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adventures of a sound.traveller

a space where i hope to share with you the hopefully interesting projects im currently working on / have worked on, the soundscapes all around me that i am constantly discovering and re-discovering (oh, what joys!!!), any other random and delightfully weird thoughts regarding sounds, music and its friends. share with me yours too, please do!

Filtering by Category: sound diary

a summer day's sound diary

Yun Qi Wong

Yesterday whilst cleaning up the website, I discovered my very first blogpost from 2013 (its been 6 years!?!), and was shockingly reminded of one of the reasons I started this blog section in the first place: to create sound diaries - little journal entries of my days and travels, but capturing these moments purely through my ears, rather than my eyes. Acoustic snapshots if you will, to take the place of visual memories. That was also the impetus behind my sound.travels project - an invitation to audiences to be soundscape tourists with us, whether it be through geographical travels, a trip down memory lane, or an exploration of our inner worlds.

Well, I completely forgot about sound diaries, and so here’s my second one, six years on. let’s hope its not another six years before I write a third one. In any case, I am certainly re-inspired! It definitely encourages one to be completely present, in both my travels and in my daily experiences.

Its 5:15PM on a Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in the garden.

The afternoon summer air is still, and at the same time its literally buzzing with so much life - the zzzzzzs of very busy bees as they frantically dance from one flower to the next, overwhelmed by the neverending all-day buffet that’s on offer. Right now there’s an extremely constant zzzz behind me…verging on the edge of being almost painful. Crazy, how much noise such a tiny being creates by merely vibrating the very air around it. And now, a sharp ZZZ!! fading right away again into ZZZzz…zzzz….zzzz as it very nearly hits my head and makes it just in time round the corner, away into the distance.

Up above, an unknown species of bird goes “kiap, kiap, kiap…” while yet another unknown bird replies, higher pitched: “peeep peeep peeep peeep peeeep peep peep peeeeeeeep”. Almost immediately, from my right, a sudden deep-throated intrustion, almost a croak. And all this while, the bees buzz and buzz….summ summ summ…and the wind gently ruffles and rustles the grapevines. Then, a sudden huge sssswwwshsssshhhhhh, pppplllllpppp, ebbing yet again into gentleness.

My neighbours’ distant laughter and conversations drift over, and somewhere to the right, a slam dunk is scored. I hear the steady beating of my own heart, and the inhale and exhale of my breaths.

All around me, its an agitated symphony of bees abuzz, coupled with wondrous wild whirls of wind.

This is summer in northern Germany.

I would love to experience your personal sound diaries, if you would like to share! feel free to send me a mail, or simply comment. have a lovely remaining Sunday!

Intangible

Yun Qi Wong

On my dark days where all i see around me is shadows and hope seems like a lifetime away, I doubt my every decision and every move. i question yet again the value of music as a career - am I contributing to society with this, am i making a difference to the lives of others, is this a superficial job?! (I know, shocking that I even entertain such thoughts…)

true, its nothing life-changing. Nor life-saving. and yet, when i truly think about it, it is. so very much.

my very first live-performance was probably when i was four years old. it was “Cats”, and i surprisingly remember the experience (contrary to “remembering” based on my mother´s recollections to me) of sitting in the Victoria Theater in Singapore, all in the dark, and the huge cat figures all around us, the sounds they made. I remember that fascination I had for this fantasy world we lived in, if only for an evening.

ten years ago I experienced my very first Jörg Mannes choreography. It was the production of “Lux” and it was mindblowing. I sat there transfixed, as the entire stage - covered in black sand and underlit with a fiery light - came alive through the dancers’ explosive movements. Tears welled up as my heart opened and a fury of emotions caught me unawares. The next day I bought my very own copy of the music from “Lux” - Giovanni Sollima’s album “We were Trees”. Ten years down the road, I still catch as many productions I can of Mannes' works, some many times over. It is one of my favourite things - the world halts to a standstill for the two hours as I lose myself in the achingly sublime coming together of music and movement, brimming with cheeky humour, grace, a kaleidoscope of emotions, and the wildest of imagination.

There is also the evening I spent in Tunbridge Wells with a dear friend, a glass of wine in hand, listening to her Spotify playlist. Neil Diamond’s “If You Go Away” came on and as he sang: But if you stay I'll make you a day / Like no day has been or will be again / We'll sail on the sun, we'll ride on the rain / We'll talk to the trees and worship the wind”, something about that potent mix of raw emotions in his voice and those words opened the floodgates in me and I grieved, for all the people I’ll never get to have another day with.

I could go on like this for days. There are so many more memories and experiences, like glittering jewels in the treasure chest of my heart that I just keep adding to and which make up the sum of my life. Like the first time I came across a huge Gerhard Richter painting in Köln and it sucked me right into its whirlpool. Like the first time I read the poetry of Alvin Pang and Agnes Chew, and teared right there in the bookstore because there was so much YES! in their writings, speaking right to me. Like the first times I heard Andreas Scholl, Patricia Kopatchinskaja or the Uptown Jazz Orchestra live in concert and my jaw ached afterwards from too much joy.

Art is everywhere ;) Here, on the streets in Vancouver

Art is everywhere ;) Here, on the streets in Vancouver

So yes, this is a gift. And YES, it is indeed, truly live changing.

The power and the magic of the Arts is something so intangible that we often undermine them. And yet without them our lives, our very being would be so much poorer. They are an outlet for our emotions, the happy ones, the dark ones, and all those in between and beyond; those we have kept pent up and repressed, of which we might or might not be aware of. The Arts provoke us, they comfort, embrace and ignite us.

