Monday, January 30, 2017

In My Brain- A Poem

I came across a poem that I wrote in 5th grade. It made me laugh, because it still describes me really well. Anyway, here it is, without any editing. Enjoy :)

In My Brain

In my brain,
Words race round.
Then suddenly they come together,
And in stories I am drowned.

Till one by one,
They are down on paper.
Adventure, poetry, tales of the sun,
Novels, fairy tales, mystery, and more.

If I have no place to put them,
I'll soon forget my tales,
And unlike Jo March,*
I can't go into a writing spell.

In my brain,
Words race round.
Some day they will come together,
Then in stories I'll be drowned.

*Main Character in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women." I must have been reading that book at this time! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Parable of the Lost Son

In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a story to the Pharisees and scribes.

There once was a man who had two sons. One day, the younger son came up to his father and said, "Dad, I wish you were dead. Give me my money now."
Now, his father had every right to kill his son right there, or at the least, disown him and not give him his inheritance. But the father didn't do that. No, instead, he went through all the trouble of selling one-third of everything he owned-his property, his cattle, his grain. People at the market thought the guy was insane! "Why would you do this for your rebellious son?" They might have asked.
You would think the son would be happy with shaming his father and getting his inheritance. But no, when his father handed over the money, he went off to a foreign country and spent his money on "reckless living." He blew his inheritance on the ultimate party life.
One day, the boy came to his senses. He was sitting in the middle of a mud pool, surrounded by pigs, handing out slop to the stinky beasts. "What in the world am I doing here?" He exclaimed. "The servants in my father's house eat better than this!" He made a decision. "I'm going home," he declared resolutely. "I know that I shamed my father and am not worthy to be called his son anymore, but maybe he will accept me as a servant."
The boy traveled home, the whole time rehearsing exactly what he would say. "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."
In the meantime, back at home, the Father had been watching and waiting anxiously for his son. One morning, he looked out the window and saw someone coming towards the house from a long way off. The father squinted into the morning light, and then shouted with excitement. "My son is home!" He yelled, then lifted up his tunic and ran.
Now, you have to understand that in this time, old men didn't run. But he was so filled with love for his son, that he didn't care if he shamed himself.
When he met the kid down the road, he embraced him and kissed him. Mind you, the kid was still completely worthy of being killed. But his father had compassion on him and forgave him.
The son was stunned for a moment, but quickly regained his composure. "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you," he began as rehearsed.
But his father quickly interrupted him and called for a robe, a ring, shoes, and a fattened calf. "My son is home! Let's celebrate!" he said. You see, the father loved his son so much that he was willing to welcome him back into the family.
Everything seems wonderful, like a nice happily-ever-after ending. But the story isn't really over. Remember, the man had two sons.
Enter older son. The older son was supposed to take care of his younger brother. He should have been the one going out to find his brother, track him down, welcome him back. But instead, he was out hard at work in the fields. He returned to the house after a day's hard work and heard music and dancing. He said to a servant, "Hey, what's going on?"
The servant replied, "Isn't it exciting? Your brother has returned and your dad is throwing a party."
The older son exploded with anger. "He what?" He yelled. "That scum is back?" He refused to go another step towards the house.
His father came out and implored him to come inside and join the party. But the older son said, "Look, I have been here, faithfully working for you while this SON OF YOURS went out and wasted your money. But you never gave me a goat or calf to celebrate with. But when HE comes back, you kill the fattened calf. What's up with that?"
The father looked at his older son and said, "Son, you are always with me. What is mine is yours. But it was right, it was fitting to celebrate when your brother came home, because he was dead, but is now alive. He was lost, but now he is found."
The father still loved both of his sons even though they were both rebellious in different ways. In the same way, God still loves all of us, even though we all disobey and are rebellious. When we decide to return home, he forgives us and welcomes us back into his family.

Prodigal: Lavish, Extravagant.

God our Father loves us with a prodigal love.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I'll be Bach!

Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach is perhaps one of the most famous Baroque era composers. Did you know that in total, J.S. Bach wrote over 1,128 musical works? These include works for organ, harpsichord, orchestra, voice, and many other instruments.

He was born in Germany in 1685. When he was nine years old, his parents died and he was sent to live with his brother, who was an organist. He learned to play the keyboard (meaning the harpsichord and organ, not the piano) and studied composition.

Fun fact: when he was child, Bach was not allowed into the room where all the sheet music was held. He wasn't allowed to touch the sheet music either, for fear that he would damage or dirty it. But, late at night, after everyone else was asleep, he would sneak into the study and copy the sheet music line by line!

He worked as an organist, then as a court composer. That's what almost everyone with any musical ability did in those days. He then also worked as a musical director in St. Thomas's church in Leipzig.

Did you know? Bach had a total of 20 children, though only 8 of them lived to adulthood.

Music experts can recognize Bach pieces right away because of some unique things about his music. His melodies are unique and inventive, and in some pieces, there are as many as 5 melodies intertwined together at the same time!

Bach's pieces are numbered using the BWV system. This is very important, because Bach wrote so many preludes (and other pieces) that you can't simply say "I'm playing a Bach prelude." Sometimes, you can't even say "I'm playing a Bach prelude in G minor" because there may be more than one prelude in the key of G minor! You have to identify your piece by the BWV number.
So then, what is the BWV system? BWV stands for "Bach Werke Verzeichinis" (Bach Work Catalogue). This catalogue was published in 1950 by Wolfgang Schmieder. It is organized thematically rather than chronologically. Each piece is assigned a number.
BWV 1-224: cantatas
BWV 225-248: large scale choral works
BWV 250-524: Chorales and sacred songs
BWV 525-748: Organ music
BWV 772-994: Other keyboard music
BWV 995-1000: lute
BWV 1001-1040: Chamber music
BWV 1041-1071: Orchestra music
BWV 1072-1126: Canons and fugues
I'm playing a Bach prelude right now that is BWV 940.

Another fact for you: Bach rarely wrote things like dynamic marks, slurs, and accents into his music. He only wrote the notes. The rest is up to the player's discernment as to how it should be played. This is why some people study Bach's music for their entire lives. (Besides the fact that there are over 1,000 pieces!)

Anyhow, Bach wrote music, got put in prison (by his employer the Duke in Wiemer because he accepted a job with better pay), had kids who grew up to be great musicians (like C.P.E. Bach), and died in 1750 in Leipzig Germany. Interestingly, though his music was beyond great, it was mostly forgotten following his death. However, Mendelsohn rediscovered it and made it popular again. Thanks to him, we can still enjoy Bach's music today.

Here is a video of a Bach piece. It is a Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord in G minor, BWV 1029. I only put it here because I sort of fell in love with it the moment I heard the first few lines. :) If you already know about the Viola da Gamba, skip to 51 seconds and hit play.
Thanks for reading and I'll be BACH (hahaha!) with another composer bio some other time! :)

Johann Sebastian Bach signature I

nformation from: