Monday, December 31, 2007
But I don't like the music
From the stage many streets away
Apparently those folks are celebrating
The coming of the New Year
With music and dance
Yet don't they know
The volume that is made is deafening
I think it is
I can hear from such a distance away
Even with my windows closed
Sunday, December 30, 2007
A teacher and a librarian, Adrian and Ivan, came together with their Macs and their guitars. What could we get from this kind of combination? Together, they have launched the album Seastars 2007. My words of congratulations to both of them for successfully launching an album of their own.
I have been invited by Ivan to do a review of the album. I expect myself to be quite a biased reviewer. For one thing, I have a biased preference for chamber and orchestral music from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic period. If for any reason you would still like to read about my review of the album, do bear in mind of my preferences in music.
On the positive note, this album offers soothing tracks for anyone who would like a break away from the noisy and clamouring sounds of city life. From this post by the musicians titled Why is the album called "Seastars"?, it appears that the inspirations behind this album probably came from a concept of mindfulness moment? When I was listening to the tracks in this album, the music made me feel as if I was strolling along a beach when it was night time, so quiet and calm.
If one has been exposed to noises and yet more noises from the day, Seastars 2007 will bring a refreshing and fairly welcoming break for the ears. I suddenly have a suggestion that the Beach Parties that will be counting down to the year 2008 should neither play pop nor rock music. Instead, it may wish to consider playing Seastars 2007 at a moderate volume. I think it would not only have a calming effect on the participants of the parties, it might also bring a certain feeling of nostalgia and reflection, which I think would be a special way to mark the end the year 2007.
If you would like to hear how this album would sound like, I would like to point you to listen to a Music Video, Dolphins Galaxia, of one of the tracks from this album. This video is put up by the musicians themselves.
However, if I were to be a critical critic, I would find this album lacking very much in an overall sense of contrast. While I could hear that each track sound different in some ways from the other, my ears perceived the general mood from each of the tracks to be similar.
For someone like myself who is used to listening to contrasts between the different movements of a symphony, and to the contrasts found within many Western art music works, Seastars 2007 is not an album that I would personally recommend to folks like myself who delights in listening to music that has a fair degree of contrast.
I won't mind listening to Seastars 2007 when I needed some soothing music for the sheer sake of getting away from loud music. However, it is certainly not an album that I would recommend if I would like to listen to music from the sheerly musical plane. The melodies of the tracks were perceived by my ears to be fairly similar to one another even though they were from different tracks. I was consciously listening out for interesting use of harmony, but my ears could not pick up any particular one. Admittedly, I had only listened to each tracks of this album at least twice.
While occassionally, there are some interesting moments in the music, e.g. the 'bubbling' sounds in Into the Deep, and the more oriental flavour and erhu-like sound in Seabreeze, my ears tell me that there is still a need for more musically interesting moments and contrasts within the music. Overall, the album felt soothing but too plain for my liking. Maybe I am really biased, I would prefer more contrasts to be present between the different tracks, so that each track has its own distinct "character" that is easily recognisable.
Nevertheless, I suppose perhaps the musicians had wanted a more reflective and calming mood to the entire album, a fair amount of musical contrast had to be inevitably sacrificed? I am not sure if I would be right to conclude this. Afterall, my preferences in music have led me to listen to more of certain genres of music than the genre of music that Seastars 2007 belongs to. Furthermore, I don't consider myself very versed in music yet.
I suppose whether or not one decides to listen to this album is dependent on one's intention at the point in time. If it was to listen to soothing and fairly calming music, this album could be one of the choices. If it was to listen more consciously to music at a sheer musical plane, then one would be quite disappointed with the overall plain quality of the entire album. Then again, the musicians themselves do deserve credits for all the efforts that they have put in to realise this album. If one is keen to support budding musicians or local production, it certainly won't kill to listen to this album for at least one time. Afterall, I can sense that this album is a production made with lots of sincerity.
If you have about 32 minutes to spare, and you would like to listen to ths album, I suggest that you visit this site. The creators behind Seastars 2007 is giving away free MP3 CDs of the album for the first 50 people who review this album, by 4 Jan 2008.
23 Dec 2007, Sun: I practised selected passages from Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major. I also played excerpts from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Although I had attempted the first double bass parts from Doc Solomon's Sentimental Bossa, I gave it a miss after several bars of playing. A dark spell seems lurking?
