Friday, December 30, 2005

Lemur Demo

Synthesizers have always fascinated me because of the wide range of sounds not possible with acoustic instruments. Their weakness, historically, has been in the area of expressiveness in comparison to their acoustic counterparts (violin, trumpet, sax, etc.). This demo video hints at the possibilities when one combines a expressive implement (the Continuum Fingerboard), an ultrapowerful electronic sound source (the Symbolic Sounds Kyma), and a high-end user interface (the Jazzmutant Lemur). The sum of these components are an unusually expressive electronic instrument.

BREITBART.COM - AP: U.S. Teen Runs Off to Iraq by Himself

BREITBART.COM - AP: U.S. Teen Runs Off to Iraq by Himself

This 16-year-old decided to spend his Christmas vacation practicing immersion journalism in Iraq. Whether you think he was courageous or just plain foolish, it's a heck of a story.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Video of Woman Juggling a Kettlebell

Check out this video of a Russian woman juggling a kettlebell. I don't know what weight KB she used in this video, but the movement and apparent endurance is impressive - she just goes on and on like a machine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 -- SNL: Lazy Sunday Digital Short -- SNL: Lazy Sunday Digital Short

Another silly video for your entertainment:

We Love The Chronic...les of Narnia.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lumbarred from Pain-Free Mobility?

This article was published a while ago, but if you have back pain and are interested in a CST-based approach to treating it, check it out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The H'arpeggione is a unique instrument that combines the Hardanger Fiddle (a Norwegian folk fiddle with sympathetic strings) and the Arpeggione (a Baroque, guitar-shaped, fretted, bowed, 'cello-like instrument). Of interest to me are the sympathetic strings, ability to bow, and the quarter-tone frets.

At present, some sound samples can be heard on Erik Hind's MySpace page.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Impressive Korean breakdancer

Check out this Korean breakdancer. Like the now-famous B-Boy Junior's video, this is a tour-de-force of strength and athleticism that rivals that of Olympic gymnasts.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Secrets of Coral Castle

The Secrets of Coral Castle

Interesting article about one of the world's mysteries - how did a 5-ft. tall, 100-lb. man build this impressive castle in Florida during the 1920s to 1940s, considering the heaviest rock an estimated 35 tons and the wall around the castle is 8ft tall and consists of blocks weighing several tons each?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Election Day In Iraq

Check out ongoing coverage at the blog
IRAQ THE MODEL, for those of you who just can't get enough....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Cochlea Homepage

The Cochlea Homepage has detailed information on the vestibular system. Another website introduces the vestibular system with this paragraph:

"The first sensory system to fully develop by six months after conception is the vestibular system, which controls the sense of movement and balance. This system is the sensory system considered to have the most important influence on the other sensory systems and on the ability to function in everyday life. Directly or indirectly, the vestibular system influences nearly everything we do. It is the unifying system in our brain that modifies and coordinates information received from other systems. The vestibular system functions like a traffic cop, telling each sensation where and when it should go or stop." discussion board: After Gymnasts Hang Up Their Grips...

This is an interesting thread on the discussion board about adult gymnastics, particularly why many former competitive gymnasts quit not only competing in gymnastics, but the practice of gymnastics itself altogether.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sound of India

Sound of India is an informational site on Indian classical music, by an Indian musician who is also an enthusiastic researcher of microtonal music theory.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The American Girevik

The American Girevik has a report on the US National Team's trip to Moscow to participate in the 2005 World Girevoy Sport Championships.

I understand the Americans placed 6th, beating out Germany, Hungary, and others. The Russians, not surprisingly, continue to dominate the sport, though these particular Americans continue to learn and work hard at the sport.

Friday, November 11, 2005



For those of you looking for sample tracks from Kate Bush's latest album, here is a good place to look.

Sounds like it may be a good modern pop album...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New link added - HOMOPLASMATE

I got this link from the Acoustics, Health and Sufism blog, which I started reading when I learned of the connection between Persian classical music and Sufism.

The book Da Vinci Code seems to have revived public interest in alternative forms of Christianity, particularly Gnosticism. I just bought a hardcover edition of the Gnostic Bible and look forward to reading it.

yogalila: November Yoga Challenge - Core Power

This is a good article on using yoga for abdominal strength training. For those such as myself who have discovered that situps/crunches are useless for ab training and are looking for alternatives from the Yoga world, this is a good resource.

Art De Vany: Flu Season

Professor De Vany's personal flu preparation plan involves Vitamin C, glutathione, restricting glucose consumption, and maintaining muscle (yet another reason for strength training!). Note that it does not include vaccinations. He describes his plan in detail here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

An Overview of Charles Staley's Annual Training Summit

An Overview of Charles Staley's Annual Training Summit

A report from well-known strength coach Charles Staley's latest "boot camp". Those who have been following Scott Sonnon's and Pavel Tsatsouline's training methods will recognize several references:

- Quality over quantity in exercise
- Intelligent load cycling (no excessive jumps)
- Intelligent exercise selection (Olympic lifters should not waste time on Cybex machines, MMA fighters should not waste time on Olympic lifts, etc.)
- Include RPE (Rate of Perceived Effort) in your training log
- You can increase exercise difficulty without changing the load (especially applies to bodyweight exercise) by changing some parameters
- The CNS (Central Nervous System) is your real source of power, not the muscles.

I can vouch for Dr. Eric Cobb, who has been instrumental in my successful shoulder rehab and recovery effort. The section on Dr. Cobb goes into more detail on the role of the CNS in strength training.

Russian Kettlebells: The Need To Train Like a Man - Especially If You Are a Woman!

Russian Kettlebells: The Need To Train Like a Man - Especially If You Are a Woman!

Very good strength training article for women, written by a certified Russian kettlebell trainer who happens to be a woman. She has her own website.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A little update on my low back rehab

Around the end of September, I visited an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal disorders. I printed out a summary of my training log for him to read. After he read the summary and evaluated my back, he said my progress was good enough that no further visits or treatment, other than a 10-day prescription of Motrin (an anti-inflammatory) would be needed.

My back rehab routine is mostly based on the concepts of Dr. Stuart McGill, supplemented with Jumpstretch band work using ideas in this PDF. I believe the McGill exercises achieved their goal of stabilizing my spine enough to progress to safe exercise with my Clubbells, Kettlebell, and Power Wheel.

As far as my pain progress, the irritation that I feel in my left or right hip (varies from day to day - always one side but never both at the same time) after more than 5 min. of sitting in my chair at work is a bit diminished from about 2 months ago. It hasn't gotten any worse since I reintroduced weight training (Clubbells) into my exercise routine nearly 2 weeks ago.

My plan of attack is to continue building on the McGill exercise concepts. The very basic rehab program is built on what he calls the Big 3:

1. Side Bridges for working the obliques and other muscles along the sides of the spine, with minimal load on the spine.
2. Bird Dog for working the back extensors, again while minimizing spinal load.
3. Ab Curlups for working the abdominals without involving the lower spine.

What all 3 have in common is they are used to build muscular endurance for holding the position in the targeted area, rather than limit strength. I believe they are meant to be used in the beginning of a rehab program, for those whose backs are in really bad shape. So what I am doing to build upon those ideas include:

1. Side Bridges with a 36lb. kettlebell for added resistance
2. Power Wheel Hand Walks to train endurance for the core (abs, back, etc.) as it works to maintain the straight body position

I also plan to use a Clubbell Swipe Density program to rebuild strength-endurance in my hips and low back. I have not entered the density program proper, as I am still in the "strength practice" phase of the preparatory program for density training.

I also plan to do more band Good Mornings with my Jumpstretch bands. The band good morning, as taught in the booklet I got from Elite Fitness Systems, is basically starting with the band around the neck and the feet on the band in a squat position, standing up, then squatting down again. I plan to work up to 20 reps with my purple (light) band then move up to my green (medium) band and work up to 20 reps with the green.

Finally, I'll continue using select exercises from Rmax's Be Breathed and Body-Flow for their restorative and tension releasing properties.

Art De Vany on Sports and Spines

Art De Vany on Sports and Spines

Good summary of the effects of various sports on the spine. Elsewhere in the blog, De Vany cites the work of Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in spinal biomechanics. I have been making good progress using McGill's concepts in my own back rehab. Check out McGill's site here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My new kemancheh

I picked up my new kemancheh at the office of my Persian music teacher. Here is a picture of the famous Iranian musician , Kayhan Kalhor, playing kemancheh:

I figured that the playing method for this instrument would be different than playing viola, but it was a real shock to me when I actually tried it for the first time. Among the differences between playing kemancheh and viola/violin:

1. You rotate the kemancheh itself when you move to a different string. You move the bow around the viola/violin when you move to a different string.

2. Because your left hand has to rotate the instrument, it is less free to move around for vibrato and glissando. Because the viola/violin is supported between the shoulder and chin, the left hand is freer for those techniques.

3. You control the bow tension with your hand instead of setting the tension with a knob and leaving it there.

4. Violin/Viola is a bit louder than kemancheh

5. The sound is more "exotic" than the violin/viola

I'm excited to add this instrument to my arsenal.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Amazing I/O Brush

YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.

An amazing new drawing tool. You'll have to see this for yourself.

