Eurovision 2021 and my little thoughts on TIX

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any form of care of the website. I tried to rebuild it early last year but I totally gave up on learning a new WordPress template, despite it being absolutely gorgeous and “contemporary” looking. I will pick that up eventually.

This year is the 9th Eurovision that I have watched but it’s been 10 years since my first one, back when I was studying in Sweden. I remember seeing flags of Melodifestivalen all over the place in Stockholm not knowing what that is, and it was when a few of my corridor mates in Kungshamra sat together to watch the Eurovision final that year did I start this bizarre yearly ritual. Over the years I might have like one or two songs that really stood out to me as something incredibly well done, or the music video/performance really caught my eye. But this year I found myself having some different perspectives on what I’m listening and looking for.

The first time I listened through the songs I must say nothing really stood out to my ears (except for Iceland, but it was because Daði’s voice is simply distinct), but then some songs starts to hit me with some kind of bizarreness if you will, but more so is the sincerity that can be heard through the song. Without doubt, YouTube algorithm plays a role this time.

Remembering the first time I watched the performance in the Norweigian MGP, I was thinking like why would they choose a simple love song with such extravagant staging, and of course YouTube started to tell me I should watch his mini documentary and learn about who TIX really is. Not long after this music video came out and all I could say was that it is a brilliant and powerful performance, and I can easily spend hours just to talk about how much I’m fond of his voice (gosh he is an amazing singer and my close friends have all suffered through my exclamations), his story, and how he came out of depression and bullying, something that is clearly present in the recent three songs he wrote in a way that fits so well in the commercial paradigm at the same time. We probably cannot say his lyrics are sophisticated, but exactly because of that, it is so powerful: direct, heartfelt, and personal. I am having teary eyes thinking about his line in “Jeg vil ikke leve:”

Jeg vil ikke leve, men jeg vil ikke dø

TIX, “Jeg vil ikke leve”

I, together with many people who have suffered through depression, know exactly what he meant. I remember that many times when I have this feeling, and I said to my therapists, “I definitely have thought of picking up a knife, but I’m scared of blood and I don’t want to end my life.” Sometimes, simple words are the most powerful. And I guess that’s what makes TIX so very much loved.

Of course when you watch one, YouTube will make you watch more, and I’m fed with the behind-the-scenes vlog of this MV.

You cannot convince me that this MV is not magnificent, and god I hate copyright limits because I would splurge to buy his singles and even the MV. Back to “Fallen Angel,” I think nothing made the performance more meaningful when he took his glasses off (and screw licensing limits, I wish I could find a way to just watch the performance all day) mid-way in the performance and allows his ticks to be seen by one of the largest stage on the globe. And by now I am so familiar with the song that I can’t stop having teary eyes just thinking about the scene.

Perhaps I should really study the triptych in depth, but sometimes I wonder why music scholars have to study and “analyze” music like these to say things that are already known to the singer/writer and the music lovers, using a language that does not mean much to the ordinary people. That’s kind of my feeling when I presented my tiny project on Stanley Kwan’s Full Moon in New York last fall. What I have “close read” have been well analyzed by film critics in Chinese medium. Just because it has not been known to the Chinese film scholars, does not mean that I have contributed much to film studies by offering insights that have been written in layman’s terms with less specific language. Also, what does it mean to study music likes these and how to study them that is actually meaningful? The music itself is not the whole story, there is so much in the becoming of the song that makes the triptych so meaningful to the Norwegian audience and people who are willing to overcome the language barrier in order to get to know TIX better. Looking at the critics’ take on the song, it was clear to me that many thought this is merely a ballad with weird costume that takes the lyrics too literally. Yet they are the “industrial experts,” and apparently when you are a professional, you’re supposed to be taking “music for music sake.” But aren’t we all humans? We don’t listen to music out of context. Looking at some of the American crash guide to Eurovision, comments on many of the songs are simply … shallow and with a few basic Google search about *some but not all* artists barely involved.

Just like other Eurovision, sensual love longs and party songs are not lacking. I have never really cared about them and this year is no different. I think really, not many songs have really made an impression on me this year in terms of their musicality. But I’d say there are two songs that grew on me over the past few days because of the message. Tusse’s “Voices” is well produced and his voice and stage presence is amazing. Similar to TIX, I also really enjoyed how the song fits so well in the pop paradigm but the message within the song is much deeper than the surface-level words.

