Category Archives: Music and Art

Artist Inspiration : Larry Carlson

Unless you’ve been living under a coconut shell, chances are you would have at some time come across the psychedelic work of Larry Carlson. Yes…THAT artist who makes your brain go all trippy. Oh, and have you heard his music? Surreal is an understatement. Collages done the traditional, good old-fashioned way? Check! Digital photographic art? Check! Larry is a veritable powerhouse of creativity, as you will find out.

Here’s what Larry says about his art on his own site:

G4Tech TV called him “The Salvador Dali of the Next Century”, and High Times magazine labeled him an “Artistic Mastermind”. Larry Carlson is a legendary visionary  artist who utilizes a vast range of mediums to create mind boggling art that will make you think twice about how you see the world. He is a modern day renaissance man with revolutionary work that pushes the possibilities for consciousness exploration within contemporary art. Few artists can rival him in terms of innovation, vision, talent, and high-yield experimentation.
His work spans a variety of forms including photography, film making, web-art, collage painting, digital art, animation, video-art, text-art, and sound design. What ever art form he’s working in Carlson’s greatest strength is in artfully depicting the mystical dimensions of consciousness, coaxing us into sweet spiritualized epiphanies one moment then plunging us into completely bizarre surreal frenzies the next. His artwork fuses together aspects of mysticism, surrealism, psychedelia and the technological resulting in sublime juxtapositions that can totally bend one’s perception.
A pioneer in experimental multimedia web-art, he first started exhibiting his artwork online in 1997. In 2000 Carlson published the legendary art web sites Virtual OM and LarryCarlson.com which featured his original full screen psychotropic entertainment.
Larry Carlson has been featured in magazines like Vice, Juxtapoz, High Times, Cracked, NY Arts, Beautiful/Decay, and US weekly. International newspapers like Montreal’s Mirror, Istanbul’s Vatan News, and London’s Guardian, have done features on his unique awe-inspiring art.
He has exhibited his collage artwork, digital photo artwork, and video art in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Sweden, Brazil, France, the U.K.,  India, and Germany. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City exhibited some of his handmade collage art books in the show Book/Shelf. His movies have been screened at  The Paço das Artes Museum in San Palo, Brazil, the Brattle Theater in Boston, Alex Grey’s COSM gallery in New York City,  A.T.A. in San Francisco, and other galleries and theaters around the world.
Larry Carlson creates his own original music and soundtracks and so far has released eight albums. In 2008, Portland, Oregon’s KBOO 90.7 fm hosted two Larry Carlson music specials featuring his surreal soundtracks.
Larry Carlson graduated from Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, where he studied painting and video-art. He currently lives and works in his studio in the green mountains of Vermont.

It’s worth checking out Larry’s site, which is very comprehensive and contains a plethora of examples of his work, all neatly categorised. Here are just a few of my favourite ones:

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What interests me most about Any Artist’s work is their process, techniques and workflow, and also what goes on inside their heads. Luckily for us all, Larry is very forthcoming in this regard, and his site even has a Frequently Asked Questions section, which I quote verbatim here for your convenience:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

(taken verbatim from http://www.larrycarlson.com)

What is your process for making the images?

Sometimes I see a clear vision in my mind’s eye of the image I want to make and then I set out and take the photos and do the  computer effects to make it happen. Most of the time I just experiment and have fun with combinations of filters, images, and 3-D rendering. I do a lot of the work with the image editing program Photoshop. I also use 3-D rendering programs to make computer generated objects and settings to use in my work.

I always have a lot of unfinished works on my hard drive that I work on for a while and then put away until the inspiration hits me to work on it again. So most of my finished pieces are the result of months of on and off work. I follow my own vision and try to make something new everyday. Even if I dont feel like working, I still work on my art daily, because it helps me stay focused and continue to make new fresh work.

I am mostly left-handed and use an electronic pen on a tablet to actually draw and paint on my digital images. Sometimes I also use a mouse with my right hand at the same time.

