the power of music

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I think the quote above is so potent. As NZ music month draws to a close, I can't help but write the post on music that I never got around to before. Personally, I don't consider myself a particularly musical person. Compared to all the amazing musicians I know, I'm worse than an amateur.

When I was 10, having just been accepted to St. Cuth's, my mum had this idea that everyone there would be able to play a musical instrument. So, she made me start learning the piano so I wouldn't be disadvantaged when I went there in year 7. I didn't particularly like it at first; I hated the practice... but over time it really grew on me. As the songs I could play got more complex and better sounding, not so juvenile and simple, I began to like it more and more. Over the next 6 years, I had lessons with 3 different teachers and sat a grade 5 music theory exam. I never took any formal performance grades. It came to a point where I no longer had time to invest so much time in piano, so I stopped taking lessons. My once perpetually short nails were left to grow for weeks before I had to cut them, and the piano grew a layer of dust over its cover. But, I still printed sheet music to play around with. If I try to play any of them they are never perfect and I can't be bothered to practise them until they are. That's why when I hear performance pieces played by people at school I'm always so amazed that they can get through the whole thing without making a single mistake. Even when I had lessons and we had concerts, I would always have at least 1 slip up in every performance. Maybe I'm just not suited for playng music?

Apart from the piano, I also own 2 guitars that I play around with sometimes. I have no idea about proper strumming techniques and my fingers are nowhere near calloused or well trained enough to play for long periods of time. Plus my fingers are short so bar chords are really hard for me. But it's nice to have that minor hobby. Being able to play some really basic chords is enough for people to think you know how to play tbh... when I was younger I really wanted to learn the violin as well. There was something attractive to me about its elegance and the serene aura of someone playing it. A lot of my friends played the violin as well, which made me jealous. My mum wanted me to play cello at one point as well, but I thought it was a little big for me at age 10 haha. Hmmm, and lots of people have told me I seem like a flute player. I find flutes very elegant as well haha. Mannn I wish I was more talented.

Leopold Stokowski's quote really does ring true to me though. As an artist, I can relate to painting on a canvas. I can't help but think how much harder it is to paint on silence; painting on a canvas is simply transforming 2 dimensional space. Sculpture even is just a permutation of 3 dimensional space. But music.... being able to manipulate the 4th dimension, time, is amazing. Once you play a note, that note is forever trapped in the past. If it's the wrong note, we can't go back to change it whereas on a canvas we can simply cover it with something else. The whole musical piece is like a painting that can only be experienced over a period of time. However, where in art we can spend hours staring at a work studying all its intricacies, a piece of music is ephemeral and has a fleeting nature that makes it all the more elusive and precious. Music seems to be the only everyday way for us to master 4 dimensions. Listening to a piece of music over time is stirring as we react once and only once to every note, and we react differently when all these notes are strung together. With only 12 notes, music has the power to anger, placate, stir happiness or melancholy. Even with billions of shades of colour, art simply does not have the same power. One is more likely to be moved to tears by a piece of music than a painting. Each time music is played, something is different. The air moves differently, the pluck of a string leaves a different vibration, the feeling invoked is not the same; music is forever changing. Would it not be a miracle to see a painting that changed every time we looked at it?

I'm really inspired by music, even if it is not as big a part of my life as it is of others. Music's beauty in an aural sense intrigues me; to someone who deals with visual aesthetics mainly, the idea of something that can also be 'beautiful' that we cannot see but still detect with our other senses is fascinating. There's just something precious about the untouchable quality of music suspended in time. Each arpeggio, staccato, acciaccatura... once played and heard, disappears into the past, never to be experienced again. Are you listening? Music is transient. Don't just look at the world around you, remember to just stop sometimes and take in all the sounds as well; otherwise, you'll miss that beautiful harmony that will never be played ever again.

if I dated myself...

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I wanted to make this blogpost last night when I had nothing to do. OMGGGGG did realise that BLOGSPOT is an anagram of BLOGPOST??? :OOOO I just realised when I typed this holy shit.

anyway, what would your relationship be like if you dated someone just like you...? (in my case, a guy who is like the male version of me).

Hmmm. He would be tall, have a strong jawline and wear glasses :) He would have really hairy arms and hands. He would have comparatively small hands and feet. He would be really weird at times, immature at some times and serious in others. Annoying when bored. Shy sometimes. Gentleman :) He would be deep at times and cbf in others. He would be a total nerd.

We will go through phases of questioning our love for each other and tend to ignore the other person for a while before we miss them and come back. It's fine if these times coincide with each other tbh lol because it's annoying when I'm trying to avoid someone and they keep trying to find me... We'd probably have a lot of conversations about what loving someone really means. But in the end I'd know we feel the same way about each other no matter if it's love or not so it doesn't matter.

But he would always be a total romantic on valentines day.

If we lived together, we could go days without talking to each other. I could come home and see him doing his own thing and I'd say hi and go off and do my own thing. If we had a child it would probably be the most neglected thing ever HAHAHA... Our house would be messy as hell and we'd have to hire a cleaner. We'd watch movies together every time we're bored and feel like it. He likes chick flicks and I like action movies involving hot girls.

We'd critique each other's appearance in our heads but tell the other person they're really good looking :P

If I txted him sometimes he wouldn't reply and I'd get upset and think he's ignoring me. So if he txts me sometimes and I don't reply then he'll get upset and think I'm ignoring him. Or maybe we'd never txt each other since I never really txt anyone but wait for them to txt me... LOL thinking about this is so weird.

I wonder if a relationship with a male me would ever work out lol. It's pretty weird thinking about it, but we seem to complement each other okay? It would be a livable life hahahaha.

In life news, I went to Wellington again last Tuesday for the NZ Top Scholars' prizegiving ceremony, and WOOWWW everyone is soooo smart. I feel so privileged to even be in their presence omg ): must work harder. Came 3rd in the nationals for NZYPT today tho :) found that new ipod shuffle has a crappy design in that the clip can't really be used without accidentally pressing the back button... life is so busy!!!! ): no time to update blog or even to think about something to write about.

I really don't care about the anti-asian stuff in the news lately or w/e, I think the media has sensationalised it further than it's worth, what the guy is trying to say isn't even as a bad as people are thinking, he's also ignorant and is therefore not worth my time nor attention. anyone who lets themselves get seriously angry about this guy is imo just playing into his stupidity, he's just looking for attention. i realise I'm somewhat hypocritical for even including such a paragraph here so I will just stop talking about it now.

In response to people freaking out about 2012

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This is my geo schol essay from a few weeks ago, with the endnotes/references taken out. thanks to tian for helping me with the introduction. got a 7/8 for this one :)


like seriously you superstitious people... calm the fuck down.


Critically evaluate the following quote:
“The impact of natural disasters has risen dramatically over the past 20 years.”
Over the past 20 years, the economic, physical and psychological impact of natural disasters has risen dramatically mainly due to the two largest differences between the world now and the world 20 years ago – our population is much greater and our technology far more advanced. Population growth and urbanisation consequently lead to pressure to settle on marginal land and develop more built environments that could be potentially damaged, whereas the development of technology and industry makes us both more at risk and more aware of natural disasters when they occur. Superstitions also to some extent increase the psychological impact of natural disasters on humans more than they did 20 years ago (See fig1)

Fig 1:



The effect of population growth on the growing impact of disasters is evident if the definition of a ‘natural disaster’ is analysed – a disaster is only devastating if it affects humans. Since there are more humans on Earth compared to 20 years ago (in 1990 the world population was around 5.2 billion – in 2010 it was 6.8 billion ), when a natural disaster strikes it is likely to cause more deaths than 20 years ago simply due to the fact that there are more people around. Furthermore, due to the increase in population, humans have had the need to inhabit areas that are perhaps not ideal for living, either due to lack of other spaces or for resources. In the past, the most devastating floods have been on the banks of Yellow River in China (it is speculated that up to 4 million people may have died due to a Yellow River flood in 1931 ), where a lot of people lived for the richness of the soil. In the last 20 years, as economic growth has become a priority of many countries, populations have inclined towards trade routes, especially ports and coasts. San Francisco is such an area as despite the high frequency of earthquakes (thousands each year ); many people live there as it is a primary port for export and import of resources. The impact of natural disasters such as inundations and tsunamis has therefore risen due to the increase in population in these areas that make humans more susceptible to them.

