Friday, June 30, 2006

30 crotchet beats in a minute

30 crotchet beats in a minute. This is the tempo that I have set my digital metronome to. I can't set the tempo slower than this. This is the slowest possible tempo on my metronome.

This evening, I practised the Marcello's Sonata in g minor at this tempo. My tutor suggested that I practise using a slower tempo for this two weeks. I suppose doing so can help the muscle to 'memorise' the fingerings? Playing at a slower tempo can also helped me to be more conscious of my intonation and the rhythm.

Meantime, I am not confident that I could practise 3 hours every day. I was feeling very tired (physically and mentally) after work that I could hardly have the energy to play the excerpts from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. As such, I played the Marcello's Sonata in g minor. I hope I was merely going along with the flow and being careful not to overwork myself?

Practising anything more than 1.5 hour on the double bass today might have made me suffer fatigue from playing the double bass. My mind is feeling as if it is only clear enough to do things that do not require too high a level of cognitive functioning.

On a hot day

The weather in Singapore has not been as rainy as the past few weeks. It might be a refreshing way to cool oneself down on a hot day with a dessert containing ice.

Vickoo writes an interesting post on the ice ball, a dessert that may not be common today. If you have eaten the ice ball before, click on this link: to revisit the memories of the past.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thursday's music theory lessons

Today's music theory lesson was fairly rewarding. My music theory tutor enlightened me of the relationship of the notes in a Dominant Sevenths scale and a Diminished Sevenths scale. The concept was actually much simpler than I had thought. Understanding the concept is certainly beneficial to my playing. Now, I can play these scales with understanding instead of through rote memory.

My progress in music theory appears to be slow but steady. As I look back, I have been taking music theory lessons for slightly more than six months already. When I first started out taking music theory lessons, I have never thought of taking music theory exams. I just merely wanted to learn enough to improve my appreciation of music in general.

Last week, my music theory tutor managed to convince me that I could sit for the music theory exams either March or November next year.

Contrary to how I have been feeling towards the music practical exams, I feel much more confident securing at least a merit for the Grade 6 music theory exams. At the pace that I am learning the Grade 6 music theory, I should be fairly competent in it to score a pass by next year.

Music practical exams are, in my opinion, so much more challenging than music theory exams. I don't know if it would be fair to compare the two together. Anyway, maybe the idea is that being slow and steady does not necessary have to be a bad thing.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What is the way out?

Lessons today did not go well. I attempted to play the four repertoires that I have selected for the music exams. The Marcello's Sonata needed more work. The Ridout's Concerto is shaky. The excerpts from the Beethoven's 9th Symphony, felt as if Beethoven would die from hearing it. I did not practised much of the Britten's work that I have selected, and so I was excused from playing it. Such a state was worrying.

Later during the lessons, I attempted some of the sight-reading pieces. I think I sounded not ready for the exams. When the grade 8 sight-reading pieces proved to be rather challenging, I played the pieces from the Grade 6 sight-reading practice book, only to get my tutor more worried whether I could make it for the exams that is just exactly one month away.

He told me that if he were me, he would sit for the exams later.

If I were to sit for the exams as scheduled, I think I would have to practise at least two to three hours every day! Maybe I should start using the double bass to play during the odd hours of the night. If you happen to be my neighbour who is reading this, and you hear odd noises in the night, it is likely not from the sounds of people watching the World Cup, but from a muted double bass.

But secretly, I am concern whether such kind of stressful practising schedules (on top of my own work commitments) would make me dread the company of the double bass after the exams.

This situation reminds me of sitting for my "O" levels examination long time ago. Back then, my foundation for the various subjects were not very strong, and it was stressful to try to catch up with my work at the last minute.

Now, shall I stress myself up by burning the midnight oil to work on passing the exams? I am already stressed by the increasing workload at work, I don't quite wish to lead myself to death by introducing another source of stress.

Or shall I withdraw from the exams so that I can work on strengthening my foundation and only take the exams a year or two later? Afterall, the purpose of sitting for the exams was to give myself a reason to practise so as to improve my level of playing.

Alternatively, I could sit for the exams anyway: If I were to pass, I will still continue to strengthen my foundation after the exams. If I were to fail, I shall retake the exams next year?

After today's lesson, I can't have the confidence to gauge whether I could pass this upcoming exams or not. I am lost about making the decision now.

