Music to the Lord

“…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:19

Recently I visited my grandma and found that she lives a simple life. Upon asking her what she typically does everyday, two of the three activities she mentioned were “reading the Bible” and “playing musical instruments.” On the dining table was a wooden frame with eight wooden pipes hanging on it. By shaking each of the pipes like a bell, a pitch could be sounded.

Perhaps out of small talk and attempt to break the silence, I asked my grandma how it sounded when played and she began rattling the wooden pipes one at a time. I wasn’t genuinely interested in the notes she was playing nor consciously listening, until midway when I realized what the melody was.

It was “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”

Later, she played a few more tunes on her harmonica. “At the Cross”, “The Home-land Shore”, and others – all hymns.

I was touched and humbled. My grandma received a prestigious education, one such aspect being in music. Yet, with all the musical talent she possesses, she only cares to play music that glorifies God. I could tell that throughout her daily life, only hymns get stuck in her head and she delights in making music to the Lord.

The authors of Psalms often made music to the Lord, singing and writing many songs of praise out of admiration and delight for God’s truth (Psa 108:3-4, Psa 138:2). The author of Psalm 119 writes, “Your statutes have been my songs…” (119:54). Can we say the same for ourselves?

Music is a form of expression in many of our daily lives, whether we hear it through our iPods on the street or from the radio in our cars. What melodies are most likely to be stuck in our heads and hummed from our mouths? What place does the word of God have in the songs we listen to?

For those of us who hum hymns only once a week, we need to integrate God more into our daily lives, learning to delight more in the words inspired by God and less in the lyrics inspired by men.

Although I do not see my grandma often, our brief gathering showed me the value of music inspired by the words of God. After all, they are the words that will bring us simple joy and contentment through all our days. They compose the melodies we will sing unto eternity.

Music Notation Software

I used to use Finale Notepad, starting from say 2007. It was the only music notation software I had heard of back in like upper elementary school when we had “special” classes that rotated during the year (music, arts and crafts, life skills, etc). It supported basic note entry, various time signatures and key signatures, etc.

As I got a little into arranging music, however, I ran into some limitations that were quite irksome. First, no way to change time signature or key signature inside a single document. The only alternatives I could think of was to do each portion of an arrangement in segments by time signature and key signature. As you can imagine, this is highly annoying, but I dealt with it because Finale Notepad was free and it was all I knew of.

Now I am trying to arrange a hymn medley for NYTS and am running into the same problems. Plus, another issue; the most updated version of Finale Notepad 2009 is not even free anymore. Out of moderate frustration and curiosity, I googled “finale alternative” and voila! MuseScore came up (http://musescore.org).

A quick look at the features/notation interface, I felt like it could easily handle differing time signatures and key signatures in the same document. I downloaded it, created a new file, and bam! Simple drag-and-drop a new key signature or time signature in the document. It supports arbitrary time signatures too, which I don’t think Finale Notepad supported. In addition, MuseScore supports multiple voices on a staff (Finale only supports 1). And it supports exporting to PDF, which Finale Notepad does not. Awesome! Free!

The catch? It’s still v.0.94 and thus can crash unexpectedly. But as long as it’s not frequent I think I can live with it.

Tennis Prodigy

Now I’ve seen a couple little kids hitting nice strokes at the tennis court before and it’s so amazing. Kids half my height with such good form and solid contact with the ball, and decently-paced flat servers – makes me so jealous because they’re going to be so good when they get older. But this, this is scary:

http://www.nbcmiami.com/sports/golf_tennis/4-Year_Old_Prodigy_Takes_Tennis_Community_by_Storm_All__National_.html

4 years old! She must be a mutant to have that kind of hand-eye coordination. So ridiculous. It’s funny cause I think of the kids who are close to 4 years old at church, and hahaha….

Anyways, I finished retouching pictures. You can view them on my shutterfly site and (hopefully soon) on my website.

Site updated

I finally updated my site with some selected pictures, but I haven’t gotten to adding pictures from Taiwan or Canada because I’m still editing some of them. The next picture update should be really nice because there was a lot of nice scenery in Taiwan and the Canadian Rockies. Anyways, if you’re bored look at the pictures I selected from Sam and Joyce’s wedding, as well as post graduation with my family at Grounds for Sculpture, and one photo taken at Cornell on Slope Day during my annual emo walk.

http://site.leehsueh.net

Cornell 2009 Video

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILVtD17vb1U

Song: Strawberry Swing by Coldplay

Shot with a Creative Vado HD camcorder (hassle to edit with though). Converted to WMV files for importing into Premiere Pro, which was fine until I had to export. Never ever edit with WMV. I did not know this until finding out the hard and VERY LONG way. The wmvdecod.dll module caused Premiere to crash on export a bajillion times no joke. Basically I had to export in small parts trial-and-error style until it worked.