Friday, September 30, 2005

New link added - Sonny Sharrock on improvisation

I finally added a link to an article that has been pivotal in my ongoing development as an improvising musician. I do not agree with every single thing he said in that article, but I agree with a lot of it. Some choice passages:

The ideal type of improviser, which I strive to become:

There are three basic types of improvisers, the foremost being "the creator," who has an insatiable need to tell his story. For him, improvisation is only a tool. He plays each solo as if it were his last. He will not be compromised, nor will he be stopped.

I believe this applies to several types of instrumentalists, not just guitarists:

Regardless of the style of music, guitarists are such an insular group that they have become incestuous. They never listen to other instruments, but instead feed upon each other. It's no wonder that everyone sounds the same.

On musicians that all jazz improvisers should know:

I'm always slightly amused when I see a magazine mention Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, or John Coltrane along with an identification of their instrument. How can anyone think of being a musician and not be familiar with these men? If you ever hope to be a serious improviser, you have to know what, how, and why these and many others contributed to improvisation.

On freedom and improvisation:

Finally, there is freedom--the most misunderstood and the most misused of all these elements. Freedom grows out of improvisation. It is both your emotional peak and your deeper self. It is the cry of jazz. The one rule for playing free is that you can play anything you want. A critic once remarked to me that it takes a great amount of taste to play free. He was wrong. Artists cannot be hampered by the restriction of taste. What playing free does take is imagination and confidence. In free playing, there is nothing else to stand on; it's like walking in space. If you're confident, you will not fall. The road forms beneath your feet as your imagination takes you places arrived at by no other means. My confidence in the beauty of the music carries me through.

On soloing as art:

Your solo should be a work of art, not a technical display, which is the most difficult part to trying to create great work. Your work must be great, or it is nothing. There is no middle ground. A couple of years ago I toured Europe playing duos with saxophonists and other guitarists. We played in museums, coffee houses and anyplace where 20 to 30 people could fit into. I took these gigs partly as a challenge, because I wanted to see if I could make music without a rhythm section behind me. About halfway through the first set on the first night, I realized that I had not gone to any of the beautiful places that music always takes me. Instead, I was struggling to come up with ideas and devices to make the music meaningful. I failed. Night after night I failed. Duke Ellington was right, when he stated the first rule of music in his song title "it Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing." I had forgetton this. I was trying to be interesting and clever, but instead I ended up playing bullshit.

On swing in jazz improvisation:

Music can be played at breakneck tempos, or as slow as the most painful blues. It can be composed or improvised, but swing it must. The swing that I use is the same swing that Benny Moten spoke of in the 1930s, that Bird and Dizzy used in the 50s, that Thelonious Monk turned inside out and Miles turned into a groove, and that Coltrane, Ornette, and Cecil Taylor set free. Goddammit, you really can't play without it!

On craft and equipment:

All great improvisers spend many years developing their own sound. On the other hand, many guitarists buy their sound in little boxes, or, if they can afford it, in rack-mounted "stairways to heaven." If their individuality is ever questioned, they just point to their digital read-outs to show that their numbers are different from the other guy's in town. Ultimately, your sound is your hands. It may take a lifetime for it to reach its fullness, but playing is a lifetime gig. if you're not totally serious, do yourself and the world a favor and just do weddings, or buy a can of mousse and become a 6-string gladiator from hell and make some money.

And finally, the powerful conclusion:

Remember that your improvisation must have feeling. It must swing and it must have beauty, be it the fragile beauty of a snowflake or the terrible beauty of an erupting volcano. Beauty--no matter how disturbing or how still--is always true. Don't be afraid to let go of the things you know. Defy your weaker, safer self. Create. Make music.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bennink drums cheese

Bennink drums cheese on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Check out these pics of the great free improv drummer Hans Bennink playing drums of cheese!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music

Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music

Excellent guide to the myriad of genres that fall under "electronica"

Friday, August 12, 2005

Badass Parkour Video

Perhaps you may have heard of Parkour, the art of freestyle urban movement which originated in France. Check out this entertaining short action movie featuring Parkour.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Kid Beyond feature on Ableton

Kid Beyond is an incredible human beatboxer. Frankly, the last beatboxer I had heard of was the guy with Run DMC. Kid Beyond operates at an entirely different level. Ableton's article on Kid Beyond describes his choice of tools and has a video demo.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Steve Maxwell on Dragon Twisting

The Dragon Twist is a sophisticated squatting exercise presented on Steve Cotter's Full KOntact Kettlebells Vol.1 DVD. The general guideline presented on the DVD is to master the bodyweight-only version first, before adding resistance in the form of ketttlebells. The DVD does not specify a recommended performance level with the bodyweight version before moving on to the first kettlebell version.

Steve Maxwell in this post recommends 20 reps a side.

I'm definitely guilty of skipping the bodyweight version to work on the racked KB version. Since my current low back injury situation restricts the amount of exercise I can do with a load, I'll use this opportunity to work on the unweighted version.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Prasara-Softwork Weekend Seminar

Some thoughts concerning the Prasara-Softwork Seminar Weekend (July 23-July24):

Saturday - Prasara

I wasn't sure what to expect - the Body-Flow™ DVDs have over 30 biomechanical exercises (the "basics") and 10 kinetic chains - these plus Prasara is a lot to squeeze into 4 hours. As it turned out, the focus for this day was on Prasara. We covered 3 of the 5 flows.

Forest - Rise into a Tree pose, do a variation of 4 Corner Balance drill, and lower yourselfon your leg, then a negative screwing pushup (I can't describe this well, of course I forgot in what direction to screw too).

Flock of Pigeons - As the name implies, a bunch of Pigeon poses sandwiched between Body-Flow™ moves. I finally learned how to do a Double Shin Roll.

Spider Monkey - Quad Squat to Side Plank to Side Crow to Bridge/Table to... I forgot. We were shown a mobility drill for the arms in which the back of the palm is placed against the ground, as compensatory movement for the demand on the arms imposed by this flow.

Forest was the shortest of the flows. The other two were fairly long. Everybody that I spoke to loved the Prasara flows. For those of us, such as myself, who could not do the full versions of the movements (eg. I can't do Side Crow because I can't do a Crow (aka Frog Stand) for more than 10 sec.), we were presented with "training wheel" versions to use.

Sunday - Softwork

The focus for this Softwork seminar was on ground engagements. We were shown how the Body-Flow™ moves relate to Softwork. We were also shown some hip mobility drills - some from Body-Flow™, some from Warrior Wellness™, but done while lying down.

First we did some partner drills with one person on the ground, the other attacking. There were a bunch of them... I can't remember them all. But it seemed that the common thread in all of them was to look for your partner's tension chain and use that to for your advantage. The more experienced guys let me "get" them to understand the feel. It wasn't really about grappling in a competitive way. At least I don't think so. As the "defender", the objective was clear enough - as the attacker I didn't really know what to do, but I played as best as I could.

Then we moved on to basic shock absorption. Things got interesting really quick when we got into groups of 3 and 4, with one guy on the ground and the others stomping on the guy and/or wrestling him. I learned during my first multiple attacker session to not close my eyes. I was doing that to try to relax and absorb the kicks, knees, etc. That was fine, but being "blind", I was moving right into someone's attack. I also learned that its hard to get my own attacks in as one of the multiple attackers, due to the others getting in my way and the skill of the guy on the ground.

I don't consider myself a martial artist. Though I've studied a bit here and there, I don't practice MA (unless you count CST) now. As such (I think there was at least one other - be interesting to read his perspective), I came away with a better understanding of how Body-Flow practice can be useful training for grappling. I remember when I tried Judo and BJJ, how hard it was for me if I ended up in the bottom with somebody on top of me - even if the other person was cooperating in a static drill. Today, without any grappling practice in over 4 years, I noticed a greater comfort level and ease of movement in grappling than I ever did before. I credit this to the mobility I have gained from solo CST practice.

A-NO-NE's Mac OSX Maintenance Tips

A-NO-NE Puter has a page on Mac OSX maintenance tips from the perspective of a professional musician.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Say Goodbye to your Weakest Link!

Mike Mahler on correcting weak links and muscle imblances

Like many right-handed fitness trainees, my right arm has always been stronger than my left. The only way I have addressed this is to do all my 1-arm exercises (kettlebell military press, clubbell armpit cast, etc.) with my weaker arm first, and let the weaker arm set whatever poundage (if using a weighted implement) and/or set-rep scheme I would use for a particular session.

In the above linked article, Mahler explains why this may not be enough, why weak links and muscle imbalances may lead to serious problems, and how to really correct them.

Steve Maxwell's formula for healthy knees after 35 plus years of grappling

Steve Maxwell on healthy knees

Very informative post on how to maintain healthy knees by multiple-time BJJ champion Steve Maxwell. His chosen sport is grappling, but what he has to say about knees applies for many different sports.

Friday, July 22, 2005


My latest book discovery is the Buddha manga series by the late master mangaka Osamu Tezuka. Buddha is published in the US by Vertical.

From my non-Buddhist perspective, Tezuka's Buddha is an incredible epic, with everything from artwork that ranges from silly to incredible, to the brutality and injustices of the caste system, to unforgettable characters, both fictional and based on historical personalities (eg. Devadatta, Ananda, etc.).

Swami Sivananda's Lord Buddha page tells the Buddha life story from a presumably more traditional perspective.

So far, I've read up to Vol. 4 of Tezuka's manga. I look forward to reading more!


