Category: Personal

Real life stuff – y’know, that’s that thing that isn’t the internet.

Upcoming Music: My third-year recital!

It’s probably time I used this website to promote what I’m doing in the real world of music. Let’s give this a go:

I have a recital coming up! It’s the culmination of the last three years of studying Composition and Music Technology at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). I still have another year to go, but this 20-minute recital is essentially a warm-up for my full graduation recital.

Still this thing has taken a lot of planning and forethought and it’s happening in the next 2 weeks. Come along to the WAAPA Music Auditorium on Saturday 29th October at 8:20PM, where I’ll be performing live music, showcasing my compositional growth, and showing gameplay footage of The Adventures of Square for anyone who hasn’t seen that yet. Yes, I’ll be working my silly game project into a musical performance, with the help of a live percussion ensemble.

As the promo poster says, BE THERE AND BE SQUARE!

recital-poster-2016

Sleep is for the weak

Sorry for the memes.
Sorry for the memes.

Apparently my Scumbag Brain is ensuring I get the least amount of sleep possible. Probably because it’s aware that I have shit to be doing and after 30in30-4 happened, I’ve been at a dramatic creative low, meaning that throughout the recent days, I’ve done very little stuff of any real meaning.

Last night was an ordeal, let’s put it that way. Not just thanks to the shenanigans of my brain, but extrinsic factors were also being a bag of dicks. Today was 42ºC during the afternoon, and by night it was still at 26ºC. Now, that sort of heat is uncomfortable for most Australians I reckon, but also bear in mind that I’m originally British. The melting point of your average Briton is 30ºC.

I was relatively lucky throughout the day in that I didn’t need to leave the house, and was able to stay inside with the air-conditioning going full pelt – but that still did not really help me sleep.

Boy oh boy that was a saga in itself.

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Twenty Sixteen

Hello all, I figured it’d be time to give you a bit of an update post, since I promised one roughly a year ago. 🙁

I do apologise for not actually uploading anything to YouTube like I said I would. I don’t know where this year went, honestly. Certainly it was a long, long ride, but at the same time, my god is it really over already?

I figure I’ll get down to basics: The last two years have certainly been eventful. I have been accepted into a prestigious university, made amazing friends, lived alone, travelled back to Britain, and for the first time in a long time I’ve had to discipline myself quite severely. I have also written a metric ton of music, which I’ll be writing about later.

For now I’ll talk about the educational side of things. For those not aware, I am currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in Composition and Music Technology at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. Where to begin with it. I guess at the beginning? I can try that.

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Rejection

In an effort to keep myself busy, I recently signed up to audition for two separate local projects, hoping to be accepted for either or both.

The title of this post may well give away the outcome of those decisions, but let me tell you about how each one went. Things are made doubly interesting by the fact that the auditions happened within the same weekend, so I was in fact kept busy to say the least.

A friend of mine had recently posted on Facebook about the Western Australian Charity Orchestra. They were looking for applicants, and spots were open for pianists like myself. I signed up, and about a month and a half was spent after that point learning two pieces to perform at the audition. It was a bit nerve-wracking for a while, but towards the end I managed to get confident in my playing ability for the two pieces. I picked some fairly difficult pieces just to test myself a little bit moreso than usual – a piece of my own entitled “Midwinter”, difficult due to the fact that it was quite a complex quaver-based melody in 7/4 time, and the main chords to Dream Theater’s “Octavarium” (which are played on a piano as well as guitar about five minutes in), a rather crazy and unpredictable chord progression.

Simultaneously, I had another thing going on – a local girl, Holly Denton, had posted an ad on Gumtree saying that she was looking for new band members. My dad had pointed me to her ad, and it seemed an awfully good gig – she and her old band had just performed at Telethon 2013 and the video they’d posted of the performance was damn good. With the promise of being part of a talented young lady’s musical troop, learning new songs, meeting new people, and perhaps even earning a little money from the experience, it didn’t take me very long to decide that this was an opportunity to jump right on. I learnt about half of her setlist as best I could, then once I phoned her she informed me I only had to learn two songs – Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and one of her own songs, “With You Goes” (the first one performed in the video). With that clarified, I did my darnedest to learn those two songs as well, although most of my time up to the eventful weekend was spent rehearsing my two pieces for the orchestra first of all, since that audition was to take place on the Saturday, and my audition at Holly’s was to be on the Sunday immediately after.

The following weekend was pretty frantic. It of course started with the audition for the orchestra, was a fairly short drive to the college at which the auditions were being held. I was directed to a rehearsal room which had… erm, everybody else who was auditioning in it. Apparently it was the only room they had? Needless to say, with a bunch of brassists, percussionists and woodwindists all rehearsing different pieces in the same room, now with a pianist (as in me – I was apparently the only one there) it was quite the cacophony. I got onto the piano and started rehearsing, doing my best to concentrate, and thinking I’d only need to go over the songs a few times before I got called.

