Thursday, 22 May 2008

Mixing and Editing final project proposal

"I want to make a piece describing the process of making a genetically engineered amoeba. The general narrative will be something like this. Scientists work in labs, create copies of DNA, mutate them, and zap them into amoeba with electricity. The amoeba gets the DNA, becomes weird and starts making strange noises in an amoeba dance.
My narrative is not scientifically correct. "

I actually submitted that as my music project proposal.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Men like destructive things, Women like cute things

Evil. Heartless. Idiotic. Jerk.

We played our sonic creatures today. All the guys had big destructive monsters. Heavy, metallic creatures that kill or destroy. Like this guy had this robot giant spider thing that decides to attack the audience. And another guy had an alien monster that kills people with swords for a living. Or this other guy whose robot got possessed by an evil drum machine and shot up to space and back in 2s.

And then the girls had cute little things. This girl made a fuzzy little thing that moves around and sings cute tunes. This other girl made this creature that lives in the water and swims around and creates bubbles. My creature was a little ball that bounces around in a dance. How different from the guys' creatures.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Recent reflections.. and observations

Honors banquet tonight. It's inspiring every year. These people are amazing. It makes me wonder what on earth have I been doing in my 3 yrs of undergrad life. Literally nothing, sitting on my butt doing nothing. And it's especially inspiring this year many of the people who were mentioned are my year and I know them. The Norris prize went to a classmate, haha a Hum classmate. I've always enjoyed the company of the really smart people but I don't seem to be meeting a lot of them, well, maybe I just don't interact with them. Classmates-wise, at least.. This yr's Norris prize winner really deserves it. He is smart, inspiring and very nice. 3 people that I took Hum with that I thought were deserving of the prize, Susan, Dan and Allen. And well, he got it.

Then we heard Allen's story. I'm absolutely amazed. We were all amazed in class at his quick thinking, great speech skills. And if anything, he taught me to not sit back and wait. To get anything done, you'll have to get up and do it. Double major, start an international community service organization, get published, all in 3 years. Beat that.

So what if a GPA is 3.8? It's the attitude towards everything that counts. And mine stinks. I gotta look up Kant's categorical imperatives. They come up every year at Revelle talks. And it kinda makes me miss Hum classes..

Been going to science talks, geared towards undergrads, how nice of them. Figured out some of my own goals to work on..
1. Do good science
2. Mix with the intelligent people (I need that intellectual stimulation, I'm not saying people around me are not smart, it's just that it's really rare to find someone who's really inspiring in classes.. I have plenty of friends who throw out intellectual ideas each time we talk)
3. Be able to explain things well (I was explaining the cloning process to this new undergrad in lab and I think I did a terrible job. He'd better ask me questions or he really won't get it)
4. Network.

It seems to me that people are not looking for what you've learnt, they're looking for the unique experience that you have, they're looking for the personality. It's not possible to hide behind skills and grades and stuff on paper. They're looking for a smart nice person who just happened to fill the need that they have.

Anyway, the expo helped me decide to do get a phd.

Dr Luft was saying how his engineer brother has finally figured out that his passion is in religion, psychology, family.. I wonder where my real passion is. I was supposed to have found it in college. Again I wonder what I've been doing. He was also saying that Humanities is not a knowledge that one can pass on to another like science, it's about discovering for yourself what life is all about, what makes us human. That's the meaning of humanities anyway. Maybe it's precisely because of that, because we don't know/ don't dare to discover for ourselves, about ourselves that we choose science and try to do humanities the scientific way. Cold, objective. It's why I don't enjoy the humanities so much. It's hard work, all this exploring and discovering.

