About Me

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I'm a teenage girl who enjoys a variety of things, such as flowers, colors, piano, music, henna, writing, animals, reading, acting, creating, talking, moving, learning, smiling, and playing. This blog is about my life, interests, and observations.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Comptine d'un autre été

And here's the finished project!

Comptine d'un autre été: l'après midi

Composed by Yann Tiersen
Performed by Abbi Traaseth

(My blog layout seems to cut off the side of the video; my apologies for that! If you click on the video after it's playing, you can go to the original YouTube source, and watch the full thing there. :) )

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Note's Song

This is something that I've been thinking about for a while, and I figured I really ought to write a blog post about it, because it's far too extensive for a Facebook status update and I really want to convey what this means for me.

I play piano. I love playing piano. If you've read here before you probably know this, but I'll sum up my experience anyway. I took one lesson in my life, and found that the teacher and I didn't get along. But I didn't want that to stop me from playing. Fortunately, I have a fantastic ear for music and notes, and I could always figure out the melody of any song I wanted just by fooling around until something sounded right. But I wanted to learn notes, I wanted to enjoy the piano to its full potential, and most of all I wanted to play songs that I liked and that I felt moved by. So I printed out a little piano sheet that looks something like this:


Yep, that's right. That's my deep, dark, piano-playing secret. I printed out an image like that, and set it up on my piano next to my sheet music. I used this to slowly, deliberately decipher every song I was curious about, and then commit it to memory. Several years later, I've gotten better (and worse, as the frequency that I play surges and wanes) and can now for the most part read sheet music, but I always keep the page for reference to make certain that I'm reading it right.

Like I said, I memorize my songs. Once I decipher them, like I outlined above, I'm then able to toss out the sheet music, and play. But how do I remember them? I amaze myself constantly to find I can play immensely long and complicated songs straight from my head. What I've found is a lot of it is muscle memory, for one; I know the feeling of my fingers on the blacks, between the blacks, crawling over one another, et cetera. I know the flow and the pacing of the song.

But sometimes that isn't enough either, so how do I remember the notes? What if I forget the flow and draw a blank and can't think of what comes next?

I find stories in the notes I play for every song. I discovered when I was little that I did this unintentionally when I learned songs, and I still do it now. I won't notice it until I'm finished and playing through, and I need to remember what comes next, and it comes to me as something like "Oh, this is when D gets pissed off and goes sharp, and A and G make a cage around it so it can't cause any trouble."

I didn't realize that this was maybe unusual (or maybe it isn't?) until I was telling my mom about it and it was interesting to her. I thought everyone did it. I'm sure there are others who do, but either way, I now have the most fun figuring out what each song is telling me when I play it. I also learned that it helps me tune in with the song and feel the emotion behind it. I can't say whether this emotion is what the composer originally intended for it, but it's definitely what I'm pulling out of it.

I'll give an example of my most recent song, called Comptine d'un autre été: l'après midi. It's from Amelie. Here's a video for it:



I already got that this was a very emotional song from this video, but listening to the notes gives it even more of a tie to its core for me. I'll do my best to explain what I mean.

The left hand is constantly going through a steady loop of notes throughout the entire song. There are four patterns. It goes: E+E, B, G+E, B, E+E, B, G+E, B. The next is: D+D, B, G+D, B, D+D, B, G+D, B. As you may have noticed, the most frequently repeated note descended one step, from E to D; this gives it a lower sound. Next is: D+D, B, F-sharp+D, B, D+D, B, F-sharp+D, B. Again we've lowered another note from G to F-sharp. This gives it a little bit of a cryptic sound. Finally, we go to: D+D, A, F-sharp+D, A, D+D, A, F-sharp+D, A. We've taken one last step downward, the one note that stayed the same the entire time: the B, to A.

What does this mean? It's a steady, gentle, repeating pattern that's nice on the ears. What does this mean to me? These soft, happy notes of E, B and G, slowly and surely fall into the depression that is D, A, and F-sharp. And they do it over and over and over... And not all at once. I always watch from the B's perspective, and it's so sad to me how first it's the most influential note (E), and then, B's closest friend, G, before finally giving in herself.