As such, I end this post with a sullen face.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Prehistoric adventures

From 20 May to 20 August 2006, one can embark on a journey to the prehistoric times by visiting the travelling exhibition A T. rex named Sue held at the Singapore Science Centre's Annex.

It is with much pleasure that I share with you a post written by Toycon on this very exhibition. Check out: Have you seen her?

Rhythm and rhythms

Today, I attempted to play the Marcello's Sonata in G minor. The past few days of work on the rhythms seems to have helped improve my sense of rhythm. I am now trying to practise with the metronome. Hopefully, when I start playing with the piano accompaniment, I could keep within the rhythms.

If you would care to humour me at little, please wish me all the best for the music exams. It is close to a month away.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Chapter 21

Chapter 21 is one of my favourite chapters from Antoine de Saint Exupéry's The Little Prince.

In this chapter, the fox shares some insights with the little prince.

Revisiting this chapter reminded me why certain places hold special meanings to me. "what is essential is invisible to the eye".

Meantime, I liken myself to the fox, requiring time to be tamed. Until then, I shall continue to practise being comfortable with myself.

How visual arts may inspire


It intrigued me how the above piece of visual artwork could inspire so many musical compositions.

This evening after a homevisit, I attended the presentation of the compositions by Les Six Du Singapur. For those who have missed it, there is yet another one on this Wednesday's evening at 7.30 p.m. at the Esplanade Concourse. For more details, please see Emily's post titled: Samstag, Juni 24, 2006, Les Six @ The Esplanade.

Contemporary music has yet been something that I am able to comprehend, but it was helpful to hear the composers themselves introduce to the audience how one could make sense of their works. I think this is the best part of contemporary music: To be able to get the first-hand information from the composer himself/herself on how the music could be experienced.

I am no critic. This post is not a critique either. Let me attempt to just share my experiences of this evening's performance.

An Effect Gones UnNoticed by Yuan Peiying has gotten my ears to listen out intently to decipher what that sound in the background was. If I heard correctly, the composer herself later revealed it was the sound of the pedal from the piano. I quite like the concept behind this work. If I got it right, the idea behind this work is to remind us: slow down, smell the roses, and listen out for the simple things in life.(?)

I experienced the work by Kwong Jie Bao as a form of three-dimensional music. Actually, it felt more than three-dimensional to me. It seemed that the different speakers emitted different sounds at varying times. Members of the audience were even invited to walk about the stage to experience the spatial effect of the music. I might have stood up and walk about if not for a pain in the abdominal. Ah...that could be the result of eating dinner too late. Now I know that I should not eat dinner too late.

Emily's Summer Freeze has an interesting concept of having a constant voice from the electronics, and a varying voice from the violin. It was quite interesting to have the artwork right in front of me and to see how even shadows from the artwork could inspire a piece of music.

I can't remember the title of the work by the composer, Carol. Blame this on what felt like discomfort due to gastric. Anyway, I like the idea of trying to experiment with one particular pitch through varying methods. I might have enjoyed it more if not for the nagging discomfort. Now, my question is: why A-flat?

If you remember what instrument I play, it would be easy to deduce that I tried to pay a bit more attention to Duo for Violin and Double Bass composed by Chen Zhangyi. I quite like the way harmonics were used on the double bass. The credit goes to the composer's fairly competent level of knowledge in strings instruments. But I thought that maybe there could have been more contrast between the violin and double bass. It sounded a little too subtle, for my taste at least.

Diana Soh's Ripples was as visually interesting as it was auditorily. This work is composed for and performed by a choir. I found myself trying to trace which member of the choir each sound had came from (both visually and auditorily). It struck me that ripples can sound quite engaging when we put our focus on them.

So, if the above description interests you, come lend your support to the budding composers this Wednesday. 7.30 p.m. at the Esplanade Concourse.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

NEWS: Young composers

Emily writes about a presentation of the compositions by budding composers. The presentation of their works will take place at the Esplanade Concourse on 26 Jun 06 and 28 June 06.

For more details, please see her post titled: Samstag, Juni 24, 2006
Les Six @ The Esplanade

All the best!

This can lead to panic attacks

Hopefully mental practising does help somewhat.

