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Month: April 2007

Roots soak up water

Haven’t been up to much lately except some math homework… nothing like calculating some least squares polynomials by hand!

I got that book out from the library, Roots of the Classical by Peter Van Der Merwe. I’m not far into it, but it’s so far interesting at least. It’s not written in a repulsing style, for one, which is always nice. If I had much more time, I might consider it an easy read, but I’m only on page 12 of 470. My library’s copy is from 2004 and it’s all nice and new… the aesthetics of a book are always part of the reading experience!

Well, I’m gonna keep reading and I’ve got to finish up my math homework… and maybe I can work on my novel a bit tonight.

Classical music is da bomb

Somebody on the music forum posted a link to this interesting article: “Classical music could even become the new rock’n’roll”. Well, I’m not sure it will become the new rock’n’roll, but I don’t think I’d mind it! But I do agree with much of what the article says, such as:

The upshot was a deliberate renunciation of popularity. The audience that mattered to modernists (even the many who saw themselves as socialists) ceased to be the general public and increasingly became other composers and the intellectual, often university-based, establishment that claimed to validate the new music, not least through its influence over state patronage. Any failure of the music to become popular was ascribed not to the composer’s lack of communication but the public’s lack of understanding.

There’s a book mentioned in the article that I now am interested in checking out, so maybe I Am A Strange Loop will have to take a break for a week or two.

I tried last night to work on my novel, The Game of Gynwig, but I scrapped everything I wrote… which wasn’t much. It was hard to get back into the story even after reading through my notes on what’s supposed to happen next. I think I’m just going to cut whatever chapter I was working on short and start a new scene. I’m really going to have to go back and read through everything I’ve done so far though. How annoying! Well, maybe not everything… but I gotta get my mind back into it.

Music but no soda

I got about one minute of music written today. Or two minutes I guess. One and a half, I’ll compromise. I spent about 3 hours working on that piece “Hour by Hour” … I’m still not sure how long it will be, it could go on and on… right now it’s at 8.5 minutes, which is pretty long for a piece by me, so I’d rather it come to an end before or around 10 minutes, but I’ll let it go on for as long as it wants to.

Uh oh, I’ve only got one can of soda left, and I’m going to drink it after I post this blog, which means I’ll have to start giving my one dollar bills to vending machines. It’s so sad when it comes to that…

I’m off to go read some more of The Moonstone, because I know blog readers care about what I’m going to do next… Oh yeah, blogging daily!

The Moonstone is funny

I read a bit more of The Moonstone… I’m only on page 14 of about 400, but what I’ve read so far is funny. This is something written over one hundred years ago in the 1860s, and I don’t know how much the author Wilkie Collins intended it, but the current narrator of the story just has a wonderfully funny personality. It almost seems like the sort of story that should be read aloud. Then again, maybe I just thought the opening chapters were funny because I’m tired.

I don’t have a whole lot of homework left, so I hope I can spend some time with music this weekend. I checked out an interesting book from the library which is completely about Mozart’s “Jupiter” symphony. Woohoo! I also still have some plastic-wrapped classical music CDs that need listening…

The music of the night

I’m up late doing math homework… hopefully for the last time this semester and maybe for the last time in my life! (But probably not!)

Following my failed duet attempt, I tried writing a violin piece, which I ended up turning into four-hand piano piece which I might call “Headache” because it gave me a headache. It’s very polytonal until the ending. At first I was going to scrap that too, but I noticed that it was playing back in my head later on, so I’ll probably post it eventually. It’s sort of like “A Little Harp Music” in that there’s no striking melody, just a bunch of recurring patterns.

I also uploaded a piece I wrote over a year ago called “Serenade for Strings No 2” because it is a serenade for strings… and it is my second one. You can hear it right here.

Ack, I’ve got a nasty annoying cough…

Evolution is dumb

I wrote a short violin and clarinet duet this morning, but I don’t like how it sounds with those instruments. I’ve explored other combinations, and right now it’s a violin duet. It still needs some heavy MIDI data editing, and maybe I’ll write more movements to it… but probably not. And maybe I’ll just scrap the whole thing.

Hmmm… the Dow closed above 13,000. I hardly know what exactly that means, but I like how everyone tries to analyze it and draw conclusions from it.

Scientists say they may have found a planet that has a bunch of water on it and is just the right temperature to support life. It’s only hundreds of trillions of miles away. So what would aliens look like? What if… they look pretty much like us? What if among the dazzling variety of life that evolution can conjure up, the human form is a design that pops up over and over again across galaxies? Maybe there’ll be some variations on it, but what if evolution, if its paths from hundreds of earth-like planets are compared, tends to take the same kind of route all the time? Would that be amazing, or not surprising?

Phlegm and modern music

Oh, the nasal congestion! The pressure! I bear a painful headache…

I hate whining… on my blog at least… but it’s hard to focus on anything when your head feels like a balloon that needs to be popped.

On the music forum I live at, there’s been a great discussion on modern music. It is right here. It’s a really long read and the conversation goes all over the place, but when I wasn’t doing homework today I was blathering on in that thread. It sometimes reminds me of The Fountainhead. I want to make an opera out of that book, I hope I live to see it go out of copyright. Actually, I guess I could write it and just not release it until the book goes out of copyright.

