Do, super strong, like a fist

Here’s a great set of mnemonics for the hand signs for solfege syllables

DO   super strong like a fist

RE   always sliding up and down

ME   super stable so it’s flat

FA   always feels falling down

SO   also strong, like a slap

LA   a balloon floating up

TI   always pushing to the top

DO   super strong like a fist


Le Roi Danse

Today we had a “sidebar” in  Music Theory about double-dotted notes, the French Overture, and Jean Batiste Lully. The prof. mentioned a movie Le Roi Danse. It is in French. I found parts of it with English subtitles, and the whole thing dubbed in Spanish. It’s a glorious spectacle. Here’s the whole film in Spanish — note that you must sign into Youtube and vouch that you are over 18.


Here is a clip with subtitles in English. Lully gains the young king’s favor by giving him some golden high-heeled  dancing shoes. The scene with Louis — surrounded with sparklers– emerging through a hole in the stage makes me think of something from a Lady Gaga concert.

And finally, here is an article that talks about how the film distorts history. I wondered about that. I love Amadeus and Immortal Beloved but I know that those films are both loose adaptations.

[The King is Dancing] and [The King’s Way]



I missed my first class

In spite of all my preparation, I still missed my first class. There were 2 parking areas I had scoped out ahead of time, thinking that they would have vacancies (because now there are parking garages on campus). Nope. I drove around for about half an hour, getting more and more upset. Barely avoided a couple of fender benders. Finally I got off campus proper. On the way in, I had noticed some parking by the athletic fields; I checked that out. By permit only. (What kind of permit?) Still further away there was some parking on the side of the street on Martin Ave. I parked there and it looked safe and legal, but I had no idea how far from campus I was.

I went home and checked Googlemaps. It’s about a mile. OK, that’s a  possibility. Would be difficult walking a mile in the rain / snow though.

Another possibility is to get up at 5 am, drive in at 6, and be in the parking lot at 6:30 — then sit there and wait to see when the lot starts filling up. The problem with this idea over the long term is that 1) I am unable to drive in the dark and 2) if I wait too late to make the drive, I’ll run into work traffic.

A third possibility is public transportation. When I sat in on a class 5 years ago there was a free shuttle bus that came from a nearby shopping center. The free shuttle bus has been discontinued (because of the new parking garages), but it’s possible that there is a bus with a similar route.

In the meantime, my car’s brakes were acting up this morning. So my lovely husband has volunteered to take me to / from campus til my car is fixed. This will mean getting there early and leaving late, but that’s fine!

What a disaster! Well, it could have been much worse (brakes failing in the parking lot, having an accident). And it was Lecture 1 that I missed. Would have been worse to miss, say,  Lecture 17 on the history of Diminished and Augmented Chords.

I feel ashamed and humiliated — “If I were a better driver or was able to think faster on my feet I could have found a way to make it to class. How did all the other students do it? I’m so incompetent.” But then — I thought of one of the students who had spoken at orientation on Friday. He talked about how much he had grown over the past 2 years; when he had his first performance lab he got partway through and then could not remember the rest of the lyrics of the piece he was performing. He had to walk off the stage. But he came back, and the next attempt was better.


I finally found the classroom locations. It’s right on the registration page (where you sign up / pay for classes). There’s a scrolling sidebar on the left, and you have to make an additional click to reveal the location.

That is the only place I’ve been able to find it!

If you search online for HCC  + location of classes, first it directs  you to the catalog (which tells you the campus only), then reassuringly says there is a notice in the lobby of each building.

Classroom locations for each class are published in our Schedule of Classes brochure. Specific room numbers are posted in each building lobby on the day of class and can also be found on our daily class schedule for classes that have started.

I had held out hope for the daily class schedule webpage, but I just found out it is for “Continuing Education” only — non credit classes.

I’m just grumbling. Back in the old days you received something in the mail. That you could hold in your hand as you wandered around campus. While clutching your map. IN YOUR HANDS. None of this online stuff.

I remember finding the Physics building on the PSU campus — ALL the way down the N-S road from the dorm, then turn right and go east for a few miles. It took me a very long time before I dared to go diagonally. When I did finally head out into that unknown territory, I found a small Sweetgum tree that had unusual colors in the fall — instead of the usual reds / yellows it turned a sort of magenta-pink. Pinkest tree I had seen before, or since.

Anyway, here I am awake SEVERAL HOURS earlier than usual, just grumbling. I wonder what will be this semester’s Pink Tree.

Pink tree (and other colors too!) available here. I’ve purchased trees through this artisan and they are beautiful.

George Walker — Pulitzer prize winning composer

George Walker, first African American composer to win Pulitzer Prize, dies at 96

Dr. Walker, who died Aug. 23 at 96, at a hospital in Montclair, N.J., found limited success as a concert pianist, despite early critical acclaim and support from leading pianists such as Rudolf Serkin, his instructor at Curtis. He said he faced racial discrimination — “a pressure-resistant stone wall” — from managers, talent agencies and orchestras who passed over him for white performers. At the same time, he suffered agonizing stomach pain, ulcer attacks that left him hospitalized for as long as a month. Yet Dr. Walker went on to establish himself as a revered composer, a pathbreaking music teacher and a powerful critic of racial discrimination in classical music. In 1996, he became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, for his song cycle “Lilacs,” set to stanzas from Walt Whitman’s poem “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

Note — on looking this up — it’s a long poem in free verse, written in 1865. It is an elegy for Lincoln, though he is not mentioned by name in the poem.

One of his best-known works was also his earliest: “Lyric for Strings,”which was written in 1946 as the second movement of his first string quartet. The piece was inspired by the death of his grandmother, a former slave.

