Response to David’s Post

After reading your post, I felt that it resonated fully with me. I have never seen myself as fully American nor fully Mexican, but rather as something in between, a sort of fusion of the two. Although I have never visited my native country like you did, I do feel that if I were to go, I would also feel homesick, as my home in Mexico is very rural and although it is close to the capital, it is still far enough to be somewhat isolated. After 18 years of living in the city, I have grown used to the city life and what it has to offer, but I can never stop thinking what my life would have been like if my parents never come to the USA, and I had been born there instead. I also really enjoyed the second part of your post. Personally, I am not as religious as you, however, I do believe and agree with you on the fact that by having something to worship or value as a way to keep you grounded, you can always remain true to what you believe is the real version of yourself. For me that has been my passion for music and my love for my family. In all the ups and downs of my life, those two things have always helped me rise up stronger than before. Despite our current identity crises, I am confident that this in-between stage of our identities allows us to absorb the best of both of our cultures to become stronger and better people to some day served and give back to those who have helped us and supported us. Oh and that bible verse at the end was also very very well selected. The fact that Ebenezer was placed between those two places is very relevant to how we feel and I just wanted to say that it was an excellent choice and very good representation of what you were talking about. Good post man! Wish you the best on finding your Real!

Passing Strange

Having been born in New York City, I feel like I was born into the center of American culture, the melting pot of the world, the place where innovation in art and fashion, science and technology and so much more happens. The place where people all over the world can only dream of one day going to. The place full of millions of people and languages from all over the world. However despite all this diversity, it was not always easy finding my own people and my own culture. I never truly felt a part of American society. This feeling is more palpable now with the current political climate and how the majority of this country views Mexicans and immigrants. Thankfully, I could rely on my Mexican side. This meant learning Spanish as my first language, eating different foods, listening to different music and watching different entertainment than what my peers would watch. This also meant having a big, and I mean really big, family, whom I wouldn’t always see, but when I did it was always pure love and care for one another. However, I don’t consider myself fully Mexican because I never grew up there or have even been there. I never faced hardships where I would have to leave school in order to work in fields and assist with the animals or have to help make bread to support the family. I never faced the hardships my parents or aunts and uncles faced in their small town. I never had to leave my hometown and family and everyone else I ever knew and loved just because my family didn’t have enough money to stay there. Despite all this, I have always been grateful for having been raised with love and support from my family, for family is the most important aspect of Mexican culture and while I may not be fully Mexican or fully American, I am glad that that value has stuck with me.

Similar to the Youth, I have always been in love with the arts, whether its theater or dance or visual arts and music. But the one aspect I am most drawn to has always been music. Since kindergarten, where I had my first experience learning the basics of piano, I have always been drawn to music. In middle schooI was drawn the orchestra and I became first chi viola for those years. In high school, however there was no music progra and so I looked elsewhere. It was in freshman year that I began to take piano classes all the way up until my senior year. In high school I met other people that had interests in the arts. I participated in talent shows and won one and even went to perform at another friend’s gig at his program outside of school. It was a fun experience, but it wasn’t until after my music classes ended around May of this year that I felt lost and didn’t know where to go. I no longer had a teacher or conductor to guide me. Every time I was able to perform or improve my skill I felt like I was a part of something greater, like I was destined to do something with this knowledge I have, but just as it reached its peak, something happened and it had to end. As of now I am still lost, but hopefully that will change soon as college begins to fully unfold and I begin to learn how to explore on my own without the need for a guide.

Sonido y Visión

Despite the large number of instruments and musicians used in Beck’s composition, it was still fairly simple to follow along the different sections of instruments that he included, since they all had their own parts and blended smoothly into or with each other. Similar to Latin Jazz, there were multiple parts and instruments. The ensemble was composed of 157 musicians and included gospel singers, orchestral strings, electric guitars, piano, marimbas, the saw, Chinese percussion,  Latin percussion, yodeling and so much more; in the case of what instruments were present, the question to ask is not “what instruments were included?”, but rather “what instruments weren’t included?”

