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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

Pentathlon

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The little giraffe finds a new friend.

Pentathlon —
A story with the little giraffe

It’s about time to introduce a new figure: Fünffusssaurus. For reasons too obvious to mention we will not translate this into English. Fünffussaurus was purchased a while ago for ten-something at an online store. Before it was mounted—guarded by the severe look of the little giraffe—it remained quarantined for some days, just to be sure LPG doesn’t contract the dragon’s flue (which would be unimaginably frightening). As every construction kit is delivered with some extra building blocks, I chose to deviate a little from the construction manual; hence the name. Originally this was meant to be a dragon, but now it rather looks like a worm, though. A wyvern without wings. A lindworm-centipede-crossbreed. Whatsoever.

Locking horns

Once ready to become subject to this very blog, we’d like to get to know to our new figure a little bit closer. Let’s stage a competition and see which tiny beast performs better, Fünffusssaurus or the local heroine, LPG. There are five categories—quasi the pentathlon for the pipsqueaks—in which Fünffusssaurus will challenge the little giraffe: Height, width, flexibility, fragility and popularity. Let’s start with the first match.

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Who’s taller?
Height

Let’s face it: giraffes are known to be … tall. There is no chance for Fünffusssaurus of winning this stage, is there? Have a look at the picture. While Fünffusssaurus keeps struggling with mother gravity to gain some extra inches, LPG is stablest when raising her nose up to the skies. A clear point for the crowd favourite.

Preliminary result:
 (1)
 (0)

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Who’s longer?
Width

Fünffusssaurus captures a very decisive victory. If we look at the image, LPG measures 2.5 inches from ground to ground, whereas FFFSSS exceeds the range of the meter. Frankly, it was rather challenging to somehow fit FFFSSS into the meter. Other than that, the little giraffe reaches from the Yangtze River to the Amur River, but FFFSSS spreads all over the EU, Russia, Kazakhstan and Africa as well.

Preliminary result:
   (1)
   (1)

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Who’s more flexible?
Flexibility

Let’s see, which of the two has a more dislocatable body and is overall more flexible. We already know that the little giraffe is very flexible. But how about FFFSSS? Let’s get down to it and count their joints. The little giraffe comes up with three ball-and-socket joints, all of them are sited at its neck. However, FFFSSS boasts about its tremendous amount of eleven such joints. Apart from that, also its feet are movable, no less than its tail and its horns. Thus, there is no need to dispute who’s gonna win this round, just have a look at the picture to verify the results.

Fragility

It is self-evident that LPG is rather fragile than indestructible. However, the same is true of our new friend, FFFSSS. We might count all possible items of each character that are likely to get lost. We might also take into consideration that the little giraffe is so fragile, it can’t even stand at all, once one of its legs is broken again. We might also observe, that FFFSSS has five feet that stick together but loosely whereas its underjaw is keen to fall off like a denture at any moment. I would like not to declare LPG or FFFSSS the winner of this match, though, for both competitors are just way too fragile to make a call. It’s a draw.

Giraffes are popular.
Popularity

Finally when it gets down to popularity, the little giraffe remains undefeatable thus far. FFFSSS has not recieved fanpost yet, whereas LPG has (indeed!). Giraffes are somewhat popular animals and when people see that they are occasionally fed to the lions in a zoo in Copenhagen for instance, many people get upset easily. As for FFFSSS, the popularity of a hitherto undiscovered species is undefined or null.

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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

La photo: La maladie

Oh no! Is it sick?
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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

A List Of Yellow Items

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La petite girafe liste …
Yellow Items

