QiRanger does the Tinikling!

This past weekend was Children’s Day in Korea. Since Jo and I don’t have children, we opted to celebrate the day at Seoul Plaza and the Friendship Festival. While there some wonderful Filipinas got me out to try my hand at the tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance.

According to Wikipedia:

The tinikling dance is one of the most popular and well-known of traditional Philippine dances.The tinikling is a pre-Spanish dance from the Philippines that involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance. The name is a reference to birds locally known as tikling, which can be any of a number of rail species; the term tinikling literally means “tikling-like.”

Tinikling involves five steps; during the first four steps, the dancers dance opposite each other, and during the last step, they start from the same side of the poles. The bamboo is also used as a percussive instrument as it is banged against the ground (or a piece of wood to make it easier to hold) and each other in a pattern. The bamboo has to be closed hard enough to make a sound, and the dancers must be quick enough to not get their foot (or feet) caught. As the dance continues, the banging of the bamboo becomes faster and harder, the sound of the clashing bamboo and the quickness of feet demonstrated by the dancers thrilling and awing the crowd. In the United States, this dance had been altered into a four-beat rhythm to adjust to popular music. In some cases, it has been used in conjunction with traditional Filipino martial arts to demonstrate fleetness of foot and flow of movement.

The dance originated in Leyte among the Visayan islands in the central Philippines as an imitation of the tikling bird dodging bamboo traps set by rice farmers. The dance imitates the movement of the tikling birds as they walk between grass stems, run over tree branches, or dodge bamboo traps set by rice farmers. Dancers imitate the tikling bird’s legendary grace and speed by skillfully maneuvering between large bamboo poles.

Have you ever tried doing something like this? Would you do it in public?

I’m in Korea!

One of the great things about YouTube is working with others on collaborations. Back in the “old” days of YouTube, we’d always hit up each other for a quick collab. In fact, it was a great way to introduce others to content creators.

Here in Korea, our YouTube Community is quite small, but growing. A great YouTuber by the name of p00lman, has been making music parody videos for some time. With SeoulTube just around the corner, he got the idea to write a new song and ask many of us to participate in the projects.

When I filmed my piece, the mic was tucked under my shirt, so I had to lay down the vocals in a different session, since the constant rubbing against my clothes negated the audio.

Here’s the final result:

My vocal stylings:

Travel Videos: Music


There are several things that go into making a good travel video, and one of them is music. I’m not a musician and have very little talent in this area, but I do know that adding a layer of music to the finished project enhances the experience to the viewer. But using music in videos is quite tricky.

If you’re making something for home use, you can pretty much do what you’d like, since no one will see the final project. However, if you’re like me, and want to put the video up on YouTube (or in public), there are several things to consider.

First, you need to pick music that fits the subject matter. Second, you must have the rights to use the music. It’s the latter where many get into trouble. As a content provider on YouTube, one can pretty much use any music you find, since YouTube has made agreements with the major record labels. But as was seen with BMG, these deals can cause some headaches down the road. You see, for a while, BMG allowed songs to be used on YouTube. Then they stopped. So if your video used one of their songs, then all of a sudden, it was pulled. It created a huge headache for content providers.

A better road to travel down is using Creative Commons licensed music. But here, there is also a problem. Many artists will allow you to use their music for free, provided it’s not for commercial purposes. This is great most of the time, but I make some money on my videos by using AdSense, which is a commercial endeavor. As such, I can’t use Creative Commons licensed tracks without extra permission.

What I end up doing is using Royalty Free music. iMovie comes loaded with a ton of tracks and I can create my own in Garage Band. Don’t have a Mac? Don’t worry! Most of the time I use music from Kevin MacLeod or Jason Shaw. Both have hundreds of songs you can use and they only ask that you credit them. There are also other options, like using Sonic Fire from SmartSound, too.

In short, use your music to accent the final piece. Make sure it fits and complements the project. Overall, you’ll end up with a great product.

Next week: Research

Go Time!

It’s Tuesday here in Korea and that means that the final game of Round One play in the World Cup is tonight (or more accurately 3:30am tomorrow morning). I can’t fathom why so many people in North America don’t enjoy football (I mean the real kind). American Football is great, but not nearly as exciting and demanding as International Football. I’ve managed to catch every game Korea has played and all but one the US played. Both teams have great chances of advancing, and I hope they do well in the Round of 16.

Walking through the streets of Dongtan and Seoul, it’s so nice to see such national pride in the team. You cal also hear the pervasive chant of 오…. 대하민국!