It is about a month to the music practical exams, and today, I felt not in the mood to practise. I tried to work on the rhythms, singing out the tune of the double bass at a slower tempo. I have no mood today to play on the double bass. However, more concentration appears to be needed even when it comes to the task of singing out a tune. I somehow could not get some rhythms right. So I decided to give myself a break.

Much later the day, I continued to revisit the same work to get the rhythms right. I started to get slightly better with the rhythms. Then, it became quite worrying that the work is much more rhythmically challenging than I had thought!

Well, now I have to unlearn being anxious, and relearn the skill of relaxing.

Questions arising on a bad day

Losing concentration
How to win it back?
Tried to play a tune
And ended with futile attempts

Moods about to hit rock bottom
How to lift them up?
Tried to go for a stroll
And ended up with aching feet

Feeling out of place
How to feel connected?
Walk on the weekend streets
Overwhelmed by its erratic noises

Mentally lost
How to clear the thoughts?
Tried to write them down
Inspirations get distracted

How to tell one that it is ok?
Sending the signal
But would life humour?

The dark night

The previous Supreme Court, and the City Hall. Singapore.

Night approaches
Hints that it's time to rest

The lullaby is filled with sadness
Yet melancholy is itself a beauty

Thursday, June 22, 2006


But yet very far
Close in distance,
But minds are far apart

Wishing to connect
Yet setting apart
Lines are not within reach
Frequencies do not meet

Inborn or imposed upon?
Bridges lie invisible
Only for trusting folks to cross?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mental practice

In order to improve my sense of rhythm, and because I am too physically tired from the day, I decided to turn the electronic metronome on and sing to the beats from the metronome. No playing on the double bass this evening. Just sing, and learn to be musical.

Next time if you hear people singing in the public, maybe it is not because they are preparing to audition for Singapore Idols or the like. They could be practising, but not on their instrument.

I shall imagine myself playing in Victoria Concert Hall, which is housed in the building that you see above.

How to relax and enjoy the music?

Next question. As can be seen on the titled of this post.

Relax, then the music would tend to be sound more enjoyable.

The thing is that yours truly is feeling the urgency and the anxieties. If you can't figure out why, please refer to some of my previous posts.

3 ways to relax (this is not a meme, but you can help add to the comment section of this post):

1) Go for a walk.
2) Listen to relaxing music (e.g. Pachebel's Canon in D).
3) Try singing some tunes to ventilate.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Numerous questions

Am I infamous for asking questions? Anyway, I have numerous questions on my mind.


It has been a while since I have last rehearsed with the university orchestra that I have been playing in. I am still waiting for news on when the rehearsals would resume. I wonder when that would be? I don't know if I would start looking around for another orchestra to join if I were to be made to wait for more than a year? Or is this the signal for me to explore other interests in my life?


The double bass stands at about 2 metres high. What are the ways to transport it about over long distances, in the cheapest and most effective ways?


As for the other questions, what are those? They aren't meant to be unravelled.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sounding better

I just tried to play an excerpt (Variation H) from Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and realised that it is so much more easier to play than the excerpts from the third movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Maybe I should consider playing Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra for the exams instead?

Earlier the evening, I tried playing Alan Ridout's Concerto for Double Bass and Strings, it is starting to sound better. The tutor deserves the credit of helping me to figure out how to play this concerto.

Now, I have to learnt to count diligently, and trust in my counting. More importantly, it is to relax and to enjoy playing the music. I have never heard this work being performed with piano accompaniment. I wonder how this work would sound when the piano accompaniment comes in? Does anyone has recordings for me to listen? I have tried to check up Lemur Music but can't find any.

It does help with practising when one's mind is not bogged down by worries and anxieties of the upcoming exams!

Talking about overcoming anxieties and learning to be more fluid in my approach to music-making, I think I should re-read my copy of Julie Lyonn Lieberman's You are your own instrument for some ideas. I just realised that there is a section on sight-reading music. That is what I would need.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How to train up?

I was trying to have my fingers on the piano's keyboard earlier the night. Hoping that by striking the keys and playing some chords, I could somehow train my ears to identify the chords that are being played on the piano.

How do I train the ears to do so?

I also realised that I need to work on my sense of rhythm if I were to do better in the sight-reading component of the music practical exams. I hope I still have enough time to prepare myself well enough for the sight-reading?

