Some days you just need to stop pushing forward and take stock of where you are. Today was my day for that.
I leave out of Tallahassee Regional tomorrow afternoon and should arrive in Blacksburg while the night is still young. It's a shame that I have to pack pants; I have a feeling that I'm in for weather shock.
"When one's thirty-five, one knows everything... and then you gradually know less and less. [...] Then you hit eighty and you're suddenly omnipotent." - professor
Off to Blacksburg... I should be back late Monday night. Sadly, at least for the eight regular visitors, there will be no updates until next Tuesday. Take the time to explore a part of the Domain that you've never visited. Perhaps you'll stumble across something noteworthy or pornographic (or even pornographically noteworthy). If it's one of those boring weekends, start in the Potpourri section as there's always something of interest there.
Have a good weekend!
I'm back in town and trying to play catch up now. I'll try and talk about my trip over the next couple days, but in the meantime, I've posted a few new pictures of my cat on the Photos page. I have very few classes until next Tuesday because of upcoming conferences and such, so there should be ample opportunity to get my head back in the game. In hindsight, I probably should have just lengthened my trip and stayed in Blacksburg until next week.
Guber: "Do you know who Dmitri Shostakovich is?"
Harper: "I told you Scott, I like basketball... I don't follow hockey."
- Boston Public, 11/05/01
A Weekend in Blacksburg: Part I of IV
I got to Tallahassee Regional by cab around 1:30 on Friday afternoon. After breezing through the security checkpoint (complete with the two National Guardsmen that are now fixtures in every airport), I ended up sitting around the empty airport for about two and a half hours before my flight arrived. In Atlanta, I had a quick meal and sat around for a couple more hours. I sat next to a guy from Bermuda who was apparently heading for Covington, Virginia. His accent was so thick that I could barely understand a single word, but I think we talked about being a chef, playing in a band, and time zones.
Right before my connection flight left, I was paged to the counter for a full baggage search (along with a couple other folks). Either they were instituting random searches, or I looked seedily foreign. The agent looked a little leery about my styrofoam-filled box (which I used to keep my gift of a horseshoe crab shell intact), and seemed confused that I'd brought along a bag of Scrabble letters and the game board, especially since the bag was rolled up in my shoe. I guess efficient Scouting packing habits die hard. She mentioned that when Christmas time came around, they had orders to actually unwrap presents and to have people arrive more than two hours in advance.
I arrived in Roanoke early, around 8:10 PM, and went to the Hertz rental car desk to deal with the stereotypical inept-old-lady-agent who took over twenty minutes to confirm the reservation I'd made over six weeks ago in September. After punching in the credit card number and physically giving me the key, she suddenly had the epiphany that I was under twenty-five years old (which I'd said at the very beginning of the interview) and took the key back, saying that Hertz didn't rent to people under twenty-five. Couldn't that have been said weeks earlier when I made the reservation? All the other rental booths were out of cars, but luckily Philip was willing to make the seventy mile round trip from Blacksburg to pick me up. I finally left the airport around 9:45.
By the way, gas at my perennial favourite, Sparky's in Salem off exit 137, still has cheap gas. It was 99 cents a gallon that night.
To be continued tomorrow...
A Weekend in Blacksburg: Part II of IV
After a late night spent catching up with friends and hearing the latest topics in useless gossip and rumours, I was roused from my sleep around nine o' clock the next morning by a phone call. Philip, Shac, Liz, and I watched the Pittsburgh game at noon, which was a horrible display of uncohesiveness as Tech lost 7-38. Kelley was off in Lexington earning gig money and Nikki was doing the student teaching thing by taking her students to All-District tryouts some three hours away. The rest of the day was pretty low-key. I checked in on my cat a few times, since everyone in that apartment was away for the weekend.
Blacksburg really hasn't changed much in six months. On campus, a couple construction projects have wrapped up while several more are beginning. It's always been a peculiarity at Tech that the construction budget is seemingly endless while departmental budgets suffer. That's how the useless Math Emporium got built, but that's another story altogether. Foxridge is about the same, except that the level of dog crap around the buildings has increased exponentionally. In corporate team-building exercises, they have the routine where you and your coworkers cross a stream or marsh using only a couple of boards and some stepping stones. Now that dog crap is so prevalent, you could probably use it in a team-building exercise and travel at least a hundred yards in any direction without touching the grass.