24 Dec 2007, Mon: I managed to find a copy of the double bass parts for Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and I attempted to play through most of the symphony. I spent time practising the more challenging parts.
25 Dec 2007, Tue: I practised the first movement from Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major, Eccles' Sonata in g minor and selected passages from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
26 Dec 2007, Wed: A rather unfocused day of practice. I went about practising selected passages from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
28 Dec 2007, Fri: Orchestra rehearsal in the evening. We rehearsed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Stravinsky's Firebird.
Looking back, for the past 52 weeks of the year 2007, except for Week 45 when I took a break, I have been practising at least 4 days per week. For each of the days that I have practised on the double bass, I have practised for at least 15 minutes.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
According to this article, when the noise levels of various public spaces in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Bangkok were measured using a certified sound level meter, almost every locations that were tested had registered noise levels that were well above what the World Health Organization considers the safe limit of 70 decibels.
I suppose my statement that "I live in a noisy world" does have some basis.
While I have a portable pair of ear-plugs with me almost all the time, I have not been conscientiously using it when I find the environment around me noisy. I probably need to learn to get used to using them more conscientiously now, especially after reading the above-mentioned article from Readers Digest.
I realised that my right ear has been experiencing high-pitched humming sound and is not as sharp in hearing as my left ear. The humming sound has not become irritable, but it is certainly a concern. I fear it could be a symptom revealing an early sign of tinnitus. If I seem to be thinking of the worst, perhaps I should be glad that both my ears can still hear.
I wonder if I should be wearing ear plugs most of the time? Generally, most malls are actually quite noisy. Of course, to some extent, I can't help but realised that I have been exposed to noises so often that I have started to become somewhat desensitised to noise. Yet, noise can damage the sense of hearing, and I have lots of interest in protecting my sense of hearing.
Probably I have to learn to be more conscientious in putting on my ear plugs when needed. Furthermore, there are really nice ear filters for the musicians like the HiFi HEAROS ear filters that are designed to reduce the volume level without changing the frequency balance of the music.
It's time to be more proactive in protecting my sense of hearing. According to the article, Noise is the number one preventable cause of hearing loss. Maybe the next time when I find the noise around me too loud for my comfort level, there are high chances that I am probably very right.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Several weeks ago, I was at the university, my alma mater. One place that most of the students of my faculty would visit would be the Arts Canteen. It was known for the good food that was sold at its various stalls.
The Arts Canteen had several levels. I remember that my peers will term the various levels as Heaven, Earth and Hell. Such terms appear to have a function in helping people locate their friends if they were to meet up at the Arts Canteen. They would simply mention whether they are sitting at "Heaven", "Earth" or "Hell".
I have no idea how people nowadays term the different levels of the newly refurbished Arts Canteen. Anyway, I saw that there is an air-conditioned level whereby there is a Burger Kings outlet, a Thai food outlet and some cafe establishment at the new Arts Canteen when I was there a few weeks ago.
At another level, one could find stalls selling food such as Chinese food, Western food, Japanese food, Yong Tau Foo and so forth. This level, with yet another level are non air-conditioned. But well, there is a price to pay to eat at the air-conditioned level. The food from the stalls at the air-conditioned level are much more expensive.
Anyway, I quite like the layout of the new Arts Canteen. Without the nostalgic brick dividers and walls, more light could be allowed to enter the canteen, and allowing one to get a glimpse of the nearby sceneries.
I found myself liking the seemingly spacious layout of the new Arts Canteen. Food wise, somehow, I can't help but to say the layout of the food stalls have made the food look not as appetizing as they used to be. However, I did not have the time nor appetite to try the food from most of the stalls, so I can't really tell how the food taste like.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
I don't wish to describe what my inner world is going through now. Dreadfulness isn't meant to be shared. May there be comfort and relief somehow.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Fascinated with Greek mythology and the lives of ancient Greek?
I visited the National Museum of Singapore to catch the Greek Masterpieces from the Lourve exhibition just a week ago. This is quite a rare exhibition in Singapore. According to the publicity material, I read that 'many of the exhibits that are presented in the above-mentioned exhibition are in fact ''leaving the Lourve for the first time ever since they were accessioned into the collection''.
I have no picture of the exhibition to show since I have no permission to take photos at the exhibition. Anyway, after my visit to the exhibition last week, I got home and read up about the history of the ancient Greek and some of the Greek mythology. Here are a few online sites that I visited:
Greek Masterpieces from the Lourve will be showcased at the National Museum of Singapore from 9 Dec 07 - 16 Mar 08. I recommend that people who are new to the way of life of the ancient Greek could attend one of the guided tours. Please check the museum's website for more information.
