sandpaper?

MJ also recommended that when playing any sonata, while the different movements of that sonata should be different in tempo and somewhat different in character. The colour of the sound should transit well between the different movements and should remain about the same. This is so that all the different movements of the sonata could clearly sound like they are part of one single sonata when they are played one after another. I like this recommendation. I remember listening to one sonata but rather than it sounding like one sonata, it sounded like four separate movements each from different sonatas. I would want the different movements of the sonata that I play to sound like one single sonata.

**
On Friday and Saturday, I was feeling too tired to practise. I hope that Week Five of 2007 would be a more productive week where practising on the double bass is concern.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Something to think about: Singapore's Rich-Poor Divide

Earlier this week, while I was browsing Tomorrow.sg, I came across an article titled Singapore Swing.

Here's the URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16725528/site/newsweek/

I have the honour to work with quite a large number of low-income families. Many of them actually works very work and strive to improve their circumstances, yet their financial situations remain challenging. Sometimes, I start to think that even if one works hard, putting in commendable amount of effort alone does not guarantee one merits. It just seems that if left unchecked, there is a tendency for the rich to get richer, but the poor to get even poorer.

These questions would be come to my mind many of the times:
1) How to empower those in the low-income to improve their income?
2) More so, what kind of changes in the system would be needed to address the issue of the rich-poor divide?

**
Also see:
http://tomorrow.sg/trackback/url/6124

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A look at: As it is..

I like this piece of the installation. It reminded me of a person looking at himself as a third party would. Self reflection, I suppose?


This post is a long overdued post that I hope to share with one of my friends, Mystic. I suppose she had been too busy to catch the site-specific installation, As it is... by Victor Tan Wee Tar, that was at the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay sometime ago (7 Oct 2006 to 7 Jan 2007). As such, this post is my humble attempt to share my sights of the installation with her, and the rest of my readers here.

Let the photos bring you some glimpses to Victor Tan Wee Tar's artistic talents. I love the way that he seems to inject a sense of life into his works. I think Mystic would enjoy his installation if she were free to catch it. Meantime, please enjoy.


I like the way that this figure above stands on the beam of wood. Taking risks can be exciting.



I was attracted to the figure of the baby in the foreground.


I like the seemingly air of innocence that was projected by this section of the installation. I noticed the rocking horse in the background.

**
For more on the sculptor:
http://www.sculpturesociety.org.sg/artistlist.htm

Suicidal Tendencies (2005)


Composed by Emily Koh. Performed on 10 Jan 2007, at NUS Theatrette, Singapore.

(URL of video on YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Rt3S8QZs2k)

Emily Koh's Suicidal Tendencies (2005)

I have posted the YouTube version of Emily Koh's Suicidal Tendencies on my blog about several minutes, but it has yet to appear.

Whatever it is, here's to share a link to a performance of Emily's Suicidal Tendencies that has been posted up on YouTube for your pleasant viewing. This music is a piece of contemporary music. The more I play it, the more I grow to like it, for the bleak feeling and sense of despair that I seem to hear from its notes. Pardon me, I have a love for such kind of music. Perhaps all I ask is an outlet to release the whatever sense of despair and hopelessness that I feel of this world at times.

The URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Rt3S8QZs2k

***
Credits for the performance:
Suicidal Tendencies (2005).
Composed by Emily Koh.
Performed on 10 Jan 2007, at NUS Theatrette, Singapore.
Performed by: Tang Tee Tong // Violin, Jeremy Chiew // Viola, Toh Huiwen // Violoncello, Cheng Pei Yun // Double Bass.
Video recording by Mr Lim S.L. Video edited by PY.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Reflecting on one of my favourite quotes

On 13 Jan 2007, I have posted on my blog one of my favourite quotes.

...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us...

- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love (New York: Harper Collins, 1992)


The above verses struck me most deeply.

Many questions came to my mind: What if we are powerful beyond measure? How have our fears hold us back? What will be the possibilities that are available but we have yet to realise? How can we use our power wisely and appropriately?

