tisdag 15 september 2009


One of the many things I wanted to do in Cornell was learning more about music. Luckily, with the American course-selection system, and the absence of compulsory subjects like I had in my three previous years in Uppsala, I can do it easily here.

Before coming to North America, I chose four classes in Biological and Environmental Engineering major. In order to fulfill the 15-credit-requirement, I also applied Jazz Improvisation, MUSIC 3111. After attend the very first lecture, I realized that this class is nothing for me. Our instructor Paul Merrill (not to be confused with the stand-up comedian), a professional Jazz musician, gave us a list over hundreds of famous Jazz artists for us to look up. If you are not a big fan of Jazz, you are considered knowledgeable if you can recognize 5 % of them all. After an hour of dancing among the incomprehensible musical terms, I told the instructor that his class is way too advanced for me. He recommended another class: Tonal Theory 2101. I couldn't take this class however, since my schedule is tight. Instead I got enrolled in Introduction to Music Theory 1105.

The first time I got the chance of showing off was on the talent show during PREPARE. When slacking at my parents place in summer, I played a lot of the Elton John stuff. When Selina, our PREPARE coordinator asked us to perform on the talent show, I was high enough that day to sign up. It turned out well. Although I also realized from the moment that even if the bard stereotype is good for you, it takes more than a few songs on a piano to make you a people's magnet.

Well, since the semester started, I never had the time to practice any new songs. While keeping my old reservoir of music floating, I joined this a cappella group called FantAsia.

The person who told me about this group was Selina. She's been in the club for some time. All of the members are Asian, mostly Chinese. Usually, FantAsia performs Asian songs in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean. English songs are not common, but also included. Carolle is the club president. Her part is usually Soprano, but she had to settle with Tenor whenever the guys are gone.

In the beginning, Selina was in this group. She was also the lead singer on several occasions. The first Sunday after school started, Cornell organized a Clubfest where you can get to know the hundreds of student societies on campus. FantAsia sung Jay Chou's Simple Love, with Sonny as beatboxer and Selina the vocal solo. Sonny's beatboxing skill was magnificent. His signature move was waving his right hand in rythm with the beats. From there, you could clearly tell this guy is also an experienced drummer. Sadly for the rest of the FantAsia crew, Selina left Cornell to study in NYC this semester. I hope she's coming back after Christmas.

Jen, my neighbor in von Cramm was instrumental in bringing me into the gang. In USA, not all the student clubs have a "just for fun" basis. In order to keep a high standard of performance, new students must audition before becoming a member. This goes for most of the sports clubs and musical clubs. If you can't play soccer then the soccer team can't let you in. I went to FantAsia's audition. As I talked to the people, it turned out that some of the applicants couldn't even read notes. Jen, who has been in the club for 2 years, oversaw my tryout. After coming back to von Cramm I asked her about my odds of getting accepted. She kept telling me "I wouldn't worry". Two days later, I got the acceptance letter from Carolle.

The first song I'm learning with FantAsia is boyband Tension's Our Story, a Mandarin song. I got the bass part, which is the easiet one for a beginner with the suitable vocal register. After two rehearsals, it became clear to me that when singing in an a cappella group, the most challenging task is organizing the whole ensemble rather then memorizing your own part. On Monday when I left the Animal Bioreactor class, I asked my instructor to move the class into a different time since I had to go all the way from Riley-Robb to Lincoln Hall, which takes you 10 minutes if you walk fast. Her first reaction was:"Lincoln Hall! So you are a musician!" Yepp, Lincoln Hall is the place where you find music. As soon as you walk into the building, the sound from all the practice rooms can hardly deceive you. If you play anything, just by standing in the hallway and be on the right time, you can befriend anybody carrying your kind of instrument.

That's all for today folks. Here's some entertainment news for you: Lady Gaga and some fake blood on VMA. Her fame comes from her costume, not her music.

2 kommentarer:

  1. Sounds like Lincoln Hall might be the place to look for a nymph :-P

  2. Since I'll be here for one year, I'll take my time, do whatever I can and hope for the best!