As well as using computers to make images I also make old fashion cut and paste collages. This really influences the style of my digital work, as it helps me use Photoshop in a “real hands on” way, and not be dependent on digital effects only. I strive to have my work describe life as positive, elusive, and rich with wonder and possibility.

What inspires your work?

I let intuition and improvisation be the main guiding forces in the creation of my art. Many of the ideas for my art come to me in dreams and visions, so i spend a lot of time cultivating a mystical state of mind. I often go out in nature, hiking, camping and taking photos, being a part of the mother nature system has a deep influence on my work.

Do you take your own photos?

Yes. I take photos with a digital camera that I use in my work. Sometimes I do shoots in a studio, other times I take shots outdoors. I retouch, fix up, composite, and alter the photos in Photoshop. In the city or up in the mountains, its always an adventure getting new shots to use in my work.

How do you create your collage artwork?

With glue and scissors, I take a tiny little bit of something from a piece and put it together with a lot of other pieces and make a distinct whole. The result is a juxtaposition of the familiar and the fantastical. I hunt for old books and magazines for material to use and I print out images from the computer. I cut and splice these samples into new formations that reconstruct culturally constructed meaning of the original samples, opening up the images to a multiplicity of interpretations. I am inspired by the infinite permutations of visual images which parallel the infinite nature of the imagination.

How do you make the soundtracks?

Like my visual artwork it’s a collage process. I make my soundtracks by mixing and processing sound samples on the computer. I use several different sound programs to put the tracks together. I collage samples from everywhere and anywhere, the TV, the web, radio, phone messages, you-tube videos, turntables and musical instruments. Sometimes I use programs to generate sounds to mix in the work. I also play around with the KORG MS2000, a really cool Pink Floydish sounding synthesizer.I even like to mix in sounds I get from an ol’ school ATARI 2600 console. All my soundtracks are available as a free mp3 downloads. And I have a SoundCloud music page and an iLike music fan page.

Where do you exhibit your work?

I show different forms of art, like interactive web sites art, video installations, large high quality prints of digital art, collage paintings and handmade collage books. Recently my movies were presented at Alex Grey’s COSM gallery, and were publicly displayed on a pair of outdoor video screens at Harvard. Last year, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City showed some collage art books I collaborated on in the show Book/Shelf. In 2002, The Paço das Artes Museum in San Palo Brazil exhibited a version of my web site LARRYCARLSON.COM projected on a wall in a gallery where visitors could interact with it. In Stockholm, Sweden, Galleri Loyal has exhibited my collage paintings. My movies have been screened in festivals around the world in places like New York City, Austin,Texas, France, Canada and Germany. And I have had many exhibitions of my digital images at festivals and shows around the world.

How do you do your live VJ shows?

Basically I mix a collage of videos and animations in much the same way that DJs mix records. The techniques and equipment are different then a DJ, but the basic principles are the same (eg selecting, cross fading, scratching, cutting, sampling to the rhythm). I burn my own custom made DVDs and much of my VJing now is me mixing content on several DVD players through a video mixer device to the rhythm of the music. As well as the DVD players I also use a VJ software program to mix and manipulate digital video clips. In the past I have played live on tour with musical groups like The Kottonmouth Kings, and at major electronic music events.

How and when did you get into computers?

My early experiences with computers begin when I was a kid, messing with the old Commodore 64 home computer. Later on in college I did a big experimental video collage piece with the Amiga video editing system as well as experiments with Adobe Premiere. I spent a lot of time creating digital images with Photoshop. During this time i started making music with the computer and more then any thing I wanted people too see this cool stuff, so publishing on the net became a must. I quickly learned how to make web pages and my early web sites were online galleries of my digital images. So by the time Flash came out , I was ready to really rock the system! After having spent years of exploring so many different fields of computer art, now its all kind of melting together into one “multimedia” experience.

Did you go to school to learn how to do this?

I  graduated from Cooper Union School of Art in New York City, where I studied painting and video-art. A lot of the artwork I do now, I learned on my own. I love learning new programs and experimenting with them to make something new.

How can people stay updated on what your doing?

I am active on TumblrFacebook and Twitter and post new work there often. Connect, add your feedback, and stay updated on new work that is posted daily.