While also about diversity, I’m not as impressed by Jeangu Macrooy’s “Birth of a New Age.” I’m grateful to see that African heritage has been celebrated so well this year on the Eurovision stage, which is obviously highly gate-kept and predominantly white, but I am always more interested in hearing how paradigms are used to one’s own message that’s against the norm, rather than introducing the “exotic” element to celebrate diversity. To me, that’s the easy way. It is not necessarily tokenism, but that’s a shallower form of expression in my opinion.

Feminist messages seem to take weird or even harsh forms on the Eurovision stage and Manizha’s “Russian Woman” seems to follow the footsteps of Netta’s “Toy.” Extravagant staging, some sort of anger filled within, and something that creates a stark contrasts with the love songs on the same stage. I have not been enjoying the original staging, but it really took the revised performance in Eurovision (with the collage of women in the background in the chorus) to make the message alive. And since then the song has been growing on me despite my lack of interest in the more hip-hop-like sounds. Again, it takes contexts and lived experience for someone to enjoy a song, and it changes over time. Back to my first question, how are we supposed to critique music and one’s artistic expression? What does it mean to be music for music sake? Can studio production mean the same thing as live performance (or vice versa) when we make judgments on the music? What even is music, the question that haunts me forever?

I guess this will be the start of me writing more blogs and perhaps some more motivation to actually redesign my website? I have so many things I want to do and I am so confused about what my life is looking though.

Music by Women Festival 2019

It has been a little while since I attended an event as a composer. I still want to retain this really noble role that I have the privledge to play, so I submitted “A Star Ferry Ride” to this festival, and very fortunately, I have this honor to be part of the festivities.

It is not exactly an easy trip though. Somehow things have gotten really crazy and messy right before the trip and it is really risky to fly standby. Somehow I had the luck to board every flight my pilot friend booked for me, I guess my good fortune is now all consumed.

My drive from Birmingham to Columbus, MS was something I really needed at this point. In Minnesota it is still white and snowy, I needed the greenery and the sight of lively woods, even though I must have hated it so much driving through woods many times. As I arrived in MS with a basically exhausted and broken heart, I decided to take the night easy and just have some Southern home cooking that I don’t get to have back in the north. I stopped by Helen’s and I was a little confused about the sight I was seeing. There were many torn houses and bricks everywhere. The city just experienced a severe storm and this is so sad to see. Somehow the restaurant remains standing and intact, and I had some of the juiciest fried chicken, sweetest yams and collard greens ever. The family was also a great example of Southern hospitality. I didn’t do my homework, not realizing that they didn’t accept cards, Ms. Helen just let me go and told me to pay when I am back. I will always remember the conversation I have there. About food, about a family from CA to Chicago to the deep south, politics, religion (Islam and Judaism!) I forgot the fun and joy of talking to people with a very different background, and I love learning about grassroot knowledge. Being educated is amazing, but, it lacks genuinity sometimes. And being direct and straight-forward is a totally underrated merit. The next morning, as I was trying to make sure that I could go back home before a snow storm hits, I decided to take my morning a little easy as well. Stopping by a coffee house near the university and had an amazing cup of New Orleans-style coffee. It is so much better than Cafe du Monde, probably because of the cream and cinnamon, but hey, it is still way better. There I said it. The sausage cheddar muffin is equally amazing. I guess I will make some and freeze them.

I spent more than half a day at the festival, hearing a lot of really inspiring music. It is really a good reminder that there are so much good music, by men and women, everywhere. I just wished more people can hear these sounds and think more about different aspects of life. My piece was rehearsed for half an hour and then on stage. It was probably the best rendition I have heard so far. Not only because it is played by two really experienced performers, but also the hall’s acoustics. It works so well for tuba. I also have met some people who have really big ambition and are getting through the game called academia. We all are learning from each other, and have a female professional network. The sisterhood is quite beautiful I must say. There are quite a few presenters/composers that are returning participants. That’s something quite magical.

