Choice Cuts: Blog Prompt #9

How can musician survive in Covid times? What a question! I have always planned on being a voice teacher. Fortunately, since COVID has plagued our world, I still feel peace in this career choice, as I know that I can do after I’ve graduated even with a pandemic.  Ideally, in a COVID world, I will teach voice lessons either online or at a safe distance apart. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been taking piano lessons over FaceTime. I have found that this time has allowed me to progress at a quicker rate than ever in my musical life. I believe that a few factors play into this, such as travel time saved and also the fact that I could practice in my comfortable space before and after my lesson for as long as I wanted. Perhaps COVID does have some positive aspects to my musical career! Therefore, my thoughts are that voice lessons could occur over this platform, just like piano lessons have been. As a musician, I view teaching music as a more stable and consistent job to  generate income compared to performing. Even in the state of our world right now, it is still possible for musicians to teach lessons. However, I realize that not all musicians want to teach, therefore, being a musician in 2020 with COVID present poses quite a dilemma. It seems that in our Covid world, musicians are relying on fans/supporters generosity in tips and monetary support. Therefore, it is important to be creative in finding ways where people can receive a “product” i.e., the musician performing songs, that will create revenue via the media platform, in order to receive greater payment.

My first idea, inspired by an article I read, is performing over Facebook or Instagram-live videos. One artist included a link in his bio where fans could donate to his performances. While this is a clever idea, it solely depends on fans generosity, rather than being a required flat fee which concerts demand. Nevertheless, creating a link to donate/tip is still a way to generate income. Since in person concerts are not an option at this time, having a donation link, is better than no donation link! Another idea, is to charge money over online apps for admission to view live stream concerts. This means that the artist still gets to perform, just over a different medium than in person. If the artist is quite popular, he/she should have little problems getting fans to tune in. If concerts are consistent, such as every Wednesday evening, this could bring in a steady stream of cash flow, as well as bring people joy who are confined to their homes. It’s a win-win.

Another idea for musicians to bring in revenue, is to sell merchandise. A great merchandise idea which  is most popular right now–actually, essential, is masks! I realize that this will only be possible for more popular bands/artist, as less popular musicians will have a smaller fan base to purchase merchandise. However, if a less popular artist creates masks with a cool design, people may buy it solely for that design, and promote that artist by wearing it around.  Musicians could also do performances at a safe distance, or sing behind plexiglass.

I found that this question really challenged me. It would be quite a dilemma to be in the position of being a performer in this pandemic. I think it would take a lot of courage and determination to keep going, however, there are always new ideas and options to take into consideration as a performer.

Prompt #8

The term “Latin American Music” is used as a blanket term to refer to the music of Latin America. However, I suspect that it is out of peoples obliviousness to the diversity of Latin American music, that they use this term. In Dr. Munarriz’s lecture, he gave perspective into how many different countries there are in Latin America, and how unique and different each countries music is. Dr. Munarriz’s view that the label “Latin American Music” is problematic is due to this blanket term which fails to acknowledge the uniqueness of each cultures music. I grew up believing that the label “Latin American Music” was accurate, as I have never learned about different Latin American Music. However, I now understand Dr. Munarriz’s view on this problematic label. While I agree with him, I also disagree with him at the same time, as it seems that most music from different regions of Latin America uses the same Habanera and Ostinato, just in slightly different ways, due to the way it is performed.

Latin American music is not the same as Latin music. The difference is that Latin American music is from any region in Latin America. I.e., Spanish, French and Portuguese, to name a few examples. Latin American music contains inspiration from African music and Indigenous music. Latinos are descendants from Latin America who live in the United States. Latin music is mainly Portuguese and Spanish music. Ostinatos are repeating bass lines; they are repetitions of music which become “scaffolding” in some music. They are usually structured by a single instrument. Their repeating pattern is heard in the Habanera and in all Latin American music.

The Habanera Pattern is iconic in Latin American Music. It was part of the process of developing “Blues” in New Orleans, and is heard in the Tango (Brazilian) and the  Payada. The Habanera takes different shapes, forms and textures depending on how it is performed.  For example, the way the Habanera is played in the Payada is different than the way it’s played in “Blues” music.

