Schedule for Spring Semester

 

 

Holla holla hollaaaaa, this is by FAR the most easy semester I will have ever had:

 

Of course, I still have to fit in a voice lesson, a composition lesson, and another composition class on Fridays from 2:30 – 4, but if I play my cards right, I can have Wednesdays OFF! And maybe I can do something productive like have a job!

The schedule you see above is only 13 credit hours. I have been packing in 18 hours a semester to get to this point ūüôā Looks like my last three semesters of college will be smooth sailing!

“Choir Triplets”

If you are not a musician, you might want to skip reading this, as you will find it quite boring.

I have found that most singers have a little problem when it comes to performing rhythms… they simply do not execute triplets properly.

I used to have this problem, too, until last year in a class myself and another percussionist were supposed to play a rhythm in a song written by one of our classmates. Everything was going fine, I feel like I have a good sense of pulse. However, when we got to the triplets, we played them differently! He explained to me what I was doing wrong, and I was shocked! What I was performing is what I have come to call a “choir triplet”, since I find that it happens a lot with singers in a choir.

In order to explain what a choir triplet is, let’s review what a¬†real triplet is first. They look like this:¬†

And they sound like this (I have added snare drum in quarter notes to help you hear the meter): Triplets

Sounds easy enough, 2 against 3 is a relatively easy polyrhythm to perform. However, you may have been performing triplets this way all your life, and not even realizing it, just as I was doing:

This is what the fake triplets sound like: Fake triplets

They actually sound rather similar. Both “real” triplets and “fake” triplets take up two beats of time. However the difference between them is that in a real triplet, each note has the same duration, and in a fake one, the first two notes are actually longer than the last. So how different are the two rhythms, really? Click here to hear both rhythms played at the same time:¬†Both

I realize now that every choir I have ever been in tends to perform triplets as the second rhythm. It does tend to make the choir slow down and lose the tempo of the piece. When all of the voices are singing the same rhythm, (homophony) it really isn’t too much of an issue. However, when you’re singing a piece like this…In Bethlehem…it can really fuck you up!

You’ve Really Grown Up

“Oh wow, you look so grown up!”

If you are under the age of 21, there is little doubt in my mind that you hear this phrase often. When adults haven’t seen you in a while (a “while” being any amount of time from six months to 10 years), it is a reflex for them to utter some variance of this phrase.

20121023-165322.jpgI used to not mind this reaction. After all, I had indeed, grown up! I am constantly shocked at how fast time flies…Wasn’t I just beginning high school not too long ago?! I can understand how adults would marvel at my changes. After all, once you turn into an adult, you don’t change much so it is shocking to see people you knew as little children growing up.

Well, truth be told I’m starting to get annoyed by that phrase a bit. I am 20 years old now, and the only thing that has changed about my appearance in the last three years has been my hairstyle. I haven’t grown an inch since 2005! Can adults really look at me and still go, “Oh my gosh, you’ve grown up so much!” based on my appearance when in reality, I really haven’t?

Personally, I don’t think they ought to anymore!

 

Binge!

First of all, let me say that my diet is going really well. I am not constantly hungry anymore. I eat all the same foods that I like, just in smaller portions. I am already halfway to my weight loss goal!

However, last night, I binged. Jacob and I went to Golden Corral, which for those of you who don’t know, is a huge buffet of mediocre foods. Of course, to a college kid, mediocre is like a feast fit for royalty.

I thought it would be fun to binge. I ate the way I used to eat at Golden Corral as a kid: two plates of food plus a dessert. I have never left Golden Corral feeling good, I was always overstuffed. Last night it was worse than I ever remember feeling!

I will admit that it was fun to eat pot roast, chicken, Mac and cheese, rice and beans, mashed potatoes, and all of that. It all tasted really good. However, feeling crappy afterwards greatly outweighed the fun of eating. Since I have started my diet I had not felt bloated or over-full. Last night I was so over full it hurt to move! Also, when I weighed myself this morning, I was four pounds heavier than the previous day!

