Pasek and Paul performance featured on UWS Music page

CLICK THE PHOTO TO WATCH THE PERFORMANCE.

Another video of myself is out. But this time, I was not the one who published it. I was startled. The recording of one of the songs in my Men On and Off Broadway project was uploaded by the official UWS Music online account on YouTube. I can’t really say that it was done without proper consent because we had to sign some paper that deals with copyright, permission to use or republish such stuff and in which I actually agreed. But really, what a privilege to be actually chosen to sort of represent the UWS Music course and its tagline that says, “There is more to music at UWS.” Very flattering. And I’m quite grateful.

Just a small trivia you might wanna know, this song from Edges: The Musical called “Along The Way” by Pasek and Paul has always been a dream performance piece. From the very first time I heard the song and watched it being performed in various interpretations, I fell in love with it and knew straight away that I would be performing it one day. And so, came Spring and the ‘Rep and ID’ unit that allowed us to design our own project (i.e., our personally designed musical repertoire). With no qualms, I included the song in my repertoire, and by good fortune, was able to find a pianist who could accompany me and keep up with my fuzziness. As bountiful fortune would have it, she came signed and sealed, in the name of Patricia Wong. The rest is what we could call history.

Despite the flaws of this performance (e.g., (1) mic’s mounted up on mic stands were scattered around the stage as I entered which made the singing SO uncomfortable. I tried to get rid of them fluidly and subtly while actually singing but I tell you it was one of the most awkward moments of my life. I utterly hate ‘adverse’ surprises; (2) the FAIL falsetto in the end. I did prepare for it and in my rehearsal sessions I had always done it perfectly (Like, c’mon I’m a falsetto maven). Nevertheless, perhaps it is true that every once in a while there are things that happen when least expected), I am very grateful to the Lord for making this ‘dream’ come into view. I was blessed with the right resources, the right people and an adequate amount of time to prepare well for it. But I know this ain’t the last time I’m doing this song. And next time, I’ll make sure that it’ll be bigger and better. 

Performing ‘I Bought Me A Cat’ by Aaron Copland

CLICK THE PHOTO TO WATCH THE PERFORMANCE.

Yes, you read it right. It might seem bizarre but yes, I did manage to bring off such a seemingly insuperable piece. Alright, I was exaggerating. Anyway, here’s my recorded performance of ‘I Bought Me A Cat’ by Aaron Copland. I made this folk/art song a part of my final performance project for my performance unit entitled “Men On and Off Broadway”. It is obviously not a Broadway piece but the song can be used with a huge amount of theatricality. That’s why it was plunked on the ‘Intermezzo’ section, the break from the Broadway songs. Despite the inflicted humour (people were actually LOL-ing during the performance but couldn’t be heard on the recording) and a small flare of self-humiliation, I am hoping that I have been able to give it justice and a decent interpretation it deserves. Piano accompaniment is done by my extremely talented colleague, Shanice Vella. CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO WATCH THE VIDEO OR CLICK HERE.

Blog Creative-Process Essay

 

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Music By Degrees: “The Jam”

Blog Creative-Process Essay

By Rie Manaloto

A micro component of the large-scale collaborative work, Music By Degrees, “The Jam” is an Expanded Practice program that harnesses different kinds of media such as live music, film, theatrics, soundscape and unconventional music improvisation. The main objective of this multimedia project is to present a concise depiction of the campus life of a music student in the University of Western Sydney’s college of Music using a musical and theatrical approach. It demonstrates the typical setting, activities, processes and experiences a music student undertakes throughout the degree. The main narrative centres on how a student experiences working on a university assessment–the processes of composing, arranging music, finding inspiration, collaborating, performing, and just having fun. This performance is created in collaboration with Amabelle Garcia, Gerielle Guzman and Mary Vargas.

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The collaboration process between the group members has been a healthy relationship that displayed good and solid teamwork despite some contrasting views and personalities. Everybody is given the chance to voice out an opinion or conviction; everybody contributes an idea or insight into the canvas that paints the overall picture of our project. All the members are able to support and critique each other’s views and creative input, and this interdependence, according to John-Steiner (2000), is crucial in developing successful and intelligent partnerships.