There have been several Korean World Cup Songs (including part 1 of the above), but nothing has caught on like Part 2. I wonder if it has more to do with Yuna Kim or Big Bang???

Even foreigners get into the mix of things. Check out EatYourKimChi.com‘s Simon and Martina.

For those really interested in learning the Shout of the Red’s Dance… check this out!

How’s that for high-tech!?!?!?!?

Go Korea! Fighting!

We Are The World Redux

It seems that when there is an epic disaster, the stars always come out to raise a little money and extend their fame. It first happened in the 1980s with We Are The World.  It latter happened with 2004 tsunami and Katrina (2005) benefits. Recently George Clooney hosted a live fund-raiser for the devastation in Haiti. But what really got me was that there are now plans to re-tool and update We Are The World for Haiti. The single which is now being recorded is set to debut during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics.

I applaud the stars coming out to do something nice to drive people to help out, but really wish that our state of humanity didn’t need such prodding. When I sit down and think about it… it just makes me feel sad about the state of the world.

But there are some bright things out there.

Last year I was made aware of a project that featured local musicians around the wold singing covers of popular songs. Over the holidays I purchased the album and two of the tracks are just fantastic. To me, they are much more powerful than a star-studded song.

I think the reason these songs have a stronger impact on me than WATW, is the overall message of connectedness, peace, and hope.

Remember, remember… The fifth of November…

The classic 80's Series

Remember, remember the Fifth of November, The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

… so the film V For Vendetta begins. I find it very interesting that around the same time this year, ABC has launched a retooled version of the V(isitor) franchise.

When I first learned that the network was going to re-imagine the series, I was a little concerned. In many cases, these attempts do not come off well. Let’s look at the history:  The Incredible Hulk was a huge failure. Mission Impossible destroyed what I loved most about the television series. When NBC tried to bring back the Bionic Woman… well, let’s just say that I couldn’t even make through 15 minutes of the pilot. Then there was last year’s Knight Rider

Only a few times have these projects really come together. The most successful of which was Sci-Fi’s Battlestar Galactica. It was the story that we all wanted to see. A great military drama set in space with real issues to deal with. V comes at the show from this angle, and while only one episode has aired, I’m giving it a thumbs up. I’m really looking forward to see where the series goes. Unfortunately, I do remember so much of the old show, so I could quickly identify where all the old characters were going. If only I hadn’t seen it before… oh well, it should present itself with some fun entertainment in the months to come.

Speak of TV, I am very thankful, that I’m able to keep up with The Amazing Race. It is by far my favorite television show. I would love for Jo and I to be contestants on it. There’s something grand about traveling the world, learning new things in each place, and competing for the top prize. In this weekend’s episode, they’re returning to one of my favorite challenges: Needle in a Haystack. I remember watching the teams rolling out the hay balls looking for the clue, and how my favorite team was eliminated because after 8 hours, they couldn’t find it. It was a powerful moment in television and was a great example at how quickly things can change on the show. No wonder it is still number one.

Also on the TV front, things are heating up here in Korea with respect to cell phone ads. Those that think that the iPhone is the best phone in the world have a few things to learn about what phones can really do. Anyone who has traveled the world will tell you that Asian phones make those in the US look like crap. Even my “free” entry level phone comes with the ability to watch live TV and send and receive video calls. Something that no phone in the US does.

As a result, both Samsung and LG really make the debut of new models a big thing. This month, Samsung is going to release its latest touchscreen phone that features a 12mp camera (with optical zoom) that even records in 720p HD video. As a photog and videographer, I might just have to put down the Won to get this phone. Not to be outdone, LG has revamped its Chocolate line and is promoting that like nobody’s business. What I find most interesting, is how these companies go after singing groups to not only be their spokesmodels, but build an entire music recording suite around it. I give you two examples:

From Samsung, we have AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) featuring Son Dambi & After School.

I have to admit, since the song dropped in July, I’ve found it quite catchy and have enjoyed watching the girls perform it live on stage.

In the past month, LG countered with Chocolate Love performed by 소녀시대 (Girls Generation/SNSD).

People are really looking forward to the iPhone dropping in Korea this month, but since it doesn’t have many of the features that these phones (and no music groups backing it), I don’t think it will be a major player in Korea.


Back at it again…

Once can’t help but to wonder what’s going through the minds of those on the Board over at the Performing Rights Society (PRS) in the United Kingdom. For the past few years, the group has been going after anyone playing music, stating that if it is heard by a group of people, it amounts to a performance, and the artist is due royalties.

