Saturday, May 30, 2009

a secret no more

I am a  Sort-of Modern Girl. Although the idea of getting married isn't all bad and I'd like to get married one day, I'm not hanging out for it and I don't think I'd mind staying single. Really! It's true! Please believe me, despite what I'm about to tell you!

I have a THING for collecting walking-up-the-aisle music.

It started when a friend of mine got engaged and asked me if I knew good wedding music. I went home, spent a whole afternoon and evening listening to music, and made her a mix CD. Of course, it turned out she didn't want classical music (a standpoint I simply can't understand), least of all the sort of music I recommended, which were definitely not the traditional wedding songs. She ended up unable to find a modern walking-up-the-aisle song, and fell back on Pachelbel's "Canon in D". Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with "Canon in D", or "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" or "Trumpet Voluntary" or any of the other standard wedding songs; in fact, I think they're beautiful and appropriate, but I've just heard them so many times at weddings, and want to be a little more creative in my choice.

Then another friend got engaged, and soon after I was hooked on collecting wedding music. I now have a playlist on my iPod of possible wedding music. Some of it more possible, some of it less so. I justify it by saying it's for friends. But I know if I get engaged, ever, the choice of music for walking up the aisle will be just about the most important decision to do with the ceremony, in my eyes. And woe betide the fiance who gets in my way!!

So here is my list of ideas for slightly original wedding music.


Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, by Saint-Saens. [the first few minutes] You're going to have to have a BIG personality, or at the very least a big cathedral to pull this one off. Okay, so it's a bit OTT for a wedding - and I don't blame my friends for turning down this option - but something in me WISHES I could walk up the aisle to music like this. Maybe if I marry Prince William like I intended when I was nine.

Nimrod, by Elgar. This is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music with a perfect crescendo, I think, building up to what could easily be the entrance of the bride. It has slightly bittersweet overtones, but not too much so - easily could be interpreted joyously.

Ode to St. Cecilia's Day, by Handel. This is a lovely, lovely, happy piece that my recorder ensemble used to play. Definitely in keeping with the wedding vibe, but not especially well-known.

Madrigal, from Romeo and Juliet, by Prokofiev. Dreamy, pretty, romantic... Creating exactly the right sort of feeling, I think. A charming little flute part at the beginning that would be perfect for the flowergirls walking in, then building up with the bridesmaids and the bride.

Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, by Rachmaninoff. I can't claim this to be my own idea, as my sister used it for walking up the aisle at her own wedding, but I remember thinking it was a lovely, classy choice. The only thing that's necessary, I think, is a reasonable-sized wedding party, or the gaps between bridesmaids and bride may be too long, as it builds so beautifully towards the bride's entrance, and you can't really cut it off early.

Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, by Grieg. Obviously not my idea, given the title, and it so happens that another sister walked up the aisle to this (as did I, as I was her bridesmaid). We only played the last section of it, about two and a half minutes, which was sectioned perfectly for our bridal party - one flowergirl, three bridesmaids, and then the dramatic entry of the bride. I would recommend this one more highly than any of the others, because it is an AWESOME piece of music, unusual enough not to bore people, but totally suited to a wedding. Some people dislike it because it's not quite as dignified (or dull?) as some wedding music, but I love it!

Bist du bei mir, by Stolzel. This is a gorgeous song for voice and keyboard accompaniment, and is not unusual at weddings. My suggestion to make it your own is to have piano or organ accompaniment, with an alto recorder on the tune. I know, I know, you've never heard a recorder played pleasantly. Honestly, an alto recorder is perfect for this song, and if you will pay my flights and accomodation, I'll come and show you!! Otherwise, find a good recorder player, and they will show you.

Finlandia, by Sibelius. Okay, so not the whole thing - that would be incredibly inappropriate. However, if you have a pipe organ in the church you're using, I once heard a pipe organ version of this song which I thought would totally fit the occasion. Start from about 3:30 in, and go up to the point at which the famous hymn tune begins. A grand wedding march!