Anxiety seems to be catching up at times, and that in itself, is an obstacle. Maybe the best musicians are those who have learnt the art of performing under a relaxed and natural frame of mind and body?

Comfort food

In the mind runs the tune from the Carpenter's Rainy Days and Mondays even though it is neither a rainy day nor a Monday.

Walking has helped a bit, but that stifling feeling does not seem to go away completely. Would it just be a passing feeling of the moment?

I know that having time to enjoy some peaceful moments would help, so I went to a museum. Thank goodness that there is such thing that's called the museum etiquette to be observed. As such, the museum felt like a relatively peaceful haven for yours truly. Furthermore, it isn't a museum open-day today, so there's not too much a crowd. I could only say that peaceful moments are luxury items in today's world.

Sometimes I feel like hiding away from the external world. I can't adjust to its loud noises. What sound to be normal volume for others can feel very loud for yours truly. Have we impose too much sounds for our ears to bear such that when the volume is lowered, we feel as though we couldn't hear well enough?

So in the attempt to distract myself from a rather unpleasant world, I tried to seek some comfort from food. Got myself a waffle cone sundae from Ben & Jerry's. Chose the chocolate fudge brownie flavour, as I suppose chocolate often has the magical touch of perking me up, so long that I don't overdose myself with chocolate.

For some reasons, something seems to be bugging me, and I can feel that "bug" in my bones and all over. How does one find the right words to make sense of one's experience? I doubt comfort food would help much.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Empty weekend

Far away
Questions unanswered
Total blankness
Staring right in front of me

How does one uncover
The answers underlying?

The treat after the tour

I have mentioned earlier that I went for a walking tour earlier this Wednesday. Right above is the Indian meal that I had treated myself to after the tour.

Accounts of me onboard this tour of the Little India can be found here: The Colourful Little India.

The miniature battlefields

Simple American has said that he would be keen on catching the Hotel Modern's The Great War if he were to be in Singapore. I have the pleasure of catching it last evening.

The form of this performance is something that I have never experienced before. I read that this performance is an Asian premiere. The programme notes state that the Hotel Modern theatre group invented this theatre form which it describes as "live animation".

It was fascinating to see how the artists of Hotel Modern used tools and props such as mud, beans and plasticine to create miniature battlefields that are intended to convey the cruelties of war. Through the use of cameras, these miniature scenes get projected and magnified onto the large scene placed at the front of theatre. By then, the small-sized battlefields seem like real-life scenes.

War, it seems an absurb game. I would rather people don't find themselves playing in it. Are there better ways to resolve differences and conflicts than through war?

I shall not attempt to write more, if you are keen to find out more, check this URL: A better choice would be to catch this performance by today.

Friday, June 16, 2006

On the Move

I wonder how life would be like if I have to move one place of residence to another, once in every few months. I don't think I might like it. Imagine all the packing that I have to do every now and then if I were to lead a nomadic lifestyle!

Yet, for those who are keen to gain insights to the lifestyle of the nomadic people, there is now an exhibition at Singapore's Asian Civilisation Museum on this subject. This exhibition is held from 30 May - 9 August 2006.

Angela has written a fairly engaging post on this exhibition. For a read, click on Mobile Homes @ ACM

Sparklette also shared her experience of attending the very same exhibition here: Mobile Homes Exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

My question for all: Would the life of a nomad appeal to you?

Spells of headaches

This afternoon, the headache strikes again. It went fairly bad by mid-afternoon that I felt I was merely functioning at a minimal level. I felt I could not trust myself to do anything that would be complex.

The good thing was that I had time-off in-lieu to claim in the afternoon, and I went home to catch a short nap to ease the pain.

What a bothering headache, it continued even through dinnertime.

Does anyone have a good remedy for headache?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Take not for granted?

I read a piece of news on the newspapers yesterday. It said: "the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra has cancelled its two performances on 21 and 22 June, due to the official strike action called by the Musicians' Union in Norway with effect from 16 June."

This piece of news has even be listed as the top story on

I have already bought ticket to Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra's concert on 21 June and it looks like I will have to miss it.

Yet, maybe a strike was the best way out? I heard that the strike action was triggered by the low remuneration that the musicians are receiving.

Has the taste for music of this world changed so much that there is lesser room for classical music? If not, what could have contributed to a lack of recognition of the musician? Is it that people have failed to see the value of their music in today's context?

