Monday, June 12, 2017

Two completely unrelated topics

Once, when I was in college, I decided to do an exercise and honestly write down everything I didn't like about myself. I'd been having a lot of negative thoughts and I just wanted to lay it all out there. It actually made me feel better because what I thought might have been a never-ending list turned out to not even fill the entire page of my notebook.

It might be a little longer this time, but I should probably try this again.

--

Yesterday, I tried to make the Cantonese dessert 双皮奶 for the first time. I only had powdered milk (at least it was full fat), so it wasn't great. It didn't form a lot of skin. It turned out okay, though. The inside was nice and smooth.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Relearning the guzheng 7

I somewhat finished 孔雀东南飞. As in, I can play all the parts--just not well, yet.

Here's what I sound like now.

Finally, the full beginning of Fragrant Jasmine sans intro (from June 2), and then today's poor rendition of Peacocks. The tempo is pretty bad (inconsistent) on Peacocks. But it's the whole song.

There's a video I took of myself playing Peacocks from 2009. I made some mistakes in it, but it's obviously very much better than what I've got now. Cleaner. I keep going. Actually, I'm a little surprised how quickly I picked it back up.

Oh, and I can tell that my phone microphone isn't really cutting it, hm.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Relearning the guzheng 6

So the pick tape I bought, it's some poor quality pick tape. I mean, I knew from the moment I saw it was it wasn't as good as my old stuff, but damn, it's shittier than I thought. It's fraying and unsticky and it gets in the way. Annoying.

Maybe I'll have to make a trip out to a supply store to look at the types in person. I dunno.

Also, I've started working on 孔雀东南飞 again. It's easier than 茉莉芬芳, and it's also a song I've actually completed before. Man, playing songs in different keys is annoying. In that, during a practice session, I have to retune multiple times.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Passport

About a month ago I sent off my old passport for a renewal, and I was so worried about it the whole time. What if it got lost in the mail??? What if it got lost in the passport processing center?? Well, it came back! A week ago, actually. It was such a relief to have it back in my hands.

That passport is a record of my most prolific travel period. I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever fill a passport like that again (not in the least that fewer and fewer countries are giving out stamps). I have a lot of memories attached to that thing! I used it so much I even memorized its number!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Relearning the guzheng 5

So, I remembered that 茉莉芬芳 is a key of G song, but back in the day I played it in D. I remembering bringing it up with Teacher and she was like, eh, just play it in D.

I thought about it (now), and I think I should play it in its proper key. Key of G is the second most common key for songs on the guzheng, apparently, and it's relatively easy to tune for (just change F# to G and it becomes the new 1). Man, I have to admit, I find changing keys difficult. What had always been ingrained as "1" is no longer "1"! Etc.

I thought about not working on it until I'd gotten good at a regular D key song, but, yeah, I guess this is the one I want to play after all.

So I redid it. Here's the beginning again in the correct key.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Relearning the guzheng 4

My pick tape arrived!!!

Kinda awkward wearing them, actually. It's been a while.

I practiced for long time today. I also started working on 茉莉芬芳 in addition to everything else (and upon listening to the entire song online, I'm pretty sure I never completed it). I just want to play everything... but only the slow beginning parts. The fast parts... will have to wait a little. Honestly, these songs are above my level now.

Yesterday I spent some time on guzheng.cn and looked at the pieces used to grade your guzheng level. There are different authorities, but basically, 渔舟唱晚 is a level 4 piece. 战台风 is level 7. 孔雀东南飞 is also level 7 (I had no idea you could use it for a test!). 茉莉芬芳 is level 8, and 春到湘江 is level 10.

My hands and arms are pretty tired.

I recorded a little to see what I sound like currently. Here are my very poor renditions of the beginning of 茉莉芬芳 and 彝族舞曲--both without the intro, and the entirety of 渔舟唱晚 (except I cut out one repetition of the fast part since I'm not up to snuff yet anyway).


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