I went to the Polifrone recital that night with Nikki, and found it fairly well-attended. There was a lack of fanfare surrounding it, but the performances were professional and articulate. Five pieces by Jon Polifrone were performed: three short piano works, a sonata for solo viola, a string quartet, a song cycle for soprano and piano, and a longer single-movement song for tenor and piano. Dr. Polifrone accompanied both of the vocalists. All the performers were either faculty members or professional musicians, and the string quartet was played by the litigation-plagued Audubon Quartet without David Erlich. They didn't call themselves that of course, but there's no doubt that it was on everyones' minds. That's another story as well.
We did dessert at Macado's, which unfortunately has canceled their half-price sundae special after 10 PM, and then spent a low-key night at Nikki's, since everyone seemed too busy with their imminent orchestration projects to hang out.
To be continued tomorrow...
As a bonus feature today, I've added an MP3 of the SC-8850 rendition of the MV Trumpets '99 theme song. This one played on the front page of the MV Trumpets web site in 1999 and is a medley of marching band arrangements from Crosstown Traffic, Twilight Zone, A-Team, Caravan, Chameleon, Scatman, Makin' a World of Difference, Fanfare for the Common Man, and Avalon . This one's small -- only about 370K.
A Weekend in Blacksburg: Part III of IV
Sunday in Blacksburg was a relaxing affair. After breakfast at a bagel shop(pe), Nikki and I drove up to Mountain Lake to poke around the wildlife and enjoy the nice November weather. Unfortunately, the parking lots were closed off at the resort, so we could only drive by the water. The lake, which had started draining a few years ago, now covers less than half of its original surface area, and the boat ramp has been "temporarily" extended with floaters for about one hundred and fifty yards before finally reaching the new edge of the water. It was a pretty sad sight, since I'd seen the lake when it was fuller (pictures on the Photos page under May 2000). That afternoon, I also stopped in to visit Paige who's running amok in her elementary music teacher position.
Sunday night was the semesterly concert of the brass ensemble, which I played in for the few semesters it existed. The concert was hit-or-miss... the accuracy and intonation suffered often, and I wasn't sold on the arrangement of Pictures at an Exhibition that comprised the second half. There were a few nice sounds though, considering the high brass players who've graduated and moved on.
After some more gathering and socializing with friends, I went over to Anna's and fell asleep on the couch. She was supposed to get in from her hectic weekend of family affairs that night, but the Fates conspired against her (as did the deer they hit on the road near Charlottesville). I didn't know this when I fell asleep though. My cat slept on the couch with me for awhile, when it wasn't tearing around the living room and leaping up the side of the patio door.
I also caught a familiar "Blacksburg Cold" which I'm just now getting over.
To be concluded tomorrow...
I did a reformat of my hard drive this afternoon, which is why this update is so late. Now I've got problems: The CD I backed up all my e-mail on has gone wiggy. All the files are plainly on it and there are no scratches anywhere, but both of my CD-drives refuse to read about half of the files. PMO.
A Weekend in Blacksburg: Part IV of IV
Monday morning, I wandered on to campus to catch up with the music faculty. The BT still provides free transportation to students and I'd brought along my old Hokie Passport, kept around for the sole possibility of conning unsuspecting transit companies out of the $0.50 fee. Even though the buses were slow as ever, it was still a better solution than driving the rental car that I didn't have to a campus with twice as many students as parking spots, where the fines are usually $30 per ticket.
I checked in with the faculty, dropping off Brick House, Edition II with Dave McKee, and securing a possible performance of Badinage on a CD with Dr. Bachelder. Then I sat around a table at Hardee's (I still call it Hardee's) with Dr. Cole, Dr. Holliday, and Dr. Polifrone, drinking orange juice and talking politics. It was a scene taken from any typical morning in my five years of schooling, except that usually it was just the three of them.
After going back to Anna's apartment for a lunch of plain spaghetti (I couldn't find where they kept the onion salt), I took a nap in hopes of outsleeping my cold. This did not work. Around two o' clock, Anna and her cousin/roommate finally made it back into town, just in time to drive me back to Roanoke for my flight.
