Stringing my Life Together: Purishpa takini, takishpa purini.

More travels and new horizons
2010/06/14, 07:31
Filed under: Music, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Ah, the quarter and academic school year have finally come to an end. Since the protest, life has been hectic; I performed in multiple mariachi, jiagnan sizhu (Chinese silk and bamboo music), and bluegrass performances. The rest of the time was spent sitting in front of the computer working on my thesis and final papers, writing and editing ad nauseam. Many a night have I spent, staring at the computer with glazed eyes after not having left the confines of my apartment for the last day or two.

However, in the midst of all of that, I did have a fabulous spring break trip back to Spain. Sierra and I hit two soccer games (Valencia vs. Almería, and Atlético Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao), three Mediterranean beaches, four cities, four fútbol stadiums, and pounds of café con leche, jamón serrano, and chocolate in just a mere 9 days! The best part, by far, was meeting up with old friends from my study abroad days four years ago. I was even able to show up and surprise most of them who had no idea that I was even coming! Sierra and I also stumbled across some new friends who stayed in the hostels with us.

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Unfortunately I had to come back to reality in Los Angeles. I finished my M.A. paper just a few weeks ago and as of yesterday, graduated with an M.A. in ethnomusicology! It wasn’t until later in the evening, when I was celebrating with friends over Salvadoran tamales, hotdogs, and strawberries that I realized how special it was that I am the first person in my immediate family who has graduated with a masters. Glad I am making the family proud 🙂

Looking forward, my summer travels will send me to the land of sanjuanitos and the Inti Raymi, where I will study Kichwa in Otavalo, Ecuador. Although the Andes and the summer abroad seem so far away, I have moments when my nerves and excitement remind me that I will board a plane headed to South America in just a few weeks. I’m nervous about the home stay, since the family I stayed with in Spain was less than friendly. The idea of eating kuy freaks me out because I’ve always had cute furry rodents for pets, and when I tried to watch the Bizarre Foods episode about roasted kuy, I began sobbing and had to change the channel, even though normally, I am open about trying new foods. In Mexico, I have eaten menudo, tacos de tripa (tripe tacos) and patitas (pigs feet) without a single wince! Tune in later to find out if I build up the courage to try it!

In general, though, I am feeling positive and am highly anticipating this trip. Ever since I was in high school I have been listening to sanjuanitos and have dreamt about going to South America one day. Where I grew up in central New York (state that is!), there are barely any mountains, just rolling, green hills and flat land. The mountains in Los Angeles never cease to place me in a stupor of amazement. I quickly got over the ubiquitous palm trees out here, but every day I see the mountains I can’t stop staring at them, studying all of their fine details, like someone would for a Picasso painting. I can only imagine the awesomeness of the Andes mountains. This trip is also important to me because I will be working on developing fluency in a third language! Here’s to hoping that I will be functional in spoken Kichwa by the time I come back! I haven’t decided on how many languages I want to try to be fluent in, but I know I will be one step closer to reaching one of my lifetime goals of being multilingual!

In the interest of using as little English or Spanish as possible (myself and the members of the Kichwa class have perfected the art of Spankichwinglish), I plan to at least try to write most of my posts in Kichwa. Don’t worry though, I will include pictures whenever possible! 🙂

Kutin punchakamanmi mashikuna! Kikinkunaka sumak sumak intipachata, puriykunatapashmi charipaychik!

(Until next time everyone! Have a wonderful summer and safe travels!)


More flamenco violin!
2009/06/10, 15:13
Filed under: Flamenco Violin

I found another flamenco-inspired group using violin!!

Go to the video section for the track “Abismo” from the album Buscaré.

The violinist is Richard Olejniczak, though I couldn’t find any specific information about him, other than what is on


2009/01/23, 08:59
Filed under: Los Angeles, Music, Thoughts

Today was quite the adventure, and a very long day…and one of those days when you can’t just seem to be punctual enough for buses!

I start the day off by sleeping in until 8:15am.  *#&$*&@$!  I’m supposed to catch the Culver City bus down to the downtown bus to get to China town by 8:49am.  I somehow make it out by quarter of…having shoveled cheerios into my mouth in about 5 minutes flat.

Bus #1 passes by me as I am running (with all of my heavy books and crap) down the street.  I could have caught it, but some guy walked out in front of me at the newsstand, cutting me off, making me miss the crosswalk just to watch the bus drive away.

Double *#&$*&@$!

So I catch the Santa Monica Blue Bus, which after paying twice as much for a transfer, I realized it doesn’t go as far south as I need it to.  I hop off, and walk down a few blocks.  I see the city bus at the light.  Crap.  I had to race across the street and to the bus stop.  I made it.  Though it would probably have been worth it to wait until the next Culver City Bus (which passed me as I was about 2 blocks from where I was headed).

Whoops. It was the 33 and not the 333. It stopped somewhere in the middle of downtown (Main/6th)…and I had to haul butt up to Chinatown to meet Morit (I did 1.5 miles in about 30 min…and that’s including time waiting at lights to cross…having to cross twice when sidewalks were closed…and carrying several pounds of books and my lunch). I could have taken the 333, but then I would have spent the change I needed to get back to school.