Compared to the original Sound and Vision, Beck’s remake was truly epic and nostalgic. Even though I have listened to some of Bowie’s music before, this was actually my first time listening to this song as well as the remake, which Beck made back in 2013. The song was originally released in 1977 and having heard it now in 2017, 40 years later, it felt like a proper tribute to the late David Bowie. The grand size of the orchestra also added to this feeling as it shows how music can connect anyone no matter what background they come from, or what they specialize in, and this is especially true of David Bowie as he also had fans from all over the world. He truly captured the “sound and vision” of the song and furthered it even more.

While not being an actual jazz piece, Beck’s remake can be considered a tribute to jazz since it brings together various instruments and also includes a bit of improvisation during the breaks from each different section. The aspect that I think this fully incorporates is the bringing together of different cultures, as was the case when jazz was beginning to gain popularity.

With Great Pain Comes Great Responsibility

The  two quotes I found interesting are: “The only way people can really describe pain is to objectify it.” and “When people forge tools or build things, they are often trying to alleviate discomfort. But first they must define the discomfort”

“The only way people can really describe pain is to objectify it.”

What intrigued be about this quote is that I interpreted it as it saying that in order to create a work with meaning behind it and also shows you put dedication and hard work (pain) into it, you must manipulate it yourself and shape it to however you want without fear of changing what it was originally  meant to be.  Often times in creating art, artists are faced with hurdles that they themselves place for themselves and it is up to them to overcome them and rise from it to create something new and innovative.

This part of the article challenged me as a creator because I realized that one must look beyond the value of things and instead treat them as objects because when creating something new, anything can be used as a material or source of inspiration. I didn’t see this as a negative thing where it’s telling me to oppress everything I see or touch, but rather to stay aware of what’s around me because anything can be used to create or inspire art.

“When people forge tools or build things, they are often trying to alleviate discomfort. But first they must define the discomfort”

The way I interpreted this quote is that an artists creates something based on what they think they, or people around them need. However, the important part is determining what the “need” aspect is. It could be an emotional need and the artist creates an emotional piece to respond to it, such as creating a sad song after a break up, or when the Romans created their enormous arches to immortalize their triumphs over their enemies in war. Either way, feeling some kind of want or discomfort usually tends to cause for something new to be created in order for that desire to be fulfilled.

As a creator, this quote shows me that to create something new, I don’t only have to look at what’s around me, but also within myself and what I may want to change in me, or in the world, and to channel that desire to create something new.

Blog 7 & 8

I. When reading the monologue, the only thing I could think of is “The Bronx is Burning” since that time in New York’s history was when the crime rates were at a very high point. When comparing the crimes of Petit and the crimes that other New Yorkers have committed, it is almost like a spectrum where Petit’s crime could be seen as very minimal and the extremes are the ones that occur every day in NYC. This part shows that crime seems to have two different sources of inspiration; one caused by a deep desire to inspire and create, and another from selfishness and desire to take.

II. I found it interesting that Judge Soderberg was very excited to receive the tightrope walker because he described his ‘crime’ more as a work of art than anything. He went as far as to say that New York City only has a perpetual care for the present and ignoring history and that Petit was able to make and immortalize that one small moment a monument for himself. When faced with Jazzlyn and Tillie’s crimes, he was definitely less excited, but to an extent, it still warmed him to see the relationship that Jazzlyn and Tillie have. Their case was more like a break from his typical experience with cases and in a way it also made itself a small moment that would last in him for a long time.

III. Had Petit not walked across the tightrope on that day, I think that perhaps some of the relationships between characters, or at least the interactions that they had, would have been completely different. In Claire’s house, there would not have been a topic that the ladies talked about before addressing the task at hand and they would all have been bored faster and the atmosphere would have been more awkward, as was seen in Gloria’s side of the event. Claire’s last quote is a call to the massiveness of the city, while at the same time being a call to how we live in a “small world” since everyone could be connected to each other in some way or another. The thought of the “world spinning” to me is like saying that no matter how many lifetimes pass, or how many people’s lives are negatively or positively impacted, the world will keep going and in the broader scope, they will seem almost meaningless. I don’t mean this in a nihilistic way where nothing matters, but more in the sense that follows the definition of “sonder”, in which everyone has their own lives and their own set of relationships and that when these are drawn out, it is almost like a web connecting everyone to each other in some way, whether it’s between mutual friend, partners or even strangers as the connections go farther and farther from you. There is no end to this web of connections and there is no beginning either, but rather than focusing on that, it seems to just keep going and going.