The night is dark, and I am feeling sleepy, but I shall leave the thoughts to the back-burner.

Do share your thoughts on the above verses with me.

News: SMRT Open House

Fellow blogger, Pinkie, sent me a link to this: SMRT calls for participants for record-setting SMRT Cram Jam!

I have absolutely no interest to be in a crowd, so I would definitely give the SMRT Cram Jam a miss.

However, the SMRT Open House on 11 Feb 2007 appears to be interesting. From 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on that day, there will be a specially-chartered train from Ang Mo Kio MRT station that would take one to the Bishan Depot. There will be a guided tour of the Depot, and if you folks know me well, I like guided tours!

The best part is, while enjoying the novelty of visiting a MRT Depot, one can contribute to charity. All proceeds from this Open House will go to the SMRT Silver Tribute Fund.

If you are interested in the Open House, I read that you would need to register via email to stevenlim@smrt.com.sg or call Tel: 63311176 by 31 Jan 2007.

Click on this link for more details.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Singapore's First Fast Food Restaurant



What is Singapore's first fast food restaurant? Where is it located?

Unravel the answers to the above questions by checking out this post: Singapore's First Fast Food Restaurant written by Lam Chun See.

This is a post worth checking out for!

My tall baby husband needs nurturing

My instrument, the double bass, stands about 2 metres tall. If you have followed my blog closely, I affectionately refer to my double bass as "my husband". That makes me "his wife", won't it be?

I am starting to think of my dear "husband" as a baby who needs nurturing. "He" needs his "wife" (i.e. me) to spend time with him, so that "he" will sound well when his "wife" plays on him.

Time is precious. With work responsibilities and many other commitments, I realised that it is a challenge to put aside time to practise on my instrument. My hats off to the parents with young children and put aside time to nurture and guide their children. I think the children would demand much more of their parents' time than my "husband". "He" at least doesn't protest verbally. "He" simply gives incentives to his "wife" by sounding better if his "wife" finds time to spend quality hours practising on him.

Having said so, maybe I could infer why I could not dream about having children, at least not in the near future. I have no intention now to be willing to sacrifice the time meant for my baby "husband" just to take care of young children.

My hips have been hurting intermittenly today. While my mind has been fixated on the idea of practising so that I could realise those double bass tunes that have been ringing in my mind, my body has been feeling tired from the long day. Nevertheless, I shall give myself a pat on the shoulder for being self-disciplined enough to start my practising routine at 9.45 p.m. I took a short break after practising for half-an-hour. My total practise time today should be about 40 minutes. I decided to go slow today, and work on getting the rhythms of the first movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major right. Yeah, I was pretty close.

However, with a mind that was tired, my practise session on the third movement of the same sonata appeared disastrous. No doubt, I had played all the notes almost in tune from the first bar to the last. However, I could not hear any sense of music from the notes that I had played. I decided to stop just there. It looks like if I want a good practise session, I need adequate rest, and, more time!

Does anyone of you have non-living object that would need your nurturing too?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Week Three of 2007 on the doublebass

I am feeling awfully tired, mentally and physically. My hips are hurting from time to time and I can't figure why. For the past few days, whenever I sat down on the seats of the MRT train on my way home, I instinctively can't help but to take a nap. These appear signs of declining health, and I am not even in my thirties.

I haven't practised on the double bass today, even though I had planned to do so. Anyway, for week four of year 2007, I shall give myself the permission to take the necessary rest. If I fall short of my target (of practising on the double bass four days a week, at least 15 minutes on each of the four days), I shall give myself the concession to do so.

Anyway, for week three of year 2007, I have managed to keep up to my target where practising on the double bass is concerned.

Sunday, 14 Jan 2007, is the first day of week three. I was practising in the late afternoon and the night, working on the following:
- C major scales
- Marcello's Sonata in G major
- first half of Faure's Sicilienne
- the melody for Pachelbel's Canon in D major, scored for a double bass quartet, arranged by David Heyes

On Monday, 15 Jan 07, I was practising from 10.55 p.m. to 11.20 p.m., with a practise mute on my double bass, to mute the sounds from it.