I had to cut the trip short so as to avoid cancellations because of the thunderstorms in MS/AL, and then snow in MN. Driving at 2 am was not fun but I somehow had the big luck to get on board for both flights when I was the last one on the standby list for both flights. I saw that people at the conference had to take shelter because of tornado warning, while it is snowing/raining outside my apartment…I’m on my way getting through the missed homework and back to the grind.

I missed composition for sure, I have signed up for a festival and will have a first try. Nothing is certain but I look forward to start something new.

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part V

Day V: Des Moines – Minneapolis

Last leg. Good lord. Starting the day at La Mie, with a lot of real European-style pastry that satisfies my eyes. They are so gorgeous and I wish I had bought some more for breakfast. Well, I will work hard to bring myself to Des Moines again.

The drive to Minneapolis was nice and calm, but once I’m in the metro. Goodness, I’m just stuck in traffic forever and got lost between lanes all the time. Two weeks later it is still a problem. Also, Minneapolis can be hot. Moving boxes and boxes of things down and up the stairs was no joke. 

But I made it to Minneapolis, in an apartment which the floor is slanted every. Single. Inch. But I have an amazing location, I’m really close to Walker, and pretty close to downtown and uptown. I have no complaints about that at all. I also resolved to make this place somewhere I can be comfortably finish my dissertation, even if it is expensive. I want to have a place where it can be a great study area, and where my creative juice flows.

Day 6+: Settling in.

It has been 15 days since I moved in. Wow, it is almost half a month. I am still figuring out some of the small details in my life, as well as everything at school. At least, I have all of my paperwork completed, and all I need is to study for my diagnostics and skill tests. I am excited to see what I can do in the next few years, how I will work with Sumanth, and everything about my doctoral studies.

My apartment is built with almost everthing IKEA, and I’m proud of that. I like the setup, and hey it is at the end pretty closely related to Sweden. Why can’t I transplant the Swedish living style here? But no, IKEA food won’t enter this household. Not a chance.

I also made a very bold decision to buy a Shikibuton instead of the normal mattress as my bed. After the first long night of figuring out my furniture and internet, I was lying on this 3-inch think futon on the floor talking with one of my best friends in the midnight. I thought it would be uncomfortable, but you know what, it felt more and more comfy as I talked. When I woke up after like 6 hours of sleep, I felt the most rested for the last many years. And up till now, I only took a nap once. Comparing with the sleep quality in the past few years in the States, it is a significant improvement. I don’t stay asleep very well, but it will get there once school starts.

Through multiple channels, I have already met a lot of great people. I met a theatre organist/organ technician that brought me to a farm (!) to see a huge collection of carousel organs and my first hands-on experience on a theatre organ. I met the director of a local art venue. I met with a church pastor that supported my ideas so much and is so into experiment and creating meaningful experiences. I met Dr. Damschroder and learned that he walks to school. This place has been so wonderful to me. There are so many doors that have already opened for me and so many dreams that I wanted to realize without success that are becoming reality. I am just constantly at the edge of crying because of gratitude and happiness. Yes it will be busy and tough, but these few years will be amazing. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Thank you for all the frustrations and sadness I experienced, without all of the experiences, this would not have been this bittersweet and wonderful. 

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part IV

Day IV: LFK-Des Moines

Oh, Lawrence F*king Kansas. What a place.

I would have never thought that I missed this place so much until I lived in Tally. Visiting Lawrence in 16 was quite emotional. This is just the same. But this time I have seen slightly more people, and they all meant more to me than last time.

I left the motel early and had a little time to do a little campus tour. Lawrence is developing very fast. K-10 construction is done this time and now there is a byway instead of go through 23rd St. While I know my bearing, it feels weird to see how much it has changed. Lied Center is still the same, and probably Bales would still be exactly the same, so I didn’t bother. However, when I go down Irving Hill Road, I freaked out. The road became so wide and there were multiple huge science building complexes in the originally barren land. That scared me. Of course, there are also new student apartments building, everything just look so different. However, the sculpture of Ju Ming is still standing strong at where it has always been.