The flight back to Tallahassee was much the same as the flight out, only in the other direction. I barely got searched at all, so I guess my weekend's growth of chin stubble made me look less suspicious this time around. All in all, it was a successful trip. I wish I could have spent more time with my old roommate, and I wish I had had a car so people didn't have to chauffeur me all over. Other than those quibbles (and this lousy cold), I'm glad I got to catch up with all my friends and professors. Since I'm not going anywhere for Thanksgiving, I guess this trip counted as my Fall Break as well.
Plus, the recital excused my absences from class...
Today, I managed to recover a good deal of my lost e-mail, although there's still some major gaps. With e-mail so important as a written record these days, it's like I haven't existed since my last backup in July. On the good side, the reformat's made my computer run much more smoothly (although it still locks up when I touch the PCI slots in the back). I also didn't install Shockwave this time around, so I can safely go online without hearing about that damned "Amazing XCam2 Camera!!" every minute and a half.
There was a joint senior trumpet recital this afternoon, but it was not particularly well-done. The Kennan was just plain sophomoric and the Ewazen, which is one of my favourite trumpet works, didn't fare much better. The performance lacked any kind of soul or drive -- there were no peaks or valleys, just a flat sameness throughout. It was like someone slapped the Ewazen around and told it to behave and be polite. I have to give the girl credit -- it takes balls to put a piece as demanding as the Ewazen on any program -- but when you're taking notes down the octave after only forty measures and there's still about six hundred measures to go, something's gone wrong somewhere! She did have a very pretty tone though, and the pianist played the crap out of an exceptionally tough piano part.
I don't begrudge anyone for being a bad performer -- I know I'm not an excellent one myself. However, it amazes me that people can continue to foster false impressions of their abilities, and that their school and/or professors do nothing to show otherwise. Sometimes I wonder how bad performance majors ever hope to survive as a competitive musician when there's so much amazing talent out there. The music I heard today should not have been acceptable to any mature senior, and yet the audience continues to madly cheer for friends and ending high notes.
I'm not out to get the performers -- I just hope that they aren't oblivious to their faults because now is the best time in the world to correct them. Then again, maybe it's just my cynicism and disillusionment bleeding through... Virginia Tech definitely did its share of graduating performers of meager skills and dedication. It's no one person's fault, but it is disappointing.
I finished the 3rd Edition of Badinage this afternoon for Dr. Bachelder's possible performance. I took many of Martin Ellerby's suggestions from our lesson a few weeks ago, and I really liked the way it's turned out. This is the first time I've really fine-tuned a piece after freezing the initial score, and you can hear the results on the Music page.
It's nice having federal holidays off again, although I wouldn't mind having Tech's week-long Thanksgiving Break again. With no classes since last Wednesday, I managed to get quite a bit of work done. Of course, I finished nothing time-sensitive; my sense of motivation always motivates me to finish the projects that aren't yet important first. I bet that once I'm out of school and thrust into the real world, I'll excel at and be remembered for something that isn't even my main focus.
I still haven't found a way to get the rest of my e-mail files off that corrupt CD. If anyone knows how to force a CD-ROM drive to run at a slower speed, please let me know.
Things I Need to Do:
Study for an eleven textbook comparison quiz (11/14)
Write a ten page paper on Hauptmann's archaic ideas of harmony and metre as they relate to the Hegelian dialectic (11/30)
Prepare a presentation on enharmonic modulation (12/6)
Finish the first movement of my string quartet (Dec)
Study for the Listening Exam (Dec)
Things I'll Probably Do Instead:
Make CDs for friends
Rework the accompaniment recordings of the Ewazen for Dr. Bachelder
Release an update to my game, Augmented Fourth
Prepare for my trumpet audition (Dec)
"I'm glad I forgot how that worked. I'll be in a state of theoretical agony until I forget it again." - professor, on how Piston notates secondary diminished seventh chords
The counterpoint exam was a piece of cake. Now I've just got to fix the problems in my three-voice project draft which I got back today. I think I try too hard to be clever in the assignments and it comes back to bite me in the ass in ways that aren't always easy to fix.
They've been tearing down a building behind my apartment for the past couple weeks, and thoughtfully gave me a rich coat of demolition dust for my naked car. After waiting for the rain which hasn't come all month, I finally broke out of miser mode to get the $4 "EZ" wash yesterday. So of course, it rained last night. And this morning, the yard crew was out bright and early, mowing up leaves and sending great billowing clouds of dust across the parking lot.
