Friday, April 29, 2011

Ryan Carter | Gravity Modulations

Gravity Modulations

Have a listen to it, for a piece of contemporary classical music it's pretty nice to listen to and easy on the ears too. In fact, I'd say most of the pieces he composed were gorgeous.

I had the luck to come across a concert and go in for free when I was in Heidelberg, Germany. They performed 4 pieces in the concert - one from Beethoven, another from Mozart, while the other two were compositions from featured young composers in the whole music festival.

Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive before actually listening to the piece, as the 2nd performance, also modern classical music, was crap (to me). I mean, I know you can argue that the composer knows the piece best and everything, but who writes a piece of music and insists on playing the solo himself? Especially for a composer - don't you have to make sure that other people are able to understand and perform your piece? Most of our applause were just given out of politeness (compare the polite clapping with the enthusiastic cheers and whistles given to the others), and even so, I think most part of the applause belonged to the orchestra who worked so hard to play your piece, the concert master to the extent of breaking his E string. And after the concert, when someone praised your composition, you had the nerve to go and say 'Yeah, I know (it's good).' Well, these are just the thoughts (and rants) from my puny, insignificant self who's unable to appreciate 'too elite' contemporary music.

Now, Carter's piece is a different story all together. The people playing it, the Szymanowski Quartet, already looked happy when they were seated on stage, even before playing the piece. The piece itself has a nice ring to it. Although there's still heavy use of dissonance and high pitches, it doesn't hurt the ears as everything converges beautifully together in the end between the four instruments. And the guy wasn't such a show off too. He didn't blow flying kisses to the players nor fake humbleness.

Anyway, I'm just saying - don't blow your own trumpet and praise it.

Monday, March 14, 2011


A few days ago, the north-east of Japan was incapacitated by a monstrous calamity - a 8.9 magnitude earthquake that subsequently triggered giant waves (tsunami). After the incident, text messages were exchanged about the disaster.

Well, you'd expect the text messages to be about how serious the disaster was, how to help the Japanese and all those, but no.

They were jokes. Bad, tasteless jokes about the disaster. Sent by freaks who think that making jokes at someone's suffering and pain's expense is funny.

Two of the jokes I saw were something like these:

'My Japanese girlfriend dumped me. I'm sad, but it's okay, there are still many more in the sea.'

'The Japanese Olympics 2012 windsurfing team sure are enthusiastic. It's not even 2012 yet but they've already arrived on the shores of Dover'

One might argue that these jokes were harmless, just made for laughs with the opportunity of a subject. However, in truth it just shows the immaturity, insensitivity and incapability to empathise and sympathise of the sender. The people who came up with the jokes are the most to blame, but the senders too, have extremely bad taste.

Creating jokes out of something that brought death to thousands of people and massive destruction is just plain stupid. There's nothing to laugh about natural disasters. How would you feel if someone cracked a silly joke at your dad's funeral (putting aside cases where you don't love your own dad for any reason)?

Japan might be far away from England, but still, we are all people, we all live on the Earth, we all are humans. Is it too much to ask for, for one to show compassion and sympathy to another fellow human being who has done nothing wrong? Also, there are Japanese people in England too, how would they feel if their family or friends died in the tsunami, and they come across such a text?

If you have time to create and send stupid text messages, use the time to do something more worthwhile such as sending texts to ask people to donate money for the victims, or informing people about the magnitude of the disaster, or if you don't have the mental capacity to do that...

Just. Shut. Up.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I don't know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I've been afraid
That I might drift away
So I've been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I've came from
And that's the reason why I seem
So far away today

Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you're calling me
And now I'm going home
But if I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia's been everything
I've ever had

Now I have moved and I've kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
I have kissed the ladies and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes there's no denying
I have travelled hard with coattails flying
Somewhere in the wind

Now I'm sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames that could not get any higher
They've withered now they've gone
But I'm steady thinking my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands are shaken and the kisses flow
Then I will disappear


I've had this song playing on loop on my laptop for a week now, and I never get tired of it. The original song was a Scottish folk ballad written by Dougie MacLean.

