What We Feel and What We Mean
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Category — Music

Jimi Hendrix

Opps! after doing a last check through of work done I found that I missed the artist one so he is mine!:

“Oh Say, can you really see?” was a seminar offered by the Wolfe Institute on Jimi Hendrix and his connection to escapist science fiction. Will Fulton describe the sound painting that takes place in Jimi Hendrix’s music that illustrates the science fiction aspect of the music. However, this was only the surface, as beyond the fantastic lyrics lay social subtext. Jimi Hendrix’s isolation, he says, served as an impetus for this new form of writing. Coupled with this shift in lyrical style, the 1960s technology was changing music production.

To this “Allegorical atomic science fiction” rock and artists utilized different technologies to enhance the estrangement. Multitrack allowed for addition parts to be recorded and overdubbing, which permitted further manipulation of composite sounds. Examples of these techniques were depicted by “1983… (A Merman I should turn to be” a late Hendrix Song. Several effects can be easily noted: whistling and breathing vocals through ADT delay, echo on lead vocals, flute, and bass. VFO on flextone that made the bouy sound, tape speed variation to sound the fish, panned echoes of cymbal “bubbles” echo on headphones feedback to represent seagulls, and live fade ins/out to mark transitions.
So what does this mean in retrospect? The 60’s were a time of great change, or rather an immense desire for change. However, Jimi Hendrix who often avoided much social commentary believed that “the only happiness is the kind that you hold in your mind.” As such, the only happiness to be found was not on this world but those beyond, a fantastic escape.

December 24, 2011   1 Comment

The Opera

It sounds like the class had an amazing time at the opera, I wish I could’ve been there but I wasn’t feeling well and I’m so disappointed that I missed it! When we spoke about it in class it sounded like it was an amazing experience. I have some comments about what I heard in class and about opera in general.

Firstly, I like the overall concept of an opera. It’s kind of like a musical, with a more unique type of music that you don’t hear every day. The music is very emotional, and the performers voices are so passionate and strong. You could definitely hear the talent in their voices as they project across the room. Although the storyline is not so enticing, the music makes up for that factor.

A lot of people commented on the fact that there was a language barrier. I’m pretty sure that I would find the sub-titles annoying and distracting, so I would probably ignore them in order to fully take in the music even though it would take away from my understanding of the story. After all, I think that the music is the essence of the opera.

Another thing that I thought was interesting was that many of the people in our class enjoyed sitting in a section far away from the stage because they got to take in the atmosphere of the theatre and the types of people around them. In that sense, I think that part of the experience of going to the opera is taking in your surroundings and being observant of the different types of people that are there.

December 14, 2011   No Comments

Macaulay SING Competition

On November 19th I went to the Macaulay SING performance to support my friends Maryam, Victoria and a few others. This was the 2nd competition date and as of then Hunter was first, Brooklyn 2nd, Queens 3rd and Baruch last. I was really excited to see what our school had put together since I knew they’ve been working hard on practicing for a couple of weeks.

Surprisingly a lot more people then I thought came to support them. I felt like the crowd was a good one since they usually clapped enthusiastically after every act and they had a good sense of humor too. I noticed that a lot of parents came to support their children. First up was Brooklyn’s team. I feel like they had a really creative idea and theirs was the one that made me laugh the most the whole night. Their overall theme was that Facebook had taken over the cyber world. The characters in the performance were on a quest to overthrow Mark Zuckerberg the creator of Facebook. Sites like You Tube, Hulu, and Myspace worked together to find the Facebook creator. The idea behind it was very original and they had a good play on words throughout the performance. I loved the jokes they used and reactions of the actors involved.

Next up was Baruch. Their performance was probably the one I liked the least out of the whole night. They had a typical love story idea where the guy was chasing the girl but the girl didn’t like the guy. In the end the girl fell for the guy and they sang a love song together in the end.  Although the actors sang pretty well, I felt like the story itself wasn’t that great and could have been more original. Overall though they had more of a cute performance.

After Baruch came Queens. I feel like the cast here had pretty good vocals. The idea between theirs was that the world was ending. I like how each person in the performance had their own story to unfold before it was time for the world to end. They all sought out to live their last day in the world to the fullest so they could die with no regrets. It was funny yet somewhat expected that in the end no one ended up dying. The performance on their part was great though and they brought in a lot of musical talent.

Last but not least was Hunter. Although I was supporting our colleagues of Brooklyn the whole time, I have to say that Hunter took the show away. Their musical talent was overwhelming. They focused on the idea of tourists coming into New York City and being corrupted by the likes of the people here. I was extremely impressed by their pianist since I used to play the piano myself. Throughout the whole night he was on cue and his music allowed the performance to flow smoothly and show the transition between scenes. It was also funny how he the pianist became part of the performance while in the Baruch one they pianist just played the piano the whole time and that was it. Everyone in the cast had great vocal ability and allowed it to shine throughout the night.