Raking must be part of the more expensive maintenance package our complex didn't order.
"To become famous and get chicks." - composer's reason for studying composition
There's nothing more romantic than watching a thin film of lawn-mowing scum dancing serenely across the surface of the apartment pool under the harsh glare of pale white security lights.
No wait, scratch that.
This advertisement was in my mailbox when I got home today (layout modified for space purposes). Ignoring, for a moment, the highly amusing description of the PS2, my favourite part is the price and APR in bold letters at the bottom. This ad actually came partnered with one for a way to borrow over $100 "in just one hour!". It's nice to see that people with poor math skills still have a valued position in society. Without them, scam artists everywhere would go bankrupt.
Yes, there's a positive spin for everything...
"Consider the following subtraction problem which I will put up here:
342Now, remember how we used to do that. 3 from 2 is 9, carry the 1, and if you're under thirty-five or went to a private school, you'd say 7 from 3 is 6, but if you're over thirty-five and went to a public school, you'd say 8 from 4 is 6. Then carry the 1, so we have 169. But in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing, rather than to get the right answer." - Tom Lehrer, New Math
I'm having a really difficult time finding examples of enharmonic modulation for my upcoming presentation. The definition in the textbook of our professor is stricter than most books, in that it requires a visual respelling of the pivot chord, as well as an enharmonic function. I've found tons of examples where the pivot chord plainly has an enharmonic function, but most composers tend not to respell the chord on paper. I was looking through some obscure works in hopes of finding novel examples, but it looks like I'll have to go back to the tried and true works of Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, Wolf, and Beethoven.
"Man guilty of assaulting Cookie Monster" . What a great world we live in.
I've been pretty successful at getting an hour of trumpet playing in every day since I got back from Blacksburg. My motivation is still pretty slipshod though. Half of my brain wants to sit in the practice room all day and improve to performance proficiency, which I'm beginning to think is not just a pipe dream for me. The other half of my brain is quick to point out that all the hours I spend in the practice room are hours that I'm not composing, which is the whole reason for being in grad school. The third half of my brain then argues that I waste that time regardless of practicing, by playing games and posting inane news items on this page. (The fourth half then berates the first three for horrible math fraction skills and proceeds to buy a PS2 from the shady dealer listed a couple days ago).
Anyhow, in an attempt for better tone, I've switched down to the Schilke 15 mouthpiece again (from my old 14B3A). My endurance is much worse with this one, but with no pressing performances in the near future, I can afford to take a few months of rebuilding time.
Virginia Tech beat Virginia yesterday, 31-17. FSU went to Gainesville and tried to play too.
10:36 Jason will be getting a Blackburn trumpet.
10:37 "The trumpet f_cking blows!" - Shac
10:37 Shac will drop trumpet for carpentry.
10:38 Pip has never played Hummel in E.
- Highlights from the minutes of Delta Mu, the non-service music fraternity, 8/31/99
My most recent pet project (read: thing to do when I don't want to write my history paper) is a reworking of the MIDI accompaniment to the Ewazen trumpet sonata (written in 1995). Last spring, I created the basic MIDI file which would allow a trumpet player to perform the Ewazen with a faux piano player. This version is still in frequent use at Virginia Tech, and is similar to the accompaniments I did for the Kennan and the Hindemith sonatas. This weekend, I spent about seven hours with the first movement of the Ewazen, adding dynamics and pedals, and generally making the MIDI accompaniment sound as close as possible to the Gekker-Ewazen recording (the definitive edition, in my opinion). The reasons for creating these types of accompaniments are varied: it helps me achieve a level of familiarity with the harmonies that I would not have had by just listening to the score, it allows me to practice the piece as if I had an accompanist, and it gives me something to procrastinate with.
The transcribing of the notes was a tedious process in Finale, but the most monotonous part was adding pedal effects and dynamics to each note of the part. The first movement alone is about seven minutes long -- you can hear excerpts of my accompaniment recording in MP3 format (1.9MB).
I really need to start studying for the listening exam in earnest. I've done lots of informal listening, but very little structured studying. Strangely, I can tell which movement is being performed for any given Mozart or Haydn symphony, but I still get confused on the symphony numbers. I always thought it'd be more difficult to remember things the other way around. Yesterday, I studied the Goldberg variations and the Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas, and now I can't get that rickety harpsichord sound out from under my skin. The sound of a harpsichord is like a woodpecker crossbred with a termite, with your sanity as the wood.