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The conceptualisation of this project is imbued with the artistry and style of two project installments: one is a drama musical film entitled “August Rush”, and a previous Expanded Practice work called “Beyond Play.” Both bodies of work incorporate the idea of music making presented in an unconventional fashion. They both challenged, if not redefined how music can be created from nonmusical elements and objects. The 2007 film “August Rush” directed by Kirsten Sheridan, and under the musical direction of Mark Mancina is a family-oriented drama that tells a story of a precocious orphaned boy who seeks out to find his long lost parents and discovers his precocious musical talent along the way. The bottom line is the family is drawn back together in the end by the music audible only to the three of them. In terms of sound design, this film is popular by using and integrating raw environmental sounds and other soundscape elements into a remarkably engaging rhapsody of musical sounds, imbued with improvisation and other extended techniques. It spearheads this concept by stating that “The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen.” The other installment is entitled “Beyond Play,” a previous Expanded Practice project written and directed by myself in partnership with Gerielle Guzman that showcases music, film, imagery, acting and theatrics to deliver the concepts of sensory exploration and nonverbal communication in a three-act theatrical performance. The story is first established in the film while the second half materialises live on stage. In the absence of spoken word and verbal language, music and emotions are delivered through acting, unconventional playing (i.e., communication via table drumming).

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Hence, these factors have been selected and combined to form the umbrella concept of the work. The next step is deciding on what story to tackle and present. Since the aim of the overall macro project, Music By Degrees is to promote the university course to an audience of potential and aspiring music students, the group has identified a theme and developed a storyline that centres on the student life in the college of Music coming from the perspective of the students themselves. And, this aspect of life enclosed in the project’s theatricality is what being referred to as the ‘jam’.

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The group has decided to use a visual representation through filmmaking and theatrical staging. The performance has been divided into two sections: the first section presents a short anecdotal short film that demonstrates the life of a music student in the process of completing assessments; the second section comprises the live performance that rolls out the continuation of the story that commenced in the film. Additionally, the songs performed in the live segment communicate a subliminal meaning that supports the purpose of promoting the university degree. The first song called “More to Music” is a four-line stanza composed by myself that borrows the tagline used by UWS Music that states, “There’s more to music at UWS.” Thus, the song goes, “There is more to music, there is more to see. Can you feel the rhythm? Can you feel the beat?” It campaigns for the degree’s eclectic and modern approach to music; that music is beyond what we already know and are familiar with. The second song, “Change the World” by Eric Clapton, in a subconscious sense, tries to suggest that UWS is changing the world, changing the world’s view of music. This is done in an indirect, almost devious manner, but the meaning behind it manifests the purpose of the selection of these two pieces.

The overall project design is permeated with a minimalist fashion—from the project staging to music making. The presentation moves away from a vivid, elaborate staging but focuses on the unencumbered act itself. The actors become responsible on establishing the time, setting and context in which the act is situated. To establish a minimalist classroom setting, firstly, a table with various objects on top (e.g., books, computer, food, water bottles, etc) is mounted on the stage that serves as the setting indicator to tell the audience that the act is set in a classroom. Additionally, the movements of the actors wherein each one acts as if immersed in his or her own little world, occupied by an activity (i.e., studying, chatting with someone on the phone, sketching, working on assessments) complements the manifestation of the contextual setting.

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Furthermore, the music making aspect is also inspired by minimalism by using the table and the objects on it as the main percussive instruments and thus demonstrates an overt reduction of the percussive component. In one phase of the performance, the combination of sounds coming from random objects like books, papers, pens, chips; along with human produced noises like chattering, coughing, yawning, and murmuring, all have produced a rhapsodic cacophony of noises that eventually have turned into a rhythmic instrumental augmented by the guitar and the piano. Integral factors such as rawness of sound, reduction and diverting away from the conventions become the aesthetic properties of the performance. And through a minimalist approach, all these performance elements have been highlighted effectively and have become more intimate, clear and powerful.

The filmmaking direction has been entrusted to my care, from casting, screenwriting, shooting, to video editing and musical scoring with the support and creative input of the other three members. The filmic material is shot in different locations within the Music area in the university. It features a student, Mary who is in the busyness and haste of completing set of assessments for a range of subjects.