I somehow arrived at César Chavez and Broadway as Morit’s bus was pulling up.  We go…try to find Chinese dresses for the New Year’s event we’re performing in this weekend.  After searching some shops and taking advice from some locals, we find a place that’s a) not too expensive and b) has our sizes.  We proceed to grab a bite to eat and head back to UCLA.

Bus #3…Passed us.  We went running down César Chavez/Sunset….but it left before we could manage to get there. Triple *#&$*&@$!

Bus #4 comes and we got to campus at 2:30pm.  Ugh, at the end of class (Quadruple *#&$*&@$). The coin machine on the bus wasn’t working and I didn’t have to pay to get back west after all.  Go figure, I could have used that to take another bus to avoid walking for 1.5 miles.  Hah. Oh well. I guess that gave me some exercise to substitute for not doing Yoga this week. :/

I was a little miffed at myself for missing class, but overall the day was quite an adventure. I really didn’t mind walking so much, and I was excited because today it was cloudy and it RAINED!!  I miss the rain and the air felt so much cleaner.  Plus the partly-cloudiness creates this depth to the sky that is aesthetically appealing to me.  Morit and I had a lot of fun in Chinatown and gabbing all day, plus we both found outfits for under $20.  Mission accomplished.

I’m really enjoying Chinese Ensemble…I had never known much about Chinese music before, but Ching Yi and Morit play in it, so when ChingYi told me to join, I figured…Why not!?  So here I am, playing erhu and cymbals.  The music from rehearsal today is still in my head 🙂  I also realize how much I love the wide range of timbral effects and the wonderfully delicate sound that it has (well….except for my cymbals!).

Anways, there’s SOO much to do in the next few  days.  Saturday, I will perform with the mariachi group (my first time! About 8 of the 10 songs are memorized) downtown, and the Chinese ensemble for the Chinese New Year (Happy year of the Ox!), going straight from one to the other, and having to juggle between three instruments and three outfits.  🙂

Later, I have pictures to post from Chinatown and when Tara and I went hiking Monday in the Santa Monica Mountains…

I am inspired….
2008/12/14, 05:49
Filed under: food, Los Angeles, Music, Thoughts

A very interesting project…not that Tara and I will go that extreme in our grocery shopping, but am definitely inspired to think about it in a different way.

Also, I keep going to
and also look at pets needing to be adopted…I think I am going through animal withdrawal in Los Angeles. I am thrilled to see squirrels on campus. I’m considering adopting an adult dog or at least volunteering at a shelter nearby…
Especially during a time when many people have had to give up their family pets. I don’t know what I would ever do if I was faced with that decision.

And talking about favorite links I would have to say my favorite to buy classical music is…
Awesome deals….hard to find CDs…and a SMALL business whose president will actually reply to you, personally, when you have a problem. When I was studying classical violin, I bought almost everything from here 🙂 CDs are the new vinyl right? Collector’s items?

Anyways, I’m off to relax with my mother after a successful day of Christmas gift shopping.

A quick hello!
2007/11/15, 02:13
Filed under: Flamenco Violin, Global Music Ed, Thoughts

So the last few months flew by very fast. The autumn has flirted with winter and summer here…strange temperatures and fluctuations…fickle weather of Central New York. One day it is sunny and pushing 60 degrees, when just a few days ago it was beautifully snowing (although nothing stuck). Most of the leaves are off the trees, and there’s that sweet smell of decay in the air. I went to Beaver Lake the other day with my friends and enjoyed a cheery yellow and red carpet on the forest floor.

Fall is my favorite time of the year in New York.

So anyways, student teaching has been quite the experience…and so has applying for graduate schools!
I’ve been trying to work on my arrangement of a mariachi song for string orchestra (and possibly harp, trumpet, voice, and guitar) and soon I will be preparing for presenting some of my research at the SAM conference in San Antonio!

As far as something flamenco related, I’ve heard wind of another flamenco violinist from Kristin Molnar…

That’s all for now! Time for working on graduate applications some more 🙂

Malabarista de Semáforo
2007/04/15, 02:36
Filed under: Flamenco Violin, Global Music Ed

Malabarista de Semáforo (from De La Felicidad) is the piece I focused on for my project for the Global Music Education course.

The performance in class last week went pretty well (I transcribed about the first 40 seconds of the piece…covering the main themes but not overburdening myself with the solo sections, at least for the time being since it was just a short performance we were supposed to do). I really love this piece! Ara is awesome!

Attached is a .pdf of my basic analysis of the piece, along with some observations I noted about the violin and how Ara plays and sounds.

Pretty much I just noted the different sections that I heard and tried to describe them.

In the harmony section I am reading in the Teoría Musical de Flamenco by Lola Fernández, she writes that Flamenco uses the Modal System (Phrygian, majorized Phrygian, Ionian, mixed modes, Flamenco mode), Tonal System (Major and Minor), Modal+Tonal System (Flamenco mode with either a major mode/bimodality, or a minor mode).