Humans have also relocated themselves into more concentrated city populations (in 1975 about 40% of the world’s population lived in large cities, in 2005 it was 60% ) where economic and industrial growth has created a more built environment that could potentially be damaged. The impact of natural disasters on the economy has thus risen dramatically as there is a need to repair structures such as buildings or bridges that have been damaged as quickly as possible, mainly due to the large population in cities who require residence and transport. Additionally, most people die not directly from the earthquakes themselves but from their effects on the surrounding environment. The co-existence of densely packed structures and the concentrated population in large cities mean that when a natural disaster strikes, it becomes many times more dangerous due to the number of unstable structures.

It is not only development in industry that has increased the impact of natural disasters; major development of technology can also play a big part in increasing the consequent damage of disasters. For instance, the 2011 Japanese tsunami became much more devastating and dangerous due to the presence of nuclear technology ; the threat of radioactive contamination would not have existed had an earthquake occurred in the past.

The nature of communication in the modern world is also much more technologically advanced than in the past. When there is a natural disaster, the news is able to reach many more people than before, in a fraction of the time it used to -- the mental and emotional impact caused by natural disasters has certainly risen dramatically. Over time, most of the Earth’s geographical area has also been mapped out due to the rising population. Where an earthquake could occur without anybody’s knowledge before, it is almost certain now that it will be reported due to people inhabiting most of the world’s land area. Humans have also developed more sensitive seismographic tools and knowledge of the movement of tectonic plates that they did not possess in the past and are far more able to cope with even small scale events. Humans are now even able to predict the likelihood of a natural disaster occurring in the near future (Many disaster warning systems was only implemented in the 1990s ). This means that the number of reported and recorded natural disasters has definitively increased from 20 years ago (see fig. 2, note significant increase in reports of natural disasters in 1990s, direct result of implemented warning systems). Obviously, people can only be affected by disasters that they have knowledge of, thus due to this increase in knowledge of the occurrences of natural disasters, the impact of such natural disasters also must increase.

Fig. 2 :


Natural disasters no longer simply affect those involved as victims, but the global population as a whole. When a natural disaster occurs in another part of the world, it is now expected that more able countries offer their aid – for instance, in response to Hurricane Katrina, nearly 100 other countries donated money, food or medical aid. The media plays a significant role in sensationalising natural disasters, the effect being that many more people not only know about a disaster when it occurs but also have access to images and footage taken of the event. Internet media and discussion boards also fuel this sensationalism as superstitions of the end of the Mayan calendar “2012” apocalypse theory (first widely publicised in 2006 ) arise whenever there is a major natural disaster in the world. The psychological impacts of this are obvious – the ‘official’ site for the 2012 apocalypse has almost 200 000 hits and there was even feature film produced in 2009 . 20 years ago, there was no such superstition, nor did the internet exist to provide a ground for people to discuss their thoughts and fears, so in this regard today natural disasters have far more psychological impact on humans than before.

Evidently, the changes the world has undergone in the last 20 years have contributed to the increased impact of natural disasters on our global population. Due to rising population and urbanisation, there are now a lot more structures and people that can be affected by natural disasters. Furthermore, technological advances have made communication more efficient and the news much more accessible, thus the presence of natural disasters now not only affects the victims but the global population as well. The impact of natural disasters, whether physically, economically or even psychologically on the population of the world has undeniably risen, even if it is questionable whether their frequency or potency has changed or not.