Blog Prompt #7

OOIOO – “Polacca”

This first song caught me off completely; it is like nothing I have every heard. I didn’t know that I liked it at first, however, as I continued to listen I immersed myself in the excitement of all the different “things” going on in the song. As a drum beat played, an electronic sound resounded, not quite fitting in with the song, yet complementing what was underneath it. Regarding “participatory discrepancy,” to my ear, there are 3 different “songs” playing, yet they seem to loosely mesh together to create one song. It seems that listening/dancing to this song would require a certain mood in a person; a happy and carefree mood in order to jump around to the craziness of everything that is occurring in the song. SHMRG: The sound does not remain consistent, there are many different things happening. The harmony continually changes throughout the song. I honestly don’t know what the melody is doing. The rhythm is consistent and then changes and lastly, the song grows/morphs into a different type of song.


Sly & The Family Stone- “Spaced Cowboy”

SHMRG: the sound contains different instruments; one that sticks out to me is the electric guitar, and introduces a yodelling sounding voice, the melody becomes more intense as the  there is a consistent rhythm/beat that occurs in the song, the rhythm is consistent. Similar to the last song, I hear 3 different songs within one song. The singer is in his own world yodelling/singing to his hearts content, the electric guitar is riffing to a fun beat, and the drums are pulling it all together.


Patato and Totico – “Agua Que Va A Caer”


What immediately struck me as I first listened to this song was how raw it was with the beat of the drums and the single voice. The song grows adding more voices which echo the first voice and layer on top of the drums. I also noticed another instrument (guitar?) which is featured alongside the drums, playing its own melody. The drum beat is consistent, however the voices are not as they seem to be making melody on the singers emotion.

Choice Cuts-Blog Prompt #6

Watching Adam Neely’s video, my perspective was widened concerning the options we have in how music theory is taught, and made me more aware of the standard way it is being taught today. I learned that music theory is not limited to what European musicians from the 18th Century created, but there are other types of music theory from around the world. Through this video, I also realized that musicians have been studying the same classical works for decades, and have failed to branch out into studying compositions written by musicians in our day.  Adam Neely’s video explained the problem with solely studying the same musicians for decades, arguing that we are taking opportunities away from musicians in the 21st century to have their work showcased and appreciated. After gaining new perspective from Neely’s video, I realize how much we study the great European musicians from the 18th Century, as well as how our curriculum lacks perspective on music of other cultures. I believe that studying music should first involve the necessary/popular curriculum, and then could delve into other cultures ways of making music. Composers fro the 18th Century created the basis for the form of music we study today, therefore I believe it is essential to have knowledge of this before diving into other ways of making music. It seems that music education in University is based off of the famous composers such as Mozart and Beethoven, because they are the “tried and true” musicians- the musicians whose music has stood the test of time in its skill and popularity. However, this simply cannot be true of only these musicians, as there are so many other talented composers/musicians with old and new material. The 1800’s in Europe was a time buzzing with new musical potential and ideas; I wonder if we have had a time as fervent with new musical ideas since then? Perhaps we study music from composers of the 18th Century because they birthed these fundamental music ideas that we use to write new compositions even today. Watching Adam Neely’s video, I do agree that in order to be more well rounded and knowledgable about all kinds of music, we must study music from different cultures, however, I think it is important to honour the composers who really began the age of musical excellence. In University curriculum, I would like to see an option to study music from different parts of the world, including modern music and musical theory from other cultures. I mention the word option, as I personally love studying the classical musical style of the 1800’s; perhaps this is because it is all I’ve ever known. However, as a singer, it would be nice to see teachers giving students the option to practice/perform songs from other cultures, in case they are interested. Regarding core courses, I would suggest that we still include musical theory from the 1800’s, however in addition to this, adding a class that explores music from the 1950’s, and more modern music would be awesome.

Regarding the aim of dismantling the white racial frame of music theory and history, as educators, we need to take an initiative to incorporate music from different races. I believe that this is the only route that we could take to achieve this. Our world is recognizing and finally taking action to address racism, which brings new options to the table to explore more of these cultures music. I believe that if as musicians, we take the initiative to incorporate different cultures music into the learning process, this will tackle the “white racial fame” of music theory, and bring about diversity and a deeper understanding into how diverse music truly is.

Blog Prompt #5

Thomas Weelkes, “As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending” a Madrigal from 1601.