Accelerando is a science fiction novel by Charles Stross. From a Library Journal review:

Expanding on his award-winning short story cycle that appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, Stross (Singularity Sky) reveals a vision of the future that encompasses and expands on the newest technologies and explores the possibilities of humanity's future. Joining the ranks of William Gibson (Neuromancer), Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash), and Bruce Sterling (Schismatrix), Stross fuses ideas and characters with cheerful abandon and creates a high-tech galactic adventure that belongs in most libraries.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How my lower back pain returned

From my July training log:

Tuesday, July 5

Haven't done much lower body strength work, so decided to revisit Full KOntact KB basic drills, with double 16kg KBs.

1-leg DL x5 x2
Dragon Twist x3 x2
Weaving Side Step x5 x2
Side-Side Step x5 x2
Front-Back Step Left Lead x5 x2
Front-Back Step Right Lead x5 x2

Joint mobility during breaks between sets

Arms and shoulders sore just from supporting KBs in rack holds.

Read about a Body-Flow Kinetic Chain, recommended as a compensatory movement for high volume upper body training with KBs and CBs, on the Rmax forum. I didn't do much upper body specific work today, but the movement interested me so I decided to try it:

Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll (then reverse the chain)

I did about 5 reps of the chain. Out of the 5, I succeeded in doing one continuously without interruptions in movement. Not an easy kinetic chain for me, but fun, considering I just learned the Long Arm Roll last weekend.

Wednesday, July 6

Modified Upper Body EDT:

10 sets of:
Pullup x2, supersetted with
1-arm Military Press w/16kg KB x2

Minimum of 60sec. breaks between sets, joint mobility during breaks

Power Wheel work:

Pike Ups x3 x4
Hip Ups x3 x4


Body-Flow Kinetic Chain: Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll x5

Notes: Been doing a lot of KB work of late to build up work capacity for KB workshop on July 16 and to rebuild strength to handle 15lb clubbells. Did not manage a single rep of the Kinetic Chain without interruption in movement, but the movement felt smoother this time around.

Saturday, July 9

Warrior Wellness at Intermediate, except for Neck, 4CBD, and Ankles

Modified Lower Body EDT w/16kg KBs:

10 sets of:
Double Swing x2, supersetted with
Dragon Twist x2

Minimum of 60sec. breaks between sets, joint mobility during breaks

I started doing Double Snatches, but after 2 sets, I realized my form was really, really rusty and decided to stick to double swings. I decided I should stick to Mike Mahler's original instruction to have a 1 min. break between exercises instead of supersetting two exercises together. Moving on...

H2H 2-hand Flip-and-Catch x5 x2

Under Leg Pass x5/direction x2


Body Flow:
Sideway Squat Creep x6
Long Leg Creep x6
Descending Shin Roll x3
Ascending Shin Roll Chain x5 x2
Elevated Scorpion x5
Kinetic Chain: Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll x3
Spinal Rock x5 x2

Spinal Clover Leaf (Warrior Wellness Advanced) x3

Downward Pelvic Tilts

Sunday, July 10

Warrior Wellness Intermediate (except Neck, at Beginner)

Monday, July 11

Warrior Wellness Intermediate for Legs

Modified EDT Upper Body Circuit (8 sets)
Double 16kg KB Military Press x3
1 min. break
Pullups x3

5 min. break

Power Wheel work:
Pike Ups x4 x2
Hip Ups x4 x2

Joint mobility and Fast&Loose relaxation drills during breaks

Neck Roll x5
Kinetic Chain: Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll x5

Tuesday, July 12

1st session with 24kg KB since shoulder injury:
1-arm Swing x5 x10
Double KB Swing x3 x4
Original plan was to snatch, but body wasn't used to the weight.

Body-Flow Practice:

Neck Roll x3
Kinetic Chain: Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll x5 x2
Spinal Rock x4 x2
Some playing with Arm Thread Roll

Wednesday, July 13

Final KB workout before the weekend workshop - plan is to rest for the rest of the week. Lower back pain has returned from all the KB work I'd been doing. I realized the double KB work was going to be extra demanding on my lower back, but I had to prepare my body for the demands of a 6-hour workshop.

All KB work with 24kg KBs.

Double KB Cleans x3 x4
1-arm Clean&Jerk x3 x4
Jerk Position KB walk with each arm

Joint mobility during breaks between sets

Body-Flow Practice:

Neck Roll x3
Twisting Spinal Arch x3
Arm Thread Shoulder Roll x3
Kinetic Chain: Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll x5
Spinal Rock x5 x2

Lower back was feeling good after Body-Flow. Tried my new Yamuna Body Rolling (YBR) red ball, following the back routine on the YBR Total Body Workout DVD. Back pain still returned anyway. I'll have to wait until I try the full YBR workout before I pass further judgement on the method.

Saturday, July 16

Attended the Lisa Shaffer-Dylan Thomas KB workshop. It was 6 hours of KB training with occasional short breaks. Low back was especially sore, having been already in pain from the week's KB work.

When I got back home, tried some Long Arm Rolls and Spinal Rocks as compensatory movements for all the KB work.

Sunday, July 17

Was sore from Saturday, but still made it out to the No. VA Kettlebell Mafia Gathering organized by Dylan. Because of my sore lower back, I restricted my activity to a bit of dragging on John Starego's homemade weight sled and participating in a KB tossing contest.

Monday, July 18

Warrior Wellness in the morning and early evening helped banish most of the pain.

Body-Flow practice:

Knee Switch x10

Ascending Shin Roll Kinetic Chain x3 x2

Long Leg Roll across patch both directions - if I did it a certain way, my back didn't hurt - otherwise, well, it hurt

Circular Scorpion x5 x2

Springing Tripod Single (basic) x5 x2

Quad Switch x3 x2 - this one was really tricky on the back too

Leg Thread x3 x2 - forgot quite a bit how to do it. Will have to review on DVD

Neck Roll x5 x2

Twisting Spinal Arch x5 x2

Long Arm Roll + Reverse Long Arm Roll x5 x2
Forget the Kinetic Chain - still having difficulty doing the Reverse Long Arm Roll with my left arm being "long".

Arm Thread Shoulder Roll x5 x2
Again, I had trouble transitioning from the Spinal Rock back to Cossack Squat with the left arm threading

Spinal Rock x3 x2 - went for quicker than usual tempo this time.

Back felt great afterwards! Still feels good right now!

Wednesday, July 20

Sitting at work all day still causes my low back pain to return. I believe the cause was too much volume in the KB work I did last week. My low back was already feeling sore BEFORE the KB workshop and KB Mafia Gathering last weekend, so of course it kept on feeling bad going into this week.

Tried the Yamuna Body Rolling Total Body Workout to see what I could do for my lower back. I followed all the routines on the DVD. It was fascinating to feel the ball sink deeper and deeper into my body with each exhalation, especially on the front side routines. Still, my low back did not feel as good as it feels after a Body-Flow session. Does this invalidate the Yamuna method? Not necessarily, in that there is a lot of technique involved - I suspect a lot of it is in syncing the breath with the movement of the body in relation to the ball, as well as the ball placement. I'm still largely unfamiliar with the method. I'll get in another Body-Flow session tomorrow.

Ok, my analysis:

I believe the cause of my present lower back pain was doing too much work with too much weight too soon. I recall double military presses with 16kg KBs feeling hard on my lower back during my July 11 workout. I should have done them in alternating (one KB in rack hold while the other is pressed) or see-saw style (press one KB while simultaneously lowering the other). The transition from 32kg total weight to 48kg total weight on July 12 (or, 72 lbs to 106lbs) was too much of a jump in weight in too short of a time period. I should have phased in the greater weight more gradually over time. By Thursday, July 14, my lower back pain was back. And of course the KB workshop weekend made it worse.

On top of that, my chair at work was aggravating my lower back pain.

The Laughing Warrior

Connie Brown is a certifed instructor of CST (Circular Strength Training). She has written several very helpful articles for those new to CST - most recently a great series of articles concerning various portions of the Warrior Wellness Beginner program. I should soon be adding a link to Connie's Laughing Warrior newsletter page, which has these articles and more. Or you can read them right now by clicking this link

Can I Get An Amen?

I have a fondness for drum-and-bass/jungle/glitch as expressed by Squarepusher and Photek. The "Amen Break" is an oft-used sonic building block in these genres.
Can I Get An Amen?
is an informative audio installation about the Amen Break, covering its history and touching on copyright issues.



From the InsertSilence website:

Amit Pitaru (b.1974) writes software to facilitate his work and research in the fields of audio-visual art, music, print and interaction design.

This originally came to my attention via a forum post about Pitaru's Sonice Wire Sculptor, one of a growing selection of interactive visual art/music software applications.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Seal Quest's article on Self-Myofascial Release

I believe I posted an article about SMR with a foam roller. Here is another one from The SEAL Quest.

This section clears up why my Yamuna Body Rolling trial session yesterday didn't do anything for my lower back:

Ensure that the you DO NOT have ANY lower back pain or orthopedic conditions in your spine

Harmonic Singing Techniques

My first exposure to harmonic singing was a concert by the Tuvan group, Huun Huur Tu. If, like me, you've ever wondered how to sing like that, a mini-tutorial can be found here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Wednesday's training

Modified Upper Body EDT:

10 sets of:
Pullup x2, supersetted with
1-arm Military Press w/16kg KB x2

Minimum of 60sec. breaks between sets, joint mobility during breaks

Power Wheel work:

Pike Ups x3 x4
Hip Ups x3 x4


Body-Flow Kinetic Chain: Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll x5

Notes: Been doing a lot of KB work of late to build up work capacity for KB workshop on July 16 and to rebuild strength to handle 15lb clubbells. Did not manage a single rep of the Kinetic Chain without interruption in movement, but the movement felt smoother this time around.