Last but not the least, you may be interested to know that there is free admission to Greek Masterpieces from the Lourve, the Singapore History Gallery and Singapore Living Galleries of the National Museum of Singapore on Christmas Day, 25 Dec 2007. It is worth a checking out.
Afterwhich, I attempted to play excerpts from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 where the double bass parts are pretty challenging. Needing more practice.
18 Dec 2007,Tue: I practised Pachelbel's Canon in D Major scored for the double bass ensemble. I felt I was ventilating through the double bass, though I fear that the intonation needs to be more focused.
20 Dec 2007, Thu: For the day, I practised excerpts from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Afterwhich, I practised the first and second movement of Eccles'Sonata in g minor, and selected passages from Dittersdorf's Concerto in E Major.
21 Dec 2007, Fri: In the night, I practised much of the first movement from Keyper's Romance and Rondo focusing on securing a steady tempo and a focused intonation. More practice needed when making shifts from one position to another.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I yearn for some company, to be out to sketch or to walk. Yet I fear it may just expose me to more crowd than I could comfortably bear.
Whatever it is, wishing you a meaningful and blissful festive season.
Friday, December 21, 2007
A lovely paragraph that explains what makes one seemingly ordinary rose so unique:
(The Little Prince said to the roses in a garden)
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.
- from Antoine de Saint Exupéry's The Little Prince, Chapter 21
I cannot help but feel touched by the words of the Little Prince.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Take part in the National Heritage Board’s first photoblogging competition and stand a chance to win attractive prizes!
The first prize is a Nikon D40 Kit.
Check out this website for more information: http://www.museums.com.sg/explore/photo/
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
After the Red Clogs Down the Five-Foot-Way ™ tour, I have the pleasure to meet my friend, Mystic, for lunch. She has been telling me about a Korean restaurant in Chinatown area, and it was only on 27 Nov 2007 that I have the opportunity to check it out. Mystic brought me to 101 Telok Ayer Street, which was pretty nearby the Thian Hock Kheng Temple that I visited earlier that day.
It is fairly value-for-money to have lunch at this Manna Korean Restaurant. For about $10 (inclusive of GST and service charge), one could have a barbeque-chicken set that comes with side-dishes, soup and rice. The side-dishes were quite interesting, there was choice of tofu, kimchi, pickles, beansprouts and more. Of course, food is secondary. Being able to have the lunch-time free to have lunch with a friend is a greater pleasure.
After the lunch, Mystic headed for work. I continued walking about Chinatown. Admittedly, by the late afternoon, my feet were urging me to stop. However, my mind was set to explore Chinatown. Little wonder that my feet protested by aching quite a bit that day.
Anyway, I recommend that anyone who is interested to tour Chinatown could visit the Singapore City Gallery which is just within Chinatown area, nearby the Maxwell Food Centre.
At the Singapore City Gallery, I could find a large architectural model that gives visitor a bird eye view of Singapore's city centre. There are touchscreen interactives at the gallery for visitors to learn more about various parts of the city centre. I took time to learn more about Kampong Glam and Chinatown. It was enriching.
I took a photo of part of the Central Area Model that was exhibited in the Singapore City Gallery. The models showed part of the places that I had been to earlier that day during the Red Clogs Down the Five-Foot-Way ™ tour.
Visitor's information to the Singapore City Gallery can be found here: http://www.museums.com.sg/MRM_sgcity.asp
After visiting the Singapore City Gallery, I went on to walk about various other parts of Chinatown. Do you happen to know what the building below is known as?
Yes, if you have spotted the clue, the building above is known as the Former Jinricksha Station. At the time when it was completed, its exposed brickwork facade was considered an unusual feature at that time. Originally invented in Japan, jinricksha (also known as rickshaw) was introduced to Singapore from Shanghai around 1880s.
Here are more of what I saw on my journey about Chinatown.
This shophouse previously housed the Anglo-Chinese School, which was established in 1886.
It seemed like meeting up with good friends was one of the greatest blessings of that day. In the afternoon, I had met up with Mystic for a lovely lunch. That evening, I met up with XS for dinner, a few days before she left for overseas. Many thanks to XS for her treat to satays.
Last but not the least, if you have enjoyed the photos of Chinatown that I have posted on this post, you may wish to consider making some time to tour Chinatown too.
- Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore. (2001). URA Gallery City Walk: Chinatown Historic District.
- G. Byrne Bracken. (2004).A Walking Tour: Singapore. Singapore: Times Editions.
- National Heritage Board. (Oct 2006). Discover Singapore: Heritage Trails.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The young girl I was at 6 years old had my first graduation ceremony at a place in Ang Mo Kio. Where was it?
Find out more by reading my latest post on Yesterday.sg: Growing up in Ang Mo Kio: Jubilee - a place for kindergarten graduation ceremonies.
Veron of Sparklette.net highlighted an interesting painting exhibition. I am sure cat-lovers will love it.
Veron went an extra mile and conducted an interview with one of the artists. Read about the interview here: Catmasutra 4: An Interview with Paul Koh, the Artist Behind the Art
If you find the works to be of interest to you, I suggest that you could find some time to check out the exhibition. I was there yesterday as I was in the mood to walk from National Museum of Singapore to South Bridge Road. It is a cosy exhibition with lovely artworks, and nice music played in the background. If you like any of the works, they are also available for sale.
Details of the exhibition are found below:
229A South Bridge Road (opposite Sri Mariamman Temple)
Level 2 Singapore 058778
Tel: (65) 6226 2605
Date: December 13 — 23, 2007
Opening hours: 11am — 8pm (Mondays to Sundays)
(Note: Actually, the publicity material that I have received from Utterly Art indicates that on Sundays, the exhibition will be opened from 12 - 5.30 p.m.)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
11 Dec 2007, Tue: I was practising on the double bass to sight-read several double bass ensemble works. More work needs to be done on sight-reading.
12 Dec 2007, Wed: I took leave from work to attend double bass trio rehearsals. We rehearsed Tony Osborne's Blues-Style. Afterwhich, we tried our hands on Pachelbel's Canon in D major written for the double bass ensemble, with the harp player helping us to play the ground bass. In the afternoon, the trio attended the quartet master-class by Mr Foo. He gave us tips on how to improve our rendition of Tony Osborne's Blues-Style.
In the evening, it was orchestra rehearsal. It has been several weeks since the previous rehearsals. We rehearsed "Infernal dance of King Kashchei" from Stravinsky's Firebird and the 4th movement of Mahler's First Symphony. I felt demoralised that I had yet to get the feel of the off-beat rhythm to play it accurately.
Anyway, at the end of the rehearsal, our conductor suggested that the orchestra plays Beethoven's Fifth Symphony instead of Mahler's First Symphony for the upcoming concert. That looked like more challenging parts for the double bass section. Hopefully our section has enough time to learn and play Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
13 Dec 2007, Thu: It's double bass lesson day. MJ is back from his overseas trip. For the lesson, MJ got me to practise doing the shift from the first position to the fourth position, and then back. It was good practice because I realised my shifting improved thereafter.
In addition, I worked on Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major. He shared that this work is rather technical in nature, and I should aim to control every single note.
15 Dec 2007, Fri: I practise shifting from the first position to the fourth and then back.
Afterwhich, the remaining of the time was spent practising Pachelbel's Canon in D major written for the double bass ensemble. The focus was to learn to do the shifts from one position to another with accuracy.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I have promised to share with the readers of this blog my experiences of the recent few walks that I have been on. Here's to share about the Red Clogs Down the Five-Foot-Way ™ walk that I went on: The Original Singapore Walk: A Chinatown Walk.
I hope you would like it, and would join the walk one day.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Darkness can swallow one's soul
When the appearance looks alright
Yet its inner world is that of a lost soul
In search for a safe haven
Yet nowhere is it near
Maybe disintegration is just a way
To get away from this world?
And it is lost
Too much efforts
And it distance itself
What is the right balance
For it to thrive and endure?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Several weeks ago, I visited yet again the island of Sentosa and found my way to two kampongs. As usual, I took quite a number of photos that day. I figured that since I was keen to blog about heritage, I could get some feedback on my photo blogging skills by entering the photoblogging competition, Heritage in Pictures.
If you would like to read about my recent visit to Imbiah Lookout of Sentosa, my entry is now available on http://www.museums.com.sg/explore/photo/list/
You may also read the post by visiting my other blog, Places.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Does the MRT commemorative ticket issued in year 1987 look familiar to you?
If you care to find out more, here is introducing my latest post on Yesterday.sg, which is part of the Growing Up in Ang Mo Kio series that I have embarked myself on: Growing up in Ang Mo Kio: Here comes the MRT!