Now that the concert is cancelled, would it somehow cause disappointments to the ticket-holders? Maybe only this way, would people learn to appreciate the value of these musicians?

Enlighten me please, what are the true lessons to be learnt from this?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A day away from office

My legs have aching and feeling tired since the weekend. Now, even the rest of my body are aching. But the day was a fulfilling one.

I took a day of leave from work today. In the morning, I went for a heritage walk and in the afternoon, I had my first double bass lesson with MJ.

If you have read my earlier post, I do dread bringing the double bass out of home. I had to do so this afternoon, but it did prove worthwhile. The tutor demonstrated using my instrument and highlighted to me areas where my double bass had differed from a standard double bass. He pointed out that the neck of my husband was flatter than normal. Hopefully with some practise, I could find ways to compensate for that. Even the location of the harmonics differed slightly from the standards, with reference made to the end of the fingerboard.

During the lesson, MJ gave pointers on how I could improve my overall posture. In addition, I finally could understand where those harmonics are located on the double bass. After having been guided on the fingerings for Alan Ridout's Concerto for Double Bass and Strings, I think what I need is now practice, and the time to practice.

Now I am aching all over, but I am a little more confident that I will be on the right track when it comes to playing the selected contemporary work for the music exams.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Do the places in our memories still exist?

That was the question that came to my mind after watching the World Premiere of A Stranger at Home, presented by Drama Box, last Saturday.

It was quite thought-provoking, while being fairly entertaining. Some of the scenes subtly highlighted on the several ironies, but I have a sense that I could not fully appreciate all of these ironies. I still could not comprehend the significance of many of the scenes. In some ways, there were stories within a story. When one finished watching the show, these stories which did not seem at all related initially suddenly felt interconnected to each other.

The entire production was in Mandarin, with English subtitles. While the subtitles and the body-language of the casts were helpful to guide the non-Mandarin-speaking audience understand what was going on, somehow some of the nuances in the script just demand one to understand Mandarin. There was a few passages whereby the script was articulated in Hokkien (a kind of Chinese dialect) and I felt totally lost because I did not understand the language.

As the name of this production suggests, it is possible for one to feel like a stranger in one's homeland. Maybe the familiar is no longer easily within reach?

There was a scene whereby the main cast spoke about her meeting of a person whose primary school, secondary school and university which he had attended no longer existed. Demolished, obsolete. The main cast said that this person told her all these in a matter-of-fact manner. Was the underlying tone of acceptance or of resignation, I wonder?

Now I wonder, do the playgrounds that we have spent our childhood years in still exist? Do the places that we had used to frequent many years ago still remain for us to revisit?

It sounds like progress is the supreme word that would give the permission for old buildings and facilities (containing much of our heritage) to be demolished so that there will be space for new ones to be built. But would things be the same again?

I remember that there used to be a playground on the eighth floor of Wisma Atria shopping mall when I was a child. When I was a teenager, I had wanted to revisit the place, but alas, it was no longer there. I remember visiting Van Kleef Aquarium when I was a child, peering through the glass surfaces of the many tanks to see fascinating marine creatures. When I had wanted to take another look of it years later, it had been demolished. The inevitable, because we have to progress? Maybe memories are meant to exist in our mind?

Of course, new things can be welcomed. These create new memories for ourselves. It is just that could there be better ways to keep our heritage alive, without sacrificing progress?

A Stranger at Home is quite an insightful and sincere production, hopefully it will presented again in the future so that others who have missed it might catch it.

One hour playing

Thank goodness that I was not too mentally nor physically tired after I reached home this evening. While I am still anxious over the earlier-than-expected music exams date, the anxiety has become better more manageable. These factors proved rather conducive to get me to start practising on the double bass.

I decided to be kind on myself and not to start with the killer repertoires. I started with F. Simandl's studies from New Method for the Double Bass. I have first played some of these studies 8 - 9 years ago. It was a pleasant experience to revisit some of these studies to find myself playing them more confidently than I had years ago. I remembered having struggled over a few of these studies some years ago. Maybe this is the sign of some progress? That helped cheer me on.

I decided not to play the Marcello's Sonata this evening. My mind was not concentrating as intensely as it needed to be play the several sections of 'plentiful sixteenth notes'.