Firstly, I absolutely loved this exercise. I discovered a lot of things about the music, as well as myself, which surprised me. I chose a madrigal because in Vocal Ensemble last year, we performed madrigals, and they were extremely difficult. Therefore, I hold great admiration for madrigals. I listened to this piece of music for 35-minutes.

At first, it was as though I was listening to this as background music, because I had trouble shutting my mind down and simply focusing on the music. Different tasks continually nagged at my brain, making it difficult to focus on the form, structure and voices. I then moved to a more comfortable spot, and as the recording continued to play, I noticed new things about the voices and music. Firstly, I realized how much energy the performers were exerting. When listening to this madrigal in the background, this went unnoticed, and it simply became a song with many different layers that I couldn’t quite sort out. It seemed a bit chaotic. I also noticed the beautiful layering of the voices, the soft sound of a singer breathing for her next line and the dynamic shifts. I could recall different parts of the piece as they were played/sung, and the basic form of the song became very familiar to me.

What I loved about listening to this piece, was that as I relaxed into this task of being a mindful listener, I put different thoughts out of my mind and was quiet. I find it difficult to not be doing a task, but this exercise this allowed me to really wind down and focus. I began to fall asleep, and realized how my initial thought that this song was chaotic was wrong; it is actually quite a peaceful song. Through giving this song my undivided attention, the value of the piece shifted for me. Rather than it being just another song to listen to on a playlist, I began to appreciate the value in it, and the work that the composer and artists put into it. As a singer, I put so much work into the songs that I will perform; if someone truly appreciated each song that I performed, that would be such a compliment, as they would be really focusing on how much time and effort I put into it.

Choice Cuts: Prompt #4

Before listening to session 6 in MUS116, I had failed to ever consider the fact that the majority of music I have heard played by musicians originates from many centuries back, such as the 18th and 19th Centuries. I  have learned about many popular and great musicians from the past, such as Haydn, Vivaldi and Chopin, however I cannot remember a time where I wondered what famous musicians were amongst us now in 2020. As a singer, I often listen to contemporary opera singers as well as recordings from singers of the past. However, I realize that the arias these musicians sing are often from Opera’s written in the 1800’s. As a society, I wonder if we are setting ourselves back by solely listening to classical music from the past and dwelling on the grand composers who lived decades ago, rather than listening to new compositions of our generation. How long will we play music solely from the past? Will we ever come to a place of promoting young artists works today? We are not giving musicians of this generation the opportunity to showcase their own pieces, rather we repeatedly play music that has stood the test of time because of its brilliant skill and popularity over the ages. I think there is tremendous value to playing music written by brilliant composers of old because in doing so, the musician learns from it, and soaks in what good music sounds like. Personally, I love singing music from Mozart and Handel’s operas; in our society, opera is less popular than in the 1800’s, so new operas are less common.

Are there any ethical implications of playing music solely from the past?

I believe that playing music solely from the past does a disservice to musicians in our generation today. The opportunity to be showcased is stolen when we choose to only study works of old, rather than delving into what musicians are composing today. I think this is perhaps because classical music is a smaller facet of our culture than it was in the 1800’s, therefore, there is less drive to discover new pieces. However, as a musician myself, I believe that it would be beneficial for people to play new music from our age, rather than continually playing music from the past.

Regarding the quote by Nietzche, I agree with what he says that when we put forth our best qualities of the present, those are worth preserving, and then we can decide what the best qualities from the past are. In this way, we can preserve the most noble qualities of the past, as well as preserve the best qualities from our generation. Thus, we are preserving only the greatest qualities of our generation, and are leaving no room for “satisfactory” work to be preserved.

If aliens invaded our planet and all memory of great composers was wiped, it would be a tragedy.  As a singer, I live to perform the gorgeous works by composers such as Vivaldi and Bellini. I would perform the songs which have given me joy at all times in. my walk of life, such as the sparky aria “Vedrai Carino,” from “Don Giovanni” and the piece “Vage Luna” as the words portray such beauty. “I would also sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, a song which I grew up singing, and which easily flows from my lips when I’m doing the dishes, or decorating a Christmas tree. It is songs like these which make my day happier. I think there is tremendous value in the songs that I’ve chosen. The Opera arias portray the beauty of the music of the 1800’s, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” holds a place in my heart, as I love musical theatre. ”


Prompt #3

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Var. 30, Quodiblet – 1955 Version

Goldberg’s variation 30 recorded in 1955 begins at quite a fast place, moving along with gusto; it is clear to me that Goldberg continues to drive the piece forward. Goldberg brings the piece down to mezzo-piano, however, this dynamic shift was more evident to me in his 1981 version. The piece also seems quite a bit shorter than his second version, perhaps because the tempo moves along so much more quickly.