Perhaps I had rather practise than to rest, I started practising on the double bass at about 11 p.m. on 16 Jan 2007, and only stopped playing at about 11.30 p.m.

On Wednesday, 17 Jan 2007
, I must have been going crazy. Despite being awfully tired from the day, I stayed up beyond midnight to practise Faure's Sicilienne. Not forgetting, I had already played on the double bass during the double bass sectional and the orchestra rehearsal earlier that evening.

On Thursday, 18 Jan 2007, it was the day that I had double bass lesson. I had played on the double bass for at least an hour, if you consider that practice. Lesson went good.

I was too tired on Friday and Saturday to practice. These aren't too good signs. I can only learn not to push myself too hard. I shall take small but steady steps to work towards better health. Cheer me on.

Hainan 2006



In this post, I shall compile the links of the posts related to the trip I have made to Hainan from 9 - 13 Nov 2006.

I dedicate this post to Eastcoastlife's parents-in-law who are Hainanese. May the photos on a few of these posts bring them to see the various sights of Hainan. They may physically be miles away from Hainan, but I hope these posts will bring some parts of Hainan closer to them.

Snapshots of my trip
9 Nov 06: Setting off for Hainan
Firecrackers cracking
9 Nov 06: Lunch and dinner
The dog that did not like phototaking
The story of the house
They plough the fields
9 Nov 06: Trip to nearby town
The story of the mountain goat
The ritual
Preparation of the Feast
Nian Gao
The slaughter of the chicken
Lunch on 10 Nov 2006
The well that my grandfather built
The walk after the lunch
Hammock to rest after lunch
Night approaches
The story of the ants
The ride to a nearby town
11 Nov 2006: At the nearby town
The ride back to the house
Fresh vegetables
Yummy peanuts
Taking photos of the chickens
Leaving the village for Haikou
At Haikou
Breakfast on 12 Nov 2006
Postcard hunting in Hainan
At the cybercafe in Haikou
Five Officials' Temple
Five Officials' Temple Part II
Five Officials' Temple Part III
Lunch: 12 Nov 2006
The overhead bridges in Haikou
Bye Hainan
Hainan 2006, et cetera

(Note: I have placed a link to this post on the sidebar of this blog.)

***
Here are the URL of some external Hainan-related sites:
http://www.hainandiscovery.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hainan

Hainan 2006, et cetera

roads leading to the village


I figured that I might have missed posting some of the not-too-bad photos from my trip to Hainan last November, so here's a post with more photos to share.


Neighbours from the villageMy grandmother's neighbours from the village. I heard that they are also my distant relatives.


The hammocks
The hammocks



The house.
The house



My grandmother's neighbour's vicinity
My grandmother's neighbour's vicinity.



My grandmother's neighbour's vicinity.



The yard
The yard



The drainThe drain. There was no sink in the premises of the house, and the folks (including yours truly who was a visitor) brushed my teeth right next to this drain.


Looking towards the door to the kitchen



Firewood
Firewood



Countryside
The countryside










For all my cat-loving readers: This cat kept avoiding me, so I was very lucky to even get a snapshot of it.


Enjoy the sights of Hainan meantime.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A new colour for the wall?

You Should Paint Your Room Purple

Sophisticated and exotic, purple can also be a deeply comforting color.
Your purple room will inspire you to trust yourself more and go with your intuition.
Purple has also been known to facilitate healing and a feeling of protection.

Music enriches and inspires

On An Overgrown Path has a noteworthy post titled: Music can be magic, it enriches and inspires.

I totally agree that:

Music can be magic. It calls for and calls forth all human virtues: imagination, discipline, teamwork, determination. It enriches and inspires.

Check the post out to find out more about the Music Manifesto.