Sadly Brooklyn didn’t win and Hunter did win. It wasn’t surprising that Hunter won because everyone expected them to. What was surprising to me what that Brooklyn went from 2nd place to tying with Baruch at last place in the end. I feel like it might have been because Brooklyn had the least singing parts compared to the other performances and it is a SING competition. Compared to the other performances, Brooklyn definitely had the funniest and wittiest performance. I had a great time watching all the performances and I was glad my friends enjoyed themselves.

December 11, 2011   No Comments

Meet the Artist – Alicia Hall Moran

Meet the Artist with Alicia Hall Moran turned out to be a big learning experience for me. There was much more talking done than singing on her part (we were, in fact, “meeting the artist”). But that turned it into a learning experience instead of just a performance. She gave us advice that applied to everyone regardless of what our interests were. She said that the thing we are desperately seeking for in life can be right in front of us and we won’t have the slightest clue. She believes that we should stop searching and just let it come. It will hit us. And I believe her.

Her singing was very creative and well thought out. Her mix of opera and mow town music seemed really genuine, and there is nothing more that I appreciate than a genuine singer or musician. In terms of technicality, I think that her performance required a ton of practicing, so much that only those who really love singing would commit to. It definitely is not something I would ever listen to on my own time. But, again, I truly appreciate the insight of achievement she gave us, coming from a well-accomplished person like her, and I thank her for teaching me some important life lessons.

December 8, 2011   1 Comment

Opera: Faust

I was kind of excited to see the opera when I first heard we were going. I got even more excited after hearing we were seeing Faust, which is a story I enjoy. But after actually going I’m sad to say I was a little disappointed.

I enjoy music and I can appreciate a good orchestra but I think what really threw me off was the language barrier. I thought the sub-titles were a good idea but I definitely lost something from having to look down every couple of seconds in anticipation of the next line. I really couldn’t enjoy the music and I got lost a few times in the story because I couldn’t understand what was going on. I think if we had seen an English opera I would have appreciated it a whole lot more.

I did enjoy the theatrics of the whole performance. The lights being raised before each act, the use of props. I would have liked to see the set have changed more then it was. It always had that laboratory and metallic feel even in the outdoor/street scenes. Maybe thats what they were going for but I would have liked to see more of a distinction of the scenery. I liked how they tried (and succeeded) to make it a very fancy and high class experience. The entrances are very grand and most people get dressed up for it.

The opera was definitely and great experience but I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it were in English so I could understand what the singers are saying in real time without having to look down after a couple of second delay.

December 6, 2011   2 Comments

The Metropolitan Opera: Faust

I want to start off by saying that I expected the opera to be something completely different than what it actually was. Clearly, I never had any kind of exposure to this type of art and I judged it just on what it seemed like. To me, the opera was just a place where people sang things that were completely alien and had nothing that I can relate to. After my first trip to the opera, I realized how mistaken I was.

The opera turned out to be something totally relatable, well, at least Faust did. It was just an amazing story that involved many interesting elements that are normally found in your typical movie. The fact that it was in another language made it even more interesting. People were upset that they had to look at the subtitles in order to understand the plot. I think that this is a unique attribute that makes the opera different from all the other forms of storytelling. I don’t even think you can consider it storytelling. It’s so much more especially with the live orchestra and amazing dance and athletic performances.

For those who were complaining about having to alternate between the performers and subtitles, I don’t really think it was that bad, especially since we were sitting so high up (another thing that many complained about) it meant that the angle our eyes made with the stage was very close to the angle made with the subtitles screen. So instead of having to actually shift the positions of our heads, which is what I’m assuming those sitting closer to the stage had to do, we could’ve just shifted our eyes, a less of a bother! Two negatives make a positive!

Overall, the opera was a great combination of theater and music- one that I would definitely experience again.

December 6, 2011   No Comments

Faust at the Metropolitan Opera.

I entered the Metropolitan Opera with aching feet, weariness from a long day of school, and excitement for entering such a classy, upscale place. My first opera on an opening night. How riveting!

I found our seats to be quite nice. Although we were very high up, I liked being able to see the orchestra pit and the chandeliers rise. And sitting at such a high distance off the ground was thrilling. (A side note, before going to the Opera, I read some articles about a man who committed suicide by falling off from the balcony seats. That’s what was going through my mind, sitting so high up.)

I really enjoyed the orchestral music. I was very impressed by the expertise of the orchestra. And the fact that it was live made the music even more enjoyable. The vocalists were also amazing. I was in awe from the control they had over their voices and by the level of intensity of their singing. Their voices were strong and beautiful.

I especially loved it when the ensemble would sing together. A hundred voices (am I exaggerating?) singing at once. Each time massive groups of people sang, the music was so powerful, it sent chills through my body. I loved it!

A difficulty I did have, though, was reading the subtitles and watching the performers. It was exhausting looking back and forth at the text and the stage because they were so far apart. I would read the subtitles in fear that I would miss something big on stage.

However, this was quite an experience.

December 6, 2011   No Comments

Faust. An Opera.

