Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cheesecake And Tea

It has been the busiest week ever since the year started, taking on unavoidable, extraneous jobs coming from those incompetent colleagues who lack the adequate skills and intellect to handle, and at the same time balancing my teaching and rehearsal schedules. Somehow, it is at such vulnerable and least rational times when strangely alluring artistic theories decide to introduce themselves and sell their ideas to me. As usual, the hidden adventurous streak in me decided to invite them into my comfortable home and try out their ideas. A costly mistake which almost destroyed the very core foundation of why I practise the arts...

Had a couple of hours to spare between my lessons yesterday, I sought refuge at my favourite tea room in the vicinity. Indulging myself in a pot of Darjeeling tea and a slice of Blueberry cheesecake, I spent the next two hours reading some literary materials recommended by a friend and pondering upon their contents. Staring in my face for the next hour or so was the preface to the novel The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Of course, one shouldn't treat this cynical aesthete so seriously, but it was the very basis of his art that had been eating into my soul for the past week or so.

Being fairly new in the arts and thus restricted my circle to mostly musical techniques at the beginning, I hadn't had the chance and privilege of being exposed to the more modern artistic theories put forth in the arts scene (thankfully!). After deciding to come out of my shell and open myself to the artistic world, I was overwhelmed by the multitude of artistic theories which seem so foreign and appealing at the same time. A part of me just wanted to subscribe to the one which seems to seems most appealing, but thank God, the conservative and rational side managed to suppress the impulsive streak and held out a little longer. What Wilde and many other modernists had believed in, known in French as L'art pour l'art (art for art's sake), certainly has certain most tempting qualities personally. The most transient aural and visual beauty alone truly appealed to my senses and often linger in my thoughts and soul for some time to come, just as the aesthetic visual beauty of the reddish tea in the transparent teacup on the black wooden table is one of the reasons I frequent the tea room I was in. I was on the verge of embracing that theory to be the basis of my music, till Bach chorales and Beethoven symphonies came into my mind...

Somehow, I interpreted the preface as Wilde's personal beliefs and perception of art itself, at the same time justifying each and every statement of it to the content of his works which I spent quite some time on in the past week. He pretty much summed his beliefs in this preface, and ultimately reveals himself in the last statement - All art is quite useless. Of course, on the surface, one can simply conclude that Wilde was trying to be cynical by apparently contradicting the previous statements which he had written earlier. But I would rather interpret that statement as the only and sole meaning in art was its aesthetic beauty, nothing else. Take away the emotions, morality, politics, didacticism in art and what was left (aesthetic beauty) was what he believed to be sufficient to form the basis for pursuing of the arts.

If I were to subscribe to that theory, it would be almost impossible for me to reconcile my art with my relationship with my beloved Father. Holding on a a beauty that is only transient in nature? I'm not quite ready to give up my faith just to pursue the short term preservation of an ephemeral beauty, neither do I think I would be ready anytime in the future. Somehow, such an artistic theory can only be embraced by athetists, or hypocrites...

Such aesthetic beauty, albeit important, wouldn't form the core basis of art itself. Whether which other element ought to be the core element, be it meaning, truth, atmosphere etc., ought to depend on the creator of the works. I wouldn't be in a position to reject any, for my place as a performer and teacher is subservient to the creator, but the least I ought to be doing would be to lay a firm foundation for my music to be performed. Like how Wilde's works reflect his artistic theory, it would be natural that my music would reflect my personal beliefs on art as well...

All this while enjoying the tea with the most sensual and spicy aroma, with the lovely cheesecake to go along with. A pretty charming and slightly mentally chaotic way to spend the evening...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I have always been trying to put that particular emotion which is so characteristic of some of the Latin American music. A pretty new word for an emotion which is probably older than sin itself.

Limerence. How ironic, such delicate yet powerful emotion, almost bordering on the state of obsession. Check the more scientific meaning by wiki-ing it.

Here're some statements in the article which describes the word.

Limerence has certain basic components:

-intrusive thinking about the limerent object
-acute longing for reciprocation
-some fleeting and transient relief from unrequited limerence
-through vivid imagining of action by the limerent object that means reciprocation
-fear of rejection and unsettling shyness in the limerent object's presence
intensification through adversity
-acute sensitivity to any act, thought, or condition that can be interpreted favorably, and an extraordinary ability to devise or invent "reasonable" explanations for why neutral actions are a sign of hidden passion in the limerent object
-an aching in the chest when uncertainty is strong
-buoyancy (a feeling of walking on air) when reciprocation seems evident
-a general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in the background
-a remarkable ability to emphasize what is truly admirable in the limerent object and to avoid dwelling on the negative or render it into another positive attribute.

Now, that's a new word learnt and some food for thought...


Came home on Monday evening at 8pm to an empty home, feeling blue from the day's mundane work, or rather half a day of mundane work, since I stole the earlier half of the day off to escape from some unnecessary attention at some corner of the city. Decided to take advantage of the rare moment of tranquility in my home to get rid of the blues. Dimmed the lights, played some Piazzollan music by the master himself from my collection, and sat down waiting for the rejuvenating spiritual and emotional bath. It sure came, when the suite - Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, was played. I sure got an overdose of the therapeutic listening when the particular movement Otoño Porteño came on and threw me without the slightest warning into a introspective state. Ended up going for a late night swim to clear my mind and heart of excessive and mindless emotional turmoil. Beneath the almost dark pool environment, save for a few pool lights and dimmed lamps, I swam a few laps at the most relaxed pace, after which I sat by the pool to indulge once again in the mental replaying of Otoño Porteño I heard ealier.

Opening with a most charming theme which would repeat itself in various sections throughout the work, the music paints a dreamy, fluid-like picture. She switches to and fro her angsty moments in a miraculously coherent style so characteristic of our beloved Piazzolla, before closing with a series of extremely heart-stirring and innocent arpeggios played with a alluringly floating touch. The musicians are certainly blessed with the spirit of the Argentinian tango in them.

For just that special moment of musical benediction, I saw myself in an intimately slow tango with a svelte lady in a dance bar in the culturally rich capital Buenos Aires. Somewhere at some obscure part of my mind which still remains rational, I'm thinking of how Piazzolla, who had come out of his ten-year dilemma of whether to be a classical composer or tango composer, with his powerfully evocative masterpieces had singlehanded started the nuevo tango movement. One can't help but acknowledge his talent in this area.

For the next few months, it'll just be incorporating this work of his, in its full soul and spirit into my repertoire. Now, that probably means a whole lot more study and research into the tango style. If there's one place I want to be for the next few months, it would certainly be in Buenos Aires to take in the rich culture of the Argentinians into my subconsciousness.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I sincerely believe that we need a publisher which focuses on coming out with urtext versions of guitar compositions. Just to make right the atrocities and abominable sins which Segovia himself had committed. It never fails to drive me mad when I find myself staring at his inferior arrangements and knowing at the same time that his version is the only available publication of that particular work in the market right now.

The last time I was working on Segovia's version of a work by Turina, it sure took me some effort to hunt down a copy of the original manuscript, and realise that the harmonic texture, melodic line and even dynamics have been altered by Segovia. Sheer desecration...

Anyway, besides venting my most childish frustration in this post, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to Italian composer Angelo Gildardino for providing me the copy of the original manuscript of the work as well...