Check out Mike Mahler's article on Modified EDT. The one change I made for my workout was supersetting the pullups and presses together instead of taking a one-minute break between each exercise.


Biotensegrity Home Page

From the website:

I am an Orthopedic Surgeon with a special interest in Tensegrity biomechanics, biotensegrity.

Tensegrity is a naturally occurring construct first recognized and developed by Ken Snelson and R. Buckminster Fuller in which the compression elements of the construct 'float' in continuous tension network (example: bicycle wheel).

Tensegrity icosahedrons are used to model biologic organisms from viruses to vertebrates, their cells, systems and subsystems.


Electroplankton is a "game" for Nintendo DS that is really an interactive art and music installation in software. The official website has a very nice video overview of the work of artist Toshio Iwai, inventor of Electroplankton, from 1984 to present:

To view the video, click the blue circle in the middle, wait for
Shockwave to load, click the 4th bubble from the left, then click the
4th link from the top (above the middle blue link). It starts with
some amazing flipbook animated art, then goes on to show Iwai's other
art projects.

I got these instructions from the Cheap Ass Gamer forum

Electroplankton was released only to the Japanese market, but there are a number of specialty/import shops that sell it to non-Japanese. The game is reportedly easy enough to learn and play for English readers. One thing it can do that LSDJ and Nanoloop, to my knowledge, can't is sample audio (via the DS mic) and play it back in realtime.

This is an English-language preview of the game with lots of video demos:

My first encounter with Game Boy music-making was a few years ago when I got a Game Boy Color to try out Nanoloop and Little Sound DJ, two music-making cartridges for Game Boy. I didn't get far with it, but Electroplankton has revived my interest in making music with a handheld Nintendo game console. There is an international Game Boy music making scene, though mostly underground.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Tuesday's Training

Haven't done much lower body strength work, so decided to revisit Full KOntact KB basic drills, with double 16kg KBs.

1-leg DL x5 x2
Dragon Twist x3 x2
Weaving Side Step x5 x2
Side-Side Step x5 x2
Front-Back Step Left Lead x5 x2
Front-Back Step Right Lead x5 x2

Joint mobility during breaks between sets

Arms and shoulders sore just from supporting KBs in rack holds.

Read about a Body-Flow Kinetic Chain, recommended as a compensatory movement for high volume upper body training with KBs and CBs, on the Rmax forum. I didn't do much upper body specific work today, but the movement interested me so I decided to try it:

Long Arm Roll + Shinbox Switch + Reverse Long Arm Roll (then reverse the chain)

I did about 5 reps of the chain. Out of the 5, I succeeded in doing one continuously without interruptions in movement. Not an easy kinetic chain for me, but fun, considering I just learned the Long Arm Roll last weekend.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Monday's Training

Last night, I was suddenly called by my friend to help move his new TV from a truck into his house, then up the stairs, then down the stairs again. While my lower back feels fine, I'm still trying to be smart about re-introducing it to progressively greater loads, so I decided to take today off from lifting and just practice joint mobility and Body-Flow, with emphasis on the Long Arm Roll.

Warrior Wellness Intermediate (except neck, upper thorax, 4CBD - these done at Beginner level)

RPE=Rate of Perceived Effort, RPT=Rate of Perceived Technique

Neck Roll x3 x2
Long Arm Roll x3 x4 RPE=3, RPT=2
Traveling Long Arm Roll x3 x2 RPE=3, RPT=2
Arm Thread Roll RPE=2, RPT=2

Spinal Rock (Be Breathed Butterfly version) x5 x4

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Downing Street Memo :: What is it?

The Downing Street Memo :: What is it?

The Downing Street "Memo" is actually a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002—eight months PRIOR to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Sunday Times printed the text of this document on Sunday, May 1, 2005. Since then, several other leaked UK government documents have come to light. Together they paint a picture of a President intent on invasion, and a loyal ally troubled both by how it could be justified and by what it would bring.

This site is intended as a resource for anyone who wants to understand the meaning and context of these documents as they relate to the Bush administration's case for war.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Times Online UK on "Mozart In The Jungle"

Sure to cause a stir among classical musicians is the new book Mozart In The Jungle, by Blair Tindall. What is upsetting some musicians is the implication that classical musicians must sleep with the right people to get choice seats in orchestras. You can read what Times Online UK has to say about it here.

One entertaining excerpt:

“Instrument players had a sexual style unique to their instrument,” she writes. “Neurotic violinists, anonymous in their orchestra section, came fast. Trumpet players pumped away like jocks, while pianists’ sensitive fingers worked magic. French horn players, their instruments the testiest of all, could rarely get it up, but percussionists could make beautiful music out of anything.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

StarWars DJ

Darth DJ

A cool short turntable performance piece

Monday, June 27, 2005

Welcome to!

Welcome to!

This is one website I'm going to re-visit a lot. The pictures just kill me! A sample:



I still don't do Yoga, but this blog looks like an interesting read. I found it while doing a google on self-massage using small balls. There are at least 3 different competing methods (Yamuna Body Rolling, Small Ball Release Therapy, Miracle Ball Method) as well as competing brands. This blog has a nice comparison page.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Mondo DC: Insider's Guide to Washington, DC's Most Unusual Tourist Attractions

Mondo DC: Insider's Guide to Washington, DC's Most Unusual Tourist Attractions

Gotta help my boy Jeff here in getting the word out. When tourists come to Washington DC, they think of the monuments, the Smithsonian museums, etc. You know, the usual stuff. I think this book will be great for return visitors to the area, so see the less usual stuff.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Susan Rawcliffe - Performer, Instrument Builder & Ceramic Artist

Susan Rawcliffe - Performer, Instrument Builder & Ceramic Artist

Susan Rawcliffe is an explorer of primeval soundscapes. She is a master flute maker, player and researcher as well as a master didjeridu player. Her work evolves through a circular process of making acoustical copies of ancient and contemporary specimens, learning to play them, and investing new insights into the creation of more instruments to then learn to play. She delights in exotic and potent sounds, whether as a performer, a creator of musical instruments and sculptures or a researcher into ancient flutes and their music.

I listened to the sound samples of Rawcliffe's instruments and was fascinated by the primeval nature of their sounds. After my brief flirtation with experimental music with electronic devices (Triwave Picogenerator, Nord Micromodular, looping pedals, etc.) I've become more interested in experimental sounds with acoustic instruments. In the world of free improv, musicians have been creating experimental music on standard musical instruments for decades already, via extended playing techniques. However, I've become more intersted in acoustic instruments such as Rawcliffe's that have even greater inherent potential for experimental music.

Weight Training Equipment For Sale

I'm selling the following equipment. This decision is based on the need to make room and because of the evolution of my training. When I first started lifting weights, it was because I had a vague desire to become "strong". I did the usual health/fitness club type lifts (curls, dumbell bench presses, leg presses) with machines and dumbells because I didn't know there were better ways to train. The personal trainers that worked with me put me on the typical bodybuilding type program and tried to sell me supplements.

Results from this type of training were slow to come. I got a little stronger, but not much. I sure did not put on much muscle mass. I never really cared if I grew bulk muscle or not - absolute strength was my main concern, but I found it ironic that I followed a bodybuilding program that did not do a good job of bodybuilding.

I found a wrestling coach named Matt Furey and started taking lessons from him because I wanted to learn his style of "combat wrestling". However, he said, rightfully so, that I was too weak to take the rigors of training and sparring. He wanted me to do Hindu pushups and the wrestler's neck bridge but I was too weak to do either. So he put me on a program of regular pushups, situps, and wall walks (stand in front of a wall, bend backwards, and walk your head down the wall using your hands until your nose touches the wall). I eventually worked up to one-set rep maxes of 32 pushups, 51 Hindu squats. However, I did not note an improvement in my absolute strength. Propoents of the Furey method and similar programs may argue that I should have worked up to 200 Hindu squats and 100 Hindu pushups to realize absolute strength gains. If you are curious, feel free to try it for yourself. This was all before Furey started working with and promoting Lifeline equipment, most notably the Power Wheel, Chest Expanders, and Power Pushup.

I then discovered the methods of Pavel Tsatsouline. I bought my first kettlebell (16kg, or 36lbs) and my first Olympic barbell set for his Power To The People (PTP) program, which adopted the deadlift from the sport of powerlifting into a simplified program for developing absolute strength. Under Pavel's methods, I finally realized strength gains and fat loss. PTP was great because I only needed to do 2 exercises (deadlift and side press) and only 2 sets of each. The deadlift built up my back and lower body strength like no other exercise I tried previously.

Over time, I learned that there are several different kinds of strength and about specificity in strength training. Charles Staley wrote an article that offers a clear explanation of this specificity. When I realized that the types of strength I desired were best reflected by gymnasts and breakdancers, my training began to change. I realized I didn't need the barbell, because my goals are not the same as a powerlifter's, who want to deadlift 600lbs and above. Gymnastic/breakdancing strength does not require a 600lb deadlift. I can work the muscle groups trained by the deadlift by doing other exercises such as swings and snatches with kettlebells and hip-ups with the Power Wheel. I could get all the upper body strength training I need by using gymnastic bodyweight and ring training methods, supplemented by work with rubber bands/cables and lifting my kettlebells and clubbells. I have also been influenced by Scott Sonnon's notion of sophisticating movement rather than just "doing more" (as in more reps or with more weight).

