Living off campus is not good for lazy people who feel they should do 'things'. I'd seen adverts for an African drumming class, postered about the Music Department and now that we were 6 weeks into the winter term I decided the time was right to finally make myself go.
Upon entering the classroom everything first seemed much as I had expected - polite 'hello's, and 'I'm new's, then Lloyd, the quiet, mild mannered guy who was running the class (although who acted as thought he was only vaguely aware of that fact,) said we'd start by clapping out the rhythm we'd be using. That seemed like a perfectly logical start, although I was then left slightly confused as to what I was supposed to do with the small, leather band of bells he began handing out. I was not left in confusion for too long though, as I soon noticed that everyone now had the strip of bells tied to their feet and was enthusiastically stomping out a pulse.
The workshop lasted about an hour and a half and at the end we were still working on that same first rhythm, and trying to construct the piece that it's used in. It became apparent quite early on that I was the only person who had received any substantial training in classical western music (and that included Lloyd). Once I got home I wrote down the main rhythm, and also some of the additional lines we played on top, and suddenly my understanding of it jumped into a clearer focus. I can't help now thinking that if I'd just written everything down at the class, it would have been a lot easier for me. But for now at the very least, I feel I should keep going and try to learn these rhythms the old school way, through listening and copying - it's obviously worked for a good few centuries - who am I to say my ways better.
Then on Thursday, I experienced an entirely different musical event - I went to the ballet! Now I don't think I've ever been to a ballet before and so I decided it was about time, although even before I got there I wasn't in a good frame of mind. When I ordered the tickets online they seemed to have 2 booking fees, on top of the tickets being bloody expensive, and the website just had the feel of somewhere that's going to rip you off at every chance. Also this was the Theatre Royal which I hadn't been to before, and it and its programme just felt mainstream, uninteresting, unjustifiably expensive, and basically rather pretentious. (I'll have to stick to the Dome in future).
But putting all of that aside, I tried to have an open mind for the ballet, and the main thought I was left with was - There's rather a lot of dancing. Now you might say I should really have expected that from a ballet, but I really expected there to be more emphasis on conveying the story through dance. I suppose it's such a simple story that there isn't much to convey, and also since Tchaikovsky wrote it like that, I suppose that's how it's supposed to be. The thing I found a bit boring though was that they would have many large pauses in the action in which there would be several solo dances for no (narrative) reason. Also, as ballet is such an old form of dance, and so stylistically polarised, in a modern context it would be difficult to convey a range of interesting characters within that style because that one style has so many set association already.
Also I thought the orchestra wasn't too good. (Playing with an international Russian ballet company won't let you escape the criticism of jack!) It might have just been that the orchestra was quite small and that the acoustics weren't great, but still, I do feel as if my summery for the week should be:
Drums - Good
Ballet - Bad
That is a bit harsh however. The ballet was ok, but I'm sure there're better shows out there.