I still couldn’t believe that this belongs to KU, and both of my undergrad alma mater own the Taichi series. At CUHK, that is such a landmark and is the center of our campus life. It witnessed so many historical events, debates and movements. Here, this solo Taichi practitioner quietly experiencing the transformation of energy, witnessing the change of life in the exact same way. Every time I see it, I feel strangely peaceful, while it fuels me with some sense of urge to strive for social justice.

Dr. Pierce and I were supposed to meet at Alchemy coffee, and I went to the one that I always knew. However, I discovered that they have a downtown location now, so I went there instead. Well, I was right all along and Dr. Pierce were in the original shop waiting for me for 15 minutes. Seeing him was such an amazing feeling. Not only because he changed me life so tremendously, his spirituality also inspired me a lot. I still don’t know much about it but he is always so calm and filled with wonders. I still remember his parting words, he swore with such calmity. I told him a lot about the things I experienced in the last two years and how alive I finally felt when I got out of Florida, as well as the many ideas I have had for my doctorate. He also shared a lot of thoughts and his experience at the U of M. That was a brief meeting but that was so much needed. Just hearing from him and see his thinking and fascinated face made me believe that I am making some right choices, and my life is indeed exciting.

Then I met two friends from collegium and Dr. Pierce’s class. Talking about what we are doing and what are our next steps. The fact is that there are many more people who care about me than I am aware of. I need to remember that. Also, I don’t have to feel isolated, my support network is huge. My friends are also doing amazing and exciting things. We are a big family of great minds.

However, the development of LFK sacrifaced something, or it is still not as attractive as KC. Super sad that I could not visit hank charcuterie, nor Ingredient, my favorite restaurant in Lawrence downtown. That is a real loss for Lawrence.

Finally meeting Joe Scoonover. I barely knew him because of, again, Dr. Pierce. We played in the new music ensemble once together. I got to know him a little better after graduation, and he is such a talented guitarist, and I would love to know more about his music and thinking. It did not disappoint me, his vision on his music and art is tremendous. The fact that displaying colors and aesthetics is so important to him proves that the expression of ideas is so crucial to good art. We touched a little on music theory pedagogy, and unfortunately, I have seen so many people like him that are failed by our current way of approaching fundamental musical knowledge. Things have to change, not in terms of the content we deliever, but how we make the content relevant to today’s musicking.

The drive to Des Moines was peaceful and full of fields. Oh midwestern life. 

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part III

Day III: Memphis – KC

I spent the morning struggling to decide whether I should visit the Sun Records or the Lorraine Hotel. Do I care if I visited where Elvis recorded? Not really. Therefore I just passed by Sun Records and went straight to Lorraine Hotel. 

The power of visiting historical landmarks were not the idea of having been there and can stamp on my travel passport. Being at where history happens and imagining what happened, how everything fell into place, and how everyone reacted to the history were the powerful reflection that will last for life. Just like visiting Ferguson and saw all the memorabilia, it reminds us that history happened and we should remember the lesson. 

Well, before people learned that, there are many reasons for everyone to go to the civil rights museum. The museum has a rich exhibition that needs a lot of time to absorb. Unfortunately I did not have much time to fully absorb. Fortunately, however, I have encountered many great teachers that informed me a lot of the things that happened. And I will never forget the photos of the Little Rock Nine being rejected. Standing behind the corner where Dr. King was assassinated was too haunting and powerful. That happened too suddenly, and so brutally. Yet, that evidence and the blood would forever be present. Nowadays, the injustice and violence is so virtual, and so hidden in so many minds.

Passing through Arkansas was quite an experience, there were so many hills and windy roads. I was constantly scared that my car would be out of control. Seeing the sign of entering Missouri was such an emotional experience. I almost felt like I returned home, though I barely worked in KCMO for a year. As I approached Kansas City my heart was just bursting for joy so wildly. I think I was almost insane as I smiled so much seeing places that looked familiar to me. Seeing KC downtown was such a heart-warming feeling. When I drove by Overland Park, yes the traffic was still quite a mess, but it felt familiar, it wasn’t like I did not know how to deal with it like everywhere else.

