FAMLAB Hoi An: Seaphony Blog 4
Well, I gotta be honest, the honeymoon period of this residency has definitely subsided. The past couple of days have kind of been a bit of a bummer. We split up into two large groups, the other group going back to the hotel to rehearse. The first day of this type of rehearsal the air conditioning wasn’t working right in the practice hall. We were working on a section where I was instructed to make ‘noise’ on the cello, which I really don’t like to do. It’s okay for a little bit, but making noises that sound like I’m shredding a tree through a wood-chipper is not really why I like playing music. It brought me back to my days at CalArts, where they loved this HORRIBLE experimental music that made me want to jump out the window headfirst. Couple this terrible noise music with the fact that it was 1,000,000 degrees while we were practicing and you get a recipe for what we will call: Not Nice Bryan. I had to take my shirt off it was so hot and my cello was sliding off my body because I dripping in sweat. My wife gets annoyed when I take my shirt off in public, she doesn’t want me to show off my hairy monkey body. She’s afraid that the authorities are going to cart me off to the zoo. Sorry, Minh, once it reaches a certain temperature, I don’t care who sees my thicket of shoulder hair.
I just felt like there was no reason for me to be there. The music was so painfully loud and had so much sonic BS going on that there was no way anything that I did was going to make a difference. That’s the thing with playing cello. You can’t compete with drums and electronics and, the ken bau, which is this horrifically loud oboe-like instrument that sounds like a bagpipe and a rubber chicken had a demonic baby. That thing has become the bane of my existence while being here. I found out they play it at funerals here in Vietnam. I think it’s because when you hear it all you can think about is wanting to die. Okay, I know that’s harsh and culturally insensitive, but you try listening to that thing blast your eardrums to pieces at 9 in the morning. You’ll see what I mean.
Today was a little bit better. I think they scrapped the noise music part and I actually got to play HONEST TO GOD REAL NOTES THAT SOUND GOOD. I still had to wear earplugs on stage because it was ridiculously loud with all those instruments. Honestly, it’s probably all going to come together very nicely despite all my complaining. Sometimes rehearsal is pretty boring but that is a function of how large the ensemble is.
I know the main guys who are doing the artistic direction are stressed out and understandably so. It’s a lot of people to manage and a ton to put together in just 20 days. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in charge. I’m hopeful that this has just been a bit of a lull and once we put all the pieces together it’s going to sound great.