Friday, January 19, 2007

On 20 Jan 2007: Social Worker's Day


Tomorrow, on the 20 Jan 2007, is the inaugural Singapore Social Workers’ Day 2007. There would probably be quite a bit of media coverage on this event. Already this morning, I read an article on one of the Chinese newspapers about one social worker and her undying passion for the profession.

I shall take this chance to point to readers a URL that pays tribute to pioneer social workers for their achievements and contributions to the profession. Let's appreciate their contributions: http://www.sasw.org.sg/swday/appreciate.html

Edited (on 20 Jan 2007): The Straits Times has a 7-page Special Report on social work profession. Get a copy of The Straits Times dated 20 Jan 2007.

Bye Hainan

(Hainan, Nov 2006)

While writing about my trip to Hainan, I realised that I hadn't take much photographs at Haikou. It seems that the novelty of village life had got me to take lots of photographs as mementos. Furthermore, I didn't seem to like the life in a busy city. I figured that I prefer life in the sub-urbs than the cities.

On 12 Nov 2006, my parents and I did some shopping. I have no interest to share with you about the shopping experience because I don't have a fancy for shopping in general (except shopping for books, and double bass related stuffs).

Before I knew it, I found myself waking up early in the morning of 13 Nov 2006. My parents and I checked out of the hotel, and took a taxi to Meilan Airport about 15 minutes ride away.





I realised that for passengers taking international flights from Meilan Airport, it isn't quite worth the effort to come too early (e.g. two hours before the departure time). One can't check in one's baggages until a specific time (about 45 minutes before departure). My parents and I were spending our time waiting. But then again, we were thankful that we were at the airport a little earlier, because there were already a queue waiting to check in baggages at about 1 hour 10 minutes before the departure time.

Before I knew it, I was back in Singapore.

It was fairly pleasant onboard Tiger Airways. I won't mind taking Tiger Airways in the future. However, I think a bit more could be done to help make Tiger Airways more friendly for the elderly, especially when the folks have to get down the plane at the Budget Terminal, Singapore.


The overhead bridges in Haikou



(Hainan, Nov 2006)

I could not help but pay some attention to the overhead bridges in Haikou. I have not seen similar sights at the overhead bridges in Singapore.

In Singapore, it would be almost impossible for me to find people setting up make-shift stalls to put things up on sale along the pathways of the overhead bridges. However, in Haikou (and many other parts of China), folks selling things on the overhead bridges are fairly common sights.










Occasionally, one can see people without limbs lying down on a corner of the pathway of the overhead bridges, begging for money. I observed that some of these beggars would have write out in Chinese characters the reasons why they were appealing for money.

I didn't mind donating money to the beggars, but I was very wary about doing so as I have had heard tales of syndicates that maim its victims limbs so that its victims could beg and generate income for the syndicate, at the victims' plight. It is a strange world, where acts of kindness to donate to people who seem to be in need actually encourage illegal syndicates to continue to do further harm. I wonder if China has any social welfare services to reach out to the deserving people who truly need help?

For your information, most of the beggars and folks selling things on the overhead bridges were very wary of people taking photos of them. As such, please lower your expectations of the photographs on this post.

I was also quite fascinated with the structures of the overhead bridges in Haikou. I rarely see those kind of overhead bridges right here in Singapore. Most of the overhead bridges have narrow but wide-enough ramp-like pathways just next to the stairways to allow bicycles and trolleys to travel up and down the overhead bridges at greater ease. I think this is quite a good design.

The next time when you visit the city of Haikou (or any cities in China), do take a closer look at the overhead bridges.





Lunch: 12 Nov 2006


(At Hainan)

After the visit to the Five Officials' Temple, my cousin led us to take a bus to head for a place for lunch.

According to what I had heard from my parents, we were heading to a part of Haikou city where the largest shopping mall in Haikou was located. I figured that while this mall may be the largest at that point in time, it would soon be replaced by yet more larger malls. I could confidently say so because I could see quite a couple of constructions going on in the city of Haikou, and one site was supposedly constructing a shopping mall that would be next largest shopping mall in Haikou. I could not help but feel how fast progress could be made.

