Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Relearning the guzheng 3

Been playing about an hour a day minus the weekends. Back when I played, that's about how much a practiced a day. Maybe even a little less.

I was gonna stick with basic songs but they don't hold my attention. Started working on Dance of Yi today. The best beginning bit after the intro, and the first part of the fast part after. This made it clear that my left hand needs work too.

I hope my pick tape comes soon. I really need picks, man.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Relearning the guzheng 2

I'm still waiting on my pick tape. I really need it to do any sort of tremolo.

Index-thumb picking is improving. (Man, I really want to use my picks.)

I found songs that I absolutely loved and completed that I've also completely forgotten about. Namely, 彜族舞曲 (Dance of the Yi Tribe) and 茉莉芬芳 (Fragrant Jasmine), the latter of which I rediscovered while looking back on my old guzheng-related entries. Wow.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Relearning the guzheng 1.5

By the way, this is the best rendition of 春到湘江 I've found yet on Youtube:


I never finished it, by the way, before I had to stop playing. Got about 2:30 minutes in. It's hard.

I listened to this a lot as a freshman in college, away without my guzheng, dreaming about what could have been.

Relearning the guzheng 1

I play this instrument called guzheng and I used to be good. I haven't played in almost a decade (maybe eight years?). For a long time I've been looking at it longingly with my heart breaking because I could no longer play the pieces I want to play. It was a vicious cycle. I want to get good again. This is a log.

About a week ago I bought four rolls of pick tape from Amazon. They are shipping from China.

Today I went to Walmart for CR2025 batteries for my tuner (it needs two). They were out of stock on the shelves and I had to ask the jewelry counter for some.

My guzheng was tuned to F for 孔雀东南飞, but that is the only song I need it tuned to F for. At first I thought I was gonna leave it and work on 孔雀东南飞, since it's my favorite, but in the end I decided to tune it back to D to work on more basic songs first.

F key goes like this: F, G, A, C, D. What was once 2 becomes 1, etc. I don't need to retune the original 1 (D) and 5 (A).

D key: D, E, F#, A, B

I tried to play some songs without picks. Particularly 渔舟唱晚. I remembered a lot of 渔舟唱晚, but forgot most of the end and how to finish the fast bit.

I remembered more songs than I thought I would. I could sight read better than I thought I would be able to. However, I'm clearly lacking on basic picking technique (first exercise), which kind of surprises me. I'm not sure how long I played for but my right forearm is super tired.

Songs I had left on my stand: 孔雀东南飞,峽谷明珠放異彩 (Magnificent Bronze Gorge) (poor first page was collecting dust on the ground), 蝴蝶泉边,战台风, 绿岛小夜曲, and freaking 春到湘江. Wow. It's going to take me a long, long time to work back up to 春到湘江. This is like a direct continuation of my 2008 guzheng heart.

I'm worried about my guzheng a little. It looks and sounds fine but I've never changed a string on it. What will I do when one breaks? Where do I go buy them? I'll deal with it when it comes I guess.

Tried playing Golden Snake Dance (金蛇狂舞), which revealed my poor index-thumb picking ability. So slow. Guess I'll practice that until I improve.

Right forearm tired.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Love poetry

My three favorite love poems:

"A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" by John Donne
"my sweet old etcetera" by E. E. Cummings
"Variations on the Word Sleep" by Margaret Atwood

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas spirit

I live very near a minor Christmas attraction. I just discovered used coffee/hot chocolate cups in my mailbox. Assholes.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Postcards and fountains

My preferred souvenir to buy when traveling, since 2009, has been, and still is, postcards. It used to be tall shot glasses but postcards are significantly cheaper, more varied, and easier to find.

Here are some guidelines I have for myself when buying a postcard (and really, one per destination is enough for keepsies).

1. The postcard needs to display something I've actually seen. So no natural feature I didn't actually hike to, no art piece I didn't actually look at in the museum. Many art museums, in fact, sell art postcards of art that sit in entirely different museums.

2. Standard size is best. Standard material is best as well (no wooden postcards).

3. Artsy postcards are better. Creative photography or maybe a drawing. Realistic landscape photos are fine, but I can take photos myself.

4. No words on the front. Too kitschy. No name of the location, no "wish you were here".

5. Preferably, words on the back. A nice description is excellent.

These are not rules set in stone, of course; they're more like my preferences.

Now let me tell you about the first postcard in my current collection.

I was studying abroad in France and took a weekend trip to Barcelona. I decided to go to Barcelona for one major reason: the Calder mercury fountain located in Fundació Joan Miró, an art museum dedicated to Miró's works. I had seen a picture of the mercury fountain--this is an actual fountain with mercury running through it instead of water--a couple years prior in high school and it had left a deep impression on me. It was so cool! Before my trip I even checked their website, just in case, to make sure the fountain was really there.

So anyway, I started by enjoying various Barcelona sights, all whilst anticipating the one event I came here for. I enjoyed the Miró works slowly, too, appreciating them on the surface while my excitement bubbled underneath. And then.... I reached it. Near the end. The glass wall. And the fountain.... was out of order! Under repair! I looked at the dry fountain and actually cried tears. Not too many, though, because I was with my friend and it was kind of embarrassing.

Afterwards, we went to the gift shop and the only purchasable evidence that existed of the fountain was one little postcard. I bought it. This is what it would've looked like if it were running. This is what the picture I would've taken might have looked like.

I still haven't been back yet. I don't know the fountain is still there.