Rustle of Spring, by Sinding. This is a beautiful piano piece, evocative of spring and happiness! Another piece with a fantastic build-up towards the entrance of the bride.

Cello Suite #1 in G, by Bach. This would be an amazing and VERY classy entry. My only concern is that it's slightly sombre, but although it wouldn't work for everyone, I think some people it would suit precisely.

Fantasia on Greensleeves, by Leonard Bernstein. The beginning section of this is atmospheric, romantic, and would create a really special feeling as the bride walked the aisle, I think. Almost like she was walking on air.


So I don't really approve of walking up the aisle to modern music... but because you're my friend, and if you absolutely INSIST on it, here's some ideas for some modern instrumental music - mostly from films, funnily enough - that wouldn't be completely horrible.

Message to my Girl, played by Carl Doy. [instrumental version of the Split Enz song]

Forrest Gump theme.

Pepinot, from the film "Les Choristes". Gorgeous song.

PM's Love Theme, from "Love Actually". A little OTT but if you're into that...

Maggie and Finn, from "Waking Ned Devine". Celtic feel - lovely.

Bridge over Troubled Water. I have an instrumental version of this played on piano by Karel Roessingh which wouldn't be bad.

And one vocal song which actually would be kind of lovely: Fix You, Coldplay

My Secret Weapon

Finally, The Song that I want to walk up the aisle to. It is a close call with "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen", but at least Troldhaugen is specifically a wedding song and if someone else uses it, I can still use it. This song, however, is not a traditional wedding song, and I do not tell my friends about it, in case they steal it. I feel about it similarly to how you'd feel if your best friend or sibling used the name you've been holding on to since you were ten for their child.

However, my siblings are all married now, and my face-to-face friends don't read this blog, and so I am going to break my silence. Drum roll, please.

Romance, from The Gadfly, by Shostakovich. Not all interpretations of this work for weddings, but I have a recording of it which is probably on iTunes everywhere - the artists on this version are Tamsin Little and Piers Lane. It is the most beautiful piece of violin music I have ever heard, with piano accompaniment. It is the perfect timing for a walk up the aisle - about three minutes. It crescendoes perfectly. I can't say enough good things about it.

So there you have it. My secret is yours. Use it well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

buy me!

I have a weakness for good advertising. There's so much shoddiness out there when it comes to ads that if a really good one comes along (and isn't played too often) - I get happy! And I want to buy things! May this encourage you, advertising magnates, to be more creative, feel-good and funny. Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite NZ ads with you.

This is one of my favourites ever, from a few years ago, and - I am absolutely certain - is voiced by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, before he got well-known. It advertises L&P, New Zealand's very own soft drink. Please don't be put off by the exceedingly well-chosen picture for the video:

Possibly one of my favourites at the moment, this is advertising a promotion for Cup-of-Soup:

This is one of a series of ads for Instant Kiwi. To tell the truth, I don't know exactly what this has to do with Instant Kiwi (lotto tickets), but it never fails to make me smile:

This is a slightly older ad, but I've always remembered it because I thought it was so sweet:

Deathbeds - so much potential for advertising, it would seem:

What are your favourite commercials?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

mall etiquette

It has been really miserable weather here in Christchurch for the last, oh, two weeks [substitute "what feels like eternity"], except for a few days of spring-like sunshine and warmth, which I think made it even worse - just as you begin to defrost a little and to think that maybe this will last, BOOM! back comes the rain, the sleet, the hail, the rain and more rain. We've even had snow but it didn't settle on the waterlogged ground.

Last year this was all kind of fun, because I was living at home with my dad, with (a) zero appreciation of power bills, (b) heated towel rails and such-like, (c) a new-ish house, (d) a clothes dryer, and (e) a car. This year, I have none of the above. My flatmates and I even have rules about not using heaters and so on. I have discovered that freezing cold living quarters are not all that bad if you dress up warm, but no matter how many items of clothing you are wearing, it is impossible to be comfortable if you have cold hands and feet. Fingerless gloves have made studying a whole lot easier, but my feet are ALWAYS COLD.