Anyway, I remember that my aunt was feeling very hungry that day. The first task of that afternoon was to find a place for lunch. We ended up in a restaurant that sells Hunan food. I love the yam and the sauce that came with the fish. The vegetables tasted yummy too. I love vegetables that taste nice.

I couldn't help but to share a few of the photos of the lunch with you.




My dad had wanted to pay for the lunch, but my dear cousin insisted on treating us to the lunch. He shouldn't have, though. But thanks cousin.

Bus Services in Singapore in the 1960s



Yesterday.sg points us to a post by Good Morning Yesterday, and readers can look forward to take a peep into how the bus services in Singapore was like in the 1960s.

Check the post out here: Masuk Dalam, Masuk Dalam.

And find out what “Masuk Dalam! Masuk Dalam!” means.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The crazy sing-aloud gal

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

- Sing
Produced by Karen and Richard Carpenter
Written by Joe Raposo
Published by Jonico Music, Inc. (ASCAP)



My mind has been feeling tired for much of today. In addition to sleeping late last night, I woke up early at about 5.50 a.m. today. In hope of beating the fatigue spells, I have been singing out aloud on various occasions. I didn't sing songs with lyrics, but instead I found myself singing tunes from excerpts from several well-known Symphonies, and from the works that I have been practising on the double bass.

At the beginning of this post, you will find part of the lyrics of Sing. If I am not wrong, it is one of the Sesame Street's sing-a-long. I like its bittersweet mood, and particularly, Karen Carpenter's beautiful voice.

**
I had double bass lesson this evening. My tutor went through Marcello's Sonata in G major, and the first three-quarters of Faure's Sicilienne today. I am beginning to love the third movement Grave of Marcello's Sonata in G major. The notes seem quite easy, but it is actually a very difficult movement to play well. But I like the challenge, and I have a liking for melancholic tunes. I am developing a liking for this sonata, even though I usually prefer sonata in minor key than in major key.

When it was time to practise Faure's Sicilienne, I was eager to learn how to play it more expressively. Sicilienne has such a beautiful melody, and the challenge is to play it musically. I like the tune and I realised that I started humming it fairly loud when I was travelling home in the MRT train.

Well folks, the next time that you hear someone sing aloud in the MRT train, please bear with the person. Maybe he or she is just like me, feeling too enthuasiastic over a tune that rings in her mind, and couldn't help but sing aloud. Oh yes, maybe the person who is singing out aloud isn't crazy, but she just feel like doing crazy things.

Folks, if you have a tune that you are burning to sing, "Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing, sing a song."

Going nuts but there are things to be thankful for

A double bass bridge


Midnight ramblings:

I live in a world
Which isn't exactly meant for me
I don't wish to fit in
Ask not that the world change itself for me
I only ask that I be allowed
To co-exist with the people in this world
And find something worth living for


***
Wednesday, is a day to look forward to as there is usually double bass sectional and orchestra rehearsal. I have been practising from 6 p.m. to about 9.20 p.m. on the double bass, but the long hours on the double bass did not kill my interest in the double bass. I felt good over the fact that I didn't have to be the only double bassist playing for the rehearsal today. For several of the past orchestra rehearsal, I was one of the few around playing. Today, the double bass section has a commendable strength of four!

Maybe I am going nuts. At 11.50 p.m., I decided to start practising on the double bass. At such late hours of the night, the best way for yours truly to remain a fairly considerate neighbour while still being able to practise on the double bass is to use a practice mute. If you have no idea how it looks like, please click on this link. Basically, I would place the practice mute directly onto the bridge of the double bass. Doing so dampens the sound of the double bass by about half.

I was work out the fingerings for one of the passages from Faure's Sicilienne. Earlier today, Emily (who also plays the double bass) gave me some insights to the fingerings to that passage, and I was eager to try it out on the double bass. Hey, it felt good to have a better sense of how to play that particular passage. I stopped at about 12.15 a.m., since I figured it was getting late (and I was getting tired). I hope to work on that passage again for my double bass classes tomorrow.