Hopefully the reader now has a better idea of why I'm selling this stuff. I am however keeping my lighter Olympic weight plates for use with my Ironmind grip training devices.

Ironmind Olympic Bulldog II Barbell Collars

Ironmind Apollon's Axle

Texas Power Bar

Body-Solid Olympic Plate Tree Rack

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Feel Better for 10 Bucks

Testosterone Nation - Feel Better for 10 Bucks

Excellent article on how to use a $10 foam roller for self-myofascial release (SMR). An excerpt:

Traditional stretching techniques simply cause transient increases in muscle length (assuming that we don't exceed the "point of no return" on the stress-strain curve, which will lead to unwanted deformities). SMR on the foam roller, on the other hand, offers these benefits and breakdown of soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.

One mustn't look any further than the overwhelmingly positive results numerous individuals have had with Active Release Techniques (ART) to recognize the value of eliminating adhesions and scar tissue. Unfortunately, from both a financial and convenience standpoint, we can't all expect to get ART done on a frequent basis.

SMR on the foam roller offers an effective, inexpensive, and convenient way to both reduce adhesion and scar tissue accumulation and eliminate what's already present on a daily basis. Just note that like stretching, foam rolling doesn't yield marked improvements overnight; you'll need to be diligent and stick with it (although you'll definitely notice acute benefits).

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sound On Sound Home

Sound On Sound

The home page of British recording magazine Sound On Sound. Lots of good stuff in the Articles section, including the Synth Secrets section.

A trick for reading music (for you beginners)

Somebody asked for help in reading music. Mapping a note to a pitch isn't too bad. It seems that people have the most problem in figuring out a rhythm. So, here's a nugget for beginning musicians who have to read a lot (eg. classical musicians, jazz musicians, etc.). This seems to be a secret in the musician community - I haven't come across it in any book yet. So here it is....

One trick I learned from orchestra that may help you if you are having trouble with those pesky dotted notes and figuring out the rhythm and stuff:

Just double (in your head) the number of beats in a measure. So...

In 4/4 time, you count to 8 instead of 4
In 3/4 time you count to 6 instead of 3
In 6/8 time you count to 12 instead of 6

And thus...

A quarter note gets 2 counts instead of 1
A half note gets 4 counts instead of 2
A dotted quarter note gets 3 counts instead of 1.5 (see where this shit becomes easier? )

For example, let's say you have a measure in 4/4 with dotted 8ths. Instead of counting to 4, you count to 8. So now in your head, you count 2 for every quarter note, 1 for every eighth note.

If you still have trouble, double the number of beats (in your head) again.

When you're practicing at home, just set your metronome to a super slow speed and gradually increase speed as you get more comfortable. Don't have a metronome? Well, you better get one!

Kalarippayattu - The ancient martial art of Kerala

Madhava Madom CVN Kalari.........

The first time I read about this martial art was in the book The Way Of The Warrior. I asked some of my Indian coworkers about this and they said Tae Kwan Do was more popular. Of course, it did not occur to me at the time that not all Indians are from Kerala (duh!).

Lots of cool photos and descriptions concerning this rare martial art.

Thursday, June 16, 2005



This is the website of Farhad Bahrami, an old Internet acquaintance of mine from the college days. I met Farhad through a mutual interest in progressive rock, jazz fusion, and ethnic music. Farhad has been promoting Persian music in San Diego for years.

Despite the devotion to the music of his homeland, a perusal of the Events, Reviews, and Links sections will reveal his support for other ethnic music forms, jazz, movies, etc.

Christopher's Music Page

Christopher's Music Page

This page has some info on Persian classical music, as well as some microtonal music theory. Info about both is rare, so I look forward to investigating the info on this page further.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Blog link added - Acoustics, Health & Sufism

Read about the Acoustics, Health & Sufism blog on the Traceless Warrior blog that I follow. It's written by a fellow musician who is also studying Middle Eastern music, so adding the link to his blog was a natural. I have also heard that there is a relationship between Sufism and Persian classical music. Whether this is like the relationship between Hinduism and Hindustani (Northern Indian) classical music, in which music and religion is said to be indistinguishable, I do not know at present.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Making a Journey from Fatness to Fitness

Making a Journey from Fatness to Fitness

I peaked at 175lbs with a 36" waist, before losing 30lbs and thus sizing down to 145lbs, between 30" and 32" waist during my last period of unemployment. I'm currently holding at around 155 but I still fit in my 32" waist pants.

However, my own transformation is nothing compared to this gentleman's. This is assuming the pictures are genuine (not doctored by Photoshop or similar program). If so, the pictures and story are amazing and inspiring.

EUCD1786 Dastan Trio – Journey to Persia

EUCD1786 Dastan Trio – Journey to Persia

There seems to be a lot of outstanding Persian music CDs that are unavailable or verydifficult to find in the United States or at online shops. This CD is on that list. It came to my attention via airplay on, where else, Radio Darvish. Even more difficult to find is the Bambad CD.

It seems that any recording involving Hamid Motebassem is worth the search - everything I've heard so far corroborates with his reputation of being an innovative composer and arranger.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Coach Sommer in a discussion on one-arm pullups

Sommer's post on the 8 1-arm pullups video

For your convenience, click here to view the video of the 8 1-arm pullups.

Take the time to click through this thread, especially Coach's other posts. He goes into detail on using static hold training for the 1-arm chinup.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Testosterone Nation - 10 Strength Training Tips

Jack Reape's 10 Strength Training Tips

I am neither a bodybuilder nor a powerlifter, but Reape gives consistently good training advice. Especially pertinent to all trainees, whether one is a powerlifter, gymnast, etc. is the section on volume, intensity, and cycling. The tips about abs and shrugs are also good.

An aside on ab training:

Because I aspire to gymnastic type bodyweight feats, my ab training is different from a powerlifter's, which relies more on equipment. The Spinal Rock (presented in Body-Flow, Be Breathed, which is almost entirely devoted to the Spinal Rock and its variations, plus easier "performance breathing" exercises, and Five Minute Miracle, which also includes The Five Tibetans) has been my primary ab exercise, because my lower back at present has not allowed me to use my Power Wheel. Gymnastics ab training includes the Planche and Front Lever progressions described in Building an Olympic Body through Bodyweight Conditioning. While the Planche and Front Lever do not target the abs specifically, Coach Sommer claims the practice of these exercises will develop tremendous ab strength. As noted on my June 06 post, at least one trainee has reported unexpected ab strength gains from doing just these two exercises. There are many other gymnastic exercises that work the abs, but the practice of these two may make the other exercises redundant.

Charles Earland - Leaving This Planet

Music: Leaving This Planet

Suitandtieguy on HC KSS recommended this album by the late jazz organist Charles Earland:

b) Herbie always needed Patrick Gleeson (or whoever was around ... in the 80s for Future Shock it became Bill Laswell) to patch his synths up for him. i'll bet if you threw him in front of a Minimoog with all the knobs turned down he wouldn't be able to make noise with it at all.

contrast this with Charles Earland's Leaving This Planet (1974, Prestige) where he cuts a great classic soul organ record at Rudy's and then goes to fucking town on the multitrack recorder with a Minimoog, a string ensemble, a Mellotron, and some pedals and creates an album which is (seriously) the closest that organ jazz ever gets to Tomita's The Planets album. even starts out the same ... spaceship blastoff, radio voices etc. at some points i swear to god Earland has 9 layers of bubbling space synths in the background of a burning chitlin circuit organ solo.

and he did it BY HIS DAMN SELF. he didn't need some white dude to programme his synths for him. he was CHARLIE FUCKING EARLAND.

and he kept it real. when Charles left this planet, he didn't leave the soul behind.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Super Joints, The Book

I recently mentioned joint mobility and how I think everyone ought to practice it, whether you are a musician, martial artist, gymnast, housewife, or just not willing to accept the so-called "inevitable decline of age". I also mentioned several DVDs that teach joint mobility methods. Of the ones I mentioned, only Super Joints has a matching book.

I just reread this book. It is probably still the only one on the market that offers in depth explanations of the hows and whys of joint mobility in a straightforward, pragmatic manner. Much of what is written in this book applies to the joint mobility programs of the other DVDs.

First, here are the cons in comparison to the other programs, in no particular order:

  • Warrior Wellness has a better selection of neck drills, with increasing levels of sophistication (eg. lateral figure 8s).
  • The wrist drills are harder to understand than the Warrior Wellness wrist drills, whose beginner level drills are easier to understand, and whose higher level versions are more sophisticated. Steve Maxwell has some of the Warrior Wellness wrist movements on his DVD, but because his DVD is a pure follow-along, there is not as much explanation.
  • Same comments for the elbow drills
  • Better finger drills in Warrior Wellness
  • The Harley Davidson joke bothers some people (I personally don't care who really invented this bike)

Now, the pros:

  • Secrets Of Safer Back Bending is pure gold
  • The Cossack is an excellent lower body drill. It's also in Maxwell's DVD, but again, not as well explained.
  • The Demographics of Stretching section
  • A couple of "Better Posture" regimens
  • The entire Strength-Flexibility section, which include The Pink Panther and Reach The Mark principles and some drills incorporating them

Dragondoor is kind enough to provide a Table of Contents as well.