I've gotten into watching the show, Alias, on Sundays now. It started off fairly cheesily but it's starting to get interesting. Of course, another TV show to get hooked on is just what I need. They overdo it a bit with the faux techno soundtrack but the gadgets and the plots are pretty neat.
I'm not particularly impressed with the Hauptmann treatise on harmony and meter. Looking past the unnecessary flowery language of academics, the treatise is an admirable attempt at trying to force everything about music into a nice neat system. But seriously, you could force a three hundred pound man into a cocktail dress if you tried hard enough. All too often, our need for systematic classification tends to go a little too far. Luckily, I just have to give a summary and analysis of the materials presented, so my attitude of disdain won't get a chance to shine through. At least I won't have to worry about this history class in another twenty-one days.
I gave my last keyboard a nice coating of sugary soda last summer, and its replacement still doesn't feel completely comfortable under my fingers. I keep mistyping "Wagner" with "Wanger" in my listening exam notes; I hope he forgives me. While we're on the subject of replacement input devices, my Logitech mouse is good enough, but I don't think you can top the original Microsoft mouse for hand comfort and immediate response. My mouse was the victim of my cat last year when it was still a kitten. Mouse wires, if you didn't know, have a very gummy insulation and must feel great on cats' teeth.
"I agree, I don't like the operatic kind where the pitch on each note is everywhere and you could drive a truck through it." - another professor, on gratuitous vibrato
I miss conducting. Last spring, I rehearsed and conducted a brass ensemble and chamber ensemble for several pieces on my senior recital. Although the logistics of rehearsals were always a pain in the ass, the actual process of performing and improving music with a group of interested musicians was definitely worthwhile. I wish I'd gotten a video recording of the recital so I could improve my conducting style, but in the midst of all the other things going on, I forgot.
The Nintendo GameCube came out this past weekend. Hopefully N64 prices will drop as a result... Nintendo of America has been price-fixing in the US for years now, and as recently as last month, N64 games from two years ago were still selling at fifty to sixty dollars apiece.
Since the music library is closing for the long weekend, I've stocked up with sixteen scores and song cycles, three theory textbooks, and two books for my music history paper.
It's time for four days of musical hibernation, baby.
"You've got an ouchy situation - in which case, I circled the mistake and wrote 'ouch'." - Dr. Bachelder, on really bad part-writing mistakes
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! At least, everyone American... you Canadians already had your fun.
Yesterday, Dr. Wingate's emergency equipment (whose purchase request was given to the purchasing department in early September) finally arrived, so I spent the afternoon with him carting boxes and equipment to secure locations. In retrospect, the white shirt was a bad idea.
This weekend, I'm going to do some major work on my history paper, my pedagogy presentation, and my string quartet. Of course, I'm most motivated on the presentation, since that has the latest deadline. I did find an example of enharmonic modulation in the Body and Soul leadsheet in my Fake book, which was kind of cool in a geeky heoretical way. I just hope I can finish everything in a timely fashion, because there's only fifteen days until the last day of classes.
Sam: "I'm Sam. He's Max. We're in a race against time."
Max: "And we're barefoot."
- Sam n' Max Hit the Road
I worked from 11 AM to midnight today, stopping only briefly for a pot full of Ramen noodles at lunchtime and some chicken for dinner, and the result is a pedagogy presentation that even a retarded chimp could enjoy (providing, of course, that the chimp had some basic freshman theory background, or the high school equivalence of it). I still have to do the second section on innovative exercises but that should only take another hour tomorrow. There have been one to two presentations per class since the beginning of October. The problem with being the last one is that there's a massive precedent to be compared to. As a result, I'm taking the extra time to ensure that my own is at least as good as the best one so far. The bonus of having extra time to prepare is moot, since no uses the extra time anyhow.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with some friends on why this News page is so highly sanitized of names and local current events. In the past, I've kept pretty much the same policy. I don't want someone to "discover" that they're being mentioned on the Internet and have a panic attack. I also know that some people simply would prefer not to have their daily affairs mentioned without permission, and it's easier to not mention them at all rather than get permission. However, I'll try to drop a few relevant names now and then to keep people happy.