One of the bridges that unsettled me, well not really unsettled, more like got me by surprise, was the fact that Ciaran ended up marrying Lara because although they did have a connection, in the beginning, I didn’t expect it to last or even grow. It seemed a bit weird knowing that Lara is responsible for his brother’s death, yet they still decided to stick together, but in a strange way, that is expected from Ciaran since his character is very tolerant and forgiving, as was seen with his interactions with Corrigan.

A bridge that made my heart sing was the fact that Gloria stuck with the girls for so long and went as far as raising them almost as her own. Thinking about it made me connect back to how Gloria must have felt when she found out her 3 boys fell in war. That pain and great loss must have created a sort of emptiness within her that I like to think was filled at least partially filled when she introduced Jaslyn and Janice into her life to raise as her own. It also made me happy that after a lifetime of adventure, Gloria’s final resting place was back in her hometown Missouri. The power that people have to help is greatly shown throughout this novel, and I feel that Gloria’s decision to raise them, as well as Claire’s to accept them into her home, are some of the most powerful because not only did they help Jaslyn and Janice grow into strong and confident women, but in a way it alsoallowed for the legacy of the previous characters to live on with them.

Notturno Op.54, No. 4 – Edvard Grieg

Earlier this year around May, I went to one of my friend’s senior piano recital and watched her perform some pieces by classical composers, however one of them has stuck with me since that day. The song Notturno Op.54, No, 4, by Edvard Grieg, a Norwegian composer, was and still is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard performed. The reason I like it so much is because it is really calming and it steadily increases in strength and tempo, but eventually slows down and goes back to being soothing and calm. I imagine this song as if it were describing a place sometime in the fall because the high trills and also the contrast of low and high chords make the higher notes stand out more, almost as if it was chilly, yet the lower notes produce a warm feel. Listening to this song takes me back to being in the concert hall being completely surrounded by the music and just coming to the realization that my friend was capable and talented enough of producing such a beautiful melody. When later looking at the sheet music, I saw that it was not too difficult to learn; I also saw that the way that it was written was also very nice and not as overwhelming as other piano compositions that I have played. When I began playing it myself, it felt really calming, I was instantly transported to the day of the concert as well as that imaginary fall scene that I have correlated with it. In all, this song to me is almost surreal because it isn’t sad, or happy, but a mixture of both and none at the same time; it is a calming song that can transport one to another world, while remaining in this one too.

Part I: Tchaikovsky v. Beethoven

When listening to both of these great composers, I attempted to listen through all three planes. As a musician myself, I am more inclined to listen through the musical and emotional aspects, however I do not separate these from each other. I try to see both the technical and emotional aspects of the music. The way I see it, the music is taking me on a journey, not the other way around. I listen to the music as a narrative, with no specific protagonist, but rather with multiple voices speaking about a certain feeling at once or expressing an idea that simply cannot be expressed in words.

In Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, I will agree with Copeland that the music is more predictable since it follows a musically logical format where the music is always resolved with the corresponding chord/notes. This does not mean that the music itself is less enjoyable, but it is simply a difference of style.

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, on the other hand, is far less predictable since the music is always transitioning into something you do not expect. For example, from 11:13-13:24 the music starts off high, gets lower, but then gets higher again. The notes begin to go down the scale and it is logical to assume that the piece would be nearing its end, especially with the long note the strings hold at the end of this small section. However, Beethoven prolongs this section and at 14:12, the music begins to pick back up and it goes on a course that no one expected. Throughout the entire symphony, Beethoven defies what we expect and creates a very unpredictable yet moving piece.


Yūgen – 幽玄

Often times when walking through Manhattan, you feel small, regardless of whether you’re 6’7″ or 4’8″, the mere size and dimensions of the skyscrapers completely overwhelm you as you realize that you are insignificant compared to these man-made giants as well as insignificant in the grand scheme of society and life and other greater functions. Large beautiful buildings such as the Empire State, the Freedom Tower, even the Colosseum in Rome or the Burj Khalifa in Dubai can instill this feeling of wonder and awe. Some works that I’ve seen by Mark Rothko also do this, as some of his works consist of large canvases containing a few solid colors and nothing more. The word that comes to mind does not exist in English, but the Japanese do have a term for it: 幽玄 (Yūgen), meaning “an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words”.