'Caledonia' as a song is really relaxing and calming to listen to - I particularly like the version by Celtic Woman simply because the lead singer has such a soothing voice, and the background singers do a great job of supporting the vocal too.

But what really drawn me to this song is the lyrics. They are romantic, yes, but they're not mushy and sweet like marshmallows. The lyrics are more like matured wine, to be savoured and enjoyed slowly no matter how many times you sip it.

'Caledonia', if you don't know, means 'Scotland' in Roman. However, I think that everyone will have their own Caledonia, which makes the lyrics more meaningful. Thinking about it, Caledonia can also be a person, but that's probably massacring the lyrics a little :p

I know what and who my Caledonia you?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weird Dreams

People often say that dreams reflect something that might happen in reality. Some of us can remember our dreams quite well, some of us can't. I belong to the former category, since I could recount a number of dreams I've had for the past few days.

These few days, I've had several weird dreams, and for three days in a row, I dreamed about the same person. Let's just call the person...D.

Well, I see D almost every week, I don't know how to describe our relationship, we're probably friends I think, hopefully. Sometimes I can't help but wonder, since D and I come from quite different backgrounds, maybe D just sees me as a strange person. When we see each other, sometimes we greet each other and chat, sometimes we don't.

Well, I'd love to chat with D every time we meet, but I'm the sort of person who's too shy to initiate a conversation, well, unless I'm feeling hyper or tipsy or something. Usually, D will just go 'Hey, how are you?' or 'Hey, you all right?', which is a standard greeting here in the UK. And then we will chat for a bit.

However, recently, D seemed to be a little distant for some reason. Maybe I've done something to offend D, maybe D is just stressed out from life, studies, etc. And I feel like I haven't been myself in front of D, I'm usually more jumpy and quiet and nervous.

Why am I talking about all these? Let's move on to those weird dreams now...

Dream #1:
D was sitting on a windowsill, and I happened to go into the room. D saw me and said 'Hi', but D didn't smile, so I got annoyed and walked out of the room. The End.

Dream #2:
D, Alicia (my friend) and I were sitting in chairs in a room. We were casually chatting about various things, and suddenly I just talked about my assignment marks, which were quite high despite me doing them at the last minute. Suddenly, Alicia told D that 'she must have gotten quite high marks because she was looking at pictures of you while doing her assignments'. I choked on my drink, and D just laughed =.= The End.

Dream #3:
I went back to my secondary school, and D was somehow with me. We were in one classroom together, when I had to attend a function in the school hall, and D was left in the classroom with some of my friends. D borrowed one of my erasers to do something. I was then stuck in the function for two hours, and when I came out, D had already disappeared. However, D put my eraser in a big brown paper bag and passed it to my friends to return it to me. The End.

Now, how much weirder can dreams be? And how many times can the same person appear in a dream? :O

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Fruitful Day Indeed

29 January 2011

I woke up feeling pretty nervous, as I was going to play in the Viola Day afternoon concert at St Gregory Centre at 2pm. The two songs I played were both Dvorak's, and the second one was a bit difficult (imagine alternating 4 and 7 flats and slides from 1st position to 5/6/7th).

Anyway, I think I did an okay job for both songs (at least I didn't screw up too much and sound like a banshee). My hands were shaking slightly when I was playing the first song - nerves got the better of me, but I settled down fairly quickly. And the second song, Dvorak's Quintet in E flat major was just fantastic (thanks to all the other 4 players of course).

I managed to get some pictures with my dear friends too!

And then, Alicia, Daniel and I went to town and we took more pictures (on Facebook).

After that, I went to Dyana's house and had bihun soup (rice vermicelli soup) with Ruzel, Teha, Hans, Mira and Seha. It was soooooo delicious and sooooo Malaysian~ We then went to ASDA and bought some groceries in preparation for Chinese New Year.

My arms then tired themselves out making a batch of cookies. They're called Melting Moments, as they supposedly melt in your mouth XD It's just cornflakes, raisins, sugar, butter and flour though :D

I'm gonna bake batches and batches of them and pack them in decorated containers for my friends before Wednesday!

Ruzel, Dyana and the gang baked a chocolate cheese cake too!