My Thanksgiving was excellent. Yesterday afternoon, Mark, Mike, Kathy, and I went to Keely & Scott's house on the edge of town where we met up with Jim, and a variety of conductor-folk whose names I don't know. After the "Composer Assembly Line" technique of preparing a punchbowl full of mashed potatos, Keely took us on a tour of the house and introduced use to the two dogs, Laney and Gus, and the two cats, Charlie Parker and Nico. After Pictionary and watching Brad on Friends, most people went home. Mark, Mike, Kathy, Keely, Scott, and I played more games until around eleven in the evening. Then, I came home and read e-mail from Paige, Beth, Nikki, and Shannon.
And this evening, I started reading a book by Janny.
"Anything played wrong twice in a row is the beginning of an arrangement." - Frank Zappa
The Post-Its pad I use for writing down call numbers and CD numbers just ran out of paper. That means I've now made seventy-five separate trips to the music library to check things out in three months. Whee.
Today was another productive day. I cleaned the apartment thoroughly, did laundry, finished some counterpoint work, and proofed my pedagogy assignment. I was so industrious that I even went downstairs and cleaned our little hellhole of a laundry room. It's always disappointing to remove clothes from a machine and have something drop onto the sedimentary layer of accumulated grime and grit that coats the machines and the floor. That too must have been part of the more expensive maintenance package that our complex didn't get (which also includes changing the lightbulb outside my door).
I've really been neglecting my string quartet shamelessly. As soon as my history paper is done, that will be the only remaining "major" task of the semester, so hopefully I'll have renewed zeal for the task. I present my paper on Friday... I really should start working in it.
Late last night (actually early this morning), Mark, Kathy, and I were helping Mike tidy up his piano rags, and came up with the idea of having the pianist do an endless vamp, followed by the page turner smacking the piano. This was originally done in the late 30s with Spike Jones and his City Slickers in their dance number, Black Bottom (600K).
"The idea behind the arrangement for 'I've Got You Under My Skin,' as well as for the other standards according to Holman, 'was to write long charts based on standard tunes but make them like an original piece. In other words, just use the changes or use a fragment (of the melody) to tie it together, and make pretty much of an original, except you don't get royalties for it (chuckle).' Bill states that 'Stompin' At The Savoy' was the most-talked-about chart at the time, 'because of the way I screwed it up (laughing). I added bars...and at that time people weren't used to doing that. I wound up with a 10-bar phrase instead of an 8-bar phrase, and people said - How do you do that? Well, you take your time! Nobody says you have to have eight...'" - Bill Holman, Stan Kenton arranger
Sibelius' 5th Symphony is such a pleasant work. Everything about it, from the orchestration to the lyric melodies, screams "Let's frolic and pick daisies and be pleasant."
My back has really been hurting these days. It's probably those years of horrible posture catching up with me. If I didn't think I'd get funny looks, I'd bring a seatbelt to class to force myself to sit up straight.
This is a brief update today, simply because I'm hoping to be as productive with my history paper as I was with my pedagogy project.
Stan Freberg's rendition of Great Pretender has got to be one of his funniest satires (3.2MB).
Some guy just sold a Nintendo GameCube box for $160 on eBay . Here's the description that accompanied the sale:
There were at least four cancelled bids, with explanations like "I didn't realize it was just the box!", and I have a feeling that whoever the lucky winner was is proably expected to get the whole system for his money. Gotta love dense people...
Our secret inside source in the graduate office has revealed that there will be cuts in graduate tuition waivers next semester. Instead of covering 12 credits, we're only getting 9 credits paid for, and the rest we have to pay for at cost. I'd say they should cover the difference by firing all the useless people, but that probably includes me at this juncture.
Only nine more days of classes left in the semester. I probably won't be able to get a lot of writing done at home, but it'll be good to see the home-fires again. I haven't started on the history paper yet, but I've put the finishing touches on my enharmonic modulation pedagogy presentation. I'll post a copy of it here after I present on December 6.
Reporter: "Beethoven figures in one of your songs. What do you think of Beethoven?"
Ringo: "He's great. Especially his poetry."