To begin with, the opera house itself was beautiful. If the context of an art piece affects its effect, then the opera house most definitely impacts the grandeur and bravado of an opera. Somehow, I doubt it would have been as impressive an affair in Yankee Stadium, sans big sweeping, carpeted staircases and specially imported British ushers. Interestingly, the way the person is dressed can affect the way an art form is received, although one could argue that opera-goers only dress up to fit the decor. It’s a chicken and egg situation.

To address the opera specifically, I would have to say I didn’t really enjoy the opera itself as much as I did everything else going on around it. Turns out, opera s not my favorite form of entertainment. I infinitely prefer a symphony or a Broadway show. It’s not that I found the opera unpleasant, it’s just that I didn’t love it. It may have been the language barrier. It’s distracting to have subtitles. It may also have been that I was too high up to tsee the acting in any real sense. Which brings me to my next point.

I found the stage to be more an entertainment piece than the actors and actresses. It is fascinating that the “fire-escape” structure flanking the left and right sides of the stage were the main prop pieces. hey were stark white but the lighting changed their purpose. They were red to signify when the work of the devil was amiss. They were green to indicate a garden setting. Blue, for “Goodness” and so forth. That was amazing. The one minimalistic piece of scenery told a story as much (if not more) than the people on stage. The lighting through the windows of the house was also really impressive. To indicate an ominous event, the lights came from left and right, shining through the window to create a cris-crossing window pattern. It indicated an internal struggle or contentious event. The stage floor was reflective, and this too was utilized to convey a sense of loftiness or power when the light shone on Mephistopheles in such a way that his reflection shone back up.
However, my favorite part of the opera, by far, was the orchestra. I didn’t turn on my subtitles until after the first intermission. (Granted, I didn’t know how for the first 5 minutes, but even after that…) I didn’t really need them, though. At some point I closed my eyes, already knowing what was going to happen next and the music told the story just as well. Perhaps I already knew what was going to happen so I may been projecting here, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the music was powerful. It was the most amazing and communicative entertainment tool used that evening, mainly because music touches people in ways nothing else can. To be sure, the singing was amazing but it wouldn’t have accomplsihed anything if there hadn’t been a live orchestra.

Part of the magic of the show was the cut-out floor, allowing the viewers to see the orchestra. In a way, it toyed with the suspension of reality because the viewers could “see the band”. Normally, a production hides something like that but in an opera it’s one of the main appeals. The music is the opera. The singing is nice too, but it was my least favorite part.

December 5, 2011   No Comments


I found the experience of attending “Fasut” at the Metropolitan Opera House last week slightly puzzling. There seemed to be a distinct disconnect between opera as pure vocal expression and opera as a form of art that attempts to portray a plot or story. At the beginning of the opera, as Faust deliberates about committing suicide, and ultimately enters into a deal with the devil, the story and dialogue were fast-moving and engaging. But the singing seemed forced, second-fiddle to the theatrical drama. The same was true of other scenes, such as the announcement of Wagner’s death and the skirmish between Faust and Valentin. Yet at other times, “Faust” seemed to have grinded to a halt while the talented vocalists performed for the audience. It was hard for me to find a point in the opera where “Faust” met opera and everything came togther as a unified art form.

December 4, 2011   No Comments

Meet the Artist: Alicia Hall Moran

I attended the Meet the Artist event with Alicia Hall Moran last Monday at the Macaulay building. Underestimating my time to get to the event, I was late but nonetheless I got a great sense of the type of artist Alicia Hall Moran is and even got to hear some of her songs.

To start off, she talked about a wide range of topics some of which I thought were a little random. But when I started thinking about the deeper meaning behind some of her ideas, I got the sense of what she was trying to say. She said that we can “find ourselves in what music moves us.” I completely agree with her because I think the type of music we listen to reflects on us as a person. She also said that music is not just about selling.  I wish the world of music had more of this mentality because I feel that so many artists write the songs that they do not because they truly believe that it is their best work but because it is the type of music that will sell. Perhaps if more artists had less of this mentality, there would be much better music. She went to Barnard to be surrounded by all these strong, intelligent women but ended up spending most of her time in Columbia with a couple of other men in the music department. I found this pretty hilarious and was also surprised that more women were not pursuing music. She also interacted with the audience noting something unique about some of us. Her energetic personality definitely kept me engaged. Not to sound corny but it was a breath of fresh air to see someone who enjoys their occupation so much.

Now onto her music! She incorporated Motown music with opera which might seem like an odd combination but she put the two styles together very well. Her performance of “Sign, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” and “Carmen” was really interesting because I had no idea that she was going to transition between the two genres like that. At one point I thought she was singing not “Carmen” but “Sign, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” in opera which shows just how smooth her transitions between the two generes are. She was a very talented singer and had a very big vocal range.

I really enjoyed Alicia Hall Moran, both her personality and her music. She had a beautiful voice and I really enjoyed the event.

November 27, 2011   No Comments