I hope it makes my Cornell readers at least smile if not laugh.

Pictures!

I have finished posting raw/unedited pictures on my shutterfly site for those who are interested/have the time to browse through them. They include my trip to Taiwan, English Writer’s Retreat, and Post EWR (Calgary Stampede and Canadian Rockies).

I’ve selected a couple pictures (40-50…) from my Taiwan trip and from Post EWR as ones that I would consider as “decent photography” and plan on touching them up. I used to touch up every picture that went through my sorting and filtering, but this time there’s just too many.

Still playing around with a digital photography management “workflow” so to speak. I used to take hundreds of pictures, and then go home and filter through them, selecting some of them for both sharing and retouching. Well, it seems that the quantity of pictures I take as been steadily increasing. I believe during my visit to Japan I took almost 400 pictures or so total. In Yunnan China I think I took close to 500. During last year’s road trip in California, I took around 700-800 pictures total. On my most recent trip to Taiwan, I took a total of over 1200 pictures, AFTER going through them and just simply deleting some. And during my brief visit to Calgary, I took 800 pictures. When I do my first filter, I usually select, maybe 60-80% of the pictures. It’s not really practical to go through each one and retouch them when the number of pictures is so high now. Hence, I need to either be much more selective, or separate filtered pictures into a “sharing” group and a “wannabe-portfolio” group. For my Taiwan and Canada pictures, I am trying out the latter. The “sharing” group of pictures I posted on facebook (in 4 packed albums). We’ll see how it goes.

If you have suggestions for how to manage all these pictures, please let me know.

BTW, in the process of watching the replay of Federer vs. Roddick Wimbledon 2009 final. Thank you NBC for streaming a free replay!

Thoughts on EWR (English Writer's Retreat)

If you couldn’t tell from my previous blurb, EWR was great. The prayer house in Calgary was soooo welcoming and home-y in every sense. It was really humbling and touching to see how much effort and time they put in to accommodate us and make us comfortable.

Of course, I was reminded of how deep and wonderful the Word of God can be if the time is taken to dig into it. So much can be learned from a passage, it’s uncanny. It might not be a matter of learning a lot of new things in terms of content, but definitely a matter of obtaining a much richer and insightful understanding. It doesn’t matter if the passage is obscure or well-known – there is so much to be gathered and learned.

The theme of family also turned out well, thank God. Initially I really had no idea what I could write about family. I came in with no potential topics for a devotional or article (we were supposed to; oops). It’s funny how the most random little things can trigger an idea though. We did a lot of brainstorming of families in the Bible and passages related to family in the Bible as a group, wrote down our findings on large sheets of paper, and hung them up to look at for potential topics. But I really got my idea from a casual verbal example (“I know the faith that started from your grandmother Lois” – that verse in 1 Timothy). I ended up writing a devotional on my grandma and my recent visit to her in Taiwan. Maybe I’ll post it later.

As for a topic for a full length article, this is where daily Bible reading comes into play. I ended up choosing a passage that first stuck out to me while reading it in high school – the account of Samson’s parents in Judges 13. To think, if I hadn’t read this passage that one time in high school years ago….and it happens to be family related too! I guess this is one of the reasons why daily Bible reading is so important; never know when something you read will turn up again later. I guess that’s a pretty abstract and vague statement, but whatever. This is just a blog; it can be as clear or vague as I make it :p But yeah, I could go on a lot about why this passage is interesting, but it’d probably be really dry. Besides, the article I’m writing based on it is still a work in progress. I thought I was close to done, but then Lois read it and “ripped it up” haha. I’m really interested in reading everyone else’s articles though – the experience of researching and studying really is like looking for treasure. The digging can be hard and frustrating, but once you discover something of value, it’s so precious. Reading everyone else’s articles would be like going through a treasure trove, much like this verse in psalm 119:

“I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:162

We also shared a lot on Psalm 119. It really is a wonderful and humbling and admirable psalm. Such a strong desire for God’s word in all circumstances; really amazing.

In addition, there is the great fellowship. Peer editing, discussions, sharing reflections, eating meals together, taking walks, tea time – it’s very pleasant. The fellowship also adds richer understanding of God’s word, because different people will notice different things based on different experiences.

I just wanted to express a heartfelt thanks to Calgary Prayer House, and the EWR instructors. I really had a good time spiritually and physically. For everyone else who didn’t go, next time you should go!