Playing excerpts from the Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was rather encouraging. If you are familiar with the beginning of this symphony's third movement, you would realise that there are very challenging passages for the cellos and the double bass sections. Not just one passage, but several ones. This evening, I saw a bit of improvement in my rendition of the passage.

I think I shall settle on the excerpts from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. I would prefer to play an excerpt from a Beethoven's symphony than to play contemporary music. Verdi's Otello which was one of the options from the exams syllabus did not seem to be easy for me to relate to. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is supposedly much more difficult among the various options, but it somehow felt easy to relate to. Maybe that is because I have played the full symphony about a few years ago?

That was about it. No playing of the contemporary music this evening. I think I shall start working on it once I ask the double bass tutor for guidance on how to play those harmonics and difficult passages that are found on the contemporary work that I intend to play for the exams.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Learning to Chill-Lax

M. taught me a new word in one of his comments. That is that of "chill-lax", which is supposed to mean: chill out and relax.

I am visual and I could only try to think in terms of what I think might be a relaxing scene. This photo was taken on a bright day, on the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay's roof-top. The weather that you see on the picture is quite different from the weather of late. For some reasons, the past few days appear to be rainy. I wonder why the rain-water has decided that June is a good time for it to fall?

Anyway, I particularly like the way that light was reflected on one of the domes. I like the way the clouds flash themselves across the blue skies.

Well, if the picture brings you to the chill-lax stage, then sit back and enjoy it. For myself, I am just trying to learn how to relax my mind.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Free oneself

I was told
That worrying could cripple oneself
The anxieties could trap
Hinder whatever movement one could make

The block can now be felt
The stifle
The crippling lock
The bottomless trap

There is a key
That, found in the mind
But how to find it?
Assurance or the permission to take longer time?

Is it any irony?
That more effort in thinking of the trap
Would not free oneself
But allowing that crippling feeling
To simply pass and go away
In order for freedom to come once more?

To move ahead?
Or to give oneself more time?
The thoughts invade the mind
Is there value that the mind is not made up?

Drawing Near

Yesterday, I received a letter from the Exams Board regarding the date for the double bass practical exams. I could now sense a bit of anxiety in my heart as the letter means that the date is drawing near, in fact, sooner than I had thought. Those familiar with the workings of the Exams Board would probably have greater clue to infer how soon the exam date will be.

But to postpone it didn't really seem to resolve the issue (not knowing the actual date till the very last minute means that it would be difficult for me to make arrangements to know when exactly to take leave from work), so the plan now is to work towards sitting for the exams. Though I do admit that there were points in time when I still continue to question my level of being prepared for it, to such extent that the thoughts of sending that letter of withdrawal had surfaced.

Would having lesser time help me to get more achieved instead of causing more anxiety? The relaxed and calm state of the mind often has greater powers to surmount the odds when it comes to playing music, won't it?

Keep me fingers crossed that all shall be well.

Hurdles to clear:
- That piece from List B
- Deciding whether I should even play the excerpt from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
- Work on the aural test
- Work on the Sightreading
- Not forgetting, I should still continue to work on playing the scales (Considering that I had failed this section during the last exams)

If there's any anxiety, maybe I need a pacifier?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Organic sounds

The instruments used by The Vegetable Orchestra. These instruments are made from vegetables! Maybe we should start experimenting with our food to make the beautiful sounds from nature?

Next time, look at the vegetables on our plate in a different way.

Last night, I attended one of the Singapore Arts Festival 2006 performance by The Vegetable Orchestra.

It turned out to be a new listening experience for myself. I have never heard how interesting organic-like sounds could be produced from our commonly known vegetables: carrots, lettuce, onions etc. Last night, I became witness to the organic treat of sounds.

Aside from the sond, stage-lightings and visuals have been employed to enhance the audience's overall experience of the performance.

Imagine while listening to the music, one could see images of vegetables in all kinds of forms projected onto the screen. By the way, I personally think that the entire concert smell of vegetables throughout the performance. This must have been the most fragrant-smelling concert that I have ever attended.

I quite like the sound of the eggplant being hit upon by a mallet-looking stick. Somehow, the amplification technology has allowed the sounds of the vegetables to be magnified and heard. There was also this piece whereby vegetables (capsicums, onions and more) are rolled down an inclined board. That made interesting rolling-sounds.

