September 3

We Can Do It!

Because there are so many forms of communication, adverts constantly surround us affecting our perception about topics and often prompts us to generalise, for example, stereotypes. I decided to study a classic advert. The ‘We Can Do It’ advert was originally an ‘American wartime propaganda’ intended to boost morale and exhort women who were recruited for the army to work harder during World War II. It was produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943 for Westinghouse Electric, who were contracted by the U.S. army to produce M1 helmets for the second world war. The poster is often thought to be based off a black and white wire service photograph of Geraldine Hoff, a factory worker from Michigan. Although the poster was rarely seen during the war, it was ‘re-discovered’ in the early 1980’s and was used to promote feminism as well as other issues regarding gender equality.

The advert depicts the cultural icon, Rosie the Riveter (based off the photo of Geraldine Hoff) flexing her right arm, saying ‘We Can Do It’. She is depicted to be strong and physically imposing contrary to the popular belief at the time. The colour used focuses mainly on the primary colours (red, yellow, blue). The background is yellow, her bandana is red while her blouse is blue. The background was probably painted yellow to make the poster more easy on the eye as well as to accentuate the Rosie’s arms. Only the upper body of Rosie is shown with her occupying the majority of the poster while the text covers the top of the poster. Rosie’s face is facing towards the camera while her body was facing left. Therefore, she covers most of the left side of the poster while her arms cover the center as well a small part of the right side.

The slogan of the poster states, ‘We Can Do It!’. The closest font matched is called Ebisu Black. It is a bold Sans Serif font. This font was chosen as it is likely to have a strong impact on the audience. It is also appropriate to fit the traditional American art style. It is not too modern yet not too playful compared to Comic Sans. The speech bubble is navy blue and the text is white to create a nice contrast. Because there’s only 4 words on the advert, most of the attention is drawn to that, therefore, succeeding in elucidate the message.

At first I thought this advert would be used to motivate women into the entering and being recruited by the army. However, after some research, I discovered this was strictly used internally at Westinghouse Electric to motivate the women who were producing the M1 helmets for the soldiers to work harder.

Rosie is portrayed to have a ‘hard’ face as well as having large, muscular arms, contrary to the stereotype. At the time of World War II, women were portrayed to be weaker and more frail compared to the physically larger and more ‘macho’ men. However, this advert proves that women can match the physical power of men, if not further exceed it. I believe the purpose of it is to help women as a whole. It can convey self-empowerment, as well as other issues regarding gender roles and stereotypes.

June 11

English Media Poster Reflection

Media: the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively.

Before the internet, the variety of medias were very limited. The perspectives on issues were also very one-sided and biased depending on the perspective of the company. The invention of the internet opened many doors. It allowed people to express their opinions freely. Before this, you would need to be a journalist or a musician. Anybody could write their beliefs through blogs or other social media sites as they were much more accessible than before.

In our current unit, we are studying the way the media portrays certain topics. The final project for the unit was to create a poster based on the opinions of 5 different sources about a single topic. For my topic, I picked Punk Rock and its’ subculture. As an avid fan of punk rock music, I was always interested in the subculture and this unit helped me learn extensively about the multiple opinions on the incredibly controversial topic. The 5 sources I used included a song, an article, a manifesto, a film and a cartoon. The song was by the Sex Pistols and was called Anarchy in the U.K. The article criticised a feminist offshoot of punk called Riot Grrrl. The manifesto was written by punk legend Greg Graffin. The film was called SLC Punk and the cartoon was criticised punk by implying its’ hypocritical ‘laws’.
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Julius made a poster focusing on propaganda. For his sources, he used a poster, book, article, a youtube video and a political cartoon. Most of the sources were negative and generally quite critical of the use of propaganda. He also explained how propaganda was incredibly important in World War II. The majority of countries use lies to manipulate and brainwash the citizens to support them in the war. Many propaganda posters contain stereotypes and racism to perpetuate and directtheir hatred for the countries towards the innocent citizens. What surprised me was how propaganda was originally a positive term and it was these countries that negated the word.
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Emily created a poster about Body Image. The sources she chose was an ad, a song, an article, a documentary, an image and a speech. This topic is quite controversial as body image, especially in teenage girls, is a big cause of depression. An example of an interesting observation included how society perceived women and how they expect girls and women to look like. Society and the media gives a false sense of hope and longing to achieve their standards of women’s body and size. Something Emily discovered was it is incredibly hard for plus-sized women to shop and find appropriate clothing in America, even though one out of every three women is obese. She analysed a popular song called All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor promoting confidence in your respective bodies. She blames how models are ‘edited’ in applications such as photoshop to produce a more radical view on how women’s bodies should look.
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Rishinag made a poster on conspiracy theories. The sources he used included a news article, an entire youtube channel dedicated to these theories, a picture and a mosaic of suspected celebrities that were involved in the Illuminati. I imagine this topic was quite hard to research about because most of the aspects of conspiracies are generally false or unknown. These wild theories only appeared when media was invented (especially when the internet was invented). Multiple groups started claiming heritage to original conspiracy groups, such as the Illuminati.

