Upcoming Series: Understanding Bollywood through music

This sounds totally interesting. I would be there in a heartbeat if I lived in the Bay Area.


Kearny Street Workshop presents:

Understanding Bollywood through music

Every Tuesday starting March 2nd, 2010 7:00pm-9:00 until April 6th, 2010 from 7:00pm-9:00pm.

Located at: KSW@PariSoMa, 1436 Howard St. San Francisco, CA 94110

Join Robin Sukhadia in this 6 session exploration of the magical aesthetic of Bollywood film music. Through screenings, discussions, in-class performance demonstrations, field trips (SF International Asian American Film Festival), and guest lecturers, students will deconstruct the arrangements, themes and structure of Bollywood film songs from the 1930’s to present day.

Bollywood film songs will be used to examine the larger context of South Asian culture. Film-viewing, readings, lecture, and discussion will introduce students to Bollywood dance/costume, issues of gender roles and marriage, reaffirming the values of family and duty (dharma), Hindu-Muslim conflicts, and the resurgence of nationalism. Films will be in Hindi with English subtitles; no knowledge of Hindi or Indian culture is required to take this course.

Special focus will be given to some of the great film composers, including SD Burman, Naushad, RD Burman and AR Rahman. The influences and impact of playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Rafi and Mukesh will also be explored. Sequences from the following landmark Bollywood films will be presented for discussion: Maqbool, Omkara, Mughal e Azaam, Dil Se, Sholay, Qurbani, Silsila, Jodhaa Akbar, Lagaan, Devdas, Umrao Jaan and more.

Registration is $180 individual or for a recession bust bring a friend! Which in turn will bring both registrations down to $150.

For more info or to register please visit kearnystreet.org/understanding-bollywood-through-music


Interview of Yours Truly in The C-Ville

The C-Ville did an interview as a part of the Open Studio series of me recently. Here's the interview:

Typhoon Relief Efforts - Mission Accomplished - Dzian, Charlottesville!

Two weeks ago, I got an old Christmas Card on yellowed cardstock (bizarre!) paper from my dad in Taiwan. What a surprise: He never mails anything. Inside the card was a small blue certificate of receipt from the Children Welfare Foundation League. The document states information related to the funds that the Nakashi Typhoon Relief Benefit Show raised.

Donor title: People of Charlottesville
Fund amount: NT$30,000
Date: 11/19/2009
Allocation of Fund: Typhoon Morakot (88 Typhoon) Relief Funds

Other information refers to my father's name (as the transactor) and his address.

All I could say is: Kudos, Charlottesille! Dzian! 贊!


Searching for a Hakka Sound - Wu Sheng-Zhi of the Sunshine Band

In the last few years, I've been on a quest for music by Hakka people in Taiwan. My dad's family is of Hakka descent. The Hakka people are known as migrants living in diaspora in East and Southeast Asia, more specifically, in various parts of Taiwan and China. Growing up, I always sensed and was fascinated by the Hakka ethnicity coming from my paternal grandparents. Both my grandparents (my grandpa=Ah-gung and grandma=Ah-ma) grew up during the Japanese occupation in rural northern Taiwan (south of the capital city Taipei). They would speak Hakka to each other only when they needed to communicate in privacy or intimacy. My father speaks very little Hakka as his siblings. I speak next to nothing in Hakka - knowing only simple phrases like "eating" and "rice." My grandparents' Hakka identification seems to me private whereas their Japanese acculturation seemed more exterior and public. Perhaps they associate their Hakka identity with their past, their early childhood and family.

This summer I attended conference for the International Association for the Study of Popular (IASPM) Music in Liverpool, UK. Serendipitously, I met and befriends a number of dear and friendly scholars associated with the Inter-Asia group of IASPM. They invited me in treating me as a junior colleague or young cousin/sibling. It was a fortuitous meeting of wonderful people and scholars of incredible resources and knowledge.

Among these scholars was 何東洪, H0 Tung-Hong. Yet another serendipitous turn - Tung-Hong lives in the town where both my grandparents were born and raised in. His wife is related to my Ah-ma's classmate who later became a well-known writer. He introduced me to a number of musicians and groups that I hadn't heard of. I bugged him with questions about the roots and historical practices of Nakashi. With patience, he told me a brief account of the history and iconic figures of Nakashi in Taiwan. He even wrote down names for me (because writing in Chinese has become more challenging over the years).

I was especially intrigued by early Hakka musicians. The name 吳盛智, Wu Sheng-Zhi came up. He was the leader, singer, and guitarist of the well-known rock group Sunshine Band (陽光合唱團). His band performed lots of "Western" songs (from British and American records) all over the island of Taiwan. He was also hired as a session musician for one of the three television broadcast companies. Wearing his hair long while playing his electric guitar, "like a hippie Hakka," W sang lots of Hakka tunes in the style of rock music, combining the Hakka mountain songs (Sheng ge) with rock music. Through his access to mainstream media, Hakka music was transmitted and distributed widely. He released the first Hakka album Not Fated in 1981. Wu passed at the age of 39 in a car accident in 1983.

Googling him, I found a short youtube video about Wu. The voice-over is in Hakka. Thankfully, this video has English and Mandarin Chinese subtitles. Zealously, I hereby announce the beginning for my discovery of Hakka music.

Wu sang a number of classic Hakka folk standards.

On a more disco side:

And I found a few resources articles on Wu:


Kite Operations Blew My Mind: Reflections and Media from Brooklyn

Kite Operations' CD Release Party was epic. The songs from their new album Festival are breathtaking. An innovation and an immense treat for music (and noise) lovers. Their performance was precisely executed with highly sophisticated intra-band signals created specifically for their musical needs.

I've enjoyed following Kite Operations creative explorations over the last couple of years. First time witnessing their live set, I became a true fan girl and melted instantly.

Most of the footage that I captured, unfortunately, has unusable audio. "Effervescence" turned out great.

Tom Lin shot "Tracing Paths".

My noise duo Grapefruit Experiment performed a short set after fighting traffic all day on Interstate 95. Here's a snippet of our bike improvisation.

More documentation of our set.