mellificent: (Xmas light gif)

I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with a cold, which probably means I shouldn't be breathing on the small children (who will be here later) any more than I can help. Right now we have quiet, which is why you're getting an entry. Everybody was doing their separate Christmasses at their own houses and they're all coming over here to my aunt's house after lunch (or for lunch, in some cases). We haven't opened presents at all; we decided to wait until the crowd is here. And I took advantage of that fact to sleep late. Sleeping late on Christmas morning seems like a great luxury, really! It's not often you're allowed to, in my family.

We came up here yesterday, and we timed it just right - we got here right before the front did, and I mean, not 5 minutes before it started raining. The temperature dropped from around 70 into the 40s, which does make it feel more like Christmas. If it's not a white Christmas (which it never is, here) at least it ought to be chilly.

Hmm, I'm conflating Christmas songs in my head. When I typed the title, my brain started trying to sing the "Sussex Carol" at me - I think that's the one: "On Christmas night all Christians sing/to hear the news the angels bring." But that's night, not day. For Christmas Day you have to go to "I heard the bells on Christmas Day/their old familiar carols play" or "I saw three ships come sailing in/on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day." And I'm getting words of one to the tune of the other. My brain is a weird place sometimes.

I will stop now and go be social. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it! and if you don't, well, at least all this nonsense will be done with for another year, after today!

Winter song

Jan. 2nd, 2010 03:53 am
mellificent: (winter trees)
Two videos in one day! I never do this, but this one is just too cute not to share. I love the sweet handmade look of it -  and I like the song, too.

mellificent: (winter berries)
First of all, a link: The Twelve Days of Christmas, Twin Peaks style (via Cinematical.) Oddly disturbing.

Earlier I twittered about James Horner being a hack, and [ profile] columbina  said he hadn't ever heard anything bad about Horner before, but actually if you Google "James Horner is a hack" you find a number of opinions agreeing with me, interestingly. (This came up because Horner did the Avatar soundtrack, if you're wondering.) I stumbled onto this several years ago because somebody told me that Horner had basically stolen the Field of Dreams soundtrack - which I loved - from Aaron Copland's old score for "Our Town" - and when I finally heard Copland's Our Town piece, I was stunned. It's not the entire score or anything, but bits and pieces are definitely lifted wholesale. I know it's problematic since film scoring is the fine art of sounding familiar without actually quite stealing, and Copland in particular is a favorite target - but there's a line and this was over it, that's all that I can say. (Horner is actually much more famous for stealing from himself than stealing from other people, though.)

I love film scores, actually. It's all about themes and variations, which is something I've always liked, anyway. Some scores I've always liked a lot are - to name the first couple that pop into my head - The Shawshank Redemption, which is by Thomas Newman, and Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings soundtrack. (I know neither of those is a particularly edgy choice, but oh well.) The LOTR soundtrack was particularly interesting because I never thought Howard Shore's work before that was particularly outstanding. Well - I mean, he wrote the Silence of the Lambs soundtrack, which was a really good soundtrack in its way, but it wasn't something that made you sit up and notice it. It just struck the mood it was supposed to strike without really calling attention to itself. You could make a case for that being the definition of a perfect soundtrack, actually, or at least, I think some people would. But I didn't think at the time that it was a particularly groundbreaking soundtrack, or anything like that. (We saw Silence of the Lambs several times when it first came out, and I remember becoming aware of the soundtrack after several viewings. But it took that long to notice it, for me.) So what I'm saying is that Shore's previous work just did not prepare me for this huge, sweeping, grandiose thing (but mostly in a good way) that was the LOTR soundtrack. It has some gorgeous, gorgeous themes, and it sustains them across all three movies without getting old*, which has to have been a hard thing to do. In particular, there's a Gondor theme that's first heard in the first movie (in the scene in Lorien where Boromir is talking about Minas Tirith), shows up a bit in the second movie in some Faramir bits, I think, but doesn't really get developed fully until the third movie when the action moves to Gondor. That took some forethought - although I'm guessing he had seen dailies of a good bit of the movie by the time the first one was released, so maybe it wasn't as difficult as you'd think. And I'm going from memory here because I haven't watched the movies lately. Hmm, I need to do that.

Back to Horner - if you have iTunes, you can pull up a bit from the Avatar theme song, which is by Leona Lewis. (I'm sure there are ways of getting hold of it without having iTunes as well. Amazon, maybe? or the movie website...) Just in the 30-second clip that's up as a sample, I seriously thought she was going to break into "My Heart Will Go On" - it's the bit in the latter song that has the lyrics "Near, far" if you know what I mean. And that makes me disgusted that I even know the lyrics to that song. But that's a whole 'nother subject.)

Also, I have nothing much to say about the Shawshank Redemption soundtrack offhand, but did you know that Thomas Newman is from a famous film-scoring family? (Of all the weird family occupations...) Randy Newman is his cousin, and Lionel Newman (who wrote the How to Marry a Millionaire soundtrack, among many other famous ones) was his uncle. Just some film-soundtrack trivia.