And I'm almost 50% done digitally painting a chrysanthemum for a virtual CNY card for my family and friends.

I'm surprised that I could do so much and feel so satisfied and fulfilled in a day.

All together, it was a really productive day indeed, and it makes me cherish my dear friends and family more as without them, I wouldn't have been able to do all these!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Contemporary Music

I went to the International Composer Pyramid Finals at St Gregory's Centre in CCCU today (it was a competition to showcase the compositions of 12 young composers)

but frankly,

I can't understand it at all.

To me, it sounds as though all the composers had the same teacher as the style of the music is almost the same -- firstly and obviously, the melody does not follow the normal classical music structure, the notes and harmony are randomly organised (yeah, oxymoron intended) and there are loads and loads and loads of harmonics, high notes and running notes and all those stuff that is (sorry) quite unpleasant to the ear. To add to that, out of nowhere comes strange noises which make you feel as though you are in a metal jungle. The rhythm is also extremely inconsistent. In fact, I feel like it's just a whole bunch of notes with no time bars and you just play it whenever you should. There's no melodious sense at all - everything is just a bombardment of notes and sounds united by the conductor.

To be fair, I have not studied composition, and I know nil about contemporary music other than it is the product of this century (compared to Baroque and Classical and Romantic), so I probably can't tell the difference between songs No.1 and No.2. Besides, I haven't played any myself too, and that's probably why I can't appreciate it. To use an analogy by Philip, my partner in orchestra, it's like listening to a beautiful poem in a totally foreign language. It only shows its full beauty to the people who understand the language.

Not all is lost this night though. The 8th song I've heard had a very creative touch where rock drums were incorporated at the very end, which came as a pleasant surprise to everybody. Besides, this was the first time I've seen sounds and noises made on the violin in so many places.

However, if I, a music player feels this way about contemporary music, I would imagine that the public will feel about the same way too. And I don't get why contemporary music insists on being different. Once you insist too much, it becomes a priority, and it is different mainly for the sake of being different. To me, that spoils the whole essence of music really, as music should be a pattern of sounds instead of a jumble of noise and sounds and goodness knows what. I can even relax listening to Rachmaninoff, but after listening to contemporary music, all my muscles just tense up, and I feel like I'm going to have a nightmare tonight ;/

But then, I digress. Contemporary music might be just one elite culture that I can't ever get.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

100th Post!

And My Heart Will Go On

and on, and on... :D

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Talk Too Much

Or rather, Malaysians talk too much.

When we first arrived in England, our lecturers told us, 'Go ahead and make friends with the locals. Don't be discouraged if you find that they're not as friendly as you hope, because British people are generally reserved and take some time to open up.'

That's true in some cases.

However, the lecturers forgot to mention that compared to British people, Malaysians talk a lot. In fact, I think we talk too much. And maybe it scares them a little. Or a lot.

In my case, since I'm a Gemini (yeah well, blame it on the horoscope), my mind works a little bit differently and in a conversation, I veer off in many different crazy directions that I forget what the conversation was originally about. And sometimes, I get so engrossed in talking I just go blabbering on and on and on and on and on and on. I once recounted one of my conversations to my friend, and she said 'If I were the person, I'd have punched you in the face for talking too much.' {=_=}

Still, there are people whom I enjoy talking to and who enjoy talking to me. And those conversations have a tendency to be punctuated with lots of laughter, which is good. I still have to remember though, about 85% of conversations in England, or at least in Canterbury, start off with 'Hey, you all right?'

In general, maybe I should learn to control the amount of things I say (well, people's minds work differently, and most of the time they can't catch up, or can't see the link).

On the other hand, this is actually good practice, as I'm going to be a teacher, and I need to talk a lot anyway. ;)


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

~Culture Shock in the UK~

It might seem a bit late for me to write about experiencing culture shock in the United Kingdoms now, since I've already been here for more than a month. However, it also means that I've already had enough time to settle down and observe the things here in Canterbury that's so different from what I'm used to in Malaysia.