In conclusion, there is a huge variety of media, especially with the invention of the internet. For almost all topics, there are multiple opinions. At times, I was genuinely surprised at the sides that people took. What really surprised me was how people were able to influence and sometimes develop a following based on his ideas and concepts. I also found some types of medias to be more persuasive than others.

June 9

Shinobue

Over the past few weeks, we have been working on a new instrument called the Shinobue. It somewhat resembles the western flute. It has quite a high pitched sound and is typically found in the genres of Hayashi or Nagauta ensembles. They are also quite essential to the music of Noh and Kabuki, or traditional Japanese theatres. The Shinobue are typically made from bamboo. The instrument is also heavily involved in festival music. There are 7 holes cut into the bamboo. The different lengths of it changes the basic pitch of the instrument. The longer the piece of wood, the deeper the pitch. For example, the Sanbon Shinobue (or 3) measures 50.8 cm and has a basic pitch of E while the Juippon Shinobue (or 11) measures 31 cm and has a basic pitch of high C.

As I had never played the flute or any woodwind instrument for that matter, it was quite hard to pick up the instrument and actually produce a sound. I discovered that the trick of producing a clean and stable sound was the play you blow into the Utaguchi, or the hole in which you blow. The trick is to try to blow downwards in a tight stream of air. To do so, you must tighten your lips and pull the edges sideways. 50% of the Utaguchi should be covered by your bottom lip and you should aim the beam of air to the edge of it. The 7 holes are labelled 7 to 1 from left to right. Holes 7,6 and 5 should be covered by your index, middle and ring finger of your left hand while the remaining holes should be covered by the four fingers on your right hand, excluding your thumb. Notes can be played by a combination of covering different holes. The octaves of the note depends on the way you blow into the Utaguchi.

The first song I learnt on the Shinobue was Sakura. Even though it is an incredibly simple song, it was very hard and took some time especially to get the fingering correctly. Some difficulties I had while learning the song was becoming lightheaded. I believe this happened as I was using too much air to blow into the Shinobue and I wasn’t breathing properly. My teacher told me to blow softly. This resulted in my lightheadedness to disappear as well as a cleaner and crisper sound. Another difficulty was memorising the fingering. This was the one that took the most time and effort. Eventually, muscle memory helped me through Sakura. This instrument helped me identify the sounds I heard in traditional Japanese songs that I have heard before. I have also learned about the variety of music types of Japan as well as theatre music.

April 26

Planning a Dance Unit – PE Reflection

Over the past few weeks, we have been planning a dance lesson for our dance unit. I worked with Rishi to plan a dance unit focusing on Bollywood culture. Our aim was to spread Indian culture as well as helping our classmates improve on style and flair. In my perspective, our planning was effective for the main dance. The plan was incredibly detailed. We focused on explaining each move in great detail. During the lesson, we could tell a lot of people were struggling in the beginning. After we shared the document with them, they seemed to grasp the moves much easier. This strategy would definitely be useful for the next time I teach a dance lesson. I think this was one of my stronger aspects in terms of teaching. I was able to describe a particular in move in detail to someone who was having trouble. On the contrary, I had trouble actually showing the moves as I am not a particularly good dancer. If I had been able to perform this dance to a higher level, I think my lesson would have been more successful. Another weakness I had was the lack of work I put into the warm up. A lot of the students were struggling on the warmup. If I were to redo my lesson, I would have created a dance plan for the warmup as well.

Something I think that not only my group struggled with is the lack of seriousness and the concentration level of some particular people. Because of this, it was quite difficult to get everybody to focus and take the lesson seriously. What I should have done was pull them aside and tell them to focus instead of letting them continue. Despite this, the best part of the lesson was seeing the people who took the lesson seriously perform the dance and succeed. Overall, I think the dance lesson went according to plan. Besides some minor problems, it was quite successful.

