Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Music and the emotions

Our education system sadly lacks emphasis on music education and the lack of exposure would hamper our creative industry as the music composition of animes like The Garden of Words or Kitaro's composition for movies and Zhang Yi Mou onsite musical theatre in Hangzhou.
        Teachers are so lacking in training that they kill any interest to explore the field of arts.The talented youths in music in Malaysia is because of the extra mile of parents who go all out to groom their own children.But that wonderful opportunity for music education is denied to children from poorer households. Jun's harmonica private tutor was so passionate about his craft that when he was young,he visited the Suzuki factory in Japan whilst on holiday just to learn more about the potential of the instrument.Both Jun's Suzuki and Horner's harmonica would be underrated if not for the passion of his music tutors to expose him to all genres like blues and bluegrass.
       So there is a dearth of good music educators in the system-the lack of infrastructure facilities to practise like studios to jam in or increase the talentpool through music competitions at school,state and national level.Private institutes have Battle of the Bands but not public institutes.
      Even the gamelan is a dying artform.
In Nature Neuroscience a Canadian team uses fMRI scan and PET scan to see the effects of "the potent,pleasurable stimulus "that is music. The result was music triggers the production of dopamine a chemical with a key role in setting people's moods by the neurons in both the dorsal and ventral regions of the brain.
       The dopamine neurons in the caudate a region of the brain involved in learning stimulus response associations and in anticipating food and other reward stimuli were at their most active around 15 seconds before the participants' favourite moments in the music.
  Although music says little it stil manages to touch us deeply.Our body betrays all the symptoms of emotional arousal.Our pupils dilate,our pulse and blood pressure rise,electrical conductance of our skin is lowered and the cerebellum a brain region associated with bodily movement becomes strangely active.Blood is rediredted to the leg muscles.Sounds stir at our biological roots.
That's why chanting has a meditative effect at slowing down our hyperactive brains.

Zhang Yi Mou

I've been an ardent fan of Zhang Yi Mou ever since I viewed his movie Raise The Red Lantern and the lowly status of women practically faceless in a patriarchial household.My absolute fav is Life starring Ge You and his muse Gong Li.But there are more art house indie movies that don't command big box office earnings but are absolutely artistic like Happy Times about an aged bachelor and his heart of gold in helping his blind step daughter to get a decent job.It's bittersweet comedy like Charlie Chaplin's City Lights but with a decidedly Chinese streak.The other poignant movie with a theme of love and reconciliation between father and son is Riding alone for a thousand miles which starrs the Japanese actor as a father and the lengths he goes to to fulfil the wishes of his dying son.It'll be good when streaming services are introduced to enable independent art house movies to reach a wider audience world wide.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Female Artiste

The talented female artiste that has a wonderful voice which is angelic is Faye Wong-especially when she sings the epilogue to the song for the movie Aftershock.The heart sutra is a song that lightens the burden of overanxiety when she sings it in her crystalline vocals-it makes my skin tingle and lifts the brain fog.
   The other Chinese female director that I adore is Xu Jing Lei .Her direction of the movie "Letters from an Unseen woman" is not only subtle but also poignant without descending into a melodramatic tear jerker of Bollywood exaggeration.It's so quiet and muted like the scoll unfurling of an inkbrush painting of mists swirling around the rugged peaks of mountains. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Phenomenal woman Maya Angelou

American poet  Maya Angelou is a craftswoman with words.I tear up today listening to a recital of her poem on love as freedom and how her inspirational mother liberated her to reach her fullest potential.May she rest in peace and her words continue to speak out to our humanity.

Inspired by Maya Angelou's poem "I know why a caged bird sings."
Just a song in the night

A Song of light
It sings 
when darkness descends
A plain looking bird

This nightingale atop the leafy branches
Just a simple brown song bird
gifted with 
a melodic voice
Lifting its breast as
Darkness starts to swallow up the sun
And stirs your heart
With ballads of remarkable loss and hope
It sings of a search for love as
Of ships that pass each other silently in the night
In an ocean of churning waves
Two lights that know each other only in passing
Two strangers in an ocean of people
A brief glance of memory of love that lights up
And  vanishes just as fast
Two wanderers whose paths would never ever cross again    
For one is a tiny flash of light 
Fighting against the encroaching darkness
Not ever hoping to outshine
The radiant star shimmering in the vast sky
The star that is the light of hope 
The star that is a beacon
To guide the journey home for lost ships

The light of the firefly can barely be seen
Nevertheless a thousand in unison
Glitters like a Christmas tree
A thousand in unison brightly flickering
A  joyful sight to the lonely wanderers in the night

The song bird warbles
Of two hearts passing in the night
Falling in love 
never able to meet each other again for
The firefly can never reach the distant stars
That are so high up in the night sky.
Unseen though the nightingale is.
Only the melody remains
Its song pierces the coldest heart
Lights up the darkest night
And strikes the lonely sailor
Longing to reach home.
Just a song in the night
Lingers in the silence
Just a songbird
Discovering a firefly
Amongst the stars

A nightingale in the wild flies far and wide
Across mountains and seas
Free to fly through rain or shine

A songbird does not stay free for long
He  pays a price for his angelic voice
That is a lure for bird hunters
The last song he sings in the wild
Before he loses his freedom
Trapped in a cage
Singing his heart out
to his captor
To be free again
To fly with the fireflies
To serenade the stars
To call the sailor
Home from stormy seas.
To fight to be free
To love

Monday, November 13, 2017


As body ages,need to adapt to physical movements.Tried to do Zumba and aerobics at the park but knees are screaming in pain after all that jumping and twisting and kicking but boy every joint is aching and need the thai massage to soothe sore muscles.It's the chinese tuina massage and thai massage that enables me to do yoga postures but after my fall and injuries and frozen left shoulder it need ayurvedic oil massage and acupunture to finally restore back full functioning but still there is weakness in shoulder muscles.
       Osteoarthritis of knee is affecting my yoga stretches and yesterday I started learning tai chi-I used to think it was so slow when compared to jazzrobics with Judy Shepherd tapes ,it was for old people until now I'm qualified for the senior citizen label,I understand why I cannot do such vigorous exercises anymore and tai chi is so meditative like swimming,the repetition slows and relaxes the body.I'm looking forward to improving my internal energy and after watching Jack Ma and Jet Li in their kung fu flick,maybe slow and steady may be the way to go.My body aint gonna jump and prance around like the energizer bunny so time to slow down and listen to the body.


Thailand is influence by the indic culture historically -its theatre of Ramayana,its music,alphabets etc but I just saw this mouthwatering documentary on Indian fusion using Japanese ingredients from the No. 1 restaurant in Asia -Gaggan -a  chef who takes great pride in cooking and the philosophy of food as healing.Must see where it is in Bangkok before he shifts to Fukuoka.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Asia Pacific Economic Community

let's hope that in pushing APEC to faster economic development through technological advances,we would not lose track that in accelerating the economies of APEC,we would not have negative impact on Asian Peace,Environment and Culture.
           Smog is choking residents in densely populated cities,waste disposal is a big headache and massive traffic congestion lowers productivity.
          Traditional culture is fast disappearing under the onslaught of modernisation so we have to rethink of how to integrate traditional culture into lives of the young before it becomes extinct as it's irrelevant to the lives of the youths and is relegated to museums or books.So technology in the digitalization of native culture is able to preserve unique songs,dances and crafts before it completely disappears like the Dodo bird from the face of this planet.
       Peace between neighbours  is vital to prevent potential minefield of armed conflicts as they compete for natural sources.Jaw jaw is preferable to war war.Profit sharing of resources would likely be a win win context.