1) Dry Toilets
All the toilets here are well-furnished with toilet papers and a good flushing system, but no WATER TAPS/HOSES!!! For us Malaysians who are *ahem* used to cleaning ourselves using our hands rather than the toilet paper, we had to take some time getting used to using the toilet paper (and slowly killing Mother Nature) instead.

2) Traffic and Rules
When the light flashes red in Canterbury, the drivers actually STOP. No, they don't see the yellow light and ram on their gas pedal to speed towards their destination. They slow down, and they stop for pedestrians to cross. Also, drivers give way at any zebra crossings if they see people waiting to cross the road. That's how courteous they are. In Malaysia, you are already risking your life by crossing even when the light is red, just because there will always be one or two motorists who can't wait for one single minute for their turn to move.

3) Recycling
The government, or rather the city council here places a lot of emphasis on recycling. All food packaging are labelled clearly whether they could be recycled, and the council sends workers to pick up recycled stuff once a fortnight. You can argue with me that Malaysia has the 3-coloured bins for recycling too, but frankly, we are still a long, long way behind.

4) Greetings
Somehow, I find the locals here a little 'on the surface'. Sure, they are friendly and everything, but somehow it doesn't go deeper than the surface. For example, when you meet them, they smile at you and say 'Hey, you all right?', but they do not actually wait for an answer. Somehow, I'm baffled as I always tend to answer the question. However, a little more than a month is too short of a time to gauge how friendly British people are, and things might change :D

5) Lack of Bolsters
Bolsters. Hugging pillows. Whatever you call them. No, I can't seem to find any in Canterbury. I miss having something long and soft to hug at night. Oh well, when I get a little richer, I'll try to get one from Ebay.

6) University Culture
Here, people address their lecturers by name, regardless of their position and qualifications. The lecturers treat us as mature adults, and there are not so many restrictions on whatever activities the students want to carry out. No paperwork, no invitation cards, none of the jiggly-wabbly-wasteoftimeandpaper-thingy all students have to go through when trying to organise anything in Malaysia. Now, this is what I call true democracy, and true support for learning.

Anyway, there's more, but these are the few main ones I can think of right now. Ciao!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

~Happy Re-Birth Day, Me. 07.11.2010~

It started off as a practical joke...I changed my birthday on Facebook to the 7th of November just to see how many people will go 'Happy Birthday' on my wall XD

Not surprisingly, I received a lot of birthday wishes, some even from the people who've wished me on my real birthday - 3rd of June. That's really funny, and it shows how much people depend on Facebook these days to remember their friends' birthdays...but there were some who remembered though <3 And I can't really blame those who just added me recently either, since they probably don't pay attention to or won't remember birthdays :P

However, after the joke progressed and I read through all the birthday wishes, I felt as though it was really my birthday. Firstly it's because I didn't do much on my real birthday as I was in a camp (BTN) and there were no cakes or stuff. Secondly, it seems like a long time since I've been in Canterbury, and lots of things have happened. Next, birthdays are fun =)

At the same time, I've finally sorted out my feelings and thoughts. It didn't happen gradually - it was more like a flash since I discovered the way out. Before this, I would be dwelling over trivial things, such as other people's selfishness, bad ways, stupidity and such. Those things range from irritating me to making me angry to making me stew in solitude or disturb my emotions in general. Also, I tend to get obsessed over things that I cannot have, at least, not in the near future.

However, now, I've figured out (at least I hope I have) a way to work around these negative emotions. The principles are:

-Smile (and everything will be all right)
-Don't do upon others what you don't want done upon yourself
-When someone does bad things to you, it's not necessary that you should act the same way back
-Go with the flow
-When you can't get/do something, you can always get/do something else to replace it
-Loss of things, as long as they are not lives and your loved ones, are replaceable
-Money hoarded is not happiness
-Remember that not everyone is born with the same strengths and weaknesses as yours
-Don't be jealous of other people, as they might envy some things you have that they don't too
-Forgive and don't hold grudges
-Help people as much as possible without expecting anything in return

So, the 7th of November, 2010 is going to be marked as my REBIRTH DAY.

Let me gain the strength to close the chapter of the old, calculative, sensitive, lazy me, and begin a new chapter of an optimistic, happy, helpful and better me.