October 6, 2016

Playing and Seeing Scales

When I received this postcard from Sarah Honeychurch, I traced my fingers over the threads. Just two colours but I could detect 3 lines. Each line is made up of 5 strands. I spread them apart, clear lines against the bright background. It reminded me of the Circle of Fifths and I wondered "Could I play that?".

This was not a random thought pattern, as I've been prompted by Laura Ritchie's MUS654 course. In Laura's post here, she talks about visualising scales and making them tactile. I've been thinking about the Circle of Fifths and the lovely, tidy visual that it gives you. Check a Google Search for Wallpapers for visuals of that. I start by placing the scale numbers around the string points and then wrote out the patterns created by the stringwork. Now to choose the key. I'm playing the clarinet and it'll be a solo piece. I have the freedom to choose what key this should be in. I think about colour and different energies in the day as I listen to "A Lecture Demonstration with Pandit Nikhil Banerjee". I'm given bright yellow by this postcard but this uplifting colours is drawn down by the dark colours of the cotton.

In my first attempt at the 3 lines, I play crotchets with the equal spacing that I see. I'm thinking about the space that is created in the middle, the smaller spaces created between the lines. The importance of playing silences, rests and spaces between.

I try to merge them but I'm unhappy with the results. I turned to a different app and chose another  key. The final attempt. I decided to use these notes as an ear and articulation exercise. The notes were discordant in some parts and I kept wanting to change it. This was good ear training.

Visualising scales is fun!

Resources and apps:
Camera, clarinet, Baazart, Score Creator, Acapella, PicPlayPost, Soundcloud

September 28, 2016

Melody and Memory #MUS654

Is there something about context that gives those notes meaning?

Laura poses a question this week. I am linking this with a question of my own.

How does context link with memory?

Yesterday I was thrown back in time, with a seemingly obscure choice of J S Bach's solo cello piece at my son's end of term school musical.

It reminded me of the exact place where I used to play these pieces. I'm glad Laura also turned to Bach and mentions it in her post here "Making It Melodic" https://www.lauraritchie.com/2016/09/26/making-it-melodic/. In particular how many performers can make this piece their own, through interpretation and situation of performance.

When I heard that melody in the musical, I closed my eyes, blocked out an auditorium full of parents, children and teachers chattering, a video screen displaying a rolling tape of children's colourful drawings and repeated my personal mantra that I created nearly 20 years ago during a personal development course.

I can't see any obvious link between these events but what came out of that memory trip was a warm feeling and a re-affirmation that love needs to be a focus in my life again. The theme of those children's drawings where joy, friendship, family and love. I wonder if this will now be intertwined in the memory/context mix.

Robertson et al (2015) talks about semantic associations and how this is part of the complexity of how memories are formed or even disassociated. They conclude that 'These semantic associations with context are complex, can develop over a lifetime and are complicated by additional associations brought by language use.'. The language of music adds to context and yet can transcend context.

September 27, 2016

Getting Stamped - Part II

Stamp collecting was a hobby when I was young. I have lugged around those stamp albums for the last 30 plus years. Each time I open the box, I can't bring myself to ditch them. I can't imagine my son seeing any value in them. It's time to get creative!

Step 1: Pick the album that has the least sentimental value and pick out a few interesting ones. My son and I have some project-fun time and remove all the stamps from the albums and he has great fun in tearing and ripping up the empty album.

Step 2: Soak the stamps in water and checkout a Youtube video for some hints on what to do next.

Step 3: Make the paper and let it dry

Step 4: Collect some poetry and some materials from the upcycle pile and create some postcards.

Step 5: Post them out!

My mother still takes great care on what stamp is chosen for the recipient. When I receive a letter from her I check the stamp carefully. Letters from family have immediate hand writing recognition. Postcards from #CLMOOC peers have Avatar and Twitter handle associations. As I handle these thin slices of paper, I think of people's avatars and Twitter handles. Will this association with these icons pass as well? How will we connect or associate with each other in the future?

Wendy Eiteljorg and her marvellous creations in this post, I'll be using stamps!
Karen Fasimpur Postcard Project

September 6, 2016


What makes a 
musical instrument?


It's vibrations.

Beside tones.
That interact with the room
and people in the room.

It's all perspective ~
Frame of mind.

Dancing fruit
is hardly acceptable.

Context, context.

When do we resist

Poem from Twitter conversation 
@laura_ritchie, @sensor63, @bmurley, @ronald_2008, @NomadWarMachine

Here is a blackout poem from the start of David Byrne's book about How Music Works.

August 13, 2016

I am the stamp

I left the land of clogs 
Flying low over reclaimed land 
Tulip carpet stretched to horizon
My message written by steady hand.
I flew over vineyard and mountain 
Across idyllic islands 
Over the turbulent waters 
On to the Middle East.
I flew across vast desserts
More seas than fish counted 
Continents and borders were nothing 
To the power of this stamp.
Gunshots rang in the streets below 
As I flew ~ untouched by fog and humidity 
I traveled on ~ scarcely marked
By that messy humanity.
I flew over volcanos and land faults 
Touching the edge of the Ring of Fire
 Mesmerised by ocean currents 
Deep sea trenches I admired.
I flew to Southern climes 
Language and skin of many colours
The smells were getting stranger 
As we bumped across cirrostratus. 
I landed on New Holland
Smack bang in the middle 
Deserts surrounding occasional oasis 
Red, brown and green a patchwork riddle.
The weather was impossibly hot 
It nearly caused me to come unstuck 
Placed gently in the letterbox 
I waited for hands to pluck. 
I am the stamp.
Reflections on the Connected Learning MOOC (#CLMOOC) postcards project
To preserve privacy we turn our postcards (see Karen Fasimpaur post) to their face. What has really captured my attention is the stamps and post office markings. The postcards have bought a sense of 'place' much closer. While we talk about weather and timezone differences during Hangouts and Twitter chats, it is the stamps that have imprinted the distances for me.
It was not until I received Ron L's postcard that I felt the distance between here and there. I created this piece to become the stamp as I travelled between Australia and The Netherlands. Often we operate in a 'flat' world on the internet and this has its benefits. We can escape the hierarchy we might find binds us in the organisation we work in. When I see these stamps I read them, trying to decipher the date and time and place. My own memories of travels to those places kick in. This tactile movement allows me to feel the space, the distance, the culture of another place.

POSTSCRIPT: Kevin created a song from this poem. You can read his two posts about that here and here. Or you can listen to the song on Soundcloud. Across the waves, we create. Thanks Ron and Kevin.