Thursday, June 05, 2008


Last year, the school decided the performing arts groups needed a boost, so we solicited names for the performing arts CCAs. Eventually, after much debate, we settled on "Saints on Stage" - S.O.S.. Some protested against it, obviously because it also stands for Save Our Souls.

Yesterday, I managed to get my hands on the much awaited Macross Frontier OST 1(with more OSTs to come). Simply put, of all the soundtracks I've heard in my life, this OST tops them all. The top four vocals, by the characters Sheryl Nome(singer May'n) and Ranka Lee(singer Nakajima Megumi), IMO, are

1. Diamond Crevasse (Sheryl)
2. What 'bout My Star (Formo mall/J-Pop version. Not really by any one of the two singers, but Ranka starts, then Sheryl takes over a bit, with Ranka singing a haunting wail in the background, both singing together for a while, then Ranka taking the foreground again, with Sheryl in the background. Sometimes supporting each other, sometimes as though directly competing. A harbinger of the storyline?)
3. Welcome to My Fanclub's Night
4. Aimo

The best 4 background music(BGM) pieces, most of which can be considered classical pieces, I guess, are

1. Zero Hour (sounds like it came straight from Top Gun, fitting because the anime is also about fighter planes...)
2. Private Army (strong latin influences)
3. Twinkle (quiet but intense piano piece)
4. The Target (a stirring piece in the style of Star Wars; you can imagine Luke Skywalker taking aim with his proton torps at the Death Star)

There are also some commercial advertisement style tracks, such as the cute carrot song and restaurant Nyan Nyan ditty. The SMS mercenary unit theme song "That Girl is an Alien" is also quite lively.

So what's all this got to do with my first paragraph? Well, despite its somewhat sleazy name, which makes you think of downtrodden singers performing at seedy nightclubs, "Welcome to My Fanclub's Night" is actually an epic sounding piece, starting with fast strings, then into standard pop, with the chorus going:
Welcome to my fanclub’s night! S.O.S.!
choukuukan de yuuwaku ryuusei deeto?
Welcome to my fanclub’s night! S.O.S.!
choukousoku romanteikku! anata e!
What does S.O.S. stand for? Why, Sheryl on Stage.

If it's good enough for Yoko Kanno, it's good enough for us.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Better Music through Chemistry?

I've commented on the possibility of mind-enhancing drugs before. By way of certain allegations regarding Usain Bolt's recording breaking sprint, there was this interesting line - "After all, performance enhancement is allowed in the bedroom (Viagra) and in the concert hall (beta blockers)". In the concert hall?!?

Looks like drugs aren't just for athletes and students. These are drugs that can improve a performer's effectiveness during concerts by reducing stage fright, which in my personal experience is the greatest factor in affecting the quality of a performance, particularly with regards to inexperienced performers. It takes a lot of mental preparation and a certain mindset for a new performer to step out and perform to his or her best. Thankfully, the recent successful choir concert showed that our new J1s are okay in this respect, or maybe we've given them enough practice that they'd no reason to feel anxious.

It's pretty sad to read that even professional musicians resort to using these drugs to ensure a quality performance. The ethical implications are also very blurry - is it wrong for a musician to use these drugs to enable him to perform his best as long as the audience enjoyed the performance? The NY Times article had a comment that stated beta blocker enabled performances lose some of their intensity, though it's certainly debatable if it's amply compensated by the improvement in technical proficiency.

If you ask me about my take on this, I'd say it's best not to use drugs, but if it's clear that there's no other way to calm the anxiety ridden performer, then so be it. Of course, I'm not condoning its use by any of my students! *GLARES*