Ms. Fernández refers to the (Mi)E Phrygian (E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E), the “majorized” E Phrygian (E, F, G#, A, B, C, D#, E), and the flamenco mode (E, F, G#, A, B, C, D, E). If a triad is made of each step of the flamenco mode, the chords/triads are I – Major, II – Major, III – Major, IV – minor, V – diminished, VI – Major, VII – minor.

I believe that Malabarista de Semáforo is in the flamenco mode of Mi (or E), with some accidentals, ornaments and embellishments created by Ara Malikian and the guitarist José Luís Montón.

The flamenco rhythmic system is probably one of the very hardest for me to catch on to at this point. I understand it, but the application of it is very hard for me! I’m thinking that this particular piece is following a Soleá form, or at least from the family of the Soleá, but I may be wrong.

As for the title, I’m not quite sure how to translate it. “Traffic Light/Semaphore Juggler”, “Juggler of the Semafore” (???) Maybe it has to do with the traffic light alternating three colors like the juggler will juggle at least 3 balls or objects? Maybe in the piece it has to do with the alternating solo sections or how the two musicians perceived the form or structure? Or maybe none of what I am thinking? Ahh, who knows!


Can a musical spirit exist with different instrumentations?
2007/03/31, 20:44
Filed under: Flamenco Violin, Global Music Ed, Thoughts

So yesterday, I received the comment on my last post by Zata, who expressed the idea that true flamenco would never include violin.
I responded back to Zata, but even as I woke up this afternoon to a pale sunny day (isn’t spring break great!?) I’m still nagged by this question of authenticity and what is essential for a work of music to still be considered in the style of something specific, like flamenco for example.

Does music ever stay the same from its inception? How much change can happen before it doesn’t morphe into something else? How is the spirit of music expressed, no matter what instrument is used? Are there some genres that depend more on instrumentation and others which depend less on it?

I tried looking within to explore some of these questions.
What types of instrumentations could still be considered rock? What makes rock? Can a string quartet be rock?
How about pop music?
And since I’ve been studying mariachi along with flamenco, what about mariachi music?
What needs to stay intact to be mariachi.

Perhaps some of these inherently require instruments…for example, electric guitars for rock…a singer for American pop music…and the violin, guitarrón, vihuela, and guitar for mariachi…but then can the addition of something non-traditional change that?

If flamenco is played by a guitarrista, cantante and bailadores, can it still be flamenco with just the addition of violin? What about percussion? I mentioned earlier how the cajón was introduced in the 1970s from someone who had seen it in Peru and felt it would sound good with flamenco. Even the castañuelas, castanets, which are commonly and almost exclusively associated with flamenco, were new at one time in the last 100 years. [Scottish Arts Council]. The guitar/guitarra may not have been an original member of the flamenco tradition. Some sources say flamenco was originally the singing and the palmas, and the guitar came later.

“It can not remain stagnant, because its eclectic origin is an undeniable fact,” writes Luis Clemente on, “Flamenco is all about absorption and metabolism. The concept of fusion is very old.” [Flamenco: 200 years young].

“Clearly, those that have made their mark on history are those that have blazed their own trails…” [Clemente, Flamenco:200 years young].

Even from what I’ve read about the gypsies…how they had traveled so far, absorbing remnants of the cultures they passed through or where they stayed…the conversion of many to Christianity…and Spain’s history, show how cultures have mixed and so have their arts and musics. One of the most surprising and interesting parts of Spain’s history I learned there were the mixing and clashing of cultures… The mixed architecture, the Moorish, Jewish, and Christian traditions and people…and even the Basque, visigoths in the Extremadura region, Gallegos, Catalán, Valencianos, and people from Andalucía along with the Castellanos.
I guess these things are captivating to me being an American (and by that I mean a Mexican-Italian-Spanish-English-German-Irish-Scottish-Portuguese-American, with my given name that is Hebrew, French, and a Spanish surname). I had babysitters who were Native American and from India. My life has been all about the contributions of so many. If something is easily categorized in a neat little package, I almost always feel like something is being overlooked or neglected! Most people view things the opposite.

To what extent is hybridization and hyphenization a good and/or bad thing?

What are the benefits and the disadvantages of being a purist vs. a fusionist?
Can a violin play flamenco and capture the aesthetics and essences valued in this genre? Why or why not?

“It is not true that certain types of music have existed in a sort of static form within its own culture from the time the culture came into being and up to more recent times, or that this is the first time that people have borrowed from each other…and then took a chance by breaking with the accepted norm.” [Einar Solbu, “A Performance Perspective.”]

“You should not change things that are classic. You should leave them intact….It is not good for humanity for everything to be the same….But there are some limits….On the taco, put salsa de tomate, salsa verde, salsa de chipotle, put whatever salsa you like. But just don’t put ketchup.” [Nati Cano, from Daniel Sheehy, “Mariachi in America”].