All in all, I think this was a positive experience because now I know that the fun of binging is not worth the discomfort that follows. I’m not concerned with the resulting pounds I put on, I’m young and they will come off fast now that I’m back to the grindstone!

Today I have pretty much purged, insomuch as it is 1PM and I’ve only consumed coffee and water. Haha, I wonder how long it will take me to feel hungry after that feast last night! Probably only a few hours more ūüėõ

Has Pop Music Gotten Worse in the Last 50 Years?

The answer, undoubtedly, is yes.

I have had this argument with my boyfriend a few times, and he just can’t come to accept it. It’s not fair, he said, to compare the music industry as we know it today to the music of the past, because we see all the bad music around us today whereas bad music of past decades has faded out of history and we don’t even know about it today.

This is a good point. However, if you take a cross section of the most popular songs of each decade, you can see from the top five hits of each year how the trend is really going. Take this list for example. It begins in 1946. We have jazz standards, some silly pop songs. Then we move to The Beatles, who, let’s be honest, were some of the finest pop music of the century. In the 1970s we see the charts get peppered with frivolous dance and pop music (come on, can “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” really¬†be compared to Nat King Cole or “Hey Jude”?)

It only gets worse from there. The number 1 song of 1982¬†is Olivia Newton John’s “Physical”. While I am not saying this isn’t a terribly catchy song, the overall quality¬†or intelligence of the piece surely cannot be compared to the jazz standards or classic rock of previous decades.

Of course there are still some great songs on the list, but as the years progress, the ratio of really great songs (“Every Breath You Take”, “Billie Jean”) to rather stupid songs (“Walk Like an Egyptian”, “Flashdance… What A Feeling”) makes a clear shift towards the stupid side. By the 2000s, we seem to have descended into complete idiocy (“In Da Club”, “Since U Been Gone”, “Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)”).

To make myself clear again: I am not saying these songs have no merit at all. These are songs I myself have sung along with, danced to, or performed in a private concert to my adoring fans in the bathroom mirror with a paddle brush as a microphone. But when you compare the general level of artistry involved in making these songs with songs earlier on the list, we see a clear divide.

But how could music just get worse? What driving force would possibly be behind that? Well, I didn’t know it until this past week when I read it in my music history book.

Over 100 years ago, the only way to enjoy music outside of a concert was to purchase the sheet music for it and play it yourself. Obviously in this society, only people with musical training and thus refined musical taste would be seeking out music and giving their¬†consumerism¬†to the music industry. Thus, the industry demand for music was only for the type of music these people would like: “classical” music, musical theater/opera, etc.

Then, recording technologies were invented. It started as the wax cylinder, and evolved into the vinyl record. Here’s a neat fact, the early incarnations of a record were not very efficient and could only hold 3-4 minutes of music on each side. This is what dictated the length of songs and is why typical pop songs are about 3 minutes in length today. With each new¬†advancement¬†in recording technology, music became more and more easy to purchase, own, and enjoy. Most importantly, you didn’t have to be able to read music to access it anymore. As more people gained access to music, the demand for music changed because it wasn’t only the classically trained musicians listening to it anymore.

In the past 50 years, music technology has improved at an exponential rate. Since the vinyl record, we’ve had radio, 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs, mp3s, and finally, free and universal streaming services (YouTube, Pandora, Spotify). In 100 years the amount of effort it requires to listen to a piece of music has gone from studying for years to perfect an instrument in order to play the piece all the way down to simply typing in the name of a tune you want to hear. As non-musically educated people have saturated the market, so has the quality of the music gone down to meet their tastes.

Improved technology also means that it has become easier and easier to¬†record music, and this fact has sped up the production of the “bad” music supply.

I am not saying there is no good music at all these days. I am a huge fan of Mumford and Sons, Avett Brothers, Seven Lions, and the like. However, can you really compare Justin Bieber to The Beatles? Besides the hair cut, they really haven’t got a damn thing in common.

Children for Same-Sex Couples

Recently, it was National Coming Out day, a day for raising awareness for the acceptance of LGBT people by our community. Today, my family and I were talking about what it could feel like to have a gay child.