The PRS’ favorite targets are businesses that play radios or CDs. The know on their door with legal papers and state that since they are playing music that is loud enough to be heard by other people, they are putting on a performance, and thus must pay royalties to the copyright holders.

I can’t believe no one has stood up to these thugs and taken them to court, as the claim is preposterous. If I purchase a CD and play it in my home or office, I’ve already paid my royalties. It isn’t a performance, because no person is creating the music. However, most stores cave under the threat of litigation and pull the plug on their radios, leaving their stores silent.

That’s exactly what happened to the A&T Food store. When the store went silent, 56 year old Sandra Burt started singing as she performed her daily duties stocking shelves. The RPS got wind of the situation and quickly descended on her, stating that she either needed to stop singing or obtain a performer’s license.

What a crock of shit.

Someone needs to take the PRS down a notch or two. They are getting ridiculous about things.

Sure, if someone holds a concert and doesn’t pay royalties for songs they use, they deserve to get hit with fines and other fees. If someone holds a concert and is a professional (or acting as one), some licenses should be obtained. But anyone who wants to play their radio or hum a tune, should be left well enough alone. That is not what the RPS or any other agency was designed to do. They exist to protect the artists’ rights from people who are trying to steal and act maliciously.

Sandra Burt has since received an apology from the PRS, but she shouldn’t have ever needed to get one.

American Greed in Action…

… and I thought the music industry in the United Kingdom was bad!

The other day C|Net posted this article: Music publishers: iTunes not paying fair share.

When I first saw the headline, I was intrigued and thought there was something up with the way that Apple/iTunes calculates royalty payments. As I read the article, I found that wasn’t the case… it was nothing more than greed rearing its ugly head.

It seems that ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) feels they should be getting royalty payments from Apple (and other on-line music vendors) for the 30 second previews they allow on their music download sites. My initial reaction was a loud proclamation of, “WTF?” Now it has just subsided into a fit of rage.

Rick Carnes in the article had this to say:

“Yesterday, I received a check for 2 cents. I’m not kidding. People think we’re making a fortune off the Web, but it’s a tiny amount. We need multiple revenue streams or this isn’t going to work.”

David Renzer, CEO Universal Music Publishing Group had this to say:

“(On iTunes), you can stream radio, and you can preview tracks, things that we should be getting paid performance income for.”

Do these people have any idea what makes a business successful? Let me clue you in: respect, customer service, and a good product. While there can be serious debate on the quality of product the American Music Industry puts out these days, I think everyone can agree that the Industry fails miserably on the first two items.

Sure it would be nice to recoup royalty fees each time your song was played, but trying to collect fees for a 30 second preview that may lead to a sale is just stupid. To go after Apple for streaming a radio station that is already paying the royalty fee is beyond insane. For years, and in many places today, music was sold without previews of any kind. The only way to hear a song before you purchased it was to listen to it on the radio, TV, or film. With the advent of on-line stores and the preview option, music sales have increased. forcing Apple and other retailers to pay to have that option will only succeed in them removing that feature from their stores and you’ll wind up with even more dissatisfied customers and lower overall sales.

The right way to go about this is to renegotiate the overall royalty package to get a higher return on each sale… not to nickle and dime the customers to death. In fact, I bet that such a move is spurred more by big bigness trying to muscle out the Independents than anything else.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

A great little night…

Last night I had the opportunity to finally meet someone I had wanted to for a long time. You see, when I first found out I where I was going to be living in Korea, I decided to do a quick Google search for any blogs about the region. What I found was Jason’s blog about Dongtan.

i was instantly captivated by the blog, since unlike so many others I have read, he was not bitching and complaining about Korea, his school, and life in general. It was quite refreshing, especially since the blog I stumbled upon right before his was from a guy from Perth, Australia who came to teach English… and two days later was already planning his “escape.”

One of the other things I really enjoyed about Jason’s blog is that it focuses on photography. Coming from that background, I really have enjoyed seeing his work progress. Plus, in the time leading up to my return, it helped me get excited about seeing some of the great sights once more. In fact, this weekend, I’m planning on retracing my walking tour steps, but this time making sure the video camera heads are cleaned!

So where am I going with is???

Over the past few months, Jason and I had started exchanging posts on blogs and emails. Furthermore, since the ex-pat community is quite small in Dongtan, I quickly realized that we also have a number of friends in common (small world, eh?). Originally we had planned on getting together for dinner last week… but something came up (like dental work – you can read all about it on his blog), so we canceled and pushed things back to this week.

