Tag Archives: music

Why I Use a Music Stand; Or, I Need All of the Stickers, You Guys

In the past couple of months there has actually been video and photographic evidence of Ideal Koala, the band. You may have noticed that there is a pretty beaten-up music stand in all of these. The music stand is there because I finally came to terms with my needs as a performer, and it’s beaten up because some music stand company decided to make a music stand that could become irreversibly bent upon first opening the box and decided not to put instructions anywhere for how to avoid it. But that’s another, not likely to happen, blog post.

I have wanted to be good at memorisation for as long as I can remember. I mean, there are loads of reasons everyone knows. You can focus on the music better, you can maintain a better connection with your audience, you can jump around with wild abandon…oh wait, I’m a cellist. But for as many good reasons to memorise music, the most important one to me was always “no one else uses music stands in the shows I play.” Which is really silly when you think about it. No one else uses a cello in the shows I play, either.

The awkward feeling of bringing my sad-looking music stand on stage kept me from suggesting Ideal Koala perform again for months after our first gig, while I spent all of my time trying to memorise all of our songs so far. As I started to know a couple of our songs by heart, we started going to open mics, where I rapidly discovered that my stage fright would tear out my heart, surgically remove all traces of song, and sew it back in, leaving it beating far too quickly. That’s when I realised that my determination to memorise our songs was hurting the band.

I had crossed the line from reasonable attempts to learn songs into forcing our band practices into two people playing the same songs over and over again because nothing was ready and we can’t start adding to our repertoire now. As soon as I decided to forget about memorisation, our rehearsals became more productive and we started to play in front of people again. And people like us. No one ever brings up the fact that I use music onstage. So I’m going to go with this for now.

Except, as you might have picked up on, I hate my music stand. I have a plan to solve this problem, but I need lots of koala stickers. So many. If you see some nice ones anywhere, please let me know. I want a variety, so the more places I can get them from, the better. Thanks!


My Happy Musician Fantasy

I’ve been spending the past week catching up on all of the blogs that I love but haven’t had the time to read over the semester. One of them put me back into my “grr Amanda Palmer” state by reminding me that she didn’t want to pay her musicians on her most recent tour, and giving me more details that activated the “GRR Amanda Palmer” state. But this post isn’t actually about Amanda Palmer so if you feel like activating your own “grr Amanda Palmer” states, you’re going to have to Google her.

The whole thing made me think a lot about the situation for most musicians, who have to play gigs for free until they get lucky. Then I came up with my own fantasy rules for venues. I don’t think that venues should be completely banned from having bands play for free, because it gives lesser-known bands who the venue might not want to risk a paycheck on otherwise a chance to prove themselves. I like the idea of bands getting live auditions, since even if the venue decides it doesn’t like the band and doesn’t want them back, the band still gets to perform in front of an audience. However, we all know that venues abuse the promise of exposure for free entertainment (which is especially egregious when the band is responsible for all advertisement). I think venues should be limited to say, ten free bands a month, and not be allowed to have the same band play for free more than once ever. If a venue agrees to have a band back a second time, clearly they like the band enough to pay them.

So there you go, that’s my happy musician fantasy. I would love to hear yours.

Let the mocking begin!

I love essays. It is the reason I am in uni. No, really, I almost dropped out, but turned it into a gap year because a few months into fall, all of the Facebook posts from my friends complaining about their essays made me miss it so much. I do have trouble getting started writing though. I tend to research up to the last minute, believing that I don’t know enough about the topic I’m writing on until I actually write it. This usually involves staying up late going “Gah, why did I think I could do academia? It involves words!”

I was working on my last essay of the semester a few days ago. I could not get out of research mode for the life of me, so I decided to write the stupidest version of my essay I could think of, just to get myself writing. It is dumb, it ignores facts, but I asked on Facebook if people wanted to see it so that they could mock me, and some of them said yes. You’re welcome.


The nineteenth century was the time when people said “Hey, maybe music is an actual art form that we should be studying,” so they did. But they had this whole romantic ideal where composers were gods, so they didn’t really look beyond that. Also, they hated women and foreigners, so you could only be a god if you were a white man. Fortunately, since these people were also white men, they could ignore this and study works of music based on the score alone. “Context? Fuck context,” they said, “These pieces have to be great because they’re written by these awesome white men, so we have Schenkerian analysis to take out all of that extra, not necessarily good stuff in order to explain why it all makes sense and is actually genius.” They particularly liked to do this with Beethoven. Most notably, he wrote his ninth symphony after he went deaf, and also after everybody decided he was god. People heard it and thought “This is strange, but it’s Beethoven, so it must be brilliant! Bring on the Schenkerian analysis!” The thing is, everybody fucking loved Beethoven, so they decided that his music, especially the last movement of his ninth symphony, should be used to support their own agendas. Hitler demanded it be played at his birthday party. It was played in celebration of the Berlin Wall coming down. Wagner decided to become Beethoven. This piece was so easily politicised because it was Beethoven, and Beethoven is god.
So with Wagner deciding to become god, he wrote a ton and composed a ton. If you were in the nineteenth century, you either like Wagner or Brahms, and Brahms didn’t build theatres with dumb seating structures and write the longest-ever operas to perform at them, so clearly everyone loved Wagner. Wagner hated the Jews, but no one really cared at this point. After WWII, of course, people went “Oh hey, this is mad problematic, and his whole “I am god/Jews and women suck” ideology kind of leaks into his music. So this, and things like this, are why we have new musicology. It lets us know when the music we are listening to is EVIL.