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The short film has featured Mary working on an essay, borrowing books from the library, which is one of the essential phases of essay writing in the course. It also shows the disc section in the library that has a massive collection of music and sound resources available for all music students. The music practice rooms and the MIDI laboratory are also featured along with other facilities like pianos, music workstations, the Pro Tools software, MIDI synthesisers, etc. Some of the scenes incorporate a delicate flare of humour. A few examples are the practice rooms scene in which Mary struggles to find a practice room because every single one of them is occupied by other students (bit players: Amabelle, Gerielle and myself) who either use the music rooms to actually practice or not; Mary accidentally throwing off her guitar pick inside the guitar while playing; and Mary looking obnoxious when she sees a picture of Lady Gaga in one of the research books.

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Short filmmaking is a craft that has always held fascination for me, as it is an innovative manner of storytelling. This phase takes part in the reductive, minimalist artistic style; as a short film, in general, is a condensed version of the full-length film capturing a rather smaller yet intimate set of events, without the need to present an extensive background of the story (Corbin in Thurlow, 2008). The filmmaking aspect, to a large extent, is inspired by the short films created by “The Jubilee Project”, a philanthropic nonprofit organization that produces motivational short films and documentaries aiming to promote awareness and inspire action concerning certain issues about health, society and human relationships. On a personal note, their videos are quite relatable, inspirational, easy to watch and are capable to evoke thoughts and emotions among viewers. The projects render very simple stories, but entail a very creative handling of camera techniques and an adept approach in film editing that prodigiously create interest and fascination in viewing experience of the audience. Although lacking some professional knowledge and experience in this field, I have attempted to the best of my ability to construct the material in close resemblance to the Jubilee pieces—short, compact, entertaining, and thought-provoking. As a beginner, the film is expected to be raw, candid and experimental.

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Moreover, musical scoring is an essential element of the cinema experience as it sets the mood of the images and intensifies the emotional impact of the story. Tonks (2001) states that by duplicating, contradicting or even acting regardless of the action and dialogue, film music is the unseen narrative voice communicating everything the audience need to feel. Because of unavoidable time constraints, the group has decided to accumulate a range of musical resources to use to serve as the aural component of the finished visual material instead of coming up with an original film soundtrack. The opening music is the instrumental version of the rock song “Jam” performed by Cooky Chua and Kevin Roy. It has been chosen to signify the dynamism and enthusiasm infused in studying in the university, the sense of epiphany and the momentum arising when working on an assessment. It sets the mood for the entire film and also inculcates a positive effect about the campus life of music students. Furthermore, a recording from the August Rush soundtrack entitled, “Dueling Guitars” by Heitor Pereira and Doug Smith was used all throughout the sequences featuring the assessment process. It is also used for the purpose of providing a subtle allusion to project’s major influence.

In conclusion, “The Jam” is built upon the concept of Expanded Practice, imbued with minimalism, rawness and a sense of breaking away from conventions. It is an experimental venture into the realms of film and theatre while attempting to spearhead the uniqueness and innovativeness of the Bachelor of Music degree in UWS. In addition, it is an ideal opportunity to exercise healthy and intellectual collaboration with like-minded colleagues, who potentially have contrasting, yet substantial perspectives that give rise to an even more creative, all-encompassing panorama of insights and artistic ideas. These pieces of knowledge and a rich amount of experience are of paramount significance in continuing to cultivate and enrich my personal skills and capabilities for further involvement in this field of expertise in the near future.

References

Castle, N. (Writer), Hart, James V. (Writer), Castro, P. (Writer), & Sheridan, K. (Director). (2007). August Rush [Film]. Burbank: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

John-Steiner, V. (2000) Creative Collaboration. New York: Oxford UP.

Manaloto, R. & Guzman, G. (2013) Beyond Play. [Live performance]. Kingswood: University of Western Sydney.

Pereira, H. (2007). “Dueling Guitars” [Performed by Heitor Pereira and Doug Smith]. On August Rush (Music from the Motion Picture) [CD]. Sony BMG Music Entertainment.

Roy, K. & Chua C. (2005). “Jam” [Recorded by Kevin Roy and Cooky Chua]. On Pinoy Ako [CD]. Philippines: Star Records.

The Jubilee Project. (2012). Retrieved from http://jubileeproject.org/.