 

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Cymatics

Awesome video! And based on fact, not fiction. Science meets Music meets WOW!

http://youtu.be/Q3oItpVa9fs

Cymatics is the study of visible sound. It was first pioneered by Dr Hans Jenny, a Swiss scientist. Today there are a growing number of fans and proponents of this fascinating new(ish) genre in music. Nigel Stanford is an electronic musician based in New Zealand, who specialises in trance and ambient music. The video above of Nigel’s, which I first saw on a friend’s Facebook wall, ably demonstrates the physical manifestation of music. Also remember to check out and download Nigel’s other tracks.

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Here’s Wikipedia’s definition of Cymatics:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymatics

Cymatics is exciting, as it is happening Right Now. And it continues to be researched and developed by different people from different walks of life, each with an aim of their own – scientists, mathematicians, visual artists, musicians. And when everything comes together, that’s when pure Magic happens.

Happy Christmas, everyone! May 2015 bring all your dreams and aspirations to fruition.

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The World Is Coming To An End

I must admit I’ve never been a great fan of rap. Eminem spoiled it for me, with his messages of crime, violence and drugs. But having said that, I guess I haven’t heard enough rap to really form an opinion. Because now, after watching this video, I realise rap can be a powerful way to convey positive messages of Hope and Love too. I stand happily corrected.

Please take the time to watch this very powerful video by rapper and activist Richard Williams aka Prince Ea. Listen to the words, and Be The Change. Share it! Namasté.🙇

http://youtu.be/BzV1FzixSmw

And even if you haven’t got time to watch the video, at least pay heed to the very meaningful words. Here’s the transcript of the lyrics, from Prince Ea’s website:

The world is coming to an end
The air is polluted, the oceans contaminated
The animals are going extinct, the economy’s collapsed
Education is shot, police are corrupt
Intelligence is shunned and ignorance rewarded
The people are depressed and angry
We can’t live with each other and we can’t live with ourselves
So everyone’s medicated
We pass each other on the streets
And if we do speak it’s meaningless robotic communication
More people want 15 seconds of fame
Than a lifetime of meaning and purpose
Because what’s popular is more important than what’s right
Ratings are more important than the truth
Our government builds twice as many prisons than schools
It’s easier to find a Big Mac than an apple
And when you find the apple
It’s been genetically processed and modified
Presidents lie, politicians trick us
Race is still an issue and so is religion
Your God doesn’t exist, my God does and he is All-Loving
If you disagree with me I’ll kill you
Or even worse argue you to death
92% of songs on the radio are about sex
Kids don’t play tag, they play twerk videos
The average person watches 5 hours of television a day
And it’s more violence on the screen than ever before
Technology has given us everything we could ever want
And at the same time stolen everything we really need
Pride is at an all time high, humility, an all time low
Everybody knows everything, everybody’s going somewhere
Ignoring someone, blaming somebody
Not many human beings left anymore, a lot of human doings
Plenty of human lingerings in the past, not many human beings
Money is still the root of all evil
Yet we tell our kids don’t get that degree
The jobs don’t pay enough
Good deeds are only done when there’s a profit margin
Videos of the misfortunes of others go viral
We laugh and share them with our friends to laugh with us
Our role models today
60 years ago would have been examples of what not to be
There are states where people can legally be discriminated against Because they were born a certain way
Companies invest millions of dollars hiring specialists to make Little girls feel like they need “make up” to be beautiful Permanently lowering their self esteem
Because they will never be pretty enough
To meet those impossible standards
Corporations tell us buy, buy, buy, get this, get that
You must keep up, you must fit in
This will make you happy, but it never does for long
So what can we do in the face of all of this madness and chaos?
What is the solution? We can love
Not the love you hear in your favorite song on the radio
I mean real love, true love, boundless love
You can love, love each other
From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed
Perform an act of kindness because that is contagious
We can be mindful during every interaction
Planting seeds of goodness
Showing a little more compassion than usual
We can forgive
Because 300 years from now will that grudge you hold against Your friend, your mother, your father have been worth it?
Instead of trying to change others we can change ourselves
We can change our hearts
We have been sold lies
Brainwashed by our leaders and those we trust
To not recognize our brothers and sisters
And to exhibit anger, hatred and cruelty
But once we truly love we will meet anger with sympathy
Hatred with compassion, cruelty with kindness
Love is the most powerful weapon on the face of the Earth
Robert Kennedy once said that
Few will have the greatness to bend history
But each of us can work to change a small portion of events
And in the total of all those acts
Will be written in the history of a generation
So yes, the world is coming to an end
And the path towards a new beginning starts within you