I was kept waiting for about an hour. I got pretty sick of those pieces after the dozenth time of going over them both the whole way through. I was, if anything, overrehearsed by that point – I was ready to make absolutely no mistakes.

A woman came into the rehearsal room to apologize for the inconvenience – apparently there’d been a balls-up regarding the availability of the performance hall the auditions were to take place in – it had already been booked out and no auditions could be held for an hour, hence why they were so behind schedule. But I was eventually called out. When I got into the hall, I felt more than ready. I was told to remain silent for the judges, and that was no problem as I naturally just clam up and let my music do the talking anyway. The judges were behind a panel, remaining invisible and anonymous to me, as I was to them, so I didn’t feel impaired by nerves at all. I got down at the piano aaaand… hang on, it’s shut. Can I lift this lid? Nnngh, bit heavy. Am I out of shape or is it… hnnngh… no. It’s locked. Umm, I know I’m not allowed to speak, but… can someone please get the key for this piano?

I had to wait another few minutes while someone retrieved the key and unlocked the piano for me, during which time a few more people went in to have their auditions, and all I could do was sit on a chair just outside and try not to make the conversation with the guy standing beside the door too awkward. I believe it was there that I was told that because they were so far behind schedule, I was only allotted a few seconds to play my pieces.

Unfortunately, the wait and the uncertainty of the whole situation had thrown off my groove – I sat down at the piano, fumbling hopelessly with my sheet music, and unable to call upon the routine I’d just spent the last hour or so trying to hammer into my muscle memory. I messed up pretty badly on the Dream Theater piece, which was pretty evident even within the ten second or so window I actually had to play it. They let me go on for a bit longer with my own piece, but since the sheet music for that is mainly all quavers and doesn’t introduce chords until about a minute into the piece, I don’t think it did a particularly tremendous job of showcasing the full extent of my ability with the instrument.

I left the audition and went home feeling vastly underwhelmed, and still rather tense from not having actually gone through with the whole procedure. I’d rehearsed for yonks for that audition and the fact that I hadn’t even performed the entirety of my two pieces left me feeling almightily unfulfilled. I wasn’t going to be too crestfallen if I didn’t get the gig with that orchestra – I didn’t particularly feel like being part of an organization which was so… well, ill-organized.

I didn’t have much time to mope about all that, though – I had another audition the very next day, with Holly.

The drive to her house was very short – 13 minutes at best – and the actual audition took place in her living room. She was mighty friendly and informal – as the whole event felt, really. There wasn’t much waiting at all, and in fact she’d clearly planned a lot of this out in advance very carefully, as we arrived in time for her to let the first set of auditionees go. I admit I made a few mistakes, but hey, at least I got to play the full songs this time around. I also felt I was in a controlled and well-planned working environment – again in contrast to my WACO audition – so while it was a bit embarrassing when I played a bum chord, I didn’t feel like I was wasting valuable time. We played her two songs, talked a bit about ourselves, and that was it, done. It probably took longer to set everything up and pack away than to play the songs. It was fun, though, and she was really nice.

That same day, hours later, I got a text informing me, very politely, that she’d made a decision and that I was unfortunately not selected to be in her band. (The likelihood is she chose a keyboardist who used more than just a rompler, heh.) This actually brought a big smile to my face. What a well-mannered, organized and respectful girl – having the decency to let me know so soon. She’s someone who clearly has the organization and the people skills necessary to hold an audition and treat her entrants with respect.

Inversely, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks on that I got a letter from WACO saying I had… not been selected. I think perhaps only one word went through my mind when I read that – “typical”. I’m pretty certain I was the only pianist who turned up for that audition, so it did come as kind of a surprise that they didn’t want me, though not a terribly disheartening one. Maybe they found it a little hard to judge my playing ability reliably with only a thirty-second sample of my playing that was riddled with mistakes brought on by how badly the event turned out.

So while both auditions ended in me being politely rejected, I feel much better about one rejection than the other. It’s not so bad when the person rejecting you seems like an honest and well-meaning human being who genuinely considers your emotions and addresses you face to face. Less so when it’s a less-than-stellar-organized group of people who reject by written letter a fortnight on.

Genuinely think I’ve learned something from these experiences.

Going to see these guys… on my birthday!

Not pictured: musical genius. …Because you can’t sum that up in a picture, stupid.

That is totally Muse, and they are totally playing at Perth Arena at the end of this month, with Birds of Tokyo totally supporting them.

The 30th of November being the date that I was brought kicking and screaming into this world, and then 20 years later arriving in the continent of Australialand makes it a rather momentous birthday present, and emmigration anniversary.

