Finished something, finally :)

Some things take their time.

During FAWM 2016, I wrote a poem in Quenya (the “older” of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish languages). I had some fun evenings with a grammar book and a dictionary, interspersed with a curse or two – “this language has HOW MANY cases?” Then, it took me ages to make music for it! Last week, I finally recorded the vocals, and today I completed the mix. (It might sound best with headphones; I forgot again to check the mix with the speakers. Well, my speaker situation is not the most informative anyway.)

Here you go!

The story is Silmarillion-related: What might Galadriel have said the moment she resolved to leave Valinor for Middle-Earth? I imagine it might have been a hugely mixed bag of feelings she might have expressed – mourning for the lost beauty of the Two Trees, knowing she might never see the beautiful city of her childhood again, but also curiosity for Middle Earth, a sense of adventure and new-found freedom.

I’ll publish the lyrics, too, if anyone is interested!


Something entirely different.

Found this performance recording of a piece by Steve Reich via @rottenlienne on Twitter:

The context for my finding this was a sad/outrageous story about a concert audience that was apparently overwhelmed by a juxtaposition of 20th century and baroque music. As sad as this story is, I find a lot of “New Music” quite interesting, and when I get reminded of it, I ask myself why I don’t listen to composers like Penderecki, Ligeti or Pärt more often.

Advice from a classical singer: My vocal warmup

[crossposted from this thread on the FAWM Forum – I just wanted to conserve my looong posts. I also changed the order a bit and changed some words.]
I’m a classical singer, and as such, I’m quite strict about vocal warm up.

I (tend to) do a full-blown warm up of at least 10 min. whenever I sing something that feels more challenging than the easiest children’s song I can imagine. I feel like I sing with better pitch, a more beautiful and more smooth and even timbre… and I don’t hurt my voice if I do something in my upper range.

Warming up, for me, is a time of checking in with my voice and my body, see where I’m at today and get a feel for how I best handle my voice today. Some minor problems (e.g. when my voice feels a little “stiff”, crampy, sluggish or inert, or the high notes don’t feel that easy) go away with a careful warm-up, for others I find a way to work around, or I just acknowledge where my limits are today. Warming up is also a good time to remember healthy singing habits and to get into a good muscle tonus.

So what do I do for warming up? Continue reading

How I am & Music that inspires me

Some complaining ahead: I’m still struggling to find back into music. My singing seems to be stunted somehow, and at the moment I don’t dare to think of myself as a musician, which, in turn, hampers my making music. Maybe it’s all the “shoulds” and “musts” that are stringed to that – I should be somewhere with my art and my singing now instead of feeling like I start from the beginning for the umpteenth time… Continue reading

I’m not doing any music at the moment, and that annoys me mightily.

So the builders are in the apartment below me, which is undergoing extensive renovation. And they’re drilling and hammering and making noise all day. And on top, I’ve got a scary big job to complete.

That’s why, apart from my usual procrastination, I’m not doing anything for 50/90 right now. The ideas are there, but it’s working on them where I find myself lacking.

50/50 2015 is about to start

… and I’m woefully unprepared. I haven’t changed my guitar strings, my fingers aren’t used to steel strings (I’ve been playing predominantly concert guitar in the last couple of months), I haven’t practiced much, my creative muscles are out of training… and on top, I’ll take the opportunity to spend the weekend with my girlfriend. (I also hope that her place in the Black Forest is a little more bearable than searingly hot Freiburg.) But perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to record some quick sketches on the piano, throw down some lyrics or make some a cappella sketches. I also hope to borrow some books from her 🙂

I’ll go where my muses lead me, this time trying to see through longer and more demanding songs (especially lyrically, but also songs with more complex arrangement, more voices, more deliberate use of effects than my usual slapped-together guitar, voice, maybe drums), but I also want less stress, less getting bogged down, more letting go. I’ll try and not get too hell-bent on winning.

My artistic flame has somehow died down to a faint ember in the past few months while I was trying to get my everyday life ordered. It still isn’t ordered and feels fairly provisory. So this is what I most hope for: stoking those embers and rekindling them to a mighty, bright, glorious blaze; trust that I am Good Enough and worthy of calling myself a musician.

I officially have a special brain.