  1. The Yellow Elephant from Prague. A clay figure dating back to at least 2014 when it was purchased in one of those many tiny shops overcrowded by international tourists you find at every corner in the Czech capital. In contrast to other cities, Prague offers loads of hand-crafted things at such places at vastly reasonable prices. I’m still in doubt whether or not this is really meant to be an elephant, but its most prominent features—the very big ears and a trunk—purport that we can consider it one.
  2. Adhesive Tape. There is not very much to say about that item. Everyone has one somewheres at home, however I try to avoid using it most of the time as taping something together proves to be the next best thing more often than not.
  3. A self-stick notepad. There are many ways they might turn out to be handy. Whenever I get down to extracting the parts from a score I really love them and eventually my desk would become a yellow or white and red carpet—all covered with sticky notes. Cut into thin slices they are also very useful for playing compositions on the piano that require some extended playing techniques which usually means to do something on a specific string of the instrument. Piano strings are not arranged in a standardized way. Thus it might turn out that the Gb1-string(s) are not at the very same place on a concert hall’s piano as on the piano you have at home; hence it is definitely a good idea to attach some (removable) indentations to be sure you hit the right tones and strings on an unfamiliar instrument. Slices of sticky notes attached to the dampers can do this job wonderfully for you.
  4. A yellow blackboard chalk. I love colours—in nearly any context. Explaining something on the blackboard, you can easily group some information that belongs together. I purchased my set of chalks in 2019 I think. Due to the pandemic it has not been used very often since then.
  5. Hermann Erpf’s Lehrbuch der Instrumentation. Honestly, did I really think I could retrieve some inspiriation concerning the way of how to orchestrate my own compositions from this very book? Perhaps some teachers will bring forward the argument that this book needs to be considered a standard reference. I read it. At least.
  6. Panther’s immunization card. Unfortunately no longer needed as our pet cat passed away in January )-;
  7. A yellow fluorescent marker. I’ve hardly ever used it, but it’s yellow, though.
  8. Some glue. Even the paste itself is yellow. After attaching it to paper, it would stick together really well. A bit frightening, isn’t it?
  9. The little giraffe. Well, that’s pretty obvious.
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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

The brush

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La petite girafe et l’object:
The brush

Brushes and mallets are widely known as the objects which percussionists use in order to play on their instruments. Let’s consider a piano a percussion instrument. What can we do with a brush as pianists?

Obviously we might make use of it to scratch over the strings. Naturally playing on the instrument in such a way makes commonly more sense if we keep the right pedal down, but we should also take into consideration only scratching or striking the strings with the brush and leave the pedal in piece. I’ve tried out both ways while composing a new work for piano solo recently and, frankly, I was pretty disappointed. One might assume (I did!) that using a brush on the strings returns a somewhat spectacular and unusual sound, but it just didn’t. However, it’s quite nice to have the following effects: Gently tap over the treble strings and combine it with another playing technique inside the piano or some notes played on the keys. The resuly is quite silent and I would rather not use it in an orchestral work or in a piece for a large ensemble (needs to be amplified, considering the fact that such pieces are usually being staged in larger concert halls).

Another nice way to use it—and indeed this one is quite similar to the one described above—is to scratch over the section of the strings between the tuning screws and the bridge. Again this will produce only very fragile sounds. We might also consider to strike or scratch over the crossbeams with a brush. Again, the result is quite weak. Applying other mallets for that provides by far more options of creating and handling interesting thuds and noises.

Other possible playing techniques involving a brush which I haven’t tried out because they didn’t seem promising at all to me could be:

  • Scratching over the keys with the brush (consider playing Lachenmann’s Guero instead)
  • Using the handle of the brush (mind that not every brush handle is made of the same material)
  • Tapping the soundboard with the brush (again—consider using other mallets instead)
  • Scratching over the dampers (only do this if you hate your instrument)
  • Strike or scratch over the wooden parts of the piano (again, the result would be rather not interesting)
  • Applying the brush to the little giraffe (for obvious reasons)

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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

La photo: A Vitascope

The little giraffe is looking into a lense of an unfinished wooden vitascope.
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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

la petite girafe travaille a la domicile

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La petite girafe travaille a la domicile. —
A story with the little giraffe

This is not going to end up as a new corona-blog. In the course of setting up my new homepage I figured out that the last story with the little giraffe dates back to 2019. What a desaster. I have made the most ambitious LPG-plans for 2020, but it all has come different. As we’ve finally headed back to working from home I’m getting overtaken by the feeling that this should be a somewhat familiar situation to a composers. Of course it is—and of course it isn’t.