With mixed success, he sought to be viewed simply as a pianist-composer, without a racial label attached. When he did begin alluding to jazz standards and spirituals in his work — after attending a 1968 music symposium in Atlanta, where he said he met another black orchestral composer for the first time — he buried the references in atonal pieces that utilized complex time signatures and nontraditional chord progressions.

“He took these simple, elemental melodies and abstracted them so that only someone who knows what to listen for can perceive they’re buried in the fabric of the music,” said his son Gregory Walker, a violinist and former concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra in Colorado. “You could think of that as a metaphor for his life. There he is working in this white, classical European idiom and mastering it. But he has a grandmother who was a slave, and is part of [African American] culture.”

Photo from Washington Post — taken in 1996

Sunday, Week 1

I’m still scrubbing bird-poop stains off my keyboards. There’s 2 knobs that have been missing for several years — Quark pulled them off and flew away with them. Maybe someday I’ll find them…

I dusted off a book I’ve had in my library, Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner. It’s a little confusing. What are the numbers over certain notes? Do they want me to play RH or LH depending on if stems are up or down? I guess these questions will be answered in Keyboard Lab!

My husband was out of the house for about 1.5 hrs, so I used the alone time to do some improvising. I set up my digi recorder and used the Korg Karma (play a chord and it just burbles away). I used my simple system flutes in G, D, and C. My tone is best on the G; I can’t hit the lowest notes on the C yet. Then I  tried the Boehm flute. I don’t know the fingering so I was just messing around, and came up with something based on a whole-tone scale. Also did some singing, clapping and stomping.

Something I really like about the bamboo flutes is, say you start an improvisation on “re” or “mi” (and set up the Karma to use that note as a drone), right away you’re off in modal territory (Dorian, Phrygian).

Now I have the craving to buy a new bamboo flute in the hideous key of C# / Db. Patrick Olwell isn’t making bamboo flutes anymore (because he is so far behind on his blackwood ones), but supposedly there is someone now who is following in his footsteps. I think he has a booth at the Renn Fest. I HATE the key of C# — getting a flute in that key might help me to get over my resistance. Playing the flute in its home key would be easy enough, it’s improvising along on the keyboard that would be horrible.

I also played around with my Dixon pennywhistle and my 2 ocarinas. All of those would be good for making bird calls. I think my “Home Planet” piece could start off with slightly off-key bird calls and wind rushing through the grass. Then this could solidify into a theme. Maybe this is being too literal, but the next thing that happened in the game was Neochadwickia (and the Lunatoucans) were destroyed; then I wandered around a while and eventually found a new home planet. No birds on that one, but it did have Gervays. So could overlay the Gervay theme on the Lunatoucan theme (or develop the one into the other)?

Thinking out loud. So, I guess LOT300W will have a storyline.


(Travel — first voyage)
Empty Planet (peaceful, simple)
Ice Planet (more complex, sparkly)
Home Planet 1 (birds, folk tune-like)

(Travel — second voyage)
Toxic Planet (discordant, weird, funny)
Desert Planet (austere, awe-inspiring)
Gervays (comical, charming)
Home Planet + Death

(Travel — third voyage)
Broken Planet (unpleasant, spare)
Paradise Planet (complete opposite)
Ocean Planet (simple, waves)
Home Planet 2
includes oceans, home, Paradise, gervays

Home Planet 2 + Death
Might be able to indicate in some way — death all the things?*
Gervay death, ocean death, toxic death, broken death, empty death
fragments, hints of all the previous themes
as if you are remembering your travels
intro / extro


*”death all the things”


What’s that sound?

I was in the house and noticed a new, strange sound coming from the back yard. It sounded like a cicada, but more metallic. I picked up my digital recorder and went to check it out. It was our neighbor, Josh, in his shed working with a  rotary blade sharpener. It reminded me of a circular saw, but was scraping at a lawnmower blade rather than cutting through wood. I got Josh’s attention and asked him if I could record the sound for a music project. He said “Certainly!!” with such enthusiasm and good humor that I was taken aback.


It is a distinctive sound that is mildly caustic and unpleasant. Could definitely use it for the Broken World. I want to have a collection of more-or-less atonal sounds for that one, almost like a flower arrangement of them — some more spare and some more thick. This particular sound is “thick”, with a lot of harmonics, and a repeating rhythmic structure. It did have a recognizable pitch buried in the noise.

To extend the metaphor — not so much a “flower arrangement” as one of those dried arrangements that my mother-in-law used to make, with the bulky bulgy milkweed pods, spiky teazel, cylindrical cattails, and the airy skeletal remains of flowers such as baby’s breath, chamomile and asters. Dry, crunchy, stiff, unbending, fragile, and relatively monochromatic.



I needed a shorthand title, like LOTR or ST:TNG or ASOIAF.

Provisional title “Last of the 300 Worlds”

I had taken a long break from No Man’s Sky but when I found out that the game world was wrapping up in July 24th, I jumped back in for the last 2 weeks. “I’m up to 200 and some, why not aim for an even 300.” During this time I recorded about 20 hrs of footage. When I make the final videos I think it would be fine to insert some footage from the previous exploration (ex. if I want to do an episode on ALL the kinds of Gervays), but for the most part I want to rely on, well, the last of the 300 worlds.

It really was a nice survey of planets — I did find several of each type. Also, it was amazing that I FINALLY found a planet that had three of my favorite things on it — lush grasses and plants, wide oceans, and Gervays. Still hard to believe I found one like that; I doubt I will ever find another!