Needless to say, hella pumped.

Bad hair year – one year later

This post is the epic sequel to my first post about my hair since landing in Australia.

My hair is long. I think that’s a safe assumption to make.

Yep.
Yep.

The intensity of my twiddling habit has actually declined, although every now and then I’ll run a finger or two through my majestic locks and find that it feels nice to the point where I don’t want to stop doing it, which I don’t quite understand.

Also my hair is actually long enough to cover my eyes, and also to completely obscure my face in the shower. Gives me the oddest feeling of security, like my hair is protecting me, shielding my face from all the evils of the world. Again, I don’t understand it.

We’ll see how it progresses. I’ll obviously trim it occasionally if it gets totally out of hand, but I honestly like it at this length. When I wasn’t used to having long hair, having fairly long was a bit of a nightmare. Now I have stupidly long hair, it doesn’t bother me. At least, right now – it should get a lot longer by October, and that’s when the heat kicks in over here, so if I start to develop heatstroke due to my surplus of dark chocolate curls, I’ll probably see about shortening it again. I might even style it slightly differently, but I’ve tried coaxing it straight and it just doesn’t stay that way.

That concludes this pointless update on the status of my head.

New pee see

Today I exchanged money for a large rectangle comprised of plastic and metal. It’s a substantially better rectangle than my previous. It has about twice the space of my last one (despite being roughly the same physical size), is more powerful (despite being equally useful as a blunt instrument), and is just as fast – though I haven’t tested out either’s aerodynamics in the garden yet.

Okay, to forgo the deliberate jocular vagueness, I’ve bought a new computer. It’s an Acer V3-571G.

As far as plastic rectangles go, it’s no doubt one of the more aesthetically pleasing.

I leave behind a Dell Studio 1535 laptop. Over the last three years it has served me very well, but in that time I’ve been unable to stand the dumb little problems it has accrued:

  • Sometimes it won’t shut down properly. Or start up properly. It can take 10-20 minutes just to figure out that I pressed the power button and that means it should do one of two things – turn on, or turn off. Other times when I want to shut down or restart, it hangs on the logging off screen.
  • Sleep mode basically doesn’t even exist. It doesn’t power down, it just reboots back to the login screen when I close the lid.
  • When I’m playing Doom, I frequently have to hit two movement keys at the same time. This is all too much for my lappy’s fragile comprehension, and it doesn’t register when both keys have been released. I end up careening into pits and backwards into walls far too often as a result. This doesn’t happen in any other program, funnily enough, but no, the problem is definitely with my lappy. Even odder, I can go months at a time without noticing or even being able to deliberately trigger this problem at all. Then it suddenly comes back and makes my gaming life a misery.
  • The top keyboard buttons don’t work – the eject button and volume controls in particular.
  • The touchpad is a nightmare to use – it’s undersensitive and placed awkwardly. Multiple times now, I’ve accidentally brushed a finger against it and found that the text I’ve been typing has promptly emmigrated to another country. I’ve never gotten used to it.
  • It takes 20 minutes or upwards to perform some tasks. Cakewalk Express, Windows Media Player, Winamp, and Reason notoriously don’t even load for that amount of time.
  • It goes through horrendously long periods of total unresponsiveness, during which the mouse and keyboard and all presently open windows work, but nothing else does. I can’t even load the “Open” dialog in Notepad.
  • Only one of the speaker input ports actually works – and that one only works if my speakers/headphones are plugged in at a funny angle.

The issue with being unable to load or even do anything for minutes at a time was particularly prevalent at the Battle of the Bands. It completely hung just as we were going on-stage. This “technical difficulty” ate up about five minutes of time that could’ve been spent blasting some rockin’ tunes, but instead was spent staring at a screen waiting for it load – in front of about 200 people. Needless to affirm, I’m not going to be taking this thing to any future live gigs.

Then there was the débâcle involving Windows Effing Update. I mistakenly shut the machine off at the wall in the middle of a rather substantial update, permanently screwing up a good portion of my hard drive. It wouldn’t load Windows at all at that point. I had to get a new hard drive. Luckily I did manage to procure a device for connecting the messed-up hard drive to the “new” computer, recovering the files I needed. In the end I didn’t lose much, but I would’ve much preferred it hadn’t happened at all. Atrociously annoying.

No amount of periodic cleaning or registry fixing has addressed any of these niggles, though I suspect a full rebuild (a process I’m terrified of) might do the trick. Will get to that once the transfer of files to the new station (or at least a backup drive) is finished.

So yeah, I’m a little bit happy to be working on a slightly more reliable computer for the moment. The AU keyboard layout is definitely going to take some getting used to, though. Need to give it a road test regarding its handling of Reason and its performance within a live set. I should be capable of everything my old lappy was, and then some. That’s the theory, anyway. 😛