Overall, this is a great book.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Bodyweight Conditioning progress and questions from an adventure racer (Coach Sommer?): Kettlebells, Strength, Fitness, Martial Arts

Bodyweight Conditioning progress and questions from an adventure racer (Coach Sommer?): Kettlebells, Strength, Fitness, Martial Arts

Very good post by an adventure racer reporting results from bodyweight-only strength training, using Coach Sommer's Building an Olympic Body through Bodyweight Conditioning program. Check out Coach Sommer's response as well. The "pelvic bridge", if I understand Steve Maxwell's post that was quoted by the good coach, is any bridging movement which raises the pelvis but leaves the upper back and shoulders on the ground. This Pilates article shows one example. The first version I learned was of a Paul Chek Swiss Ball videotape, with the legs resting on a Swiss Ball. There is another version for use with the Power Wheel, which is harder than on the Ball because of the Wheel's instability.

I don't really take sides in the old bodyweight-only vs. weight lifting argument, because of specificity. If you are training to compete in powerlifting or strongman competitions, you have to lift weight. If you are like me and want to get your body to do things some people consider impossible, such as pushups with your feet completely in the air (planche pushups), you need to strength-train with the appropriate bodyweight drills. Mixing it up adds more fun and variety. For us wannabee-gymnasts, low volume weight training for the legs and lower core (hips, glutes, low back, etc.) would round out our training. Perhaps the powerlifters and strongmen could benefit from something like Body-Flow, Yoga, Qigong, or something along those lines on their active recovery days.

Everybody should be doing a daily joint mobility routine, regardless.

Friday, June 03, 2005

O'Reilly: Look Ma—Hands! Choosing and Using MIDI Controllers

O'Reilly: Look Ma—Hands! Choosing and Using MIDI Controllers

Every now and then, music publications come out with this type of guide to MIDI controllers. Check out this 2005 edition, which includes the interesting new Keyfax FlatBoy, for which there are demo videos.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hypothesis: How Breakdancers Develop Their Bodyweight Strength

I've begun working in my recent Body-Flow practice on eccentric strength. This is the type of strength used to slow down a load, such as your own bodyweight or an implement such as a dumbell. Body-Flow biomechanical exercises that emphasize eccentric strength include Quad Switches, Quad Hops, Springing Tripods, and Backward Spinal Waves. Yet another reason Scott Sonnon favors Body-Flow training prior to taking up Clubbells is that great emphasis in the Clubbell lifts is placed on slowing down the Clubbell so you don't hurt yourself and are set up for the next movement.

I have read some claims that breakdancers do no exercise other than dance. I am more inclined to believe them now. Check out the Dive (sorry, Internet Explorer only) for example. Impressive air time aside, note how they end up practically doing the negative portion of a planche pushup, thus training the eccentric strength for the planche pushup. There are lots of moves in breakdance that similarly train eccentric strength.

I'm sure the fact that most of them are skinny, and thus have good strength to bodyweight ratios, helps a lot. Still, this is my hypothesis: Training eccentric strength through frequent practice of moves like the Dive will make you strong. Heck, I could be proven wrong, but in the meantime, I intend to have a lot of fun working the Backward Spinal Wave and related moves such as the Dive and Bronco (yes, also Internet Explorer only).

New Band: Croniamantal

My friend, Jeff Bagato, created a new band, Croniamantal, to serve as a vehicle for improvisational collaboration between poets and musicians. I was surprised and honored to be invited to be a part of Croniamantal's inaugural performance.

The first and only, to date, jam session went very well. Jeff has assembled a good group of people, as in, nice and friendly, for this project. It is unfortunate that "nice and friendly" is often associated with "bland" but if you check out the audio clip, the music is not necessarily so. One thing I notice often in free improv is that much of it tends to be a-rhythmic, which is unfortunately all too conducive to chaos. Inviting Pat into the band was a brilliant move. He specializes in modular analog synth, with a penchant for rhythmic sounds. Thus, we have one source of rhythm we can play off of. The other is the poet Buck Downs, as his poetic delivery has a natural rhythm as well.

Secrets of Orchestral Musicians (Western classical music)

I wonder how many non-musicians or even musicians themselves know the following about orchestral musicians:

1. They bring pencils to every rehearsal and mark up their sheet music. One reason is for the "secret tablature" (below). Another is to highlight codas, repeats, etc.

2. They practice alongside recordings. So, jamming with CDs and other audio media isn't limited to rock and jazz players after all. I record rehearsals and music lessons onto my PDA. The PDA records the audio, as a WAV file, onto an SD card using Personal Audio Recorder Pro software. I then transfer the WAV file into my computer via a USB card reader.

3. Violinists, violists, and cellists have a tablature system. Even though there are no frets, there is still a mental mapping of notes to fingers and positions on the neck. Now, nobody, as far as I know, ever gives Western classical sheet music to a string player in tablature. However, chances are the string player will, when given a chance, start marking notes on the sheet music with tablature numbers. Arabic numerals are used for the finger number (1 for index finger, 2 for middle finger, etc.) and Roman numerals are used for position number. I am not yet aware of this tablature system being described in any book. It seems to be passed on by word of mouth.

I cannot imagine living without these secret techniques, especially as a beginner level violist who is frequently thrust into challenging situations beyond my skill level (such as preparing at least 1 hours worth of selections from Handel's Messiah).

JV Askem's Resurrected Strength Training Website

The Cable/Bar Guy (Mirror)

JV Askem had a great strength training website, once upon a time. Unfortunately, he died of a brain tumor (RIP). Fortunately, someone restored his website, so that it may help more people.

How To Breakdance Where Hip-hop, R&B and Soul music collide

This looks like a good introductory page to breakdance moves. Breakdance has a lot in common with Body-Flow, in that both are about dynamic movement exploration and challenging oneself with fun moves that may impress onlookers (except perhaps experienced bboys and Body-Flow players).

The page also mentions two other instructional websites with moves not on this page: (Unfortunately for Mozilla/Firefox users, the movies only work in Internet Explorer)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cybercast of March 29,2005 Chakavak Ensemble Concert posted

Cybercasts related to the Near East Section, African and Middle Eastern Reading Room, Library of Congress

Under the March 29, 2005 entry is posted a link to the Chakavak Ensemble cybercast concert of Persian classical music. Sorry, but it's in Real Media format.

The concert is preceded by about 10 minutes of introductory lectures.

Ensemble Director and Center for Persian Classical Music instructor Nader Majd's intro to Persian music theory starts at 6:47, immediately followed by the first section of the concert, which is a series of improvised tar and tonbak duets. The next section features the ensemble.

The full Chakavak Orchestra is quite a bit larger of course, with setar players, a harpist, a vocalist, more drummers, etc. As I may have mentioned previously, we learn Persian music here in two ways - one by studying and playing tightly arranged ensemble music, the other by studying and practicing the Radif, the improvisational repertoire of Persian music, which is the equivalent of standards in jazz, raga in Hindustani classical music, etc.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Result of Standing Neck Roll Experiment

The Standing Neck Roll, as described in the Up Against The Wall article referenced in the previous post, really helped me make progress towards a full Neck Roll, which is meant to be done on the ground. Scott Sonnon's Last Neck Exercise You'll Ever Need! article has photos, a video demo, and description of the Neck Roll. Sonnon says there are three component Body-Flow

No doubt you as the reader were wondering why I should bother with this. The neck-strengthening benefit is the most obvious one, as pointed out in Sonnon's article. The other benefits are releasing of tension from the neck, upper back, and other body parts and improvement in dynamic flexibility.

Body-Flow, as I understand it, is a form of exercise by which so-called regular people release tensions and improve grace and poise. This sounds like Yoga, doesn't it? Body-Flow training includes Biomechanical Exercises (BME in short), and Kinetic Chains, which are combinations of Biomechanical Exercises linked together in sequence. Holding a posture statically, while useful in the early stages of learning, is generally discouraged in Body-Flow practice because the point is to improve one's ability to smoothly integrate breathing, structure, and movement. Some of the movements are reminiscent of floor gymnastics and/or breakdance, which add to the fun factor. Practitioners are encouraged to create their own Kinetic Chains.

I have been studying and practicing Body-Flow from the double-DVD and the Internet for about 3 months now. I have found that prior or concurrent practice of a joint mobility routine, such as what is found in Warrior Wellness, Super Joints, or Steve Maxwell's Joint Mobility DVD, helps a lot. The joint mobility training is useful for loosening the body, promoting joint health, and releasing tension. Body-Flow, because of the greater variety of leverage and stability demands on the body, leads to even deeper tension releases.

The more I practice Body-Flow and Warrior Wellness, the more I understand why Sonnon prefers to introduce his trainees to these methods first before teaching exercises with Clubbells. If you are too tight when you try to do a Clubbell exercise, you will most likely hurt yourself. This is of course true of any exercise, but especially so with Clubbells. But if you are reasonably loose and coordinated, Clubbell lifting will improve your strength without loss of flexibility.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Up Against the Wall

Article: Up Against the Wall

I've been practicing a type of exercise known as Body-Flow, which is a method for "ordinary" people to challenge themselves with acrobatic movements designed to both release tension and improve grace.