They awaken our souls and make us alive, rather than just purely existing. If we let them.

authenticity

Yun Qi Wong

I had the pleasure and honour of co-repetiting a clarinet masterclass of Johannes Peitz in June and one of the conversations that stuck with me was of being real as a musician. A while ago, I stumbled upon an article which reminded me of that, and had to share THIS

“It seems to me that being authentic is being brave enough or just candid enough to be honest about what you are experiencing or who you are, whether it is popular are not. A person gives a gift to other people when they say, ‘This is what happened to me or this is how I truly feel, no matter what the popular belief is about what I should feel.’ Whenever you are honest, you are speaking for a thousand silent people who don’t have the voice to say what they really feel or are really experiencing. So, if you ever talk about [the thing you went through], you will touch a million hearts. Because you are speaking for more than just yourself. You are never alone in what you are feeling. I love you.”

One of the things I enjoy most about being a musician is the entire process. The process of learning a work, taking it apart, getting to know it from the composer's perspective, getting to know it from our own perspectives, developing personal feelings for it, muddling and obsessing over it.

It is an intimate journey. One which takes a whole lot of time to grow and germinate. 

And then we go out there and share it with the world. That's the moment we try to be brave, to strip away our egos and bare ourselves to the world as we are:

This is me, just as I am. With all my strengths, my weaknesses, my heart, my soul. Thank you for sharing with me this music, these emotions, these experiences. 

magic.

Yun Qi Wong

magic 

is in the tiny blank spaces between black notes; in what lies behind the blobs and splashes of inks we named staccato, tenuto, marcato, phrasemarks and the likes.

is in the rubber band flexibility of this wondrous concept we call time -  floating about in the air, waiting to be played with, shaped and moulded by us. to be injected with a shot of life. 

is when black and white on stiff paper spring to life in all colours imaginable with every possible shade in between, layered with that play of light and shadow. 

is when the beauty of it all grips you right at your beating heart and you have to gasp for air. when the emotions you forgot hit you with a force from within. it is after you have zoomed in all the way to the microscopic details, then strip them all away to reveal the soul in its barest form. 

is when it is over and you just want to hold on to that moment, just sit there and be still, savouring all that is ringing on in the air, and in you. 

all that is music. music is magic. 

Die Stille

Yun Qi Wong

Die Stille - A word, an expression I find hard to translate in all its entirety from the german language. It expresses all at once, that exquisite feeling of time standing still, of being encased and cocooned in a rare moment of quiet and solitude, even as the world around you rushes and whooshes by. It could be peaceful, it could also be a little scary. In any case, its a powerful feeling. 

And yet, for all that multitude of 'silence-evoking' words, die Stille is constantly filled with music. Nature's Music. 

Schynige Platte: ever-changing through those gusts of fog

Schynige Platte: ever-changing through those gusts of fog

I visited the Berner Oberland of the Swiss Alps in July, and the hikes and walks we took whilst there were often filled with such moments. Moments where you are completely alone for hours. When you stop walking to take it all in: the wide open spaces all around, that incredible feeling of being free, and alive. And your ears and soul fill with a kaleidoscope of so many different insect-calls, bird-songs, and wind-whispers (or roars!). It is in such moments that I am completely at peace with myself and with the world. I could stay there forever. Just breathing as one with this raw, untouched Beauty of Mother Earth. 

The view from our chalet up in the mountains.

The view from our chalet up in the mountains.

What brings you such peace and quiet in your daily lives? I believe we should try to find such moments within us constantly, regardless of where we currently are and how crowded a place we live in. For these moments give us an inner strength that allows us to continue on in our daily lives, fully recharged and re-inspired. 

I find these moments through the momentum of walking, during my yoga practice, in deep concentration of practicing the piano and drawing, whilst reading, and in the quiet of the early (and late) hours each day. What are your moments? :)

magic.

Yun Qi Wong

what does music do to you? 

i never quite used to grasp that entirely, never quite used to consciously understand the effects of music. i never quite understood that me being able to make music and to appreciate it, is a rather big blessing. enormous, to say the least. 

after years in high school of me trying to be a 'normal' student and NOT wanting to study music (the irony of it, considering not many people have parents who actually WANT them to do that), i am beginning to grasp at the fact that yes, i am blessed. 

for music accompanies us through every single feeling we feel. it releases that surge of emotions and becomes an outlet for them, whether through music making or listening. it helps me begin my day right, lets out the tears i did not know were inside of me, makes my jaw ache from uncontrolled smiling, and brings each day to a good end. 

at times, it gets almost too much, you know? all that emotion. but most of the time, it just makes me marvel at how it is able to touch the coldest of hearts.

re-reading Jojo Moyes' Me before You (a fantastic book. please read it), a certain passage struck me. its what Louisa Clark, protagonist in the book, experienced, while accompanying her charge, Will Traynor to a concert for the very first time in her life, and i'll end off this post with that:

"suddenly the auditorium was filled with a single sound - the most alive, three-dimensional thing I had ever heard. It made the hairs on my skin stand up, my breath catch in my throat...I felt the music like a physical thing; it didn't just sit in my ears, it flowed through me, around me, made my senses vibrate...And it made my imagination do unexpected things; as I sat there, I found myself thinking of things I hadn't thought of years, old emotions washing over me, new thoughts and ideas being pulled from me as if my perception itself were being stretched out of shape. It was almost too much, but I didn't want it to stop. I wanted to sit there forever." 

the first.

Yun Qi Wong

hello world.  

i am sitting at our new work table which faces out onto our lovely neighbourhood (the gorgeous woods! and a collection of charming old houses which we might never be able to afford in this lifetime) for inspiration, and there is this tiny shiver of excitement and apprehension . . .

 

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