My mom said it would be weird… you could not go visit that child and his/her spouse and their kids… because any kids they had would not be 100% their own! The most a gay couple can do is use one parents’ DNA and combine in with a donor’s. But really, with medical technology progressing the way it is, will this be true for much longer?

There are constantly being tests being done by scientist to learn more about how we can control life, whether with cloning, stem cells, or growing new organs for patients who need a transplant. It could definitely possible to have a same-sex couple have their own genetic children. It would be difficult and expensive, and it would require egg extraction, but it could be done. Perhaps not now, but I would bet within 20 years.

The ovum, or “egg”, from a female human is about 20 times the size of a human sperm. This is because the sperm is essentially just a swimming nucleus of DNA. The ovum, however, has cytoplasm, mitochondria, and all that other cell stuff. These other components of the cell are what are able to replicate to create every functioning cell in the human body.

Of course, the main difference between an ovum and any other human cell is that an ovum only has half of a full set of chromosomes; it needs to be met with a sperm which has the other half in order to form a full set of human DNA and begin to replicate. The nuclei of the ovum and of the sperm, I believe, are essentially the same. It is the rest of the cell that makes the difference.

So, what do you need to make a new baby? You need an ovum and half a nucleus from each parent.

Theoretically, for a gay male couple to have a biological child, you could take an egg from a donor, extract the nucleus from the ovum, and insert the nuclei from the two fathers. As long as at least one of the two nuclei contained an X chromosome, the egg could then be implanted into a surrogate mother, and grow into a baby!

For two women, you would take an egg from each, and transplant the nucleus from into the other. Then the two nuclei would combine inside the one ovum. Of course, by this method, a lesbian couple could only give birth to a daughter, since the mothers’ nuclei would only be X chromosomes sets.

How far fetched is this? I think some procedure like this may have successfully been done already. If I made a habit of reading up on scientific journals, perhaps I would know. I know that this procedure IS expensive and difficult and does not have a high success rate. However, as technology improves, it will definitely get easier!

Gay Marriage Debate

This week, I joined the group B.G.L.S.A. at my school. This stands for Bisexual Gay Lesbian Straight Alliance. It is basically a gay rights advocacy group. I am so happy to be a part of it! Through the group I learned that there will be a debate about gay marriage rights at our student union in a few weeks.

I definitely plan to attend this debate. I have never witnessed a debate on this topic. However, I can’t imagine that it will go very well. I can only imagine one basic argument that each side will make.

Before I list those arguments, let me name the sides here: one is us, the Allies. The people who want everyone in our nation to have basic human rights and think gay marriage should be legal YESTERDAY. Then there are the homophobes. Yes, I want to use the most derogatory word possible to describe these people who are bringing oppression to a group that they don’t particularly like. I swear, homophobes are #2 on my hate list after pedophiles. They just infuriate me with their ignorance.

Anyway, what can each of the sides use as their argument? I feel like the allies will say “it is common sense that everyone should have basic human rights”. Ok, yes, clearly. Done. I imagine the homophobes will say “It’s not in the Bible” or some of that shit. You’re right, it’s not. But since when do the contents of the Bible dictate¬†the laws for our country? Never. Argument over.

If it’s so mind-numbingly simple, why the fuck do we not have gay marriage yet? I do not understand.

Maybe the homophobes will say that it is a choice to be gay. Well, first of all, it isn’t. There is science to back that up, research has been done on gay people to determine what physically in their brain causes their orientation. Also, fucking common sense. No one would CHOOSE to be in a group of people that is blatantly discriminated against across the world and is not even allowed basic rights in our country. No one would choose that life. It is not a choice.

Maybe the homophobes will say that they are afraid children who see happy gay couples walking down the street will then themselves choose to be gay. This is why we must stamp out homosexuality. Again, no. It is not a choice. A person cannot choose to be gay no more than they can choose to be short or tall.

This reminds me of a short anecdote: when my sister was little, she had this very very best friend named Lisa. They were nearly the same age and our families were neighbors so they spent every moment of every day together. You know what my three year old sister told my mom one day? “I love Lisa so much, I’m going to marry her!”

