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2014年9月26日 星期五

Two English Poems: After Reading Elieen Chang's Novel "The Young Marshal"

Foreword


Comparing to writing Chinese Poem, writing English Poem is very difficult for me!
For my profession is not English Literature, nor my major study in the research department relates to Language. Indeed, I learnt hardly how to write effectively in English during my final stage of PhD study. Perhaps my interest in English writing, not the general grammar learning, is aroused from that time. Although I am not expertise in English, I still enjoy reading poem, no matter the Chinese or the English one. After reading a few pages of the last incomplete short English novel, The Young Marshal (recently published), written by the now-famous deceased Chinese writer Eileen Chang, I was stirred up an intense but unexplainable feeling toward her. You may say that I am quite sympathetic to her writing tones, styles, as well as her life. If I am asked to describe what kind of feeling it is, perhaps, a word may immediately flash in my mind -- "legendary" or "legend". To me, not only it is Eileen's writing a legend for both of her and her readers, but also it is of her own life, spanning from the prosperous decadence of younger years in Shanghai to the desolate seclusion of later years in US,  an enigmatic "legend".  As such, I have a strong impulse to write something using the theme of "legend".  So I attempt to compose a poem, albeit simple and raw, entitled "A Love Legend".


Essay



Poem I:



A Love Legend


They said my love for you is a legend.

I said it is you to make the legend!

But you choose to reside in your legend,

Alone I leave the reminiscence in my legend.

If we're asked what is a legend,

Could our love legend is the only legend?



***********************



It is a pity that this rather raw, somewhat a beginner's exercise is not rhymed. So I try to write another one constructed with rhymes.




Poem II:

Memory Ebbs and Flows


Memory, silently ebbs and flows,

As the evening breeze blows;

May the merry-sorry past go?

Still the old song floats;

Who gaze upon the stream?

within a moment of sigh and dream;

And fish for the hopes as they pass,

Within the limpid watery glass!


**************************



These two poems is my first attempt of writing English poem. To me, it is not that important whether these two poem are qualified as poetry or not, or it is beautiful or not. The mostly important is that they will remain in my reminiscence throughout my life, just like a seed of a flower sleeping in the soil, and waiting for its growth, as time goes by.


Finale


David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-26 (published)


2014年9月19日 星期五

怎樣才算是.......最喜歡的?

前言:


朋友說想了很久,也不知道甚麼是最喜歡的。我相信她說這話時,是正在考慮新學年的選科問題。我想,她思索時也同時考慮到起完成學業後,如何選擇工作,想做甚麼職業等等的問題。或會問: 自己的路該怎樣走呢? 但感情生活又如何? 我最喜歡的人應是怎樣的呢? 會和他結婚嗎? 要組織家庭嗎? 會喜歡生兒育女,安穩做個家庭賢妻,好媽媽,又或是成功的職業女性嗎? 這真是無盡的煩惱啊! 要知自己的年齡都差不多,年輕時的激情也看似隨風逝去,橫看這個所謂人生,簡單來說,就是一長串的選擇吧........。

不錯,我們從哇哇落地的那一剎,每人都主動地和被動地要去面對很多很多,或大或小的決擇,直到最後一口氣為止。可是,我們的決定是否就一定要和我們最喜歡的掛勾呢? 問自己最喜歡的是甚麼時,是否就一定意味到這就是我們唯一要選擇麼?

這的確是沒有一定答案的問題。但我想,人生在世,很多時候,自己找到最喜歡的,也不一定是我們最終的選擇。不是最喜歡的,最終卻是自己所選的。甚至有時是最初不大喜歡,後來竟慢慢變得是自己最喜歡的..............。

或許,如何履行已作出的決擇,比起找尋哪才是真正喜歡的更為重要。

矛盾,無奈,也算是人生啊!


正文:


說到最喜歡的,我就想起了許冠傑的一首流行曲歌的歌詞。這首歌叫作 "最喜歡你"。王馨平在她最近的大碟裡用重新的編曲重唱。很有趣的是,林振強填的詞,並沒有指明這個 "你" 一定是情人,聽者也不一定視這曲是首浪漫情歌。更甚的是,這首歌的原本 MTV,情節是有關許冠傑和他那可愛小 puppy 狗一起玩樂的情景。就連原版 CD 封套也是許冠傑和他的小狗,而背景就是一片藍天白雲和一望無際黃沙的海灘。這散發出來給人的感覺是消遙的,是自在的,是愜意的。這就是最喜歡的............皆因有 "你"。 。。。。。。