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Burning Man

(Excerpt taken from the website of the Burning Man):

What is Burning Man?
Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. Burning Man is also an ever-expanding year-round culture based on the Ten Principles.

What Isn’t Burning Man?
Burning Man isn’t your usual festival, with big acts booked to play on massive stages. In fact, it’s more of a city than a festival, wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the event.

This year’s Burning Man is from August 25 – Sept 1, 2014

I came across this video which captures the spirit and principles of Burning Man accurately: it’s by
KQED and it won an Emmy award recently. Here it is:

<a href="http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M“>http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M

I want to be a Flaming Lotus Girl, and I want to go to the Burning Man so badly! But it would cost me thousands of dollars, which I don’t have. It will also be a trip halfway round the world, and I’ll have to get (child+pet+house)sitters in, more expenses I just cannot afford. SIGH. So, I’ll have to contend with living the festival vicariously through videos and photos shared by the lucky, lucky ones who get to go. If you DO go, feel free to post me some photos and I will add them here.

Watching videos of previous Burning Man festivals, out there in the desert with the strange lights, music and people in out-of-this-world costumes doing fantastically weird things, I’m reminded of the time I took my son to Disneyland Paris. One evening, at dusk, there was a musical troupe playing near the spaceship ride. They were dressed in layered burlap, and the instruments they played were modified saxophones or similar. On their heads they wore strange miner’s hardhats with attached (literally) overhead lights that moved as they played. The headgear was strangely reminiscent of angler fish. As it was dusk and the natural light was failing, I didn’t get any decent photos of them. But I remember that experience as if it was yesterday and not 6 years ago; the images are indelibly etched into my mind. It was, to put it simply, a magical experience.

It felt like a scene out of Star Wars, and I was transported to dusty Tatooine amongst its unwashed Jawas and Tusken Raiders. The musicians could have been a cross between the two races.

That is the sort of feeling I believe I would experience at the Burning Man festival.

Burning Man leans strongly on 10 Principles (excerpt taken from this link):

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regionals Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.

Radical Inclusion
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

Gifting
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Radical Self-reliance
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

Radical Self-expression
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

Communal Effort
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Civic Responsibility
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

Participation
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

Immediacy
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

Anything goes at Burning Man. I recall Episode 1, Season 7 of my favourite comedy series, Malcolm in the Middle, where the entire family go to the festival in an RV. Each member of the family has their own epiphany whilst there. Malcolm, for one, gets born again…literally passing through an obstacle course simulating the contractions of a womb, complete with pink jelly.

Some Google images of past Burning Man (Men??):

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Women in Art; Women in Film

I wanted to share these brilliant videos by Philip Scott Johnson, celebrating women in Art and Film. The first video takes the viewer through 500 years of Western Art, encapsulated by the faces of 90 celebrated paintings of women.  The music is Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello no.1 in G Major, BWW 1007, played by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

If you’re wondering who the women are in the video above, check out this site for a comprehensive list with descriptions. In 2010, Philip Scott Johnson created a sequel of sorts to “Women in Art”.  “Women in Film” uses Bach’s Prelude from the same Cello Suite as above, again played by Yo-Yo Ma, but this time morphing the faces of famous actresses of the Western world, past and present, spanning a period of 80 years.

