I’ve decided to start writing about random memories of all the things that’s inspired or moved me in my life thus far. In a way it’s me making up for being so negative recently, and it’s also for the hope that maybe others will find inspiration in them as well. I’ll just write whatever comes to mind when I think back on all the things that’s influenced me as a creative person. This will be an ongoing thing, and I have no idea how many there will be, or how long I can keep it going. I’ll try not to repeat what’s already in the Favorite Stuff section–or if I do, I’ll at least discuss in more detail. The entries will be numbered as I add more, and the numbers are for the sake of keeping track, not order of importance.
The first time I heard music in the style of French Impressionism – I was about thirteen or fourteen-years old (1987), and it was the score for Macross: Do You Remember Love?, a Japanese animated feature film about a love triangle between a fighter pilot, a popstar, and a Navy communications officer, amidst mankind’s final survival in space againt a race of aliens that’s determined to wipe us out. The piece for the score was untitled (simply Track 26, on disc three of the Perfect Complete collection CD set, which contains all the music from the original animated TV series and the animated feature film). The music was used during a dimly lit scene where the popstar (named Minmay) was in her bedroom watching tabloid gossip on TV about herself and the fighter pilot (named Hikaru). Being tired of the hounding media, she switched off the hologram TV with a flick of her wrist, activating the motion sensor remote, then the next shot had the camera above her circular pink bed as she slumped down in it, brushing her hair away from her forehead with her forearm, looking melancholic and helpless.
The first time I heard that piece was when I watched the film for the first time (it was a blurry VHS copy of a copy of a copy from a friend), and within the first three seconds I was already riveted. I had never heard anything like it at that point in my life–it was as if the notes were suddenly unshackled from the burden of gravity, became weightless, free, and were carried through the air like feathers by a light breeze. I sensed instinctively that the way it was composed had to be different from all the music I’ve known up till then–it was obvious as day those ethereal notes were following a different set of musical guidelines.
Later on in my early and mid-twenties, I had heard some of Sakamoto Ryuichi’s pieces that were similar in melodic progression, and I realized it must be a known style that has a name. I remembered in an interview where Sakamoto mentioned that he loves French Impressionism, and I made an educated guess those pieces of his must be influenced by it, because by then I was well-versed in art movements, and it made perfect sense that the musical equivalent of impressionism would sound that way. At the time I had no idea all those pieces I loved were essentially direct descendents of the Debussy/Ravel school of French Impressionism, and it wasn’t until my late twenties that I heard Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1, and Ravel’s Daphne et Chloe and went “Aha! That’s it!”
Unfortunately, me being self-taught and not classically trained, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to compose anything in that style–as it requires very advanced knowledge of music theory and a highly developed ear for melodic structure, complex harmonies..etc.
I often hear people say that if Mozart was born in our time, he would more likely be a rockstar instead of some stuffy classical guy. While that is definitely a possibility, I wonder if Mozart would really rock out. If he wasn’t born into a classical music family and hung out with a bunch of stoners in school, then his chances of rocking out is certainly high. But if he was born into a classical music family, who’s to say he wouldn’t have taken the classical route anyway? Also, a lot of rockers in their maturing period turn to classical/orchestral–for example, Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo, Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke, or Clint Mansell of Pop Will Eat Itself. My haunch is that if Mozart was born in our time, he probably wouldn’t have rocked out anyway–at least not for long.
Elena and I picked up a Magellan RoadMate 800 GPS navigator from Costco–it was on sale for $499.99 (retail price is $799.99). We put it through its paces yesterday, and while it does perform all the functions as advertised, it certainly isn’t perfect. Sometimes it’d have us make more turns than necessary, and it can’t possibly keep up with the ever opening and closing of restaurants, stores..etc, so navigating by points of interest is a mixed bag–often listed places are no longer in business. I was initially worried about getting a model without text-to-speech, but the voice directions given without reading out the street names were good enough that I don’t think I’ll miss the text-to-speech. The onboard MP3 players/picture viewer is really unnecessary and a strange call on the part of Magellan, but I guess some people would actually find uses for it. The output of the phone jack is really low, so when I plugged it into my car’s system, I’d have to jack up the volume almost all the way, and the sound quality isn’t anywhere near my Nomad 3 Jukebox. I wouldn’t have picked the 800 model except that it was on sale for the same price as the lower models–so why not get more bang for the same bucks? I’ve run into problems already though–the software that’s used to connect the PC to the unit was working fine for an afternoon, but then all of a sudden it stopped detecting the unit from the USB connection. I did all kinds of toubleshooting–reinstalling drivers, rebooting, uninstalling/reinstalling, checking the USB port..etc–nothing worked. Magellan’s tech-support wasn’t any help either, asking me to do excessive things like going into msconfig and disable every single one of my startups and services except for the Microsoft ones (and it didn’t work anywy). If a product requires me to cripple my computer from running the normal stuff I use it for just to function properly, then what that tells me is they need to fire their programmer.
To give you an idea how primitive their PC interface software is–you can’t even move files between created folders on the unit’s hard drive. And if you want to make a playlist of all the MP3′s you’ve put on the unit? You can only do it through the small screen on the unit, and you’d have to scroll through all the songs with the unit’s scroller (which is a nightmare for file management, as it’s very slow and designed for simple menu navigation while driving). Filling a playlist requires you to have to select each song and add it to the playlist, and with roughly 5 GB of user space on the unit’s hard drive to fill MP3′s with, you’ll be moving songs into a playlist until the cows come home, mate, give birth, have the calves reared, get slaughtered, and processed into veal products. With that said, it’s almost a moot point because the sound output of the unit’s so substandard you really shouldn’t be listening to music on it anyway. Tomorrow I’ll try again to toubleshoot the unit, and if I still get nowhere, I can either A) pretend the unit never had a PC interface software in the first place, and forego the ability to update the firmware in the future, or B) return the unit and get my money back–then go buy a competitor’s product (Garmin, TomTom..etc).