So on January 1, 2002, Florida State will play Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville (thanks to Mark for the word on the street). Number 13 plays an unranked team just two years after going for the National Title in the Sugar Bowl. From my position, the inherent irony oozes out like filling from a trampled Ho-Ho. Actually, one of my friends back home noticed that Virginia Tech started losing after I graduated, and Florida State started losing after I moved here. I must be Tech's secret weapon. I'm in the process now of arranging ticket sales with my old Tech brethren, but as always these things move too fast. Tickets go on sale today at Tech and will probably be sold out by tonight.
Eight days until the next Masters' listening exam. I've studied forty-seven works to the point of at least tentative recognition and have eighty-two to go. Good thing they offer it more than once...
I was sorting through my MP3s yesterday and found a recording I'd forgotten about. It's the demo track of a friend from Virginia Tech named Jason Chrisley. He was a music ed major and trumpet player, although he wasn't so great at the latter. After placing in some statewide karaoke competition, he abandoned his music degree to sing country music in Nashville or somesuch. Although the backup singers they gave him on this tape sound like retarded Muppets, you can tell that he really does have a good country singing voice. Here's an MP3 excerpt, if you're into country music or local success stories (750K).
Yesterday and today were beautiful days -- sunny, high seventies, and low humidity. It's a bit perverse to be wearing shorts at the end of November, but I could definitely get used to it.
We managed to secure a block of ten tickets for the Gator Bowl so it looks like I'll be spending New Year's in Florida. My vacation's turning out to be much busier than I expected it would be. After driving back to Virginia on the 12th, I'll spend a few days here and there before taking a road trip to Westminster College in New Jersey and New England Conservatory in Boston. A friend of mine is looking into vocal pedagogy graduate programs, and we figured now was as good a time as ever to start visiting. Following that trip, I'll have about a week to loaf around at home and study for the listening exam, before driving back down to Florida for the Bowl. Once the Bowl is finished (with Tech winning, no doubt), I'll only have five more days before the spring semester starts, so I'll probably just head on back to scenic Tallahassee from Jacksonville. I'm hoping I'll have time to finish the first movement of my string quartet before break so I can devote the time at home to editing and proofing. I never write anything worth keeping over short breaks in foreign venues -- It must be the water.
Rumour has it that there's going to be a last-minute adjustment in the teaching roster of grad students in theory/composition, and one of us non-teaching types might end up with an eartraining class next semester. Even though I'm obviously the most useless assistant right now (I can't exactly proctor a lab that doesn't exist yet), I hope they find someone a little more qualified to take the class. I would love to teach a fundamentals or basic theory class because I think I'd do an excellent job with it. I had great success as an undergrad doing theory tutoring and think I do a pretty good job of teaching in general. An eartraining class bothers me because my piano skills definitely leave a lot to be desired, and I haven't done four voice work, progressions, or sight-reading in about four years now. If I do end up with this duty though, I'll just suck it up and do some hardcore piano work over the break.
Oh, yesterday I wrote the bibliography for my history paper.
There's nothing like a little Mancini "smokey lounge" jazz in the evening. Popping in one of my several CDs puts me in a good mood and even makes me amenable to a little unpleasant work. Today I did the bulk of work on my history paper and presentation. I'll post that on the Writings page next week sometime so you too can read it and proclaim, "Hot damn, why didn't this treatise change music as we know it?"
Every once in a while, I'll get e-mail about the text adventure, Augmented Fourth, I released in April 2000. Where a commercial game would have vanished into obscurity after a few months, it's great to discover that people are still playing and enjoying my work. To any creator, whether they're writing games or books or music, feedback is a great motivator, even if it's just a brief one-line e-mail. Knowing that people enjoyed my game enough to take the time to write makes all those months of coding worthwhile. If you don't know what Augmented Fourth is, you can find out more on the Games page.
"I guess I didn't resolve my 7th down by step!" - Dr. Bachelder, after the fire alarm sounded during class
I absolutely nailed my history presentation today -- not bad for a couple hours of work. I even made a pretty handout to distract listeners from what I had to say, but didn't need to make use of that particular emergency device. This weeekend, I'll write some more of my paper, transcribe some more Ewazen, review my pedagogy presentation, and add to my string quartet.
I'll also finish up my final counterpoint project. It's going to be titled "Deck the Halls with Lamb of God". I had some more interesting commentary to post this evening, but I'm feeling pretty tired, so I think I'll sacrifice an interesting update today for a productive day tomorrow.
"I think you've got to be a kid, or something better than an undergrad." - professor, on people capable of reading the Harry Potter series
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