In psychoacoustics we read about musicians conducting scientific experiments on sound and music and how we perceive them. First I've always thought Biology was not scientific enough because there's too much of oh-I-saw-this-in-this-cell-&-I think-it's-the-norm-from-how-I-eyeballed-it. It's not quantitative enough (though of course, it's getting more quantitative every day). Then came psychology and yeah they do numbers and stats, but they just seem to be telling you really obvious things that you already know like Japanese people feel more like part of a group but Americans feel more like individuals. Then we get to psychoacoustics. They're experiments that have interesting questions, but are really hard to answer. This guy thinks that each composer has his own internal rhythm that's different from others and if you play a piece by Beethoven using Mozart's internal rhythm, you'll sound terrible. And he tested it by tweaking rhythmic variables on MIDI files until they sound somewhat musical and overlaid different composers' rhythms on other composers' works and getting people to decide which overlay sounded the best. This is not even eyeballing, this is cochlea-ing.. You arbitrarily decide that this variation sounds good on Brahms so you call it the Brahms rhythm. (if you want more info on this expt, ask me)

Second (gosh this is getting long), I have my cancer class before the psychoacoustics class. So we talk about increasing survival rates and getting better diagnosis and treatment methods in that class. And then I go to my acoustics class and looking at those expts and reading those papers makes me marvel at how unimportant the questions are. Do we really care if a 240c interval sounds like a maj 2nd but a 260c interval sound like a min 3rd? It's fun to know. But in a world that is in the self-destruction mode, should we care about such trivial differences?

I guess arts can only fluorish in stable times, where survival is not a problem. And at least I'm interested in knowing how people perceive music, though the expts are really hard to do. It's almost impossible to find controls or to tweak only 1 variable at a time. Went to RFBF concert last night. They played Stockhausen's Mikrophonie I on the world's largest gong. It was quite a piece of art. Sonically and visually. I thought the piece was about making sounds on the gong using different objects but it's really about using the gong to resonate sounds made by the different objects. And objects included things like bicycle wheel and giant comb and brush that made really neat sounds. I'm glad I got to hear such a masterpiece live. And then they played this pulsars piece that I just didn't get. The surround sound was cool with 6 percussionists in 6 different parts of the hall surround the audience. And it's really fun when they do the surround sound thing where this snare roll was passed from one station to the other. But I don't get how the piece connected with pulsars at all. It was random.

All right, that was a long spiel. Get things which I've wanted to blog for a long time out finally. Time to stop procrastinating and start working. Oh yeah, it was great talking to all my fave profs tonight.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Urinetown revisited

So I've had a smashing day. Haven't used that word in a while. It's P's birthday and I went over. Some of them are going to be counsellors at a church camp and it's fun to hear from their perspectives about such camps and how to deal with naughty kids and so on.. When I was a kid, those camp group leaders all seemed like such old adults.. they're all poly/ uni students, that's old. And now we're that age and it's our turn to be those leaders. Played DDR for a while.. These guys practised man.. They're good. I haven't touched DDR since sec sch.. There's actually different styles in DDR, there's this Haiwaiian move dance, and this hip hop dance, and this galloping cowboy dance.. Nv knew that

Then because we love Urinetown so so much, the orchestra went to watch SDSU's version of Urinetown. Just so happen that they're playing the same show as us. It's so obvious that they have much more money than we do. Their set is elaborate, they have huge light bulbs like those in high school musical that says URINETOWN THE MUSICAL. Their costumes are actual rags, their set is much more elaborate than ours. But in our very biased view, our show was much better. We were so much funnier and more energetic. We made sure our jokes were delivered well, they practically glissed over the jokes, wrong pause, wrong tone... And it didn't help that the narrator didn't have a very good voice. Their orchestra was professional though, 5 people band, sounded fantastic, and coordinated very well with the cast. Not like ours where there's a part when they run for an awkwardly long time wiating for us to get to the right cue. They're cool enough to use a elec bass, makes things much easier. They had better set design, techie stuff like sound and light design and orchestra. But overall I liked our show better. It was low budget, but it was funny, enthusiastic, we had nice voices, more mo4 qi4, more dirty jokes, much much better choreography.

We're such an orchestra. We were among the few people who stayed till the band played their last note and clapped and cheered for the band. Haha. And I bet we were the only people in the audience who can sing/ hum to After Bows and Exit Music. This is our show.