Some of the sounds were fairly interesting. In one of the works, The Vegetable Orchestra produced sounds that sound like gorillas hitting their chest. I can't figure out how the sound of a mosquito flying about a jungle could be made just with vegetables. Anyway, these novel sounds have won the chuckles of a few of the young children who attended last night's concert.

What is more, after the concert, the audience were treated to vegetable soup that was served outside the concert hall. It tasted pretty nice.

By the way, the thing about having vegetables as instruments is that after the concert, these instruments have to be thrown away. But the Vegetable Orchestra has found a win-win situation to dispose of the vegetables and yet keep their curious audience happy. After the show, the members of the audience were invited to come near the stage to play on the vegetable-instruments. If they would like, they could even take these home. Wonderful way to win the hearts of the audience, don't you think?

Of course, that would mean that for every concert and performance, the Vegetable Orchestra would have to acquire fresh materials to make new instruments, out of vegetables.

To listen to how the Vegetable Orchestra would sound, check this link and click on the sneak preview.

Imagine what sounds could be derived from these vegetables.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Nine fingers' show

I wonder what the signs are telling?

This evening, my right index fingers start to lose its dexterity. It hurts when I were to bend it in any direction. Ouch, it hurts. Then I am starting to get worried if I would be able to play pizzicato (method of producing sound on a strings instrument by plucking the string) on the double bass again. I fear that I may need to find other ways to better balance the double bass on my right hand.

It is now a 9 fingers' show. I am now just typing using 9 fingers. The right index finger is "hovering" in the air now. I don't know if I have been typing too many reports lately. Now the right index finger is on strike? Even my neck is feeling strained from watching the monitor. I still have a pile of reports to work on at work. Well, I'll take a break over this weekend first.

Should I wait for some crack doctor to tell me that the pain of the right index finger is just minor issues not worthy of further attention? What if it is otherwise?

Well, I had wanted to write about the Vegetable Orchestra performance that I have attended tonight, but I shall shelf this for another day. This is about all my nine fingers are willing to type, for now.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Savour the texture

It turns out that I frequent the Japanese outlet at Toa Payoh HDB Centre's Koufu food court many of the times before I go for my weekly music theory class.

I had sushi, Teriyaki Chicken and soft-shell crab today. The sushi is nicely done, considered value-for-money for its price range. I think I still like sashimi to Teriyaki Chicken. The Teriyaki Chicken has a fairly generous portion of chicken, just that I still like sashimi. I do find the sauce for the Teriyaki Chicken a little salty for my bland-preferring taste. The sashimi at the outlet is better. It serves by far the best sashimi set-meal that I have tried for that price range.

Perhaps it is a reward to loyal customers, I got to sample this nice item this evening. I later found out that this sushi-looking item is supposedly a popular dish in Japan (but don't ask me for its name please, because I don't know). Basically it looks quite like what we normally know as salmon sushi. I was later told that salmon belly was sliced and used to make this item. The sliced salmon was grilled very lightly before the item was served. Then a dash of mayonnaise is placed on top of the sliced salmon.

The item appears to need to be savoured rather be swallowed down one's palate. When savoured, one realised that the core of the sliced salmon is raw like a slice of sashimi. The exterior lends a nicely warm and cooked texture. The warm exterior is nicely complemented with the dash of mayonnaise. When savoured, it does give one's palate the feeling that the item is melting in one's mouth. I like the contrast in the texture between the raw core and the grilled exterior. It was a nice chew. I think I chewed on it for more than two minutes. (Considered long if you know how fast I chew and swallow my food.)

Maybe that might be my first and last time trying this, because this item is not on the menu. Anyway, I can only agree that the hospitable boss of the outlet does have a balanced way to make her regular customers feel valued. (If I were to be treated with any greater privilege, I might have shy away from the outlet.) Wishing the outlet good business so that I can continue to enjoy its sashimi before music theory classes.

Falling ill

I think I am beginning to fall ill. This morning, I woke up with a headache. Several other parts of the body also sent tinges of aching sensations.

Noisy world, that will not help.

Wishing for health.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I dread taking HIM out

My dear husband, the double bass, stands about 2 metres tall, has a waist which is probably much thicker than mine. Is not too heavy, but may prove to be fairly bulky at times.