Thurlow, C. (2008). Making Short Films: The Complete Guide from Script to Screen. New York: Berg Publishers.

Tonks, P. (2001) Film Music. Great Britain: Pocket Essentials.

UWS Music. http://theresmoretomusic.uws.edu.au/.

“Music By Degrees” Official Poster

“Music By Degrees” Official Poster

This is the official project cover/poster of the large-scale work, “Music By Degrees” designed by a colleague, Peter Long. Really an awesome conceptualisation put forth by some brainiacs in the group. Love how they wanted a literal depiction of “degrees” … Continue reading

Film scoring for “The Jam”

Film scoring for “The Jam”

Part of my job is to actually score for the film sequences I have also shot and directed myself. However, because we’ve been pressed for time in the last few weeks, the group decided to just use a bunch of … Continue reading

Just Another Rehearsal Day

Loads of fun and brainwork at rehearsal. Man, how time flies! We are only a couple of weeks away from performance day. We were too diligent to be in uni rehearsing during the intra-session break. How good it actually made us feel! Ha-ha!

Photo session! Simply 'cause we need it for the blog! Ha-ha!

Photo session! Simply ’cause we need it for the blog! Ha-ha!

Looking over the overall impact and quality of the performance, the team had to consider the helpful suggestions and insights put forth by the people in our class during the workshop. It was kind of thrilling to try out some new things and to tweak some parts a bit so it would create a better effect. We know that there is still a lot to engineer in terms of structure, dynamics and overall impact. We have scheduled our last filming day (plus general rehearsal) next Friday to continue to polish and memorise our parts.

We can never let a day pass without photobooth-ing. We believe in the saying that "Crazy is creative."

We can never let a day pass without photobooth-ing. We believe in the saying that “Crazy is creative.”

One of the highlights of this day was actually lunchtime! Funny how we had our “lunch break” first, before actually rehearsing. We also discovered that our Amabelle is a great cook! Her thoughtfulness is as sumptuous as the very special homemade lasagne she prepared for us. It’s definitely saying hello to truckloads of kilocals to burn! Nevertheless, it was just so finger-licking good and we had quite an amazing time!

How could lasagne taste this good! And there is one word to describe it: heavenly. Quoted from Gerielle.

How could lasagne taste this good! And there is one word to describe it: heavenly. Quoted from Gerielle.

 

 

R.

Worskhop Day

Finally, the day of our workshop presentation has come into full view. The day was scheduled for presenting a substantial portion of our work in progress. Definitely, a nerve-racking one. The team, I must say, was well prepared, and pretty much presented 80 percent of the overall project. The first part comprised the first two minutes of the film, still not scored (because we’re opening doors for suggestions, insightful ideas, etc from the class). The second bit was the skit and live music in which all the action took place!

Setting up the stage a few hours before the workshop. We were literally chasing after the tech guy to grab the equipment we needed. Our stage setup only mounts a table, four chairs and many different objects on the table to be able to produce sounds.

The performance gained a combination of really complimentable, helpful and hypercritical feedback(s). All in all, these comments surely have stirred up our brains and helped us improve our present material. There were really interesting stuff some people have pointed up, like the use of a can of Pringles as an instrument. Quite cool, huh? Oh, well. We’re hoping to finish everything not less than a couple of weeks before performance day.

 

R.

I Think It’s a Dry Run

We are now really getting so close to the workshop day! It is our second rehearsal day (or probably the last of the most comfortable ones) and we finally got to deliberate clearly and profusely the things that we will be carrying out in the next few days through the workshop day. We have all come in to create, conceptualise, strategise, brainstorm and plan what to present on Thursday. Everyone’s role for the performance is defined as well, because it is one of the ‘confronting’ questions that is normally asked by the lecturer. And I am just so happy to be in a group that is dynamic, proactive and creative to a great extent. Hallelu, sistah!

We just sat down and pressed on with the material for almost four hours straight! It was heaps fun, however thoroughly exhausting! Going above and beyond!

We just sat down and pressed on with the material for almost four hours straight! It was heaps fun, however thoroughly exhausting! Going above and beyond!

