Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The First Time

I've sung with MeeMee many times but it was the first time I've sung with her in karaoke. It was for a mere 2 hours, and we didn't get to sing many of the songs we wanted to, but it was lovely nevertheless. The karaoke offered, much to my surprise, songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. We sang a few but sadly, sounded nothing like the real thing. We'd make real good Banshees of the Opera though. :D

As for karaoke behaviour - while my colleagues are all bent on singing their best, and trying to keep to the keys (though sometimes they still fly off the key pretty wonderfully) and my friends, who never bothered about sounding good singing, holler about and dance on sofas, MeeMee puts all emphasis on showmanship - arms gestures, facial expressions, moving emotions in the singing voice. Can it be? Can it be Christine? BRAVO! We should do it more often :)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Duets For One

When I was an SAD (single, available and desperate) young lady - quite some years ago - I'd wanted a life-partner with certain degree of musical inclination. Not many people knew this (my husband knows, of course *smirks*) but my dear MeeMee does, simply because she had a similar interest - not in the same man, mind you - but in a life-partner who'd see more than bean-sprouts-fried-with-salted-fish when looking at written music. We'd once vowed that we'd get boyfriends who could sing (tolerably well - squeakers or croakers not accepted), or at least play an instrument.

I didn't think it would be very difficult - most guys in university could at least strum or pluck a few notes on a guitar. However, the wonderful man I had chosen to be my husband is totally tone-deaf. He plays no musical instrument, and can't sing at all. Even when our daughter approached him for a Twinkle-twinkle Little Star, he'd say "Ask mummy to sing" (and I almost always have to - that's why his job, instead, is cleaning the potty! *another smirk*) Once, I forced him to sing a song from the soundtrack of his favourite anime and recorded his singing. Everytime I played it, thereafter, he'd run to a corner, cover his ears and shout "la la la la..." to block out the awful sounds. About says all of his singing ability. But well, singing aside, he's a really good husband - does not smoke or consume alcohol or gamble or watch football (the last one is important, as MeeMee would no doubt agree also)

So there I am, always singing by myself, to myself. It is well that for most songs, I can do the female as well as the male vocal parts (though not as well as MeeMee can!). I'd been singing duets by myself so much that I'd even considered recording a song of myself singing a duet with myself. (Can't begin to imagine how awful it'd be, though)

I am not sure how MeeMee had fared in her quest for a musically-inclined partner so far (can he sing?). No worries, though, for even if we have duets for one for most of the time, when MeeMee and I get together, we can have Solos for Two. (now's the time you go "Awwww...")

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Resting Vocal Chords

For now, yes - my vocal chords indeed are resting very well. With no plans for karaoke so far, my guess is, my vocal chords will continue to rest pretty well until the next semester begins. For the past couple of years, my colleagues and I had developed the ritual of singing away the cumulated frustrations in-between semesters. I would say that these singing sessions were always most anticipated, given that singing is really a passion for me. Not that I only sing when I'm in the karaoke, but having a bunch of fun-loving people (who don't mind going off-key and off-rhythm) to sing, scream and laugh with certainly does make a difference.

Singing is really fun - although I don't know if I can say the same for those who listen to our singing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Important Lessons

I've just returned from a 2-day 1-night team building camp (TBC) which consisted of half the staff of my faculty, including our Dean. It was rather physically and intellectually challenging, but very fruitful. I've learned some very valuable lessons, in addition to the how-to-make-teamwork-work.

A very important lesson: A weak link in a chain can break the chain - you only need one incompetent team member to pull the entire team's performance down, even if the other members are very capable.

An even more important lesson: Assistance, given along with unconditional motivation and encouragement can easily strengthen that weak link - instead of blaming and getting rid of the incompetent team member, the team can help him to strive to be competent, and excel.

I believe, that out of the four teams that we had in our TBC, ours is the only one who truly understood these two most important lessons, because we lived through the experience, and the wondrous realisation. Bravo, 'The Greatest' - we are truly the greatest, in the way we held ourselves up and together, never giving up, never complaining, even in the face of losing!

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Versions

Software almost always come with versions - so do books (although you call it 'editions'). That's understandable - new versions / editions of software / books contain additional stuff, updates and often, bug fixes. Fair enough. However, is it fair for music CDs to come with versions? It seems common enough these days.

I just got myself a CD last week, the second album of an 18-year old 'singing sensation' soprano from New Zealand (I won't mention her name, but there aren't many that fit the description). There are 12 tracks in it, which was already a slight disappointment, since her debut international album contained 14 tracks. Some days later, when I surfed into the artist's official website, the greater disappointment set in. There are FOUR (4) different versions of this album - the Japan, UK, US and 'international' version. Each version contains a different track list. The one I got is the international version. While it contains only 12 tracks, the Japan version has 15, and the UK version 16. But the extra tracks are not 'bonus tracks' (which recoding labels are fond of) - there are only about 9 common tracks between the Japan and UK versions. The US version, although also has 12 tracks, has only 11 of them common with the international version. Why? Beats me. No, it doesn't beat me actually - I am quite convinced that the many versions are released on the sole purpose of making more money. To collect all the songs that are released for this 'album', one has to obtain three different versions - the Japan, UK and US. Most unfortunately for me, the international version does not contain a single track that is unique to itself, and not available to the combination of the rest (someone show me a wall I can bang my head into!)

She's not the first, nor the only, to do this. My favourite classical crossover soprano, for example, has over 5 or 6 different versions of her last album released - each one with only 1 or 2 bonus tracks that are different from the others. Then, there's a 'limited edition' one which came with a bonus DVD, and an 'ultimate version' available only in Japan, with a track not available anywhere else in the world. Well, I don't blame the artist - I blame the management (it's easier on me if I don't think badly of the lady whose voice I love). The 'official' reason given for the releasing of so many versions of an album, is that fans in different regions in the world appreciate different bonus tracks. Excuse me? Some hardcore fans had to buy like 4 or 5 copies of the album just to collect all the bonus tracks - and that's not including the single CDs, which will usually contain a single, and probably 2 or 3 remixes of that single (a hardcore fan would want all the different remixes too!). That spells P-R-O-F-I-T. Lots of it.

I don't buy a lot of CDs, don't know much about the many recording artists that there are, but I firmly believe that most of them do exploit their fans using this 'versions' technique, although their true fans are the only ones who'd fork out hard-earned money for original music CDs. And what are the fans' rewards? "There are several versions! Collect them all!" Hmmmph! How about the pasar malam version for RM3 per CD? How do you like that?

Shedding my eye-patch just got a lot harder than I thought!