*Except maybe for the hobbit theme. I thought that one got a bit old - but I would be inclined to blame that on Peter Jackson rather than on Shore, anyway. The super-cutesie way he treated the hobbits in general grated on me.

mellificent: (baa)

Your Taste in Music:

Eighties: Highest Influence

Adult Alternative: Highest Influence

Classic Rock: Highest Influence

Nineties: Highest Influence

Alternative Rock: High Influence

mellificent: (Default)
We had the alternative station on in the car just now until they started playing too much rap for my taste - I guess I'm too old for rap or something, I've just never gotten too into it - so then we switched to the 80s station and they were playing something other than Journey and Billy Joel for a change - instead they were playing Billy Idol:

I started looking up music videos when I got home and I guess I was getting that video mixed up with this one (it makes much more sense with this song, I have to admit):

And then right before we got out of the car they were playing this:

This one gave me 80s flashbacks even in the 80s - well, that's not right, it made me homesick, that was what it was. The first time I saw it we were in Ann Arbor at some co-op thing and we started screaming (oh hush, I was 22 or so) because it was all filmed in Austin and part of it was filmed in our neighborhood. I know there are a number of Austin people on my friendslist, so they'll know what most of this means, even if nobody else does: at the time, I was living at The Ark Co-op (which I think now is just called Pearl St. Co-op, or something) and we had just bought a dormitory called Taos, at 26th & Guadalupe, and we were renovating it to become a co-op, which it did and has been for, well, an awful long time now! So anyway, that Burger King is the one across the street from Taos - although looking at it now I have no idea how we knew that. But at the time we were sure, and I imagine we were right, since we were spending a lot of time at Taos even before some of us moved there. I don't know if all those other places are still there - The Posse? or for that matter, that Burger King. It was the last time I went by there, though.
mellificent: (Longhorns)
This is especially for [personal profile] columbina because I know he's the one that's really interested in it, but this is my Christmas gift to all of you guys: the end of the music story.

Tra la la... )
mellificent: (fireworks)
I told [ profile] columbina  that there was only one chapter left in the musical saga - I was thinking about college - but I think I lied about that, because I left the story hanging halfway through my senior year of high school, and I guess I ought to talk a bit more about that. First of all, I did make All-State Choir - I said that in a vague way in the last entry - and I made it in pretty convincingly. I wasn't the first one picked, but I wasn't the last one, either, or even next to last - I don't actually remember where in the middle I was, any more. It was a long time ago, and I remember a lot of that day pretty vividly, but I don't remember that. The reward for making it was most of a week off of school, and you got to go to the Texas Music Educator's Convention - very exciting, eh? - but it was in San Antonio, and we got to stay at the Menger, and we did a lot of rehearsing and did two concerts - one with just the choir and one together with the All-State Band and Orchestra. We thought it was great.

(Heh, look, here's this year's audition music. Some things never change. But this is new - a camp at Baylor to prepare you for the auditions. Figures. And gee, the choir has a MySpace page!)

I'll have to put up some pictures when I dig all that stuff out - I think I have the program and everything. I have an album of the choir singing, too - but it's on vinyl, naturally, so I don't know if I'll ever get to hear it again. (I know there are places that will transfer them onto CD for you - aren't there? but who knows if I'll ever get around to it.)

Ooh, here we are:
Photographic evidence! )

Holidailies penguin

mellificent: (buffy quote - high school)
"There is not any musicke of instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voyces of men; where the voyces are good, and the same well sorted and ordered."
-- more William Byrd (and so is the title - if you're translating, you shouldn't impart any actual religious significance to my choice of it, it has to do with singing, to me, not religion!)

Maybe that's why I liked choir so much. Even nowadays when I rarely sing, every once in a while I feel it - there's nothing like singing in a group, when something beautiful comes out of your collective throats. It's - joy. That's the only way I can think of to describe it. There really isn't any musicke of instruments comparable to it at all.

So I was playing the piano well enough to get sort of a reputation for it in our little town, even though I was only 13 or so - I won a couple of awards, I was accompanying both the school choir (some of the time) and the church youth choir (full-time). But it was the singing that I loved. I guess I was a decent singer - I was in the top choir (there were three, in junior high), but I wasn't great. When we auditioned for high school choir, though, I squeaked into the top choir again. They only took 4 freshman, but I was one of them. I think they let me in because I could sight-read. And I was "musical" - that was about the best compliment I ever got concerning my voice in those days. (It's also possible that they knew that I played the piano tolerably well. I have no idea if that figured into it or not.)

