Chinese Pattern

Temple Rooftop, Taipei County, TaiwanI love reading Michael Turton’s blog, and I admire both the volume and the quality of his posts on Taiwan and the jostling of this wonderful little place between the political whims of two giants, China and the USA.

In response to the Kitty Hawk debacle, he posts something about a pattern emerging from China which I’d just like to quote here:

Anyone who has observed China’s relations with the outside world for any length of time has seen this pattern again and again. In the midst of negotiations with the Vatican, it consecrates two bishops for the state Church. In the midst of negotiations over the Torch coming to Taiwan, it denies a visa to the representative of the city of Kaohsiung to discuss games held there in 2009. Arriving in India for negotiations, its ambassador announces a whole Indian state is part of China. Some months back the Chinese government shut down an expat magazine in China that was widely considered the most sympathetic and supportive expat rag in the nation. China gets the Olympics, and crackdowns on the internet, and journalists intensify, while state security arrests double. Catch the pattern?

Is anyone in charge over there? Seriousy – why are we even bothering with these people anymore?

I just saw that Japan has now refused Chinese access to tour an an advanced combat ship.

Flock

Thanks to @mrsnap and @bikracer for turning me on to Flock. It seems to like my favorite web developer extensions, namely the Web Developer Toolbar and Firebug, and the social network features are a bonus. I was getting bummed out by Firefox’s incessant crashing, and this browser seems faster, more stable, and has some really interesting features. The user interface is a bit cluttered, although I’m doing it no favors by adding so much cruft on top of it, but other than that it seems pretty fun to use so far.

The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

— William Butler Yeats

Intonation

Over at the Peabody Double Bass blog I just noticed this excellent post on a technique to practice good intonation. This is like the double bassist’s version of Twister, and I bet would make an entertaining drinking game! πŸ˜€ Seriously though, it looks very helpful and I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

I often use reference pitches when practicing as well. I usually don’t have the luxury of being able to work out on such things with others, so I came up with a couple of items on my own:

One is to practice a couple of Petracchi-like shifting and position exercises that I use with a reference pitch soundtrack that I made that ascends chromatically. I added this to my iPhone which is itself turning into a handy practice tool. I added the metronome track right in and modded the tempos so I can practice these exercises at a couple of different rates. I’ll try to post some of these at a later date if anyone thinks these would be useful.

Another thing I do when practicing repertoire is to test my pitch against an open string with a left hand pizzicato using whatever free finger is available – the trick with that one is knowing which open string fits best harmonically with the note or passage I’m playing, which makes it an added bit of fun.

Finally, sometimes I go for the brute force method and play long tones against a three octave scale with the electronic tuner. Interesting where my finger tries to go in the middle of the upper registers, but the tuner keeps me honest.

Good intonation can seem challenging on double bass, but I think some good practice tips like the one from the Peabody folks and such can help develop a good ear and good pitch strategies. Above all, start with an instrument that is in tune!