Now was my mother appalled at this? Did she think her three-year-old daughter had been influenced by the media to turn into a lesbian? Absolutely fucking not. My sister and I were taught that a marriage was a union between two adults who love each other. This, I strongly believe, should be the official definition of marriage around the world. My sister thought, oh, I love my friend, therefore I will marry her when we are adults. Flawless three year old logic. Of course, a dozen years later she was well established in her man-loving heterosexual ways.

I think (and this is just a guess) that homophobes’ main argument against gay marriage is that the Bible says it is wrong. My boyfriend likes to use the “traditional marriage” argument against this point, that is, picking other mentions of marriage from the Bible that include polygamy, rape, and concubines and stating that while the Bible does condemn gay marriage, it also allows for/encourages all these other crazy marriage arrangements that we do not accept today. He says that Christians cannot cherry pick which type of marriage they think is best and condemn all other forms.

While I agree with him, this is not the way I like to come back to the “it’s not in the Bible” argument. To this point I would say, so what? Just because it is written¬†in a book that you like does not mean one can use that opinion to control the lives of everyone else around you. Not everyone agrees with that very¬†antiquated view of the world.

What if I decided that in my religion it was blasphemous to have red hair? Would that mean that I could oppress all the redheads in the country and not let them get married? Obviously not. So why do homophobes think it is ok for them to do that with gay people???

I think what it really boils down to is that homophobes really just think gay sex is gross. Ok! That’s fine! Have your own opinion! You know, when I first learned about gay sex as a kid, I was grossed out too. But you know what happened next? I grew the fuck up. I’m sorry you homophobes haven’t matured. And anyway, even if you still think gay sex is all icky cooties, this is just another opinion. And opinions don’t give you the grounds to discriminate against people!

I had better stop writing, I am getting too angry.

Fuck homophobes, peace out.

What I have learned from keeping a food journal, week 1

This is day six of me keeping track of what I’ve eaten. The first four days I was just googling foods and writing down my best calorie guesses on a piece of paper, but last night I found a cool app from about.com called Calorie Count. It not only counts calories, but all other nutrients in your food so you can see if you are lacking in vitamins or going over your sodium, etc.

Let me just say, it is shocking how many calories are in things. I do not know what I ate before on a daily basis, but I’m sure now it was not that good. The good news is, the simple act of keeping track of my food intake has made it so much easier to motivate myself to keep the consumption to a reasonable level.

There are some foods that even though I knew they must be bad, I didn’t realize how bad they were until I started keeping track!

  • Cupcakes: obviously these are no good for you, but a bakery cupcake has almost 600 calories in one!
  • Chicken wings: like 100 calories/wing
  • Powdered donuts: six mini powdered donuts is something like 400 calories
  • Publix fudge brownies: 240 calories in just one of those motherfuckers!

I’m trying to keep my daily intake under 1400 calories. The cupcake day was NOT one of those days! Also, the app has revealed to me that I am stupidly low on all of my vitamins. I should start taking multivitamins every day!

Going to Spain

Every two years, the school choir goes in an international tour. My Freshman year, it was Italy. Before that, it was China. This year, it is Madrid, Spain.

I didn’t go on the trip to Italy. I was still suffering from depression and cripplingly low self esteem at the time. I also had a mental dependency on Jacob. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go out of the country for two weeks and not be able to talk to him in that time. It sounds stupid now, but it was the right decision.

Everything has changed for the better in the last two years. I am fully recovered from depression, and I think I am ready to go on a cultural trip and get that experience. I will miss Jacob, but we will have Skype etc.

The trip will last 10 days. One of those days will be my birthday. What a bummer… Jacob is sad that he won’t get to spend my birthday with me. I am too, but I can’t control the dates of the trip ūüė¶

I wonder if he really doesn’t want me to go. This morning he told me he was “on the fence” about me going. I’ve already made a commitment to go, so I’m not sure how to interpret that. I think we. Feel the same way: it’s very sad that I will be gone on my birthday and we will miss each other greatly, but it’s a great opportunity that I shouldn’t pass up. And like I said, we have Skype. That is, if I am ever available to talk while he’s not at work!

Everything will be ok. Right?