Just about anybody who's ever sung in any sort of serious way can tell you about the breathing issue. For singing, you need to breathe from the bottom of your lungs, which isn't what people do naturally. What a normal person does is breathe from the top - you're breathing sort of shallowly, basically, and only using maybe half of your real lung capacity. So to sing well, you have to learn to use the whole thing. And I had a terrible time figuring out how to do it. It was one of those things where I knew what they were trying to get me to do - it was just actually doing it that was the problem. And if you can't breathe correctly, your voice sounds all breathy and childlike, and that's certainly not what you're trying to achieve. (Those children that you see in singing competitions from time to time? the ones that sound like Mariah Carey? That's probably the main thing about them - they've gotten the knack of breathing right. In my opinion, they're also mostly massively oversinging, but that's another issue.) And it took me another two years to figure it out. All through my freshman and sophomore year, the choir director would tell me, "Now if you just knew how to breathe..."

Meanwhile, I adored choir. It was pretty much all I cared about in high school. I made decent grades generally but if it didn't intersect somehow with choir, I ignored it as much as possible. (Things like languages were what intersected - you can sing in French and German, after all. Math - another story.)

And I had sort of an on-again, off-again relationship with church choir. I had already pretty much developed my aversion to organized religion by this time (all that enforced time at church had a lot to do with that) and plus, I was certainly a bit snobby about church choir's standards, too. But in the summer after my sophomore year in high school, I went to church music camp in the wilds of West Texas for a week - somewhere way out there near Marfa, I think. I spent most of the rehearsals concentrating on my breathing, I remember - and somehow, during that week, it finally clicked. And after that I didn't have any problems with it. So I actually owe church choir camp a share of the credit for the success I had after that. (I'll talk about that part of it later.)

Holidailies penguin


Dec. 5th, 2007 09:39 pm
mellificent: (Mel - snow)
Before I go on with the story about my musical career (so to speak), a digression. I've had music on the brain a bit, ever since I started talking about this, and I started thinking about records. (Talking about Waterloo and vinyl records the other day may have had something to do with this tangent, too.) I started trying to remember what records we had at this time, and especially if I had any classical music. I'm not at all sure that I did - at least, not until I was in high school, maybe. We didn't really have easy access to a lot of records other than the pretty limited selection at the local discount store - I can't remember the name of it right now, but it was sort of a proto-WalMart kind of place. My hometown didn't get a Wal-Mart until considerably later. That's the place I remember buying the first records I really picked out myself. If you look up the hit songs of those years - 1971 or 1972 - the ones I was buying were pretty high on the list, probably. I had "Joy to the World" on a single (the Three Dog Night song, I mean, not the Christmas one) and I know that some of the first albums I bought were an America album - "Horse With No Name" was really big that year - and the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. I can't remember having any classical music until later. I bet if that store had any it was of the "Beethoven's Greatest Hits" ilk; it seems like there was a series of albums like that that used to always be around, anybody else remember those? I think maybe the first classical albums I bought came from Austin, actually - we used to always go up to UT for State Solo & Ensemble contest when I was in high school, and there was a store at Dobie Mall that we used to buy records at. (That one was Record Town, I'm pretty sure - because it was still there when I lived at Dobie in the late 70s.) I had a Rachmaninoff album, I know, although I don't remember when I got that. Remember I said that Van Cliburn had big hands? I'd recognize the cover of this album if I saw it, because the pianist - a woman - was sitting in a chair with her hands hanging down, and hers were huge, too. Not big all over, but really long. I believe I found that slightly depressing, because I have pretty small hands, and I figured this didn't bode well.

mellificent: (me - age 4)
When I was in 5th grade, I joined the choir at school. I didn't want to - I wanted to be in the band. My mother made me do it. She said I'd like it. And at my school, for some reason band didn't start until 6th grade, but choir started in 5th. I had already started taking piano lessons a year or so before, so it wasn't much of a stretch to think I'd like it. And I suppose I had sung in the kids' choir at church, too, although I barely remember it. Just do it for a year, my mother said.

I never did join the band.

mellificent: (no monsters)
I am late to this party, I know, but I have discovered The Killers. I've got several of their songs on a mix CD that I've been playing in the car, and I have noticed that I perk up every time one of their songs comes on. Obviously I need to download some more.

I have been on the phone with the electric company. I had been all worried about transferring the phone and the internet service, and forgot all about the electricity. I think I will miss it if it's not there, don't you? Then for a minute I thought, "Oh, and I forgot the water, too!" before I remembered that the apartment complex pays for water. I am a ditz, but anyway, that's one thing less I have to worry about. I do wonder what other terribly important thing I'm forgetting, though, considering that it took me all this time to think about electricity.

Should I buy Rob a bust of Saruman for Christmas? I would get it like a shot if it was cheaper, but $50? I don't know. He does love him some Chris Lee and he would think it was great - and then he would put it in the china cabinet and forget all about it. Seems like a lot to pay for that.

My aunt e-mailed me - I hadn't talked to her in a while. She was talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. We are definitely going up there for Christmas. I'm not so sure about Thanksgiving. I'm sure we will still be unpacking, and it'd be kind of nice to stay home. But I could probably be persuaded to go up there for one night, anyway.

I haven't talked to my dad, either, I suppose I should do something about that, but I don't really much want to, is what it comes down to. Sigh.


mellificent: (Default)

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