I have been a slow worker ever since I can remember. I got through school by making use of my natural intelligence. I got into trouble in university because when left to myself, I’m not terribly good at Getting Shit Done and if I don’t employ a host of tricks, hacks and strategies, I suck at time management. I tend to be late, and I’ve got zero sense of time. I’m a night owl. But somehow I managed to graduate.

When I started my first job, things stopped going so well. Continue reading

Small update on the last post

So, in my last post, I mentioned a bad job that was threatening me. I managed to avoid that, which was, as one acquaintance told me, quite a feat!

The situation might repeat, and I’m still struggling badly with time management. On the other hand, that music editing job becomes more and more satisfying, and less and less I want to go back into corporate work.

On my personae.

Now I haven’t been doing music for… like, a month or so? Apart from some attempts to get into regular guitar practice, that is. But I’m totally out of my musician headspace and out of poetic creativity even more.

I am still stumbling, falling, getting up, stumbling on, rinse and repeat with my professional life. There’s the perspective of getting stuck in another soul-eating dead-end job I don’t want (I’ll probably know if I must go there in the next 1-2 weeks). The Jobcenter imposes on me to scramble and do everything I can to get regular employment, while the thing I’d want to do is stand still, reconsider everything and start again, but this time in a different direction. One thing that has become clear for me is that marketing, especially online marketing, is ripe with environments that are toxic for me, and that it’s not the field I will excel and thrive in.

I don’t want to use this blog post for lamenting. Instead, I’d like to ponder on one observation: aspects of my personality and how they relate to different aspects of my life.

Somehow my musician identity feels not fully formed yet, but as deeply buried under everyday grind it may be now, it is there. I can feel it like the sun behind clouds. It’s not just who I am in my music. It’s who I am when I give a high priority to my musical creativity, to making music and to being in a good shape for singing, playing guitar, composing and making poetry, mentally as well as physically, and when I care about developing as an artist.

Somehow I feel like I don’t deserve to be that person, or that I’m not allowed to, or that if I am that person, I won’t be able to cope with the demands that making a living or getting through bureaucracy place on me.

So instead, I mostly choose to put on a persona of a rational, disciplined person who gets all the stuff done, adheres to conventional logic, does a conventional full-time day job to win her bread and makes music in her free time, is tough enough to put up with a little discomfort, makes reasonable choices, does not lose herself in dreams and can pull of some feats of discipline, ready to discard perceptions that don’t seem reasonable (thus often losing contact with her gut feeling) and keep out everything she doesn’t see as practical or necessary. It’s a well organized and high-functioning persona too, a persona that is concerned with getting through everyday life.

I need this persona to navigate my carreer/work situation, but it feels way too dominant in my life, and at the same time, letting go of it, not using it as my default approach to things feels unsafe, as if my life might get totally out of control. Unfortunately, the saying “if your only tool is a hammer, you will perceive every problem as a nail” applies.

My “artist” persona is different, of course. Much more intuitive and even impulsive, prone to act upon emotion and gut feeling, dreamer, utopian and visionnaire, with fine and alert senses. One who brings in butterflies and flowers and colours, warmth and sunlight, one who wants to open doors to the depth of the soul and the phantastic, mystic and playful child at the same time, one who is concerned with the big issues of life and what matters in the end.

I miss giving this persona space and time. It’s like it hasn’t even had the opportunity to develop fully.

And then there may be more aspects of myself that I don’t even know or acknowledge.

By the way, that freelance mini-job in music editing is still awesome and rewarding.

What’s going on.

I’m totally out of my routine – which is ironic, as the mini-part time day job I’ve just begun (which will, hopefully, grow beyond the “mini” some day) is, in part, about music editing and music engraving. It feels good to do something related to musicology again! But I’ve spent the last weeks in perpetual upheaval. No change in sight!

After my last post, I kept listening up and down the metal part of my media collection for some days. Somehow, I was listening for what it is that I want in music in those favorite records of mine. What is the music I’d make if I had no restrictions – time, equipment, abilities, knowledge, even co-musicians – like? I still guess I couldn’t write down a definitive answer in words.

Now I’ve got some time to breathe again (before I must confront my fear of anything administrative again). I guess it will be some weeks until I hit record on my DAW, and on top it’s November, which has developed to be my “writing month” in the last few years. I’m trying to carve out time to be a musician anyway.