The melody of this song is all about the higher notes attempting to reason with the lower ones. They try to convince them that life is worth living up at the top, but by the first time the loop resorts to the F-sharp, already the melody is also makes the turn to use an F-sharp.

As the song goes on, you hear the use of chords, and the pace quickens; this conveys an air of desperation. "Please please PLEASE don't go to the F-sharp again!" They always do, but I like to think that by the end of the song, the final chord is E-G-B, meaning we finally made it back to a place of happiness.

Anyway, if any of that made any sense, that is what goes on in my head without any sort of preconceived attempt made on my part. This flows from the notes to my mind back to my fingers again as I play through the song as if I were also part of it.

Once I know a song, there's also a certain amount of knowledge on my part that assures me that I can't mess it up, because the song isn't mine to mess up. The song is going, and all I can do is finish it. Fittingly, if and when I do mess up, you'll find that it's as if a spell was broken and as I look at my fingers, and can't even remember what I was doing before some wrong note was hit and I was thrown out of my story.

But we'll just assume that that happens less frequently than just playing and being a part of the magic of the song happens.

So that's how it works for me, from the most complicated song to the least. They all have a story; a reason for going the way they go. I can't wait to continue learning more songs and finding out about them. I don't know what will be next, but I know it'll have something in store for me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Moved by the Music

O gentle sound, from the slow and sweet piano make,
The heart and soul within my chest are forever yours to take

O passionate heat, from the quick and fired piano stirred,
Do drive me on, it is from you that it has been incurred

O stringent song, from the depths that have brought you here.
Sing me to sleep, and I in turn, will only you, revere.

Monday, August 30, 2010

To Exist.

I just read a book set in the future. Everyone has their own feed - posting pictures and blogs and videos - everyone is always connected, everyone wants everyone to look at them. To be famous is to get what you want, no questions asked. Not too different from the world as we know it now, is it? But it brought to my attention a certain question: what if you unplug, and no one is looking at you anymore. Do you still exist?

The answer is yes, of course, but the frightening truth behind the question lingers: most (if not all) people want to be acknowledged, to really prove their existence to the world. They want to leave something behind, to be remembered. But it's also a question of security. Do you still feel comfortable in your skin, doing what you're doing, if you're the only one giving yourself approval? Or do you feel you need the eyes of the world on you, nodding, giving you a pat on the back?

A rough quote from the book is, "Don't worry, you'll still exist, even if you don't have a camera pointing at you."

There are so many people I know and look up to, all of whom are confident and happy and secure in who they are as people. But I still can't help but feel bad for the people out there that think they need to be showered with attention to feel alive, and as soon as there is no one looking at them, think they're alone. That doesn't seem like a happy or fulfilling "existence" to me, if it can be called one.

So here I write my own philosophical inquiry:

If you do something and no one knows, did you do it? If you did something only so someone would know, was it worth doing?

If you're alive but no one knows, do you really exist? If you live only so people know you exist, is it a life worth living?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scarlet

What has Abbi been into, lately? What has been keeping her attention, what is teaching her patience and tolerance, and what is getting her psyched about the future?

Her brand-new black and red, glowing, shiny Gateway FX6840-03E.

As I'm constantly looking out into the world and searching for passions that excite me, my interest has always been drawn back to electronics. I don't know what it is about gadgets, but I love them. Starting with my jogger's CD player (it didn't skip if it was bounced around!), to my Zen Creative (hand-held, hello?), to customizing a hand-me-down desktop, to my own pink laptop, to my iPod Touch, and finally, a completely up-to-spec Gateway desktop. I love it all! (The one thing I never cared that much about is a cell phone, go figure.)

What has me most excited about this computer, now? It started off with me needing a computer that was capable of playing the new Final Fantasy MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV, and extended to "hey, I never had a really good computer for myself that would allow me to play on it when I want, and do more demanding things like Sims 3 or World of Warcraft raids."

Eventually, it lead to me doing it all, and with a giant grin, too. I did the research on the processors, the graphics card, the ideal RAM and hard drive space, and then compared the prices. I found the best one that would suit me, the deals that would be coming in the future, the monitor that I would want to accompany it, the keyboard, the mouse, the chair. (Computers can be really pricey when it comes to all the little things. I still don't have speakers covered.) I learned so much, and didn't realize just how giggly I could get about something mechanical.