The actresses used in the making of Johnson’s video are: Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Ruth Chatterton, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland, Anne Baxter, Lauren Bacall, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Janet Leigh, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Ann Margret, Julie Andrews, Raquel Welch, Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry

Both videos captured the public’s imagination so much so that to this day there exists several different versions of them, some set to contemporary music.  The versions in this post, however, are the original ones by Johnson himself. Philip Scott Johnson’s handle on YouTube is eggman913.  He has more “morph animations” that you can watch, as well as a whole list of other interesting artistic videos.

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My new friend Ryan

I made a new friend today. Not a virtual one on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media sites, but a real life person.

I was at my local Rockingham Hungry Jack’s (those of you in Europe and America will know this as Burger King) having breakfast, when I noticed a young man with a violin case and a huge backpack just settling into the seat opposite. So I struck up a conversation with him, as I was intrigued about the violin and the backpack.

His name is Ryan Langley. He’s 22 and hails from Port Angeles, right on the border between the USA and Canada. Take the ferry across the water and you’ll be in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. For “Twilight” afficionados, Port Angeles is the town near Forks, where Bella goes to that esoteric bookshop, gets waylaid later by some youths, is rescued by Edward and ends up having dinner with him at a restaurant.

My new friend Ryan is trying to work his way back home by busking. It’s halfway around the world, from one WA (Washington state) to another WA (Western Australia). He has 3 months to get together his airfare home, but he’s going to see as much of Western Australia as he can meanwhile…on a shoestring budget.

Ryan is into sailing and already has his Captain’s licence. He hopes one day to have his own boat and to sail from one WA to another WA.

Having travelled around the region where Ryan intends to visit, I was able to highlight for him several unmissable tourist attractions and towns where he could busk.

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This is Ryan’s map of WA showing the train and coach routes down the southern corridor. Among the sites he intends to visit are the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, Busselton Jetty, Hamelin Bay, the Margaret River region, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta, the Diamond Tree, Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree and Gloucester Tree in Pemberton, the Treetop Walk in Denmark, and the historic port city of Albany.

I bought Ryan lunch at our local shopping mall. Before that, I brought him to Dick Smith to get a US-AUS adapter for his laptop, as he hadn’t been able to charge his laptop since landing in WA a week ago.

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When it transpired that his DSLR camera was broken and he didn’t have a mobile phone or any other visual way of recording his travels, I brought Ryan to JB HiFi and bought him a basic Olympus camera and an 8GB SD card. (It may be “basic” but it boasted a 14 MP camera, nothing to sniff about). You just can’t go to places that you’ll probably never go to again, without being able to capture the moment.

I then put Ryan on the bus to the railway station, so he could catch the train to Mandurah, the next stop on his journey.

What a lovely chappie he is. I hope he keeps in touch with me, so I can share his journey vicariously with yourselves! Bookmark me to keep updated. If you wish to donate money towards Ryan’s airfare home, drop me a line.

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A Glimpse into Australian Aboriginal Art. PART 1

Ever since first my 2nd Aunt and then my Dad visited Australia and came back with examples of Australian Arts and Crafts (a grey koala made from real kangaroo fur, tea towels and coasters featuring Aboriginal Art, etc), I’ve been fascinated with all things Australian. And now that I’m living in Australia myself, I find myself constantly amazed and fascinated by Aboriginal Art.

Australian Aboriginal Art is not just one style of art. Each tribe or community has its own style and colours, and each tells its own story.  And what a story they have to tell! The Aboriginals have the longest surviving culture in human history. More than 60,000 years of it. That’s certainly nothing to sniff at.

Rather than going into a lengthy discussion on how and what Australian Aboriginal Art is like, I’ve decided to compile a list of YouTube videos showing various artists at work, and showing the different styles and techniques of painting that you can find, and hopefully providing some insight into how the artists think and create. Some of the videos come with funky modern music laced with the primal sounds of the didgeridoo…in fact, I’ve curated some of these videos for the sheer beauty of their music! I hope you enjoy these videos and will search out others to further your own education on this ever fascinating subject.

Most of the videos are courtesy of Desert Art Centre, who represent a good few Aboriginal Artists, bringing their talent from the dusty Outback to the worldwide platform. If you check out their website, there are more than 500 other videos showing their artists at work, that you can easily spend hours getting lost in.