Although my behaviours are now starting to manifest the many streaks of craziness in me (e.g. playing the double bass at wee hours of the night), there are things to be thankful for:
1) Emily showed me how to play that passage from Faure's Sicilienne.
2) Emily corrected and reminded me the more appropriate direction where I should draw my (down) bow towards.
3) My dear conductor gave me a DVD recording of the concert on 10 Jan 07. It is so kind of him. I felt very touched that he actually remembers my request to him.

Now, I have ask for my brother's permission to use his laptop (which has a DVD player, and recorder) to view the recording sometime soon.

The next task to do will be to find out how to edit away other segments and cut out that segment of our double bass quartet performance so as to put it up online. Emily also wants a screen-shot of the recording of the performers playing her Suicidal Tendencies.

Does anyone know how to do these? Please advise. I will be most grateful. Thanks in advance.

4) Another thing to be grateful of: The rain had stopped when I was about to leave for home after a night of rehearsal.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Overcoming the fatigue bug

The "humming queen" continues to hum her way through much of the day, in hope to beat the fatigue bug. The emotional fatigue with the world whose pace is different from mine.

Last night, I declared myself the practising freak in my block. Today, I shall declare as the crazy lady who tries to beat the fatigue bug. The physical and mental fatigue from having worked about 12 hours today in office. By the way, social workers' day is coming this Saturday, on 20 Jan 2007. I wonder what the media would have to say then about this profession that yours truly is in.

When I was back, my body physically protested at my intentions to practise on the double bass. My target is to practise 15 minutes per day, for at least 4 days per week. Once I sat on the chair near my personal computer, my body just felt so comfortable with the chair that it felt like sitting there forever. But, wait a minute, I have planned to practise on the double bass! A normal chair is too low to sit on for playing the double bass.

After much tensions between the body and the mind, I was standing up next to my double bass (whom I affectionately address as my husband), and I started tuning it. Next step was to play the C major scales. And it was already 11 p.m. when I started out playing the C major scales.

While I started playing selected sections from the Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, my body was already sending me signals that my mind is on its verge of blanking out from fatigue. But my mind was shouting that I want to be disciplined and at least practise 15 minutes today. So I decided to adjust my practising plans. Instead of playing "The Storm" movement from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony (which I think requires a lot of concentration to play), I practised on some other passages from this symphony.

Then I went on to play selected passages from Sibelius'Second Symphony just to get the fingerings more registered into my mind. Yeah, I have managed to work one tricky passage out, I hope. I particularly like practising the last section from Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival Overture, for I realised I have to play on three different strings within the duration of one single bar.

Before I knew it, it was 11.30 p.m. I decided to be kind to myself, and stopped the practice for the day. I have had enough practice for the day to prime my fingers for the orchestra-rehearsals tomorrow evening.

By the way, in case you aren't aware, I will be playing in a concert held on 16 Mar 2007 (Fri), at NUS, University Cultural Centre, Hall. Please click on this link for more details.

Now, I think I shall go to bed soon. Good night folks. Sleep tight.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The practising freak in my block



There's a practising freak living in my block, and that could be me!

It was a long work day today. I only reached home sometime after 10 p.m. After reaching home and taking my shower, I started practising on the double bass from 10.55 p.m. I started with a simple C major scale, then the rest of the time was spent practising the melody for Pachelbel's Canon in D major, scored for a double bass quartet, arranged by David Heyes

Folks, if you hear a rumbling bass sound at the night, it could be me practising, and I could be your neighbour. Isn't the world so very small?

I decided to be a considerate neighbour and had put on a practice mute on my double bass tonight. The practice mute helps to dampen the sound of the double bass. It also reduced the amount of vibrations from the double bass so that the double bass does not resonate as much as it usually would.

While I don't particularly like the sound of a muted double bass (it sounds like a double bass having a bad case of flu and blocked nose), having a practice mute helped me to be a considerate neighbour. Hopefully, by putting a practice mute, my neighbours would be willing to bear with my playing even after midnight. If they could bear with the playing, I figured that I will have no trouble practising even during the wee hours in the future.