Sound: the second phrase is only slightly softer than the first; generally, there is a consistent sound level.

Harmony: the harmony sounds slightly less pronounced in this 1955 version than Goldberg’s 1981 version.

Melody: strong melody; perhaps I hear the strength in it due to the piece being louder altogether.

Rhythm: begins at a continually quick pace.

Growth: due to this piece sitting at nearly the same sound level, there is not much growth to it, however it does slightly slow down at the cadence.

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Var. 30, Quodlibet – 1981 Version

Goldberg’s 1981 recording of variation 30 begins at a slower pace than the 1955 version. It sounds more steady to my ear than the 1955 version; this does not mean that the piece lacks purpose, but is perhaps stronger since the sound is more controlled. At the echo of the second phrase, Goldberg adds softer dynamics to contrast with the stronger and slightly louder first phrase, by bringing the sound to piano. The piece stays at a steady pace with medium forte until the end of the piece, where it slows down to the cadence.

To my ear, this variation, recorded in 1981 sounds more mature and controlled than Goldberg’s 1955 recording. Drawing from our last lecture, I recall Dr. Boyle mentioning that Goldberg himself said something along the lines of “the recording was too fast for comfort,” regarding his first recordings of Bach’s variations in 1955. While his playing in 1955 is quite skillful, I can understand why he would feel that way, due to the fast pace of his pieces.


Sound: even sound throughout the piece.

Harmony: Left hand is heard slightly louder in the first section, compared to the second section, where it becomes softer. The bass line does not overpower the melody.

Melody: beautiful trills in the right hand, steady and even.

Rhythm: begins at a steady and medium paced rhythm; to my ear, the growth slows down the rhythm/pace very slightly.

Growth: the piece begins mezzo-forte, recedes to piano where it slightly grows to mezzo-piano until the end.


Choice cuts: Prompt #2

My Own Golden Record

  1. The Nutcracker, “Sugar Plum pas de deux: Adagio”

This piece was written by Tchaikovsky, and is part of “The Nutcracker” ballet score. The piece begins in piano, and peaks into a beautiful forte, where all the instruments swell. It is eventually brought down into a quieter dynamic in some parts and throughout the whole piece there is beautiful phrasing, which the dancers portray through their graceful poses. I feel as though my soul is carried with the music, and I feel it evokes many different emotions within me. The different sections of the piece each take the listener through the story, swelling at more dramatic moments and becoming quieter and softer to create magical moments of quiet music. The “Sugar Plum Dance” holds tremendous value to me. I place great value on this piece because it is so deeply engrained in my memory of me watching the Nutcracker ballet. Every year, since I was 2 years old, my grandmother would take my cousins and I to see the Nutcracker Ballet. This was always a monumental moment as it meant that Holiday festivities were finally beginning, hurray! “The Sugar Plum Dance” has always been my favourite piece in the ballet, and I feel such joy when listening to it. This music holds a special place in my heart as it is tied to many joyful and happy memories. This piece in particular (“Sugar Plum pas de deus: Adagio) is one of the most magical pieces of the ballet…perhaps it’s the beautiful portrayal of man and woman dancing across the stage in sparkles, or the musical sounds which emulate twinkling lights and falling snow. Ballet, artsperforming and music are such a great part of my heart; they have brought me such joy. If I had my own Golden Record to share with someone from a distant land, I could never neglect to share such a part of my heart, as this piece is.

2. Sounds of the English Forest

This clip contains sounds of different birdsong, rusting of leaves from animals, and normal forest sounds. There is no instrumental music in it, but simply the “music” of nature, which is arguably some of the most peaceful music. It reminds me of the sounds I hear in nature when I go for walks; I find such peace and comfort in these noises.

The forest is the place I go to find solace and peace. It is somewhere I go when I am sad, happy or want to get away from the rest of the world; it is a place that is greatly apart of my life. I grew up going to Elk Lake a few times a week as it is 2 minutes away from my home, so it became extremely familiar to me. I found Elk Lake a place of peace especially during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as I would walk there everyday. Being out in Nature has been engrained in my life, as as a child my Mum would take me to the park daily; perhaps that’s why I like it so much! The forest/nature accurately represents the way this world was created before buildings and technology existed, and to me it represents the way the world is naturally supposed to be. I would include the clip of nature sounds in my personal golden record because to my ears, it truly depicts the peace and beauty of earth in its raw form.