One of Body-Flow's Biomechanical Exercises with which I'm having trouble is the Neck Roll. I'm going to try out the ideas in this article to work towards a full Neck Roll.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Robosapien Dance Machine

Robosapien Dance Machine

Check out SourceForge's May 2005 Project of the Month!

I did some Googling and found that there is a fairly active community of Robosapien hackers. This particular software claims it will do the following:

* Create dances to make your robot dance in time with your favorite tune

* Make your own sketches or movies with your favorite robot star.

* Have your robot do complex stunts or perform a long involved series of commands.

Comic Strip for Musicians

Gan Ainm - by Patrick Latimer & Matthew du Plessis

Some light-reading comic relief... Put down your instrument and kick up your feet a bit...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mojo Hand, Mojo Bag, Toby, Conjure Bag, Wanga, Gris-Gris: What It Is

Mojo Hand, Mojo Bag, Toby, Conjure Bag, Wanga, Gris-Gris: What It Is

A good article on the history and background of mojo. The word traditionally referred to a "prayer in a bag" or "portable magic spell", but for some reason some people (mostly white) think it refers to a sexual organ.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

CrossFit: Coaches Corner for Christopher Sommer

Sommer's Olympic Bodies Corner

A collection of articles by esteemed gymnastics strength training author Christopher Sommer, who is working on a book and video series for gymnastic training.

Saturday, May 14, 2005 - Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance - Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance

This book was recommended on the Dragondoor forum as "an excellent presentation of the most current functional spine research and how it applies to health and athlete performance".

Question about Planche/ Front Lever progressions: Kettlebells, Strength, Fitness, Martial Arts

Question about Planche/ Front Lever progressions: Kettlebells, Strength, Fitness, Martial Arts

Excellent advice on training through the planche progression and the front lever progression in gymnastics. I am much further behind in both progressions, but this advice will be no doubt be useful to me at some point. In the former, I still working on the frog stand

In the latter, I'm still working on body rows, which help develop strength for the front lever.

Today, I started doing body rows with my feet elevated on a step stool. Somewhere in the progression would be the tuck lever

The above photos are borrowed from gymnastic coach Christopher Sommer's article, Building an Olympic Body through Bodyweight Conditioning. Check out this article for more information on the planche and front lever progressions.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Dangerous Exercises Essay

Dangerous Exercises Essay

I was reminded last Monday that any exercise can potentially be dangerous, whether it's a barbell lift, Yoga, or aerobics. The conventional deadlift is particularly unforgiving of mistakes. It is a good exercise for lower body and core strength, and it hits the neck and traps as well. I practiced this exercise for 4 years with only one incident, at the very beginning of my deadlift experience. In that time I went from a deadlift of 135lbs (no previous experience) to a max lift of 275lbs.

So what went wrong? I neglected to push my heels through the floor and lift the 255lb barbell with my legs. Why did I make such a rookie mistake? I was distracted for some reason. Maybe I was thinking about music, or women, or something else. Whatever it was, the main point is I was not fully focused on the exercise at hand. The load thus shifted to my lower back and that's why I've been having lower back pain since.

At any rate, this article covers some of the persistent myths about so-called "dangerous" exercises. At some point after I recover from my back pain, I plan to work some straight leg deadlifts, with very light weight, into my routine to further rehab the lower back, as well as help prevent future injury to it.

25 Great Calvin & Hobbes Strips

25 Great Calvin & Hobbes Strips

Truly one of the greatest comic strips of all time!

Technorati: Tag: greasemonkey

Technorati: Tag: greasemonkey

This site is a bit chaotic, but it gives an idea of what the Internet community is doing with Greasemonkey.

Dive Into Greasemonkey

Dive Into Greasemonkey

Free online book on Greasemonkey. An excerpt from the site:

Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to write scripts that alter the web pages you visit. You can use it to make a web site more readable or more usable. You can fix rendering bugs that the site owner can't be bothered to fix themselves. You can alter pages so they work better with assistive technologies that speak a web page out loud or convert it to Braille. You can even automatically retrieve data from other sites to make two sites more interconnected.

Greasemonkey by itself does none of these things. In fact, after you install it, you won't notice any change at all... until you start installing what are called “user scripts”. A user script is just a chunk of Javascript code, with some additional information that tells Greasemonkey where and when it should be run. Each user script can target a specific page, a specific site, or a group of sites. A user script can do anything you can do in Javascript. In fact, it can do even more than that, because Greasemonkey provides special functions that are only available to user scripts.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Chest Expander experience so far

I've been incorporating the following Chest Expander workout, targetting the shoulders:

Overhead downward pull to rear x10
Overhead downward pull to front x10
2 arms front chest pull at attention x10
Back military press (diagonal path) x5 (30lb resistance)
Archer (thumbs down) x5
Shoulder Shimmy x5
Overhead pass with arms locked in cross position x10
Whippet x10

Except as noted, I use a cable rated at 20lbs resistance.

I still have trouble distinguishing between resistance training for rehab and resistance training for strength. My shoulder still isn't 100% and is still weak, so I must use the Chest Expanders in a rehab context instead of strength training. This is actually fine because once my lower back feels normal again, I will resume my ring training, and I get enough of an upper body workout from that without increasing my chances of overtraining by adding heavy resistance cable training on top of that.

What was that about my lower back? I'll report in another post

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Thoughts while reviewing last week's lesson

Last Friday's lesson included coverage of one of the basic gusheh of Persian classical music. Gusheh, I suppose, can be thought of as melodic fragments. Certain gusheh, when combined together, become a dastagh, which is very roughly equivalent to a Western scale, but not really. There are 400 gusheh in the classical repertoire.

This gusheh falls into the non-metrical category of Persian music. This means there is no designated time signature or tempo. In notated form, the note values are treated as approximations - more emphasis is placed on the durations of the notes in relation to each other than the Western notion of tying the notes down to a time signature and tempo. I do not know if all gusheh are non-metrical like this, but apparently improvisation in Persian music begins with the study of gusheh.

Some of my teacher's thoughts on playing gusheh:

Before the age of the fossil fuels, the world was quiet. It was not as noisy as today. It's just the age of fossil fuels... the airplane,the automobiles... So the music, in order to compete with the noises, has become louder and louder, and we lost our ears... our ears are completely distorted... Just imagine the world without automobiles and without planes... so that you could listen to the music of the wings of a butterfly... So, I want you to close your eyes and sit down and play this. It's a sort of meditation. It has to give you the melody, that tranquility. If that happens, you're good, otherwise it's not a matter of technicality. So you have to get into the essence of it. You have to open up, you know, this, and go inside deep and try to get the beauty out. So, this [the notation] is just a reference.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Today's Training

The first rehearsal for the June concert is coming up on May 22 and I had yet to start practicing the chosen repertoire, which is entirely composed of selections from Handel's Messiah.

First, though, I warmed up by reviewing the beginner's program from Warrior Wellness, then started playing with selected drills, based on comfort level, from the intermediate program.

I then started practicing the Messiah selections, taking breaks as needed to try to abate the inevitable onset of shoulder soreness. My shoulder has recovered enough from the injury to tolerate short sessions of viola playing before it starts to get sore. During breaks from viola playing, I do any of the following: joint mobility drills such as those from Warrior Wellness, relaxation drills such as those on Fast And Loose, or shoulder stretching and traction using my Jumpstretch mini flexband. There are so many Messiah selections that I was not able to get to the last one in the music packet even though I spent the greater part of the day (including breaks) covering them.

I also combed the Sandow Plus website for online books on chest expander training/strand pulling for drills with my new Lifeline Chest Expanders that would be useful for my shoulder rehab. Noe's book in particular had some drills (eg. Shoulder Shimmy) not found in the other books. I also looked at the books by Bonomo, Danks, and Park. After evalutating each drill that I found with a light chest expander to see which I could do without pain and which I chould not, I began compiling a selection of drills for my rehab used. As I may have mentioned previously, I am a recent convert to training with elastic bands and cables due to their uniquely restorative properties for my shoulder. In other words, my shoulder almost always feels better after a session with these bands/cables. I do not intend to fully replace my freeweight deadlifts and ring training with these bands/cables, but they are an essential part of my personal physical culture for this reason.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Today's Training

Joined a volunteer group and was assigned to landscaping at a local high school. Work included carrying mulch bags, pushing loaded wheelbarrows while trying to keep them steady, weeding around trees, and putting mulch around them.

We also helped another group paint doors but this wasn't nearly as strenous.

Was really sore afterwards

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The breakdance video that inspired me to adopt gymnastic training

Check out this amazing breakdance video featuring Bboy Junior. This inspired some people to change their physical training and certainly inspired me to rethink mine. I originally started lifting weights because that's what I thought I had to do to be able to perform feats of athleticism and grace as exemplified by Bboy Junior, Olympic medal-winning gymnasts, Michael Jordan, John Jefferson, and so on. More specifically, I wanted to be able to do handstands, planches, circles, and flairs.

I recently realized that I could get closer to these goals by adopting gymnastic training methods, instead of waiting a few years to work up to a respectably heavy pressing weight. I learned that strength training can be specific, which is why you cannot take a bodybuilder to gymnastic equipment and expect him to perform immediately like the Hamm brothers.

I started my gymnastic pursuit with gymnastic rings. The official competition-level rings are expensive and can only be mounted from high ceilings. Fortunately, lower-cost rings are available and can be suspended from a tree limb, playground structure, rafter, etc. I ordered mine from here (check with Tyler first for availablility). I also got the Ring Training DVD for exercise ideas.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Today's Training

Breakfast: Cheese Croissant and Tea
Lunch: Brocolli, Cauliflower, Spinach, Greek-style salad, Duck, Spicy Sausages

Gymnastic Strength Day

Took rings to park, but favorite section of playground, the monkey bar beam with the chain-suspended handles, was overrun by little kids swinging around. Kids usually shy away from that due to the height of the beam and distance between handles, but not today. Luckily, I found a nearby tree which I had not noticed before with usable branches for suspending my rings.

Ring Training with Joint Mobility during breaks:

Body Rows x8
Reverse Grip Pushups x8
Pullups x4
Dips x5
Repeat Circuit 2x

Support Holds 15,14,10,10,12 seconds for total just over 1 min.

One of the boys from last week (the 5 year old) once again demanded to play with the rings. This time I told him, "I can't do that. I need your Mom or Dad to tell me its ok". He stubbornly grabbed the webbing of one of the rings and held it. I was going to add that its because I don't want him to get hurt (and me get sued by Mommy and Daddy), but after just a few seconds the other kids drew him back. As for the dips, I did the first 2 circuits with the legs assisting, then for the last set did them with no leg support at all, though with very limited ROM (forgot to "pull myself down"). The last set actually felt better on the shoulders - the leg support made it harder to find a shoulder-friendly groove.

TNT cable (single 40lb) military presses x3 x2

Be Breathed Butterfly practice x5 x3 - Wow! The torso is curling closer and closer towards my face on the descent phase of the Butterfly movement after each set!

Dinner: Rotiserrie Chicken, brown rice, boiled veggies (broccoli, kale leaves, mustard leaves, turnip greens).

Flexband shoulder traction

Tuesday Night Crapshoot

The Tuesday Night Crapshoot is a jam session focusing on free improvisation, held the first Tuesday of the month at Red Room in Baltimore. Free improv may very well be the one musical genre that is equally accessible to musicians of all levels, from raw beginners to professional level players. Other improvisational genres have requirements that can be daunting to the beginning musician: considerable technical expertise, theoretical knowledge, intimate familiarity with the repertoire of the genre, etc. Free improv does not require any of that. This is great for the beginner, because free improv allows him/her to immediately explore the tones of his/her instrument, practice interacting with other musicians, and develop his/her creativity. This makes free improv the perfect complement to Western classical music training, with its rigid emphasis on perfect technique, interpreting the work of composers other than yourself, and not having any opportunity to spontaneously express yourself.

However, I do not wish to mislead the reader and play into the hands of free improv's detractors, who claim any 5-year-old child can free improvise as well as the likes of Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, or Fred Frith. There is a substantial difference in quality between the improvisations of an experienced improvising musician with total command of his/her instrument and those of a raw beginner, which become increasingly apparent to the listener as he/she listens to more and more free improv.

As for the Crapshoot itself, my main concern was how my recovering shoulder would react, as I have always been called to play 3 or more times, even when I was a beginner (my guess is the novelty of the viola, since the instrument is rarely heard in free improv). Fortunately, my shoulder held up fine even though I was called up 4-6 times (I forgot - I just remember playing a lot). Despite my long layoff from the viola due to the shoulder injury, I was confident and relaxed. I was also happy to let Jake play my viola, though the thought did not occur to me until well into the 2nd half of the jam session. He was without his instrument, and dependent on friends to lend him theirs, as I found out later; so his instrument for the night was his voice - at which he turned out to excel. He is still very much my superior on the viola, so it was also a treat to watch and here him play mine.

Other improvs that come to memory were the quacking horns - one person selected all the reed players and restricted them to percussive and short-duration notes, so they ended up sounding like chickens in a barnyard. The duet between Jake and the cellist was pretty sweet. One young electric guitarist (definitely under 18) impressed with his skills and energy. Two Theremin players (one with the top-of-the-line Moog) showed up, so it was a pleasure hearing them when they were called upon.

All in all, an excellent night.

For more information on free improv, I recommend Derek Bailey's classic book, especially the updated version.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The amazing microbial fuel cell: turns poo into power - Engadget - /

The amazing microbial fuel cell: turns poo into power - Engadget - /

Anything that helps our energy situation is good in my book. $3/gallon for gas, anyone????

Violin Masterclass

Violin Masterclass

Awesome resource on violin technique, with Quicktime videos! I think this site will be very helpful in cleaning up my viola technique and in general performance enhancement.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Tonight's Training

Woke up with the shoulder completely pain-free and spend the rest of the day pain-free. Then in the evening took the Power Rings to the playground for this circuit:

Body Rows x6
Reverse Grip Pushups x6
Pullups (Monkey bar chain handles) x4
Leg-assisted Dips x6
Jacknife Pushups x5

Repeated 2x, with joint mobility and Body Flow practice during breaks. For my very last pullup, I tried a Polevaulter Pullup, being inspired by this video:

I made it easier by tucking my legs, but still, it felt good to finish the pullup with the little flourish.

I was interrupted during my final circuit by a couple of little boys who were drawn to the rings and wanted to play with the monkey bar. On the one hand, I do not mind encouraging kids to pursue fitness as a fun activity. On the other hand, I was really concerned about the kids hurting themselves on the rings. Next time, I will not allow them to touch the rings without permission from a parent. Managed to pry the rings away from them long enough to finish my workout at the playground with a 20-sec. support hold. When I got home I did 4 light-resistance military presses with the TNT Cable for the rehab effect.

I never tried leg-assisted dips and so did the first couple of sets in atrocious form - my shoulders did not appreciate this. For my last set, though I think I found a decent groove, because right after that, I was able to do the 20-sec. support hold. It could be that I'm just getting used to handling the stability issues imposed by the rings, but I'm sure the assisted dips helped. I do notice that this time around, instead of jumping into the support hold, I actively used my arms to press myself up into the hold, with assistance from the legs. That definitely has to be a factor

Gymnastic video from waaaayyyy back

Old-School Gymnastics Video

This is an awesome video of gymnastics from days bygone. Check it out!

Harmony Central User Forums - Just saw the Locust and Fantomas! (gear questions/answers/moog report)

Harmony Central User Forums - Just saw the Locust and Fantomas! (gear questions/answers/moog report)

Having just recently seen Locust and Fantomas myself, it was interesting to read this review. They put on a heck of a show in DC too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Phidgets - USB sensors, USB robot sensors, robot kits, hobby robots, robot parts

Phidgets - USB sensors, USB robot sensors, robot kits, hobby robots, robot parts

Phidgets are a tremendous tools for artists interested in making interactive art projects. By embedding Phidgets into an art project and attaching them to a computer a student or artist can add limitless interactivity to their ideas.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Tonight's Training

Pecs and rear delts still sore from Saturday's ring workout...

Deadlifts (13): 240lb x4, 215lb x4
Suitcase DL(7) - 80lb x3, 70lb x3
Open-Hip Hack Squat : 55lb x1, 45lb x2, 35lb KB x5 x2
TNT Cable Military Presses x4 x3

Still feeling strong for most reps on the DL, so will continue pushing weight up. I still had some problems balancing the bar in my left hand for the Suitcase DL, but not enough to delay going for 85lb next time. Trying to do hack squat off the floor with the bar was very, very hard at 55lb. I think I'll forget about hack squatting with the bar for now and instead build up volume with the 35lb KB.

Actually, I feel like I underperformed in general with the exception of the DL. Haven't had adequate sleep of late. Will try an active rest day tomorrow.

Concert: Kazue Sawai at Meyer Auditorium, Smithsonian Institution

Kazue Sawai is a koto player who is doing some interesting things with contemporary Japanese music. It's getting late and maybe I'll edit this post later, but I'll say now that this was a tour de force of state of the art koto playing and composition for the koto, as showcased by Sawai's koto ensemble, which included 3 bass kotos (amazing sound). The shamisen ensemble was also very cool.

I met a couple of local Japanese music instructors (for shamisen and shakuhachi). Hopefully this will lead to more music connections in the DC area and opportunities to see more live Japanese music.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Today's Viola Practice

I worked on Sokoote-Shekasteh, this time emphasizing keeping my bow straight and hitting the F# and A notes on pitch. I also started working on a yet-unnamed piece which is also of the Persian classical repertoire, but for beginners.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Today's Physical Training

Took the Power Rings to the playground and did the following circuit 3 times:

Sternum Pullups 2-3 reps
Partial Flyes 3 reps
Body Rows 3-5 reps
Pushups 3-4 reps
False Grip Pullups 2-3 reps
Reverse Grip Pushups 4-5 reps
Support Holds 5 sec. x3

After the circuit, I tried a couple of the core training exercises on the Ring Strength DVD:

Jack-knife Pushups x3 x3
Ice Cream Makers x0 - I must not have the necessary upper body strength for this yet.

I then returned home and did:

TNT Cable Military Press x4 x2

Jumpstretch flexband shoulder stretches

Be Breathed Butterfly practice

After the ring training and TNT cable work, my shoulders didn't feel like they needed the stretches like they usually do, but I did them anyway. Power Rings are MUCH more forgiving than ab wheels for jackknife pushups. The TNT Cable work was affected by my upper body (especially arms and shoulders) being fatigued (but NOT pumped!) from ring work. I believe I will do my cable military presses on a different day from my ring day.