So, despite the horrific weather today, I went to the mall, for the purpose of investing in WARM SOCKS. My umbrella broke on the way, my jeans got soaked up to the shins, but I no longer have cold feet. I also have very cute feet because this time I didn't get boring black socks.

It turns out that half of Christchurch was at Riccarton Mall today - or so it seemed. And this brings me (in a very circuitous way) to the main point of this blog post:


1) Walking through the mall.

A brisk yet measured walk should be the order of the day. If you are stopping as you go to gaze at shop displays, keep to the left. However, if you are wandering aimlessly through the mall simply because it is heated and you had nothing else to do, it is polite to either keep out of other people's way, or to walk at a more bearable pace for the people behind you. Exceptions will be made for the elderly or those with impediments such as crutches, which brings us to another rule of etiquette: be patient in cases where a slow walk really cannot be helped.

If you are one of a gaggle of teenage girls, try to remember not to walk five- or six-abreast. You are giving your age group a bad reputation.

If you are a teenage boy, repeat this mantra: "Be civilised. Be civilised." Do NOT start beating up another random kid with your friends (as I was unlucky enough to witness). It's not impressive, and the mall, which is not the bad part of town on a Saturday night, is not the ideal location for you to go all Stone Age.

2) The clothes stores.

When I was wandering round the women's clothes department at Farmers today, I became what is termed "boxed in" in dancing and shopping terminology. This simple diagram may explain my predicament.

  X              O              X

 O            ALLIE       O

  X            O               X

[Where X = shopper and O = clothing stand.]

If you are shopping - please! Look out for potential "Allie"s. Don't fence them in. Remember, to them, you are just another shopper, and if you don't listen to "excuse me"s and continue to get in their way, they may take out their frustration on you. Instead, pull aside - perhaps with an apologetic smile - and let them out.

3) The changing rooms.

When it's a busy day, and there is a line of shoppers waiting at the changing rooms entrance, do not - I repeat - do NOT walk in, blithely ignoring the "Limit 4 garments" sign, and proceed to sit your boyfriend/girlfriends outside your door, subjecting each of the 12 items you are trying on to a detailed analysis in front of the mirror at the end of the hall. When you are finished with your garments, hang them on the rack that has been left there for that purpose - do NOT leave them lying all over the changing room so that the next customer has to either hang them up or walk all over them.

So! Hopefully that has all been cleared up, and now we can all actually enjoy the mall.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

writer's block

I have been trying to think of something to write about for what feels like ages now, so that you no longer have to look at bright blue and pink cupcakes every time you open this page. Unfortunately, I'm slowly falling into the state of mind I fell into last year when I first started getting into my research - being unable to think about any ideas beyond the very beginning of them, unless they are somehow related to my study. So the blog post today is a blog post of fragments:

- I have just been reading a speech that was read at the Second National Congress of Peace and Friendship with the U.S.S.R., in London, 1937. The speaker was Mr. Dingle Foot. Perchance the funniest name ever?

- On Monday I am meeting the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I didn't vote for his party and I would prefer it to be the former PM, but still - it's kind of exciting!

- My two-year-old niece is in love with Jeff, from the Wiggles. If you haven't come across this children's entertainment group, well, don't go rushing to buy a DVD. However, she loves them, and especially Jeff, who is always sleepy. She has had dreams about him, and she insists on wearing a "sleeping hat" to bed because Jeff always wears one. She informs me and everyone else just about every time I see her: "I like purple. Jeff is purple. He's always sleeping."

- I graduated about a month ago, complete with funny hat and Harry Potter/gospel choir gown and pink hood. I could have graduated a year ago with my BA but decided to wait until I had my BA (Hons) degree. It was fun - we got to march through town, police holding up traffic for us, led by a bagpiper, and then to file into the Town Hall to the blare of a pipe organ. Walking across the stage, trying to remember to hold your trencher in your left hand, smile, shake with the right, take certificate with the right, put on trencher with the strings hanging over the left edge, then walk down the stairs without tripping - I know we all have university qualifications, but that's complicated!!!