Monday, December 10, 2007
The freedom to see and hear what is here, instead of
what should be, was, or will be.
The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of
what you should.
The freedom to feel what you feel, instead of
what you ought.
The freedom to ask for what you want, instead of
always waiting for permission.
The freedom to take risks in your own behalf, instead of
choosing to be only "secure" and not rocking the boat.
Wishing you freedom.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
In the hope to start somewhere to learn more about Chinese philosophies, I borrowed a few related books from the library and read them over the week. As I have limited prior knowledge of the teachings of Lao Zi and other Chinese philosophies, I decided to start by acquainting myself to these philosophies. The books that I had borrowed were in English. I realised that it was rather akward to read about Chinese philosophies through books written in the English language. Somehow, I realised that the essence of the thoughts would better be conveyed using Chinese.
Whatever it is, one still have to start somewhere. I am on the journey to learn more.
Books I have read for the week:
Sayings of Lao Zi (Asiapac Comic Series) Book 1 and 2 (Paperback). Edited & Illustrated by Tsai Chih Chuang. An Asiapac Publication.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
3 Dec 2007, Mon: For a short half-an-hour, I practised a few bars from the fourth movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 1. The focus was to appreciate the intervals between each of the various notes, and to improve the intonation.
6 Dec 2007, Thu: I spent about 20 minutes working just six bars from the first movement of Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major. The key focus was to work on achieving a focused intonation and articulation.
8 Dec 2007, Sat: In the evening, I practised the first double bass parts from Tony Osborne's Blues Style and Ragtime. I also attempted another work, and playing at the thumb positions proved to be something that I would need to improve upon.
Friday, December 07, 2007
If one of the buildings in the above post looks familiar, it could be because you have remembered it as one of the monorail stations when monorail trains used to be one of the mode of transport about the island of Sentosa. I was there to visit Fort Siloso of Sentosa some time ago.
Here's a post on my visit: Fort Siloso and Pulau Blakang Mati
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I had considered purchasing the book so that I could read the book thereafter, but there was a pretty long queue at the cashiers of the bookstore. As such, I started reading the book. By the time the queue was cleared, I have had finished reading the book.
It was quite an insightful read, and it did not take too much time to complete my reading of it. I learnt about concepts such as the Dip, Cul de sac (a dead-end) and the Cliff. The question that I have is how to distinguish which of the three is one going through. I don't have the answers and I am looking out for them.
On 1 Dec 2007, Carcar and myself saw Mark Lee leading a tour of the National Museum of Singapore when we were visiting the museum. We did not join the tour though.
However, according to one of the most recent posts on Yesterday.sg titled Discovering More with Mark Lee, on that single day, the dedicated Mark Lee led two tours for a total of 180 people. Do check out this post to figure out what could have drawn the crowd to tour the museum.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
It may take a while for me to write about a few of these walks. If you should find yourself interested on my experiences onboard these walks, please stay tuned.
Monday, December 03, 2007
A few days ago, I have had the pleasure and honour to spend a day out with Carcar. Here is sharing snippets of the day. A number of the photos were taken by Carcar.
Last but not the least, here is wishing Carcar a Happy Birthday.
Are they answers that are meant to guide me?
How do I distinguish
If they would lead me to what's true to my heart
Or if they are mere distractions from my discontented soul?
The answers they may come
Yet how do I interpret and make sense of them?
Sunday, December 02, 2007
28 Nov 2007, Wed: I spent some time playing pieces from Hartley's Double Bass Solo 1. The intention was to have some fun on the double bass and gets my fingers working.
29 Nov 2007, Thu: The practices for the week seem to be largely short ones. Perhaps the short practice sessions are my ways to stay focused despite the general physical fatigue. There was no double bass lesson for this Thursday. In the night, I took some time to practise selected sections from the first movement of Dittersdorf's Concerto in E major.
1 Dec 2007, Sat: I worked on sight-reading a study from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Part One. I shall do more of such sight-reading studies. Afterwhich, time was spent practising Eccles' Sonata in g minor. I would still need to work on the expression and the intonation.
More practising to go.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
National Archives of Singapore
Access to Archives Online
PhotoCD Number : 19980007518
Image Number : 0084
A short post by yours truly has been published on Yesterday.sg.
Find out more about my personal perspective of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Ang Mo Kio New Town in the year 1989.