Saturday, May 29, 2010


Listening to just about every piece that the universe has produced that might contrast with Beethoven’s Opus 101 and Scriabin’s 9th Sonata in preparation for music school auditions. During said effort I ran across Mozart’s a minor sonata. Nathan kindly printed it out for me in UB (at the Peace Corps office – yes, I am that cheap) and brought it back to Bayankhongor.

While I am a fan of the outer movements, it’s really the second movement (the slow movement) that appeals most to me. I have happy memories of playing parts of the second movement during the offering at church on several occasions. It's the main theme that get’s me: a simple arpeggiated ascent followed by a step-wise winding down, finally resolving after a simple and heart-wrenching suspension.

If some or all of that description didn’t make sense we can either (a) blame it on my loss of correct music theory vocabulary after a 3-4 year separation from the likes of Duckett and Boubel or (b) forget about it because only the suspension is important here.

So, suspensions. When you come to the end of a phrase (at least in most music…um…at least in most music before 1900) the composer usually closes on a “good” sounding chord, something that sounds “natural” or “normal”. The suspensions in Mozart’s second movement come right before this “good” chord: the note right before is just a tiny step above what your ear might expect to hear. This causes a certain amount of tension (likely even more so back in Mozart’s day). The tension lasts until the “good” chord comes and resolves the “discord”.

When I was playing through the piece I felt like I could just “sit” on that suspension all day long before finally letting it settle into the resolution. I think I played it about 40 times in a row. Felt so right and appropriate.

Yesterday I checked my email after coming back from the capital and our Close of Service Conference, all the news and necessary replies, all the information to double check and the paperwork to submit threw my brain into a tizzy, or tension if you will. Resolution upon arrival home?

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 8, 2009/2010

Last May our lovely Nomgon mountain looked something like this:We had just finished giving a benefit concert at the theater (Leslie, Nathan, Julia, Dwan, and I). At the time it seemed like a freak accident type of weather event. This year, for better or worse, is different. Here's Nomgon mountain on May 8, 2010:
Similar, right? This year however such snow and accompanying temperatures seem terribly par for the course, with only a few warm days since "Spring" has started. Theoretically I should stop complaining because yesterday and today saw tiny puffy clouds, lots of sun, and T-shirts!

Chatting the other evening about how much everyone has changed since coming here and, being in denial I investigated the matter. Here's my sister Kim and I in April 2008 a little over a month before I came here:And now:Apparently my skin has seen more sun in its short lifespan...

In real news! School is winding down, just a few tests, speaking quizzes, and paperwork to do before summer and all its glorious freedom comes! Summer plans: German, practice (still looking for a Romantic era work that I (a) like and (b) isn't Schubert, let me know if you have any leads!), and eat egregious amounts of ice cream next to the Tui river!

Off to UB next week for a conference about Close of Service...time is short!