April 14

Homura Performance #1 Evaluation

On Friday, we performed Homura in the 2nd annual peace concert. Overall, I believe my performance was mediocre at best. Because the audience was huge, I had gotten quite nervous. I had missed several notes, especially where the drum sticks were involved. Also, for the tuning changes, I had to look back to double check. Next time, I will be more prepared in memorising the tuning changes. The first movement was much harder for me. There were times where I was quite confused and didn’t know what to play. However, the 3rd movement was much easier for me as I got used to the hall. I believe I played that part of the piece quite well and on time. Something the group could’ve improved on would be playing quieter during Leo’s solo. We were to loud and sometimes we were unable to here him, as he was the main part.

April 6

Chord Substitution – Music

Over the past few weeks in music class, we have been discussing a specific type of music theory called chord substitution. Our task was to choose a piece of music and substitute the chords to create a different sounding song. The melody would remain the same. The song I chose was Daughters by The Story So Far. The process of chord substitution made the song sound more intricate and convoluted. It also sounds somewhat delicate. The chords in the original song were 5 chords (otherwise known as power chords) for the guitar, therefore, manipulating these chords into more complex ones gave the depth that it was previously lacking in. Also, the substituted version sounded less harsh. It has also transformed the song to sound more like a ballad, rather than a rock song.

In the very first measure of the song, the song ascends to a C5 chord. I wanted to have the opposite effect so I went to the dominant of the C and turned the chord into a G7 chord to create descending sound. However, in the second measure, I followed the same pattern as the original, making the sound ascending. However, I still changed the chords. For the E5 chord, I just added the E that was an octave higher to give more range. For the chords, F#5 and G5, I changed them into the 3rd inversion of their relative subdominant’s 7 chord, making the tonic the ‘root’.

Because I wanted to change the style of the song from a rock song to a more gentle version, I used 7 chords quite frequently to create a more peaceful and tranquil environment. Changing a chord, such as G major, its relative 7 chord (as I discovered) created a smooth and soothing transition. These substitutions allowed me to entirely change the texture and atmosphere of the piece dramatically and would be quite useful if I found a song I had written a song that I found to be too harsh or too mellow.
Link to original score: https://www.noteflight.com/scores/view/9325932e6f4ab405de26b8c141f2c1bc59ea1c08
Link to substituted chord version: https://www.noteflight.com/scores/view/33c721023567dee34d0ed553e3a55a79e224a064

February 18

Homura Practice Log

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpW4hCKxsFQ

The piece I am currently working on is called Homura, a 6 part Koto piece written by Sawai Tadao. In the video, I focused on two difficult parts of the piece. The first part is the pizzicato part where Koto 2 and 4 harmonise together. This part was especially challenging as some of the rhythms are on the offbeat which made it quite confusing. The second part was towards the ending where it neared the climax. I found this part quite hard as when I played the notes, it didn’t come out clearly, therefore, I focused on creating a clearer, crisper sound on this parts.

December 12

Koto Concert Reflection

On December 10th, 2014, the grade 10 koto ensemble performed Gojushokyoku at the winter concertin Kenmin Hall. I believe we performed much better than in the practices. For me, I think my solos were performed much better, as a result of practice. We also had better chemistry, we listened to each other and changed our performance to suit the rest of the ensemble. For example, if someone was in the middle of their solo but it was too quiet, we played softer so that the solo would be heard with clarity. However, for some parts, the tempo was a bit too fast or a bit too slow so we missed some notes. I believe, we should continue listening to each other, not only to change the dynamics, but also to listen to the tempo. Overall, I think the performance was much improved, compared to our practices.

November 24

Koto Practice 5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9yN8k5NQaM&list=UUvAXF6xMdaJq3bEt-X_4WSw
This week, I focused mainly on my solo. However, I started with a warmup to warm up my fingers for presses, and quickness. I typically struggle to keep up with a quick tempo and also, my presses are not completely accurate, therefore, I implimented these two aspects to create my warmup. I then practiced my solo in the 2nd movement to make it sound very emotional. I believe I focus too much on keeping a beat instead of making it flow. Also, I practiced some difficult parts of the song, such as the 3rd movement.

November 24

Koto Practice 4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKAlsgxFd6g&list=UUvAXF6xMdaJq3bEt-X_4WSw
This week, I focused on memorizing the piece for the concert. It’s quite hard as it is a relatively long song and also, I don’t have much practice opportunities as I don’t have a bass koto at home. I think I generally have to work on the last parts of the song because the first parts of the song are quite easy to remember. Something I should do next practice would be to try without the sheet.