I am hoping to take him out for lessons and for exams. But the thought of taking him out of home can be dreadful. I wonder if there is any decent music studio nearby my home I could bring him over for lessons? The nearest that I know of is one MRT train station away. I don't have good vibes about having lessons at home, the construction nearby my home can get noisy at times.

I have been having thoughts of getting a double bass wheel to fix onto my instrument. The only thing is that the end-pin on my instrument just can't be pulled off, maybe unless I take off the entire tail-piece??

Should I bother to spend money to get the instrument worked upon, purchase the double bass wheel so as to bring him out? The no further cost method is to carry him as per normal in his softcase, but it can be demanding and more so a psychological put-off to carry him across the miles.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Crispy Treat

No photo here. My apologies. I just don't want to be mistaken as a suspicious looking commercial spy when I am having my meals.

Anyway, while I am not a roti prata fanatic, but this place sells one of the nicest crispy prata that I know of in Singapore:

The Roti Prata House
246M & 246K Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 574370
Tel: 6459 5260
Business hours: 24 hours

I managed to find about 20 minutes to stop by the above eatery to savour its crispy prata.

I prefer roti prata done in the crispy way. When I tried the curry sauce that comes with the roti prata, I like it. Now I wish I have more vocabulary in describing food to share how it tasted like.

The roti prata was better. I had one plain roti prata and one roti prata with egg. Both are nice and crispy, and they are served hot. I can't tell what flour was used but both the roti prata that I had ordered gave a nice fragrance and taste. The prata went well with the tea that I had ordered. All for the price of S$2.40.

The place also sells other Indian cuisine such as Murtabak, Mee Goreng, Mutton Soup and so forth.

A fairly nice way to take a breather. I wonder whether prata would be on JY's list of things to eat when she's back in Singapore this July for a short visit?

Triple 06

The date today is 6 June 06, and if we were to write it in numerical format, it would be 060606.

Perhaps because of the numerical combination, many people has chosen to get married today. I just heard from the news on television that many people chose to register their marriage today.

Today is also the date whereby a colleague of mine and her beloved have their marriage solemnised. Congratulations.

Monday, June 05, 2006

City and the rum

It was a stifling day yesterday, probably an indication of a collapsing inner world?

I decided to go out for a walk. Nevermind if doing so may tire the feet even more. Traffic conditions in the town area of Singapore appeared pretty heavy in the late afternoon. I see cars lining up on the roads, but all were almost not moving much. Thank goodness I was travelling about on foot.

In the evening, after dinner, I was tempted for some dessert. I decided to stop by a cafe. I decided to try what appears to be tiramisu. I should have known better, the item that I had decided to try was called ti-rum-mi-su (or something similar). This dish has Mascarpone Cheese as one of its ingredients and the topmost layer is sprinkled with chocolate powder. It looked nice when it was served. But, I don't like the taste of rum! I did not feel like savouring the dish, and merely tried to finish the cake. The cheese and the chocolate tasted nice, but I just could not get used to the taste of rum.

Maybe too much walking about the city has upset yours truly's sense of judgement. No more rum in the future.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Chinese and more

A long overdued post is now up. If you are interested to read about my visit to the Hua Song Museum, please check out In praise of the Chinese.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


After taking three weeks of break from music theory classes, I resumed music theory class this evening.

Before the class, I decided to have Japanese food for dinner. If you have been my regular reader, you might have guessed where I have decided to visit for dinner this evening. There's one place for value-added Japanese food in Toa Payoh.

I happen to get into a conversation with one of the personnel of the food outlet, and I was told that the art of making sushi demands greater level of skills than that of preparing sashimi. I have never thought of things this way, but after much thought over what was shared, it did make some sense. The next time when I were to eat sushi, I may experience the sushi from a different way.

Back to theory class, today's class was on the topic of Suspension.I had read the chapter on my own before the class. It proved to be challenging when I got to the latter half of the chapter. What on Earth is skeletonising?

My music theory tutor went through the chapter on Suspension with me during the lesson. He said it would be easily to start by reading William Lovelock's First Year Harmony than Two-Part Writing by the same author. Then skeletonising did not seem as difficult as it had seem to. Having a tutor to give the pointers and to explain the concepts seem to make the learning easier than if I were to study on my own.

Maybe it is implying that one doesn't have to solve all of one's problems on one's own?