Here’s a quote from myself from the aforementioned forum thread:

I also hearby proclaim that many modern composers who try, and perhaps succeed, to be “innovative” (whatever exactly that means) purely for its own sake will wind up being largely forgotten and their names will never enjoy the glory dead composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Dvorak, etc. currently enjoy, and will enjoy for some time. Composers like Schoenberg will never gain such popularity. In fact, I shall also make the bold claim that in the next 50 to 75 years, as my generation and the one after takes over, there will be a bit of an artistic renaissance that will echo romanticism, and the atonal “innovative” music, the Brillo boxes and paint blobs in the art galleries, the randomly designed statues of spheres and loops and triangles, will be much more neglected, because, as it turns out, not that many like them.

Oh boy, let’s see if I end up being right or wrong. Though, of course, technically if I do end up being wrong, I could always argue about the definition of “renaissance” so it’s a win-win. I always win. I actually said that in a dream once… “I always win”… it was really weird. I was fighting over a computer and when I won I turned around and said “I always win” quite boldly. That darn self-righteous determined subconscious! Dreams can be so awesome. Oh, I just got an idea for a semi-related short story…

Book of the musical?

Woohoo, I’ll be seeing PDQ Bach at the Kennedy Center in less than a month, on May 11th!

I started reading The Moonstone… got through the prologue. Talk about progress, eh? Maybe I’ll start chapter one after I finish blogging.

I have a math question: x+x = x*2 … x*x = x^2 … x^x = x?2

I think when I start writing my musical this summer or whenever I get around to it, I will write a companion book about my writing process of the musical and about the structure of it all. It will contain the score and an explanation of why I did everything I did. Would anyone buy such a thing? (Besides me?)

Well, I spent the day working at the library, chatting in the NSS chat room, and doing math homework, so I feel a bit unproductive. And I’ve acquired a cough and a runny nose, perhaps I have a bit of cold. Beats a stomach flu. I got an email a few days ago from my university’s health services saying that a stomach flu was going around. Better not come this way!

Two more weeks of classes! (And then exams.)

The game of my dreams

I had a dream last night that I’ve had once before a year or two ago… it’s about a video game that does not yet exist but it’s extremely fun to play. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like a cross between The Sims and Super Mario. You’re in this weird open-ended fantasy world in which you have the ability to interact with just about anything, but the game somehow helps you develop some sort of story. In The Sims you’re restricted to one house and you have to keep a bunch of needs balanced, but in the game in my dreams you have to keep some strange story elements balanced and you basically end up creating small stories, all of which end up having something to do with a larger over-arching story… but the key is that the story is completely original, created by me, the player.

It’s like being given action figures when you’re young and you make up a story with them, only the computer game in my dreams is far better than a stiff smiling piece of plastic. I read somewhere that The Sims was originally called something like The Dollhouse, so Will Wright perhaps felt some connection with childhood toys and imagination as well, and realized the computer could be used as simply a way of creating a much more profound set of toys.

Well, I wanted to blather about that so that someday I can read back over it and be inspired I guess. I don’t want to forget the idea. However, it seems rather infeasible. One of the biggest problems lies in the artificial intelligence that would be required, especially the fact that computers cannot understand human language. How would a character communicate in the computer game in my dream? I can’t quite capture it. In The Sims and in The Movies characters just mumble so you could interpret them as anything (and, my, the mumbling Sims are much more compelling and entertaining than the mumbling actors in The Movies). How can one create a compelling original story when the characters can’t talk? I can think of a few solutions, but none of them would be a magnificent as if the computer could figure out how to talk by itself, which is a long way off! We probably won’t even have true talking computers in 100 years.

Well, I was going to start reading The Moonstone tonight, but I’ve blathered for so long that I think I really ought to get to bed… gotta go to work in a few hours!

Mozart in the evening

Today I enjoyed two of Mozart’s fine violin concertos, the fourth and the fifth, to be precise, via CD. The scores of just about all of Mozart’s works are available for free (and legally) here, so I was able to follow along. I’d love to use my Garritan Solo Strad virtual violin and Garritan Personal Orchestra to perhaps do a virtual rendition of one of these concertos for my own personal learning, but in all honestly I’ll probably never get around to it. I’ll definitely write at least one movement of a violin concerto though… eventually.

I also spent some time playing around today with a “clone ensemble” VST plugin. It basically allows you to take one voice recording and turn it into a semi-convincing choir. Nothing you could render Beethoven’s 9th with, but enough to make it seem as if a small crowd were singing together. I could only play around with some of the features in the demo, the full version is around $25. I’ll buy it if I have any projects come up in which I need a small group to sing something…

A book called The Black Swan is now out and about, and I’ll order it from Amazon.com as soon as I’m finished with I Am a Strange Loop. Looks like a very interesting book, and I devoured the author’s last book, Fooled by Randomness. In fact, I probably devoured it too much.

I wonder how much it would cost to have one of my smaller pieces of music played and recorded so that I could sell it on a CD… e.g. one of my string quartets or my trio for harp, flute and oboe… would that cost a couple hundred dollars? Would it exceed $1,000 for the recording equipment? Wouldn’t that be awesome though? I could write several full string quartets to fill up a CD if I knew it was going to be played and recorded by real players. Probably still way too expensive though, I might as well save up for a full orchestra for my 50th birthday. Funny, I use to plan to never have to pay to get my music played… but, well, somebody’s got to.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking about tidying up some of my scores and putting them up for sale on Lulu.com. I’d like to have a printed record of them myself, and maybe I’ll make a buck or two if anyone else buys them. I’ve had people ask me for sheet music for my music before, but I’m not sure if they’d be willing to pay something to get it. Saying “yes, my sheet music is available at Lulu.com” is at least better than saying “nope!”