The live performance is partly improvised, partly structured. We love improvisation! I personally think that it is an extremely creative process that all musicians (and all other artists of any kind) need to learn and master. It is where your mind’s biological sense of imagination and spontaneity are unfettered and you get lost in the material. Improvisation for me is an enormous part of what makes a musical performance supremely special. I think it is the lifeblood of music.

The team has not come up with a title for the group’s performance, although ideas and insights are being raised. Hopefully it’ll sound as cool as how the production will look and sound like. What we got to do now is to just memorise our parts and take it all to heart so it will come out natural and real.

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And may I just say that this is the icing on the cake for me after the this long, productive day! I have always been grateful for Japanese connections who are extremely generous and gracious! I am beyond pacified.

R.

Film scoring for ‘Aparisyon’

Film scoring for ‘Aparisyon’

Here’s a work in progress. For my sound comp project that requires us to create and self-direct our own sound composition for screen media, I have decided to use this 2012 Filipino indie movie called ‘Aparisyon’ as my visual material. … Continue reading

Rehearsal day

So, what do we plan to do on stage? As I said in my previous posts, the group will be starting to range over the components of the second half of the live performance.

I would break the rule if I stipulate the products of our conceptualisation on this blog. But on the whole, the performance is a combination of the important things we have learned over the years of studying in the university with the intention of even promoting the course.

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Luvo sessions during breaks. Believe it or not, it helps us think.

It is scrupulously challenging to come up with a material that is creative, interesting, and clever; a material that also embodies the new knowledge, learnings and expertise we have gained in the three years we were doing the course, in a manner that is engaging and fun to watch. In other words, erratic. At the moment, the team is trying to get rid of the ‘creative mediocrity’ (although the concept of it is truly subjective), and break through the conventions and just be cool on stage.

Our workshop for the project is on next week, along with all the other weighty assessments (I know, how awesome! I am in imminent danger of gaining some weight!). A day will be set for formal rehearsals soon to finalise what we are presenting in the Thursday workshop next week. Just hoping for the best, the most creative, the most artistic!

 

R.

Day 2 on the set

Second day of filming! Happy to say that so far almost 80% of the filmic material is finished and ready to undergo editing. Today, the group also went hard out in planning the next few stages of the overall project–creating, conceptualising, strategising, brainstorming, planning, planning and more planning! So far so good!

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Some amount of seriousness is required in this kind of situation. And we all can deliver very well.

 

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However, it is neat to say that these ladies are just nuts! The fun keeps us “alive, awake, alert (and) enthusiastic”! It didn’t feel like we’re working ’cause we’re definitely having lots of fun. Getting ready for another two hours of shooting and many retakes!

 

Workshop is in less than two weeks so the group is pressured to come up with something really favourable at this stage. And while currently there are too many tasks to accomplish in such short time, everyone is just keen to collaborate and stretch forth his/her most creative prowess to have a shot at success.

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A peek of what was captured today. Mary’s probably sick of wearing her “costume”. This is the second Friday she’s worn them.

 

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A peek of the scene in the MIDI Lab. Really, who hasn’t used the MIDIs in his entire music life in the campus?

 

Another day for filming may be scheduled in the following week. But for the most part of it, right now the group is delving much more into the components of the live performance. Surely again, we definitely  need some kind of divine inspiration to make this stuff work!

R.

On the set of

Friday was filming day! Two sequences were done within two hours. Funny how it took that much time to film only half of the actual material! Yes, I am a fuzzy director. I like to have tons of raw elements so I have plenty of options to look over as I do the editing.

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Here’s a peek of the library scene. Mary is in search for substantial stuff for her project.

 

The film is yet to be given a title. It basically comprises the first five minutes of the performance. It was sewn up in the likes of my previous work, a short experimental film called, “The Artist” which was used for an Expanded Practice project.

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The music section of the library. A really cool place to hang.

 

As a beginner, I have so much passion and hunger to learn and explore new and established bodies of knowledge in film, acting and music,  intertwined with my own personal creative perspective. While in the heat of high expectation, we are hoping to achieve a more experimental, entertaining and engaging piece of filmic material this time as there are four of us working together and sharing many, wide-ranging views and insights.

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We love our practice rooms! They were all vacant during filming day. Thank the heavens!

 

Plus, I am currently working with three cool, passion-driven and extraordinary female musicians. So I know that what we have right now is something promising.

R.