And now? I have her. She's fast, she's red, she's silent, she has rotating wallpapers (this is my first Windows 7 computer) and she can hold everything I'll ever, EVER need. Her ATI HD Radeon 5770 graphics card is gorgeous, too. I played with the idea of getting the 5870, but maybe that'll be later, when the price is lower.

The power this thing has, it's mine! And, if you can't tell, I am thrilled. I'd be lying if I said the experience was without its frustrations, ex. where do I put it, why isn't Sims loading right, what if I delete this, etc. But most - if not all - of that is sorted out now as I finish the final touches. Now, with Alec's help, I understand the ins and the outs, I know what I'm putting on it... it won't get bogged down with stuff that I didn't need before. All of my pictures will be in their appropriate, organized folders, all of my bookmarks are relevant to me and labeled correctly... there are no broken links, and everything is orderly. When FFXIV comes out (Sept. 30th) she'll be prepared to tear it APART. This computer has me so happy every time I see it it's ridiculous. And yet, here I am, proud to say, she belongs to me and I love her.

Oh, and if you were wondering... her name is Scarlet. ♥

Friday, July 09, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

Throughout my life - as I'm sure others have also done - I've continually found sounds that I love hearing... here are a few simple pleasures that make my ears sing.

The crunch of a crisp pine cone.

A finger's perfect snap.

Gentle, dripping waterfalls.

Harsh, storming waterfalls.

Babies giggling.

The crunch of a crisp autumn leaf.

Freshly-baked, crackling almonds.

Fingers typing quickly on a keyboard.

That one high, pristine note on a harp.

A slow exhale.

That clack, when someone snaps their tongue in their mouth.

The crunch of a thin layer of ice on the side of the road.

The build-up, and eventual high screech of a tea kettle.

Birds chirping.

The rustle of leaves outside.

And finally, complete, utter silence... silence, eventually to be cleanly sliced through by any one of the aforementioned sounds.

Sharp, clear, focused. Such clarity is rivaled only by...

Relaxation; wispy, dreamy. Calm and gently at peace, enjoying the serenity within one's own mind, and bathing in the simple sounds all around us.

This how I like to live my life, and this is how I like to hear it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Acting Camp

This summer is going to be pretty busy for me; busier than most years, anyway. I'll be attending three different camps: Laura Bowman's ETUSC in August and Vermont Session 3 NBTSC in September being the later two. But the one that's the most risky personal leap for me, is the two-week intensive acting course with the Georgia Shakespeare Co. It will take place Tuesday - Saturday, July 20 - July 31, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

My actual acting experience is extremely limited. I had small dancing parts in the Paul Bunyan Playhouse productions of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan, and I fell in love with plays. The behind-the-scenes, the make-up and costumes and props, the coordination mixed up with improvisation, and the amazing, creative people behind it all. I've tried out for a couple other plays since, but after moving to Georgia, it's slipped my mind and I haven't pursued anything.

Still, I've always loved memorizing and performing monologues. I performed V's introductory speech (from V for Vendetta) at the 2006 Live and Learn conference, and more privately memorized Helena's heart-ripping accusations toward Hermia as Lysander and Demetrius both proclaim their love for her (from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 3, Scene 2). I also worked on a few of Lady Macbeth's soliloquies.

So, as I said, I'm finally pursuing this interest again by attending this camp (through no small part from Madeline Rains, to whom I am most grateful.) It's the first time I've ever taken part in an intensive course, but I'm really excited. And anxious. And nervous. I have no idea what to expect, except that I plan to jump in head-first and do my best. I know that I didn't get a few acting roles in the past because I was too caught up in having fun and being silly - at the time I was between 8 and 10, so can you really blame me? - but I really want to take this opportunity seriously this time, and really learn from the actors that are here to help me. (For more information on the camp itself: http://www.gashakespeare.org/camps I'll be attending the "High School Conservatory".)

I suppose the last thing I'm left with is the wonder if I should prepare beforehand, or just continue with my days as I have up to this point, and just enter with an open mind. Like I said; I'll be present, listen for advice and constructive criticism, and just... be all that I can be! I won't worry about needing more until I'm there, and if it does call for something I'm lacking, I should be set to take care of it then.