It was already 7 something when I headed for dinner, and of course I went to a place for KC Barbeque. Woodyard BBQ was amazing. The burnt ends was definitely the best I have ever had. Then I went back to the two jazz clubs that I used to go. I started with the Ship as they have an organ combo beginning at 8, though it took them forever to be ready. Then I headed to the Green Lady and heard the organ trio that I never liked. However, this night they killed it, and the organist sounded like nothing I remembered. Wow, I’m really depleted with good jazz. The KC groove is very different from the other two places. It is straight but laid back. There are also more variants on the roles of percussion. There was also more emphasis on melodic playing on guitar solo. 

In winter ’16 I visited Matt, and I intentionally returned to Green Lady in one of the nights, kind of reminisced some of the first days I visited that place. That was rough. I was so full of emotions and I couldn’t control my tears. However, for this time, I was so happy and excited to be back to the places that I had been and see great musicians in action. Yes there were a lot of memories that floated from my deep memory, but they transformed to something bittersweet. I think that means I have grown? There are still a lot of questions unanswered and I still would like to know what exactly happened. But does it really matter? I now can enjoy the music on my own and I have much deeper appreciation to the jazz musicians on the things they do. It seems like I can move forward with confidence. The fact, I was so happy to be able to groove again.

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part II

Day II: NOLA-Memphis

Beginning the day with some really confusing parking in the French Market area, but when I got my coffee from Caffe du Monde in my car I legitimately screamed. That is a very different taste from anything! Yes I do think that the coffee itself was fine, not like outstanding, but the flavor of chicory adds so much to it and it made the coffee so unique. However, cold beignets weren’t good. I assume that they would have tasted much better if I didn’t get them at 8am and waited till 1pm to have them.

There were quite some wetlands before I left NOLA and it was another really gorgeous view. Driving in the Florida Panhandle has been awful – it was just constantly forest. However, seeing water bodies and more diverse plantations make the drive much more lively. However, it did take me some time to realize that Spanish moss is no longer in sight and that is kind of strange.

As I mentioned in another blog post, I decided to go to Memphis because I became really interested in Elvis after the documentary. It also happened that there might be music that I have not heard before. Visiting Graceland was a big investment. It is potentially the most expensive museum I have ever visited. However, how often would I be in Memphis and visit the house of one of the most iconic musician of all time? I was glad that I did the tour because it was all worth it. 

Visiting Graceland mansion was a very unique experience. The audio guide was very well done, even though there are actually not a lot of things in the house to be seen, as they are all moved to the Elvis complex.

The mansion itself is not as flamboyant as Elvis’ costume, even though there were a lot of elements that were obviously very luxurious back in the days. The living areas were just as elegant as many tasteful houses, but it was the entertainment areas that were wild. The fabric walls of the billiard room was too gorgeous, and having a racketball court in the property? How many musicians can afford that?

Thinking about the last recording in the Jungle Room, and imagining what happened emotionally in that room, were quite overwhelming. How difficult it was for everyone to experience that singing and musicking process. I can see the shades of faith and gospel throughout the whole place, and ending the tour in the memorial garden, with all the stained glasses and religios statues…what a contrast between his extravagent life and where his heart eventually rested in.

The rest of the museum is kind of essential, but too boring. I wish all the gold and platinum records could be placed at where they used to be, instead of being taken out of the context, becoming just a big wall. I also couldn’t care less about the cars, though I know that was part of his life. 

Visitng Beale Street was as exciting and as wild as my night in NOLA. Street bands were everywhere making music. However, comparing with NOLA, people are playing more diverse stuff, and there were a few places that are much more famous than the others. There are definitely more blues stuff here, (duh) but the rhythm is not as straight as New Orleans jazz, and there are more 12-bar blues going on everywhere, with some kind of country going on at multiple places. If I were to look for the classic sounds in New Orleans, I chose to see what new things Memphis could offer. 

I went to an outdoor bar and listen to a trio that is doing some fusion stuff. It was not purely jazz, or blues, or funk, or whatever. It was another sound that I truly adored. They also had a singer who sang a few very basic tunes, which I preferred to have less of that. The instrumentalists were so outstanding and the keyboardist’s improv was tremendous. I wandered around Beale Street just to hear more things, but in general it was not as creative as what I heard in NOLA. There is a little more emphasis on tradition on this street. 