Krzysztof Penderecki, the great Polish composer who passed away but a few months ago, was also known for sketching some of his compositional ideas on small tables in coffee houses, which has influenced his way of notating his music. Other than that, composers usually love to ponder over their ideas in peaceul seclusion. Silence helps us because it wouldn’t distort the sounds that we bear in our minds before we write them down, unless we consider that silence itself can be regarded as music. If I listened to the silence in a way I listen to music by John Cage, it would definitely distort my thoughs while composing a new piece. Nonetheless I daresay that I believe it is easier to think of a nice microtonally tuned harmonic progression when there’s less obvious noise around oneself than in a coffee house.

I’m definitely missing having a cup of coffee at the Baristas across from our university building or the unhurriedly homelike Kaiserfeld in Graz these days, though. Art is not only something meant to be shared with as many people as possible but art will also not become seen, if people do not come together. People come together in concert halls and people meet and talk about music and art at places such as the Kaiserfeld. Thus, even my work as a composer cannot be done entirely from home. The act of composing is done at home, whereas bringing a new work to the audience isn’t.

Well, as 2021 nears, let’s be optimistic. Here you are some thirteen giraffe-like plans for the coming year that cannot be done at home:

  1. Drink a cappuccino at Kaiserfeld’s.
  2. Go to see a film at the cinema and grumble about it afterwards.
  3. Argue Ferneyhough’s notation with other musicians—accompanied by a pint of Guinness in order to entirely understand what this is all about.
  4. Turn the pages for a pianist at a concert
  5. Go to a vernissage and ask the artist a silly question.
  6. Hand out flyers at various public places.
  7. Play on an old organ (not in concert).
  8. Play on a singing bowl (in concert).
  9. Visit the Funeral Museum Vienna.
  10. Try to sell a replica of Kircher’s Maltese Observatory on a flea market.
  11. Visit Italy.
  12. Go to the Kunsthaus in Graz and purchase a little friend for the little giraffe.
  13. Travel to Kapfenberg by train, see if they have finally rebuilt the station there and go back again (there’s nothing special about Kapfenberg).

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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

Giraffenbuch 2019

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Giraffenbuch 2019 —
A review of the little giraffe’s adventures in 2019.

The little giraffe was put together in october 2019. Since then it has survived several accidents including broken legs (most frequent injury by far), broken tails, broken necks and spines (a little less frequent) and complete deconstruction (in order fit into a transport box bound for Brussels). At the beginning of 2020 it fell down (again) severely and some parts of it was suck up by a vacuum cleaner in further consequence. Fortunately the producers of LPG have foresightfully added several extra building blocks to the construction set, thus it could be repaired in the meantime and has readied itself for the next adventures.

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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

The Adventure In The Christmas Tree

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The Adventure In The Christmas Tree —
A story with the little giraffe

Christmas is almost over. ‘Tis about time to recap what has happened in the past hours. As giraffes are not typically involved in Christmas ceremonies, I though it would turn out to be a somewhat tough task to write about something Christmassy linked to the little giraffe. Guess what! Stories arise from fir trees and there is even absolutely no need to touch upon Christmas songs.

The day before Christmas, our Christmas tree—a fir with fluffy needles—was already mounted in the dining room not being brightened up in the usual festive way yet. The idea that burst into my mind was the following: It might make a funny picture to place the little giraffe on the very top of the fir tree, virtually acting as the only decorative element of the sawn down indoor plant.

This is what I did. Or let’s put it this way: This is what went awry instead of resulting in a nice picture for my blog. We have already discussed at this place, that the little giraffe is a rather frangible animal. Small injuries such as broken legs or a fallen off tail are usually mended on the fly. If the little giraffe happens to be totalled or if it suffers multiple organ failure, it might become necessary to consult the construction manual.

During the photo session on the fir tree, the little giraffe first fell of its assigned twig. In the course of the tumble, it lost two legs and the tail. One might not assume that such an accident was to be considered serious, because obviously it would not have been necessary to look into the construction manual to restore its vital functions. What troubled me was the fact that one leg and the body of the little giraffe landed safely on the floor, but the other leg and the tail got lost in the limbs of the fir tree.