3. “This is Amazing Grace,” by Phil Wickham

The words in this song portray the Gospel message of Christianity in that God sent His one and only son Jesus Christ to earth to pay for the sins of man through His sacrificial death on the cross. This sacrifice means that we are free from death and promised life eternal with Christ in heaven if we believe in Him. Phil Wickham sings 4 choruses with just his solo voice and guitar in an acoustic version of the song.

My faith in Christ is the most important thing to me. Jesus has set me free, and I want others to know about the freedom that comes through Christ. I often listen to this song as a reminder of what Jesus has done for me and it brings me great peace and thankfulness. I would share this song in my Golden record because it shares the story of the Gospel through such beautiful music. As a Christian, I have experienced such peace through my faith, and I want others to have that same experience. I can’t think of something I would want to share more with others than my faith!

Prompt 1

  1. Oh the “bones of summer”!! Why most people would feel sad that summer is lost, I am filled with joy. Why, do you ask? All summer, I long for the crisp & cool days that Fall brings! In every season, I sing new songs which express the beauty, joy and wonder of each new day. The summer was quite strange, as everyone is aware of. Having music/art in my life made my days more entertaining and exciting. Singing, my passion! I took voice lessons with my sunny and beautiful teacher, Anne. My lessons were done over “Zoom”, a new experience for both of us. Having voice lessons kept me accountable to practicing & kept my repertoire list up. Something happens to my heart when I sing; it feels lighter, happier and I kick myself for not singing more, since it brings me so. much. JOY! A second way which I engaged in art was playing Piano. During the summer months, I sat down somedays for a few hours, and tinkered on the ivory keys. I find it fascinating how time can slip away when I’m on the bench at the piano. Needless to say, I engaged in a lot of music this summer, which was one of the most beautiful things of the season for me!
  2. Hm. What a good question…This first thing that came to my head when I read the word “powerful” were the clouds. I was driving today, staring at the car in front of me, and my friend commented on how beautiful the clouds were. I regarded the clouds then, looking so puffy and majestic. How often do we look at the sky and consider the beauty of the clouds-a beauty that I don’t often think about. Creation is a powerful thing; the way our world has been crafted & formed, wow-powerful. When I think about the word “powerful”, I assume that something powerful must be bold and colourful, or something that draws you in because of its boldness. However, love really is one of the most powerful things on earth. I am getting married in November, and the love I have for my fiancee, Ben, is SO powerful! What a beautiful & powerful (what a GREAT word!!) thing to have in my life!!!
  3. What an interesting exercise simply paying attention to the noises around me has been. I was outside quite a bit this weekend, and when I was still, I heard the tweet of fluttering birds, the whizzing of cars, the quick bumps as my car tires veered slightly outside the yellow line…Today I hear the sound of Pearl, my white bird’s beak as it grinds her seeds, the sound of Leo, my golden doodle licking at his water bowl, the white noise of the kitchen fan…These are all happening in succession, and if I close my eyes-one moment please-they all occur at different volumes. Interesting.
  4. “Free time only works if you steal it.” Funny that I am asked to address this question because yesterday I had a conversation with my friend about time being a GIFT.  I have found that as I get older, life gets busier with more commitments, people I want to see, and things I want to do. Living in a culture that is-go, go, go, I find myself getting swept up in that mindset, thus, free time to do things that fill my soul gets moved to the back-burner. With so many things vying for my time/attention, I need to mindfully make free time a priority, if I want to be rested and recharged, doing things I love. There will always be something to do, and if you say yes to doing one thing, then you’re saying no to another thing. Perhaps there is a list of to-do’s for the day, however, I may need to take a break and have free time rest and do something I love, such as play music.
  5. I must say, I find Leslie Laskey a fascinating man. One thing that I noticed/admired from the beginning was wow, he is 90 years old & he is still making art. What a beautiful thing-to be able to carry on our skill and passion into our old age. I see that Leslie Laskey is very in tune with the “sounds” of his collages, which I never would have thought about before watching this video.
« Older posts