I’ll see if I can speak directly to some Aboriginal Elders or Community to gain more information about each individual artist. And while I’m at it, I might even try taking Didgeridoo lessons! Didgeridoo Breath in arty Fremantle, not too far from where I live, offers lessons in playing the Didgeridoo. Whilst traditional Aboriginals disallow women from playing the didgeridoo, modern society is a little more liberal.

The Artists here are:

Mantua Nangala

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa

Mitjili Napurrula

Narpula Scobie Natural

Judy Watson Napangardi

George Ward Tjungurayyi

Nellie Marks Nakamarra

Emily Pwerle

Dorothy Napangardi

Fabrianne Peterson Nampitjimpa

Coincidence, or Serendipity …or, the search for That Green Dress.

Isn’t Life funny?  Just the other day the kid and I were channel surfing on Foxtel, when we came across the Australian film “Goddess“.  In a nutshell, it’s the story of Elspeth Dickens, who used to sing at gigs in England but who has now followed her husband James to a remote outpost in Tasmania, along with little twin boys.  While James is off recording whale songs, away for months at a time, she’s left at home bored with playing the dutiful housewife.  One day she decides to rig up a webcam in her kitchen and record her “kitchen sink songs”…never realising that the world would be tuning in and watching her antics.  Never mind that she has gorgeous, dark looks like Nigella Lawson, and in one scene wears a beautiful dark green wrap-round dress with tabbed-up sleeves (that I’ve been desperately trying to find out more about, but have so far failed … if anyone knows where I can buy THAT dress, I’ll be eternally grateful!!), the girl can sing!

I’m placing Laura and Nigella side by side here, with my prediction that when they eventually make a film about the life of Nigella, it will be Laura who plays her.  You can see why, can’t you?

Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson
Laura Michelle Kelly
Laura Michelle Kelly

The wonderful Laura Michelle Kelly plays Elle (Elspeth), and the gorgeous Ronan Keating plays her whale-watcher husband Jimmy (James).  There is a beautiful song that Laura sings with Ronan, in a music-video-within-a-film scene, where the estranged couple are singing out their hearts’ anguish. The title of the song?  “Frozen Heart”.

Just the other day, I brought the kid to the cinema to watch Disney’s animated movie “Frozen“.  For a second, I was worried that Disney’s feel-good, family fun films might prove too childish for his 11-year-old sensibilities.  But I needn’t have worried.  “Frozen” has to be Disney’s best animated film of the year 2013.  I was moved to tears throughout the entire film.  Bravo, Disney!  The music is so fresh, original and wonderful that right after the movie, I went and bought the soundtrack… which I have since then found, is heading to topple the soundtrack of Titanic as longest No.1 run for a soundtrack.  http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/frozen-targeting-longest-no-1-682543

Told you I had a good ear for great music! ;-)

But anyhow, the reason I’ve been compelled to write this post is simply to point out the coincidence, or call it serendipity if you will, of that one duet from “Goddess” and the theme for “Frozen”.  The duet’s title is “Frozen Heart”.  In the movie “Frozen”, Queen Elsa inadvertently sends a shard of frozen ice into the heart of her sister the Princess Anna, and only “an act of true love, can melt a frozen heart”.

There is a character in “Frozen” called Olaf.  He’s a snowman.  Don’t get me started on Olaf…he’s not terribly bright, but his heart is in the right place, and he comes out with the sweetest lines.  He wouldn’t think twice of giving up his life to save Princess Anna. He even likes the whole idea of Summer, even though it will mean the end of him.  Silly sod… but if you’ve watched the film, you’ll love Olaf too.

Here is THAT Green Dress that I love, can anyone help me find out who designed it, or where I can buy one like it?  I’m throwing this one out there into the world…someone please answer my prayers!

Elspeth's Green Dress in Goddess
Elspeth’s Green Dress in Goddess

P/s: (added 26th Feb 2014)
I found this YouTube video of the song “Frozen Heart”, sung by Laura Michelle Kelly and Ronan Keating, and thought I’d share it here with you. It’s MY song at the moment.