Anyway, I was too tired from the work day to play beyond midnight today. I stopped practising at 11.20 p.m., but yeah, I have managed to practise at least 15 minutes without much effort. Pachelbel's Canon in D major has some beautiful melody lines, and I hope to master it one day.

Aside from being a practising freak, I may soon earn the reputation of the "humming queen", but I shalln't care. I just want to test out what would be suitable ways to articulate and express some of the tunes ringing in my head.

Maybe I have too much within me to express, I kept humming out aloud the tune from Faure's Sicilienne when I was at my work cubicle today. I kept humming the tune even on my way to lunch and to dinner, and back from lunch and dinner.

If I was not humming Faure's Sicilienne, I could be humming Rachmaninoff's Vocalise for today. If you would like to hear how Vocalise sounds, you may click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRqgkR1_eLQ for a rendition of it, not by me, but by jcobalis. I think he has played marvellously well on the double bass. I won't mind if he were to be one of the practising freaks living in my block.

Meantime, wishing you a pleasant night, and may the practising freaks (if any) living nearby you play you some beautiful music to soothe you to a good sleep.

I am now feeling sleepy and bottled-up.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Week Two of 2007 on the doublebass

Earlier this year, I strived to practise at least four days per week, for at least 15 minutes on each of the days. I have achieved this goal for the week two of the year 2007.

Since I consider Sunday as the first day of the week, let me start writing about 7 Jan 2007. I can't exactly remember what I had practised on that day, but I remember that I definitely had spent at least 15 minutes practising Emily's Suicidal Tendencies, and not forgetting, the double bass solo part for Tchaikovsky's Neopolitanian Dance (from "Swan Lake").

**

On 8 Jan 2007, I had taken half-a-day of leave of work hoping to find time to practise, but my practice hours were dramatically reduced because of the "missing double bass". Thank goodness that it was "lost and found". Anyway, I practised at least 20 minutes on my own (on one of the orchestra's other double basses) before 6 p.m., the supposedly time to start the quartet rehearsal.

Quartet rehearsal started later than scheduled, but I was practising on the double bass while waiting, except for a few short breaks that I had taken. Rehearsal only ended at 9.30 p.m., but after I settled the missing bass issue with the person responsible for it, I continued to practise for a very short while. Conservatively, I would have practised at least 3 hours on the double bass that day, if not, more.

***
9 Jan 2007: Tuesday, I took half-a-day leave in the afternoon to practise. The main objective for my practice that day was to work on playing Emily's Suicidal Tendencies. I also spent some time practising Dragonetti's Solo in e minor though not too long. G major scale has become part of my regular warm-up regime, so it was definite that I had played at least 10 minutes of G major scale.

I can't remember how long I had spent practising that day, but it was definitely more than 15 minutes.

**
10 Jan 2007: Wednesday was the day of the concert. In the morning, I had spent quite some time playing G major scales and Emily's Suicidal Tendencies. About close to an hour, I think.

In the afternoon, since I had arrived way before the scheduled time for loading the double basses onto the lorry, I had spent at least 15 minutes practising in the storeroom where the double basses are kept.

For the rehearsal, it was another several minutes of playing, but well, it didn't matter if it didn't count.

***
11 Jan 2007: That was the day I had my double bass lesson with my tutor, MJ. I realised that he gave me 1.5 hours of lesson instead of the usual 1 hour. We did quite a bit of things that day. I played one-third of the second movement of Dragonetti's Solo in e minor until MJ and myself decided I may not play Dragonetti's for my exams.

MJ demonstrated to me how several of the double bass DipABRSM exams pieces would sound. I sightread Marcello's Sonata in G major. It was fun. I also sightread a quarter of Faure Sicilienne as well as Apres un Reve, Op. 7 no. 1. Sicilienne is nice. Apres un Reve makes quite good use of the lower registers, but I felt it was not a piece that would go well with my other selected exams pieces. In that short 1.5 hours, I managed to have a clearer picture on my programme for the DipABRSM exams, and felt confident that I could sit for the exams later this year. In short, it was a good lesson.

***
12 Jan 2007: No practice on this day. I went for a concert by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. But perhaps I was too tired that day, I wasn't able to give my fullest attention throughout the concert.

**
13 Jan 2007: I was basically at home for most of that day, and had spent a few hours practising on the double bass. Here are what I had practised: G and C major scales, Marcello's Sonata in G major, first half of Faure's Sicilienne (because I can't quite figure how to play some sections of the second half), Keyper's Romance & Rondo.

**
Concluding, for the second week of 2007, I had practised on the double bass for at least 15 minutes per day on six of the days. Well beyond my target set. Would anyone care to give me some encouragement please?

**
Meantime, let me start writing down what I had practised today, so that I can write a similar progress-report post at the end of week three. I was practising intermittenly in the late afternoon and the night:
- C major scales
- Marcello's Sonata in G major
- first half of Faure's Sicilienne
- the melody for Pachelbel's Canon in D major, scored for a double bass quartet, arranged by David Heyes

Gloomy darkness and agony

I particularly like the guitar solo and the vocals fade in Carpenters' Goodbye to Love.

I'm feeling gloomy. I hope it is just because of the recent bad weather. I hadn't had the mood to go out for any walk this entire week because of the very wet weather. Meantime, let the darkness and agony find their outlets of expression.

I'll say goodbye to love
No one ever cared if I should live or die...


...What lies in the future is a mystery to us all
No one can predict the wheel of fortune as it falls


(And then the music fades off with my favourite guitar and vocals fade.)

- Goodbye To Love
Produced by Jack Daugherty
Written by Richard Carpenter; John bettis
Published by Almo Music Corp./
Hammer and Nails Music (ASCAP)

Five Officials' Temple Part III



(12 Nov 2006, Hainan)
(continued from Five Officials' Temple, Part II)

There were quite a lot of things to see at the Five Officials' Temple. I could not help but awe at the architecture of the place, and how this entire place has managed to survive after so many years. It definitely has seen more of this world than I had.

At the Five Officials' Temple, I saw a starfruit tree for the first time in my life. I liked the way its branches seem to entangle among themselves.


The starfruit tree






As we walked steadily about the premises, we came to a bridge that would lead us to a new building that was built recently. This building contains exhibits of many of the well-known figures known to the folks in Hainan. I took no particular notice of the bridge until much later. My cousin told me much later that the bridge is called Qiqu Qiao, which literally means a bridge whose path keeps winding and isn't smooth.

There is a reason behind its unique design: As one walks from one end of the bridge to the other end, one is to be reminded that life is never smooth and easy. One may have to experience many twists and turns in life before one reaches one's final destination. What an interesting concept behind the design of this bridge, I thought to myself.







At the exhibition galleries found in the new building, there were exhibits that gave visitors a better understand of the Five Officials (namely: Li Deyu, Li Gang, Li Guang, Zhao Ding and Hu Quan). There was a three-dimensional map that showed the route that each of these five officials had taken when they were being banished to Hainan Island (for speaking up against what they felt were wrong practices by the Emperors of their times).





There were exhibits that gave visitors insights to the lives of each of these five officials, and their contributions to Hainan. Some of the poems of the five officials were also being displayed.





The verses from a poem by Li Gang approximately mean: "If the people could be adequately fed, I am willing to have suffer sickness and have my life-span shortened."



There was also an exhibition gallery meant for well-known personalities from the contemporary days. One of such personalities who was featured in that exhibition gallery was Song Qingling, whose father is a native of Hainan.





One interesting trivial that I saw while I was at the new building was a coconut triplet. From one single coconut fruit, grew three coconut trees with the same genetic make-up.





And I shall end this post with photos of the beautiful sceneries of the Five Officials' Temple. More about my trip to Hainan in my future posts.