Archive for the 'music' Category

on the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

I took Tuesday morning off work, to see the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu speak on a panel along with representatives from a number of different faiths on the topic of compassion. Afterwards, I participated in the 600-member choir and orchestra which performed the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Thanks to Seeds of Compassion for organizing this event.

The discussion was amazing and I’d encourage any of you interested to check out the complete video webcast which is available here. The one from Tues. Apr. 15 is the one I was at. (You can spot me in the choir at 02:27:43 and a few other moments if you look carefully.)


One highlight of the morning for me was the following extemporaneous mini-sermon by Desmond Tutu (in response to the question, “How can you learn to not be so hard on yourself? How do you learn to redeem yourself for a mistake?”):

… It would be awful if we didn’t get angry when you see someone, for instance, violating a child. That would be awful! And so it is something to be thankful for when you lose your cool. That is quite important; it says something about a person. If you were to be indifferent, hearing that children were being killed in Darfur, I would get worried about you! And so I’m glad that you get upset.

And about the things that actually get to upset you… I get really angry with God. I mean I’ve…I’ve…rrrrrgggh!! You know…how can you–how can you?!–let this, that, and the other happen, you know. And the God that we worship is incredible, in a way. He says, “Yeah… You know, I gave them a gift of freedom. And they can use it that way. And I can’t do…I can’t do anything! Okay, get mad at me. Get mad at me; I’m glad you’re getting mad.”

And sometimes…I laugh easy, but I cry quite a lot as well…so, I cry. But I want to support you…for goodness’ sake, God has all of eternity to work on you. You and I are a work in progress! And if we slip — this is one of the wonderful things about God! — God doesn’t say (you know, if you make a mistake), “AAH! Good riddance to bad rubbish!” God…God picks you up, dusts you off, and says…Try again! And when you mess it up again, God says…”Tough luck. Come on, let’s try again.” Dusts you off… “Come on, try! Try…and try…” Because this God is a three-miles-per-hour God. Walking at our pace.

on Christmas at the Glicks (episode 2: the singing)

on My First Sacred Harp Singing

Today I had a really wonderful experience. I biked 4 miles with Matt and Sol out to the New Testament Baptist Church, for the annual Sacred Harp singing that takes place there. I knew that it would be a good day when I biked the last yards toward the small white church building listening to the powerful chords emanating from it.

Sacred harp singing is a tradition of communal singing that originated in the South of the US in the mid-1800s. It is shape-note singing tradition–each shape on the staff represents a particular note of the scale, and each song is first sung through once naming the notes instead of using the words. There is a also a big emphasis on community and participation–the people present take turns leading each song, and go to lengths to help new people get up to speed. The typical seating arrangement is in a hollow square with one part on each side, all facing the leader in the middle, so this adds to the atmosphere of community. Sacred harp singers can tend to be a little obsessive about this pasttime: they will travel across multiple states for the well-known singings, and note the following picture as well. 🙂

Vanity license plates at the Sacred Harp singing

One thing that was cool about the singing is that there were people from many different backgrounds present–not just Mennonites–all united by their love for the music. Most of the songs were new to me, although I knew a few, felt at home, and did fine sight-reading (thank you J.D. Smucker, Deb Brubaker, and Assembly Mennonite Church).

I’d definitely recommend this tradition to anyone who loves singing in harmony. If you want to know more or find a singing near you (they go on year round), see

on German Lyrics in English

Lately I’ve been entertaining (and educating) myself by translating songs by Die Prinzen. This one’s goofy:

Du willst mich haben, denn du findest mich sch?n,
ich muss sagen, das kann ich gut versteh’n.
Du machst Geschenke, und w?schst bei mir ab,
und ich denke, das ich’s gut bei dir hab’.
Doch da gibt es eine Sache, die ich gar nicht leiden kann,
kommen deine feuchten Lippen zu nah’ an mich ‘ran.

K?ssen verboten, k?ssen verboten,
k?ssen verboten, streng verboten!
Keiner, der mich je gesehn’ hat, h?tte das geglaubt:
K?ssen ist bei mir nicht erlaubt.

Schon in der Schule, ich war sieben Jahre alt,
da war die Jule in mich total verknallt.
Ging ich nach Hause, kam sie hinter mir her
und in der Pause, wollte sie noch viel mehr.
Sie dachte, dass sie mich mit K?sebr?tchen kaufen kann
und dann kamen ihre feuchten Lippen an mich ran.

Und letzte Nacht im Traum, Tobias kam zur T?r herein,
ich sah grosse feuchte Lippen und ich konnte nur noch schrei’n:

Kissing forbidden (K?ssen verboten)

You want to have me because you find me beautiful
I must say I can understand that well
You give me gifts and wash up for me
and I think I have it good with you.
But there is a thing that I can’t stand
your damp lips come too near to me.

Kissing forbidden / Kissing forbidden
Kissing forbidden / Strictly forbidden
No one who has ever seen me has believed it,
Kissing is by me not allowed.

Already in school, I was seven years old,
There was Julie, totally fallen for me,
I went home, she came from behind,
And at break she wanted many more.
She thought she could buy me with cheese rolls,
and then her damp lips came at me.

And last night in a dream, Tobias came to the door,
I saw big damp lips and I could only scream

on Winter Yearnings

That is the title of this composition which I just put together for my Physics of Musics class. (The assignment was to write a 2-minute piece of music incorporating various additive and subtractive synthesis techniques, disguising an instrument’s sound, and playing a melody on harmonics.) Criticism is welcome, but keep in mind that this is my first composition and I will probably give up composing for good if you don’t like it. 😉 (Of course, that may be what you’re going for.)

Aside from the bongos, which I found using FindSounds, and the synthesized tones layered on top at the end, I only made use of two recordings: a single strike on my hammer dulcimer, and white noise from the airplane last week. All the processing was done using Adobe Audition.