Any Christmas tree displays itself as a perfect cloak of invisibility for little giraffes’ appendages. After having scanned the fir for more than half an hour I went over to looking for another solution to have our little giraffe bounced back. We have to take into consideration at this point that construction sets for little giraffe like animals contain more components than actually needed. I had a quick look at the spare parts stock just to find out that only one part of an extra tibia was left. A little giraffe never ever breaks its shins. Two of these bone fragments would have made my day, but one solemn splinter proved useless.

I tried to shake the fir tree in order to hear something falling down other than a needle. I even fetched my smart phone in order to illuminate every corner of the tree. Finally the lost pieces of plastic have somehow made it all the way down to the floor too and the giraffe was repaired successfully.

Hoping that you will excuse me for not providing you a better picture of the little giraffe towering over the giant Christmas tree for some obvious reasons I’d like to wish you happy reading—
Season’s greetings and best wishes for the New Year!

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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

A Taped Banana

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La petite girafe et l’object:
A Taped Banana

Time and time again art goes bananas. How about this one: Take a fruit and tape it to the wall. Don‘t forget to sell it for some 100k Euros, before eating it. Great, innit? Let‘s invent money merchandising the big something. Admittedly, I was jaundicedly reading about the big banana recently and thus I have decided that such a precious piece of art cries for epigonism. So, here we are:

Out of exaggerated narcissism I deeply believe that my artwork with the little giraffe taped to the kitchen wall is somewhat much more refined, the basic idea being elaborated in a very outstanding (or let‘s call it outtaping) way and last but never least, a little giraffe instead of a dull yellow banana is much funnier.

So, may I start a fund-raiser for this superb installation? I‘m afraid not, because the other pieces of art I‘m creating—all the humdrum pieces of music and whatsoever else—keep me too busy to act The Great Gatsby. Writing about the adventurous little giraffe keeps me occupied as well and I‘m not getting paid a penny for that even.

Perhaps there is a difference between art that goes bananas and artists that do the same. We might figure out that the former is sometimes to be considered prospering whereas—from an economic point of view—the latter very often are not.

In any case I hope you commiserate with the little giraffe being taped to my wall just for to ridicule an overpriced banana that was eaten somewhere in Switzerland. The little giraffe has recoverd well, though, but it is still not in a saleable condition notwithstanding.

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la petite girafe Miscellaneous

Looting The Advent Calendar

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Looting The Advent Calendar —
A story with the little giraffe

The little giraffe is back. After it had been sleeping in its tiny transportation box for a week, I have finally found some time to help it struggling to its feet. It is indeed quite complicated to remember, which foot belongs to which side of the animal and I’m afraid, it has already grown accustomed to the fact thus far, that a left hand attached to a right elbow is akin a right hand attached to the very same elbow. Perhaps the brown stains are on different places each time, but that does not seem to bother the little giraffe in a discernible way.

Unfortunately the little giraffe could not listen to the rehearsals in Brussels. Rehearsing an orchestral piece always means: do not waste any time—at least, when the piece is too difficult for the orchestra to just sight-read it perfectly. Usually my works are not as easy and keep everyone busy enough. Alors, no selfies with the little giraffe, je suis désolé. However, there will be an audio recording of A Manifesto Mill available on this website soon, so you might wish to listen to it.

Rehearsing with an ensemble is very often far more unhurried. There is usually even time to discuss playing techniques or questions of notations directly with the musicians or try out two or three different versions of one section. As you can see, the little giraffe enjoyed the Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles playing four pieces of contemporary music in Mons at a very nice venue called Arsonic. The place used to be a firewarden once and was inaugurated as a concert hall in 2015. We have experienced a wonderful concert there on November 30 that was well-attended—roughly 100 people joined the event which I found definitely remarkable. It also meant for me to speak a lot of French. Most unfortunately I am not very familiar with the very language. Wallonia is a French-speaking region and the primary language is used in conversations rather than English, though.

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What has happened since then? On December 1 Advent started. Along with St Nicholas the famous 24 days every dentist is overwhelmingly looking forward to are now being counted down. By the way, this was the last photograph of St Nicholas seen alive. It was taken on December 8. We tried to make the little giraffe look a wee bit Christmassy as well and had St Nicholas passing his sash on to it. For the little giraffe, the tiny bell proved somewhat heavy, but finally she could bear the chocolate bishop’s burden. Thankfully, because the latter is no longer among us.