Frozen Heart

Musical Memory Lane

The Professor at my Music College in Singapore, LaSalle College of the Arts was a Dr John Sharpley.

I just checked up on my alma mater and boy has it grown up! When I was at LaSalle (1990-1992), it had only just started up as a tertiary college for Art and Music, and the modest premises were in an annexed block attached to St Patrick’s Secondary School, a boarding school for boys. (Incidentally, my brother Peter went to that school, having won a scholarship to study there as a boarder). When I was there, there was only one class of students in each of the 3 years offering Music. Now, as you can see for yourself on its website, LaSalle has moved premises to its own state-of-the-art buildings, and boasts a wealth of courses using the best technology and facilities available. If I ever visit Singapore again, I must make a beeline for LaSalle and see for myself how it has come on in leaps and bounds since its early days in the 1990s. I’ll be a Stranger in Paradise.

But I digress. As I was saying, my Music History, Analysis and Composition teacher was Dr John Sharpley. If music teachers were Doctor Who, then John Sharpley would be David Tennant. I absolutely adored John. He had a way of teaching that wasn’t really telling you anything but instead showed you how to see things. I likened his teaching style to giving us the outer pieces of a jigsaw puzzle i.e the border, which when put together became the frame. It was up to us then to find the rest of the pieces and fill in the picture.

John also had a unique way of marking exam papers. He would start from 100% and deduct points for innacuracy or incorrect answers. But he also ADDED points if he felt the answer had more details than required. I recall one History exam where I scored 106%, whoo hoo!

John also encouraged his students to be creative with their assignments. One assignment he gave us was to analyse Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, which I proceeded to do so on 9 sheets of paper. Using the given block of music to analyse as the centrepiece, I taped 8 more A4 sheets around it. On each sheet I wrote out my analysis of the piece, concentrating on one musical aspect at a time. I analysed the structure, orchestration, patterns in meter changes, phrasing, I even analysed the length of breath of the horns/oboes! My finished analysis was folded up to look like a stack of A4 papers (my first handmade book?!). John was delighted at my innovative approach, and I think I started a trend amongst my fellow classmates!

Another trend I started at LaSalle was the use of miniscule hardcover notebooks to take lecture notes. While others used A4 notepads, I used fat little A7 notebooks. See, I was using Tablets way ahead of anyone else. And I even developed my own semi-legible shorthand. I say semi as some of my classmates found my scribblings impossible to decipher!

I remember one year a few of us were invited to John’s home for dinner. He lived in a condominium block which I recall seemed to be made predominantly from concrete – it was grey, and shaped like an “O” looking down from above, with a central space in the middle. I can’t remember much about the interior of his condo, but the views were spectacular and I remember feeling very privileged to be in John’s inner circle.

John Sharpley is a Composer of Music, and when I was his student, there was a time he needed someone to copy his musical drafts onto manuscript paper. I volunteered for the job. I remember the evening I transcribed his draft sketches onto large A3 manuscript sheets…it was the time my parents were away up north for the funeral of my maternal grandfather. I had parked my Mum’s car at our church’s carpark in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and had taken the bus across the Causeway to Singapore to LaSalle. After a day at college, I was on my return journey when the lights went out all over Singapore and Johor. Traffic was at a standstill, so I walked the 2 miles or so across the Causeway back to Malaysian soil. Apart from the lights from vehicles, the whole land was in darkness. I later found out that the National Electricity Grid, which fed Singapore too, had gone down.

Anyway, I managed to get to my parked car safely. And somehow, very carefully, managed to drive home safely. Back home, without any electricity and a deadline (tomorrow) looming, I lit some candles (ooh, how romantic!) and settled down to transcribe John Sharpley’s music.

When I handed John the manuscripts the next day, back in college, he raised his eyebrows at the sight of several wax drips on the paper, but passed no comment about that. I got paid $100, my first paid transcription job.

It would be interesting to do some research and find out what my fellow alumni (class of 1990-1992) are up to these days. I’ve lost touch with them all…but if you’re out there and you’re reading this, please do contact me here! Gillian Tan, Chok Shuk Yin, Kannie Kee, Penny Tan, Dawn Eng, Patricia Lim, Jerome Tan, Paul Liang, Jill Ng-See, etc (Of course, you won’t know me as AlyZen Moonshadow, that is my professional name…but if you read between the lines you’ll know who I am).

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http://www.alyzenmoonshadow.wix.com/alyzenmoonshadow

Something Completely New For A Change

I’m a Classically trained Musician, having studied Music at degree level at University. That was, oh, half a lifetime ago. And, to be honest, I have never gotten a job where my First Class (Hons) Music Degree was a requisite. Instead, I worked as a Civil Servant in the UK, and then later in the Retail Banking sector.

It was only after I met my husband, Geoff, who creates music as ElectroCelt, back in 2009, that I came back to the world of Music. Geoff had set up his studio in the conservatory of the house I was renting in Ireland, when he moved in with me. Most days he would be sitting at his computers all day creating sequences, or playing on his synthesisers or electric guitars. As for me, my involvement was as a Musical Director/Editor. I helped shape ElectroCelt’s music, giving it structure and form, phrasing, melody and harmony, and calling upon my Classical training and knowledge. It was in Shanballybaun, County Leitrim, Ireland, that ElectroCelt’s album “Strange Elements” was born, and that album had a tremendous lot of input from me.

This week, I happened to stumble upon a mention of a Remix contest run by the famous film score composer, Hans Zimmer, and Bleeding Fingers, called the “Bleeding Fingers Contest”.  Hans Zimmer had posted on the contest site 10 “stems” of music, for various instruments, and the call was for musicians to remix the tracks any way they wanted.

Calling all composers! This original theme created exclusively for this contest by Mr. Zimmer himself is yours to replay, recompose or revise to your heart’s content. Below you’ll find a link to the theme plus everything you need to get the creative juices flowing. We’re looking for originality, curveballs and adventurous amphonics. Submissions should be 90 to 120 seconds in length and should include the words “Bleeding Fingers Contest” in the title of your track.

The prize?

The opportunity of a lifetime to become a Bleeding Fingers staff composer working along-side some of Hollywood’s premier film and tv composers on Hans Zimmer’s World famous Los Angeles campus.

The prize includes the opportunity for full-time employment, including a full benefits package, plus the use of a fully equipped studio in Bleeding Fingers brand new state of the art facility. The three lucky finalists will be announced on or before March 20, 2014.

Now, I’m not terribly proficient with the workings of such DAWs like Reason, or indeed Garageband, but I know the basics of it, from having done recording, editing, cutting and pasting on them while working on ElectroCelt’s music. So, I was willing to give the contest a whirl. Why not, as some people I knew were making a whole song and dance out of it?!  Literally.  I had no inclination to start creating music from scratch, but seeing as Hans Zimmer had already kindly provided 10 tracks that I could edit to my heart’s content, why ever not? I knew how to record music from Geoff’s iRig keyboard, how to create new tracks and modify the voices of instruments, I had the basics all right there. I went for it.

The contest closes on 19th February 2014, so I have a few more days to create more tracks if I want to. But right now, I’ve done 2 tracks in Reason, and 1 in Garageband, for the sheer hell of it. Here they are, I hope you enjoy listening to them.

The first track I named “BUGLE’S LAST REFRAIN

The second track is called “CHORALE

The third track (Garageband) is titled “MELISMA“.

TO PLAY THE TRACKS, SIMPLY CLICK ON THE TITLES.  Thanks for listening! Oh, and if you can, please Vote for my tracks!

xxx

ADDENDUM 10th Feb 2014:

I’ve just added a 4th remixed track, this time the title is “ECHOES OF DESTINY“. Enjoy!

ADDENDUM 13th Feb 2014:

Here is my 5th remixed track, entitled “UTOPIAN ENCOUNTERS“.  Please vote for my tracks!

And my 6th track, (I’m on a roll lol!), titled “TRIBAL HARMONY“.  I hope you like it!