歌詞很值得知音細嚼,現記錄如下:


愛看天上鳥飛
愛看海浪跳起
亦愛望星空千里

但我更加喜愛踢著浪花
跟你望雨點紛飛


*********


這些活動也是我最喜歡的。不過,生活迫人,也忘記上一次做些活動時是幾時了。
是十六歲時嗎? 好像只能往記憶處追尋。好像是跟同學朋友們在長沙的海灘,那時剛好考完會考,一起去宿營。
依稀記得,那是在日落時玩海浪,雖仍有幾滴雨點,還用腳踢著滾滾浪花,好不寫意。
沒過多久,大家都各奔前程。已沒有聯絡幾十年了。
現在只剩餘那份淡淡回憶,和那份真摯情懷吧。

這些事,是我最喜歡的.....


副歌:


原因好簡單 皆因你真
天生不會做戲
永遠也做回自己
原因好簡單 開始至今
天天雙眼亮起
皆因所見是你


**************


我很喜歡 "真" 的人,因可以作我的朋友。有時這些朋友可能缺乏所謂世故式的面面俱圓,或比較自我為中心。不過,與其天天跟那與你做 "戲" 的人相處,倒不如找個比較簡單的好一些。你不用天天帶上面具去面對這樣的人。要知用機心去算計每一日的相處是很費心力的。最好就是英語所說的 "guileless" 的人。


這類朋友,也是我最喜歡的..........


如果這個最喜歡的一定和愛人有關,那麼,怎樣的愛人才算符合條件呢?


要思考這問題的答案,使我不禁想起二十年代美國小說家 O' Henry 的一篇我最喜歡的短篇小說 -- 聖誕禮物。在這裡,我只能說,誰看完這個故事後,總該有一點啟發。

小說的主人公是一對很貧窮,但卻很恩愛的夫妻。他們都是傾盡自己地為對方著想的,深愛著對方。

故事背景是二十年代美國的大蕭條時候。在這個年代生活,是沒有甚麼所謂的個人理想,有的就只是三餐糊口的偉大願望吧了。這對貧賤夫妻真的是百事皆哀。

聖誕臨近了,做丈夫的,和做妻子的都為再沒有餘錢去為對方買一份充滿濃情蜜意的聖誕禮物而發愁。

丈夫可以勉強做的,就是賣了他那已三代保存下來的黃金陀錶。宅的紀念價值就不用多說了,但如果賣了,如何對得起那已過世爸爸的承諾。畢竟自己曾應允過永遠都不會,也不能賣。可是面對最喜歡的人,伴隨了自己這麼多年,也沒有吃過一口安樂茶飯。對眼前的人,也不能信守誠諾,讓她一生幸福,還說甚麼對已死的人信守諾言。算了! 就先賣了這錶,將來有錢時,才想辦法買回來。

拿到這一點兒錢,可以買甚麼禮物給她呢? 是了! 她最漂亮,引以為傲的長長秀髮,正需要一套全新的,名貴得配得起她那秀髮的髮梳飾品。這樣,她就可以好好打理頭髮,彰顯出她那天生的動人氣質。

就這樣,丈夫買了那名貴的髮梳飾品作為禮物。

但妻子可以怎樣做呢? 她並沒有三代留下值錢的東西可變賣。看看鏡子,又想想。想到他大半生都為生計奔馳。在這個年頭,坦白說,才幹都不重要。最重要的是運氣。別人說,如果能在聖誕節時,送給自己最喜歡的人一份禮物,他這年就會好運了。但甚麼最能匹配他呢? 他最珍貴的,最有價值的,還就只有他那三代單存的黃金陀錶。但是錶鍊也陳舊了,彰顯不出這錶的氣派和魅力。

是的,絕不能讓最喜歡的人不快樂地過這個聖誕。但錢呢? 鏡子裡的倒影照出了自己焦慮的臉容,同時也影照出那烏黑的長長秀髮。是了,就這樣辦吧,可變賣這個。這個年頭,上流社會,有錢名人都時興戴假髮,而假髮的製作是需要真髮。所以,漂亮的,幼長的真髮可以值一點錢。

就這樣,妻子也買了那昂貴的黃金錶帶作為禮物。


聖誕禮物這故事就大概是這樣。我們試想想當他夫妻倆互送禮物給對方時的感覺是怎樣。
能感動你心的,算不算是最喜歡的呢?


怎樣才算是最喜歡的...........人 (如是愛人)?

O' Henry 的故事簡單地告訴我們一個很容易忽略的道理。這就是:


就在當下,誰是你甘心樂意地願意為 他  / 她 付出所有,為之而犧牲的,就是你 / 妳在當時最喜歡的..........最喜歡的..........人。


但最喜歡的,有時可以不是指向人,因同樣原則也可以應用在物,或其他東西上,如理想,興趣等。有朝當 你 / 妳 發現那願意花上自己很多的不便,犧牲更多的資源,心思,時間的人或物出現時,那正是你 / 妳尋到的最喜歡的了...........。



全文完



David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-19 (published)

2014年9月18日 星期四

AMusTCL Film Music 試題的迷思 - Voicing in the "Other" Voice

前言: 
 

The students' results of the film music question in the last May AMus examination were not satisfactory. Many complained severly that the question was very tricky.That the question looks easy in the surface when the students encounter with it at the first moment, in my opinion, is the underestimation of their realization of what is meant by "innovative and new". Indeed, the examination results reveal the fact that this question is proved to be more difficult than the student preliminarily expect. The following discussion is not focused on seeking a perfect definition or answer for what is artistic "innovative" and "new" for film art. But, rather, it only reflects my contemplation of a moot issue about artistic creation and aesthetic appreciation for film musical art, which has obsessed me for a long time.

正文:

To define what is meant by "innovative and new" is as slippery as explaining what is art. However, in the broaden sense, we usually commend a product, say, a smart phone, is innovative or new because of its multi-functional capability. This generalization of the term is not unreasonable, even not unconceiveable. To many customers, a phone that is not only for chatting but also for working as a personal computer or music player is already a new and innovative design. You cannot imagine how a phone could work in such a way in thirty years ago. Similarly, every scene of a film speaks of its story and plots in a voice through images, dialogues, and actions on the screen. But a passage of music, however succinct, can always add a unique extra-voice to that particular scene, forming a multiple web of voices narrating simultaneously. In such case, music definitely can convey more and richer meanings, leaving a vaster and deeper dimension for further contemplation. If the first voice is enhanced directly by the images on the screen, the music narrating behind can be regarded as the second voice.



In many movies, the former first voice constitutes the fundamental core for the understanding of the plots, going hand in hand with the musical second voice to enhance the moods, the characters, as well as their actions and emotions in the scene. In some occasions, however, this easily neglected musical voice moves against the moods and actions, or at least voicing independently from the dramatic context of that particular scene. In such momentary instance, the music is creating an "other" or "new" voice, expressing a new  level of meaning to the audience. Is there any subliminal messages concealed behind the scene? At this time, the "other" voice is creating an expectancy of the forthcoming plots for the audience to speculate. How can this expectation be realized in the later scene? Such an emotional suspense is one of the sources of artistic pleasure. As such, the meaning of the "other" voice is often a trigger for aesthetic contemplation.

 
Regarding a cliche function of music in a film, say, leit motive (leading motive), a term coined by Richard Wagner for his music dramas in the 19th century, is never failed to appear in many audiences' minds. All film music composers exploit the uses of leit motive. Indeed, the basic function of a leit motive is for unifying the story-line of a film. Every single event is cohered each other when the leit motive is recognized by the audience. However, leit motive used in a film per se is not innovative enough for the creation of film art. We need to step forward to a deeper level by investigating its musical meaning, understanding why it is transformed, and how it elevates the aesthetic meaning of a particular scene to the higher state. The artistic innovation for film art, I believe, is originated from the understanding of the meaning of this musical "other" voice.
 
 
 
It needless to repeat the effectiveness of leit motive. The power of music can also easily be experienced when the music is used to create a unique voice in a particular moment. One of the exemplars of using transformed leit motives in such an innovative way may be found in Casablanca (北菲諜影, 1942): the reunion scene. The scene before this one acts in many respects as a prologue to the reunion scene: the evening after their arrival in the city, Ilsa and Laszlo go to Rick’s café; after a while Laszlo walks to the bar to talk with a man, and Ilsa tells a waiter to ask Rick’s friend, Sam, also the Jazz pianist of the café, to come over to her table. Sam arrives and she asks him to play “As Time Goes By.” From this point, the audience hears that motivic melody four times in a row: sung (hummed) by Ilsa, then played and sung by Sam; then heard twice in the nondiegetic orchestra, first as the slow-motion reaction music in the oboe (transformed), and then as a slightly distorted (transformed) waltz when Ilsa refers to Paris in the conversation. Each time the tune is varied in some ways – not only in orchestration and tempo but also in its stylistic and aesthetic significations.


The first appearance of this now-famous melody in the film is through Ilsa’s self-humming, and brief wordless singing: instantly it becomes the love theme as it is literally embodied in her while the audience sees her in the close up. Here, the interaction of music with images  on the screen all together in the particular instant aims to convey a new meaning to the audience. Since the song, a lyrical tune dispersed with droplets of somber memory, is hummed by Ilsa, it is both of her point of view music, which can conjure her unforgettable, however painful, memory up, and of a diegetic music voicing to her herself and Sam in the café. Sam’s repeating it reluctantly but fluently tells audiences that this leit melody has an undisclosed history, a seemingly ‘perfect, good thing’ associated with it in the recollections of Ilsa’s and Sam. Is it a love affair of Ilsa with someone else? The audience is supposed to know nothing at this moment. The love  story about Ilsa and Rick has not yet been disclosed to the audience. The director employs the technique of flashback for Rick's recollection in the forthcoming scene to re-tell the deepest, yet poignant, romantic love story happened in the past.  While the first voice is narrating a general meeting of two old friends in a café, the hidden "other" voice of this self-humming diegetic melody undoubtedly creates a broader space for audiences' numerous speculations.

 
The suggestion of the undisclosed love affair in Ilsa's humming is powerfully realized her “point of view” recalling voice that immediately follows a stinger chord, working as a musical punctuation pronouncing in loud volume by tutti orchestra, to dramatize the moment of the sudden encounter register in the minds of Rick and Ilsa. The bombarding chord signals the audience that Ilsa is awakened from her deep immersion of the recollection. Again, using a distinctive instrumental timbre, the oboe, for the return of the transformed melody -- "As Time Goes By" -- is an appropriate choice. In fact, the oboe voice is capable of eliciting a feeling of missing, perhaps a even more anguish recall of her unwillingly separation from the ‘distant’ beloved, in Ilsa’s inner heart, as she is so missing of this unrequited love. When being compared with the other woodwind timbres in orchestra, oboe sound is always regarded unique, characterized and heterogeneous in nature because of its double reed color. Together with the slow moving pace, this exotic oboe tune seems narrating to the audience that the immeasurable sorrow of Ilsa is deep rooted in her far off memorable past. Here, the old, already faded out 19th Century Romantic sentiment of longing and yearning is relived again through the innovative use of such a poetic, yet slightly distorted (transformed), leit motive. 

 
Finally, the audience learns where the whole memorable history can be localized – in Paris (through dialogue), as Ilsa makes a reference to the city and the audience hears “As Time Goes By” in waltz, however greater distorted, form. It has been widely known that dance of waltz is beautiful in nature and can easily be associated with a delightful context. But now it is transformed, or  more directly, distorted, in a certain level, seemingly voicing something unusual happened in Paris. The leit melodic theme is distorted in such a way that not only the melodic notes are chromatically inflected, creating a somewhat out-of-tune melody, but also several massive sound blocks are intruded to the originally eloquent tune, bringing the audience a disconcerting feeling. Indeed, the audience can realize later that this distorted (transformed) leit motive speaks of a miserable story between Ilsa and Rick meeting in Paris, which is a tearful but memorable place for both of the lovers. In fact, Paris was the place where Ilsa tasted her both the happiest and bitterest moments with Rick in her life.



Compared with the voice crying out from the uneasy, embarrassed conversation among Ilsa, Rick and others, the eerie second voice ("As Time Goes By") murmuring behind seems more important for one to reveal the subliminal message between Ilsa and Rick. Are they previously known to each other? Is Rick the protagonist of Ilsa's recollection? If that so, does such a distorted tune aim to herald a message that the love between Rick and Ilsa doomed to be a failure? Is their falling in love only a ‘distorted’, yet beautiful, illusive memorable dream even in the beginning of their first acquaintance? Here, this "other" voice of the now-famous love theme has already disclosed Ilsa’s sorrowful but unforgettable story  to some extent to the audience.


 
While the music in a movie mostly operates together with the characters, their actions and dialogues as the first voice to carry out the basic plots, there is music, at times, works against the scene, creating a second narrative space to speak in an "other voice." The use of music as such is capable of deepening the aesthetic and artistic dimensions of the narrative context of a film. Thus, musical voice is always open up to multiple readings, creating an expectancy of the forthcoming plots for the audience. As I believe, one of the factors to determine whether the music in a particular scene of a film is innovative or new largely depends on the interpretation of how such a musical voice narrates in the "other" voice.

 
全文完

David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-18 (published)