I met a Brit who was on a month-long tour around the south, and we basically had a similar agenda. He was so eager to learn about the glorious past of American music, and almost convinced me to go to Sun Records the day after. However, the fact that tourists coming to Memphis, not the other big cities, to learn about music that were born in America is something to think deeply about. Music is how America was known. It is where a lot of the trend-setting music happened and it still does. Where is American music going? How can we, the classical musicians, create such an impact as well?

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part I

Finally I have settled down in Minneapolis and things have been great. But I cannot not write anything about my trip up north. This trip has been amazing and there are a lot of things I have learned through the process.

Moving from Tallahassee and all the smart goofy colleagues was quite difficult emotionally, I was having all the farewells of people that I valued. They helped me tremendously in passing through my depression stage, as well as helping me see that I have some precious values inside. I also did something right for my students. Being away from them is scary, since they are potentially my first group of friends in the States that are so supportive. However, despite the fear of leaving them, once I loaded up my car with all my belongings and left my temporary hut, I was really excited to go on this grand 5-day tour filled with amazing music and scenery.

I never really explored the real Southern culture in my two years in Tallahassee for multiple reasons. Half of them were money and time. I was also planning on working till 2-3 days before I had to move in order to see my friend’s wedding in the area, but with a confusing management and schedule, I decided to earn few less bucks and left early. That makes it possible to take time to explore a few of the great American music mecca, and time to return to Kansas and visit people that matter to me greatly.

Day I: New Orleans

The drive to NOLA was unbelievably gorgeous. I passed by a huge lot of national forest areas in FL and AL, then the archipelago area and the huge bridges. How much things have I missed in the last two years? 

Once I settled in the motel, it started raining heavily as I headed to the French Quarter. It was not a very nice feeling. But I’m back in an area where streetcar is a thing (from then till the end of my doctorate!), where music is not a responsibility for students only, where something really beautiful is easily accessible.

My first impression of the French Quarter was just strange. I totally did not realize how much Spanish influence there is in the southern part of the States. Looking at the really weird-looking houses, it reminded me a lot of the earlier European architecture that I saw a little back in the days. Not the romantic style, but something more down-to-earth while strange. A lot of the bars also embraced the history of the buildings and kind of created the atmosphere of the old days, with minimal electrical lighting, and very bare floors. I also did not expect that I would see so much architecture in European style. It definitely reminds me of the great old days when I was travelling all over the place in the Baltic States. But the sounds I heard in the early afternoon was already telling me that I was not in Europe. That raggy sound and super rhythmic sound is so unique in American music. Seeing a kid dancing so naturally on the street with his dad banging on a water bucket was surreal.  There were also a fair amount of street musicians already getting into business after the rain. Well, tourists are there, money is just flowing around. Just like those big-ass bottles of booze, even if they are awful someone is wanting to be wasted in one of the burlesque show right? 

My professor insisted that I need to try crawfish etouffe and gumbo. I just randomly went to The Gumbo Shop, and ordered Jambalaya, which my professor also mentioned. I never thought that Jamabalaya could look like this and tasted as flavorful. The waitress suggested me to add some garlic hot sauce to it. I hesitated but what the heck, my heat-loving friends would be proud of me if I tried. That turned out to be an amazing decision. Yes I tried hot sauce and it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, it is heavenly.

Then I started my evening of exploring music. It was a Monday and many places either did not open or would not have live music till late night. But there were still places that had something, and I went to Mahogany Music Hall (plus Burlesque Hall) and saw a pianist-song writer singing to nobody. He sang some NOLA-style classics and something that’s newer but still quite close to the classic style. That was so soothing and gorgeous. I talked with him a little during his break and tried to get some hints about getting started with playing something somewhere. To be honest, I just need to constantly remind myself that nothing will happen if I didn’t say yes to things, and put myself at an uncomfortable position. Also, I thought I would not like sazerac, but it was quite tasty.

Stuart suggested me to check out The Spotted Cat to hear more classic NOLA-style jazz. I went there and stayed a little later than I should be. There was a quartet with a singer and they were singing a really good mix of classics and folk stuff. The atmosphere there was equally great. With a nice local wheat beer, that was so soothing, and marked such a great first day of my 2000-mile drive. I was also reminded a lot of the groovy moments that I expeienced in Silk Road GMW. Yes this type of music is something that does speak to me, just like many things else that I experienced in the past few years. In fact, I missed the feeling of grooving with music. I barely did that during my Master’s degree. I was depleted with good music for so long! What a good reminder that I needed to be fed with good stuff in order to create my own!