A Quick Update

Ideal Koala is also a band now! So don’t be confused if you were looking for the band and found feminism/atheism/all my rants/knitting and vice versa. Though this blog is run by me, Ariana (cellist/singer), most of the views on here are shared by the other member of Ideal Koala, Seb (drummer).

We don’t have any demos to upload yet, but our first official show is on February 16th at the Hollybush Inn in Oxford. We are playing as part of a One Gig Closer to Wittstock Festival show, and, while I haven’t heard who will be on with us yet, I’m sure it will be an awesome night.

Finally, we also have a sad twitter account with no followers yet. Any news about available music and upcoming shows will be there first, so please follow us at @IdealKoala. Thank you!

Be jealous, I get to go to a concert

I seem to have gotten worse at getting these done without a clear idea of what I’m writing beforehand. The thirty minutes to post idea worked well for that, but I don’t like the idea of doing it with a timer anymore. I kept having to start it again and figure out the negative time I had left. Instead of doing that, I’m just going to ramble. I’m pretty sure if I let myself skip a whole week my blog will die, and apparently some people like my blog.

I’ve been pretty bad at working on my music for the past week or so. I keep opening it up and just staring at it for hours before closing it again. I’m worried that because of the lost time, my goal will be impossible. Unless…what if I really embrace the assignment aspect and pull all-nighters? I’m sure that would lead to some interesting/trippy/stupid lyrics.

In other news, I have tickets to see The Fratellis in September and I’m super-excited. I wasn’t even expecting them to get back together, let alone to be able see them if they did. So for the past couple of days I’ve just been listening to their albums and, when no one else is in the house, dancing to it. I almost never dance, and I look really stupid doing it, so I need to make sure no one else will see. This weekend will be dangerous though. I have a friend here who wants to catch me in the act.

And, for the most important news, 39 days, 15 hours, and 37 minutes until I’m back in the UK.

Hey, listen!

At the end of 2011, I wrote an essay about Ligeti’s Atmosphères. It might turn up here someday. Right now you should just listen to this. When I first heard it, I had no idea what to think, but then I listened to it a zillion times because I was writing about it, and now I love it.

A Million Miles

One day off for last day’s post and it nearly throws off my whole schedule. I only remembered I needed to write this now, a mere two hours before it’s Wednesday. I am definitely a uni student.

Lately I’ve been working on a massive music project that I’ve assigned myself for the summer. I have told myself that I have to have fifty pieces recorded by August 30th, because, like all professors, I don’t believe I have a life outside of my work. And now I’m at least two people, wait, no, three, because I also assigned myself this blog post.

Anyways, I have twenty-some pieces in progress or ready for recording and honestly I’ll be thrilled if I even get thirty done. I’ve been searching through old pieces that younger me has left unfinished because I don’t just re-use old writing. In my search for musical ideas, I found something I thought was lost forever – the music 13 or 14-year-old me wrote for the dreadful song lyrics I posted here ages ago. For those who don’t remember, these were written as a game with three of my friends. Here they are again:

a million miles away i am lost inside my head
my body floats in space the world is turning
all my synapses burning
my amish friend dropped my lightsaber down thither
it cut off my hand so slowly turning
ah my mangled arm so damaged
even more than vader could have managed
i am falling falling
great times compared to tatooine

And here is the single hand-written copy of the music I wrote to them:

You can tell how much this music meant to me from the marks where I tested pens on it later.

I’m currently developing it into a cello and guitar duet. I decided to leave out vocals because I can never unhear the original lyrics with this music, and let’s be honest, these lyrics are pretty awful. I love them, but no. I am making the title of the piece A Million Miles though, because it needs the connection kept clear, if only to Sarah, Patrick, Micael, me, and whoever reads this blog.

Hopefully my project is a success. I will let everyone know in September, and will share whatever ended up recorded. As a marker of some of my first compositions and lyrics, A Million Miles will be the first posted, and it will be up whether I complete the fifty pieces or not.