Once I left Spotted Cat, there was a 9-people band playing right outside with another style of NOLA music. It’s not exactly parade music even though it was definitely outside music. Wow, I never experienced anything like that. What a night. What a night.


坐在Journeyman Coffee,本來想寫一點點曲子,寫了幾句,腦裡的想法很亂。想用文字寫下來。




Searching for the American Music Culture

This summer I am getting ready for my doctorate studies. I have packed quite a lot of my stuff, I also got a silly summer job which an IMAX cinema is also located at, and we get to watch stuff here and there. I am also getting some videos recorded and put on Youtube. I still need to get more composing and writing done, but I feel good. I am feeling that I am being more optimistic about what is going to happen in Minneapolis.

In the last 24 hours I have quite an interesting journey on screen. My internet service provided me a free HBO trial for 3 days, and I noticed that it included Elvis Presley: The Searcher. Expecting it to be a 2-hour thing in total, instead, I had to stay up to watch the 4-hour thing.

I have never been an Elvis fan, nor did I feel affiliated to the Rock-n’-Roll tradition at all. However, the documentary made me think about how much heritage Elvis has reflected and developed on, and how crazy his time was. Think about that, in the mid-twentieth century, so many things have happened in the world. However, it might be the first time in America that we see people who are pursuing some ideals are being chased after and hate still exists in many places. Elvis, in the midst of everything, is mixed with his uniqueness, excitements, and sentiments. I am now really interested in visiting Graceland and learn more about this tragic figure. Also, it really inspires me to look at musical figures in that era much more carefully, and understand how they come to who there were.

Very surprisingly this morning at work I got to watch the American Musical Journey. I can’t say I like this film at all. The use of IMAX technology is basically pointless. The story of the musical heritage of jazz, blues, pop, and rock is almost like completely fragments that do not make much sense. It was not educational at all. However, as a travel movie, it worked. It definitely reminded me of how Chicago felt, and it successfully made me consider visiting some of the cities as I travel from Florida to Minnesota. It is, however, a pure coincident though. I was already planning the trip the night before.

In a month I will be doing a grand tour. It has been under revision forever and I am still working on it. It looks like that the 5-day trip will be Tallahassee->NOLA->Memphis->Little Rock->Lawrence and Kansas City->Des Moines->Minneapolis. I will be seeing a lot of the musical styles that I have not really exposed to much, as well as some part of the civil rights movements that I have always wanted to know more. I am very looking forward to seeing and hearing new sounds, and once again, be filled with wonder.

28th birthday

I have not spent my two birthdays at FSU in Tallahassee. Last year, I did my first presentation at a student symposium at the University of Florida, and since then I have kept thinking a lot about “what is music analysis.” I still don’t really have an idea of what it is technically, but I will keep searching for a satisfying answer.

This year, I spent my birthday waiting at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport, after a night of premiere+performance at Lycoming College. A lot of things could have been done better, but nonetheless I have another thing I can put in my resume. It is also very nice to be able to reach out to a broader audience and hopefully I will have a chance to visit Lyco again. It also surprised me that a public elementary school in the area actually talks about world music instrument, and there is an app for them! (That said, the researcher me wonder why pipa and erhu are the two instruments that are used to represent Chinese music, oh well.)

I definitely enjoy talking to a public audience, I believe that introducing music to them does not need gimmicks, nor lowering the standard of scholarship. It can be as concise as needed, but sometimes a piece of strange knowledge might change someone’s perception of music in a big way.

In my less-than-24-hours stay in Williamsport and surroundings, I do have some great discovery. I enjoy seeing mountains and rivers so much, and it reminds me so much of the European landscape. For sure the architecture somewhat reminds me of that as well. There is something about old American towns that is really charming and unique. I also went to see the World of Little League, and the Steamtown National Site. I think in some way I am really interested in the industrial history of different countries, and how the industries shape an area, with a specific vibe.

Finally, Wegman’s rocks. Who knows that they have the best mochi in the States.