Over the course of an hour, we ate a huge plate of the Frypan’s fried chicken, potato chips, and a couple of 700cc beers. It was really nice to connect with him in person after reading so much about his life here in Dongtan. While, he’s only here for two more months before heading back to the US, I hope we’ll continue to build on this friendship and see each other a few more times.

Following dinner, I made my way upstairs to the Cafe where my old friend Kim See In used to work. He had called to let me know that he was in town with a few friends that I had to meet. What I was greeted with was not what I expected.

It was an upper management from one of the local semiconductor plants that spoke almost flawless English. Usually when I’m invited to such gatherings a little English is passed back and forth and See In translates for both parties. This time different, the guest did the translating. It was quite refreshing, since on this occasion, I learned why See In has taken such a liking to me: it’s the fact that he’s never seen a westerner come to Korea with such a desire to not only explore the history of the land, but research and understand the culture. I never thought my attitude was all that special, but it appears to have really made an impact, and for that, I am glad. Truth be told, I’ve missed hanging out with See In since he’s moved away. It was always nice to meet up with him for a drink or two and trade languages back and forth. Plus, the singing was always a lot of fun.

That brings me to the point of the latter part of this entry: Karaoke. It’s no secret that karaoke was invented in the Philippines and that the Japanese really perfected the art of building machines to play music so that people could sing along with it. But what I didn’t learn until last night (and still haven’t been able to confirm) is that the social aspect of singing in front of friends has its roots deep within Korean culture. Hundreds of years ago, it was tradition to have a great big meal as a gathering of family and friends. Then, following the meal, instruments would be brought into the room and those attending would take turns providing the musical entertainment.

After the Japanese conquered Korea at the start of the 20th century, they took that notion and combined it with the Philippine invention to come up with what we refer to as singing rooms and noraebangs (노래방). And as great as those inventions are (hell even the North American style isn’t all that bad), there is something a lot more enjoyable when you are singing with a band behind you. That is the defining difference between the social element in Korean singing lounges and the noraebangs: the live band. If you ever get a chance to visit a live cafe in Korea – do it! They are and awesome way to down a few beers, shoot back some whiskey, and have an all around great time!


Brown Eyed Girls

Brown Eyed Girls

Music is said to sooth the savage beast. In recent years, it’s no secret that music has also become more sexually charged. In Korea, the pop music scene is huge. Girl/Boy bands come and go and are instantly raised to star status overnight. In fact, If there are some good gilrs, there’s no need to wait for a full album – the producers will release two or three “mini albums” while they take the time to cultivate the group.

I was first exposed to the scene last year when I had the opportunity to travel to KBS and watch a live recording of Musicbank. You can read about the post here. At that broadcast, I saw all the top acts. It’s a grueling show, since every network here in Korea has a music show. So while the new single is out, the bands have to perform almost nightly on TV.

Probably one of the best known groups to come out of Korea is the Wondergirls, who are currently touring with the Jonus Brothers. They had a single over a year ago, called “One More Time” which really infected the kids. Then they had their biggest hit with “Nobody”. Even after a year, it is still played. In fact, there are several translations out there as well.

This year, the pop offerings are equally intriguing. Some of the songs don’t really resonate with me, like any music scene, but some really do. I often time my weekend run so I can catch one of the shows and get the latest songs. (It also makes conversing with students more fun, too.) This year also has a little controversy as well.

The Brown Eyed Girls is a popular Girl Group. Over the years, they had a pretty low-key goody-goody image. Like most girl groups, they would dress the part, but really do nothing that was out of the ordinary. This time around, things have changed. The Girls have gone for a more adult image and have sexually charged their appearance and songs. This can be seen with their first popular single “Abracadabra.” I love the song, since it has a great beat. In fact, I have it as my ring tone. But the released music video is super sexually charged.

Some of the things that people have called to question are the following:

  • The treatment of women as sexual objects.
  • The risqué nature of the video.
  • The violence at the end.
  • The homosexual overtones.

In fact, when the Brown Eyed Girls perform on stage, the show is called the “clean version” since they leave out some of the material.

now one one of the major players in Korean Pop Music is JYP. He’s the man behind the Wondergirls (and is featured in their English “Nobody” vid). He created two new boy bands called 2PM and 2AM. Recently the two groups got together to produce a parody of “Abracadabra” by the “Dirty Eyed Girls.” It is so spot on, that I laugh every time I see it. Furthermore, the scenes in the jjimjilbang are priceless. I think that’s one of the things that I really like about these singers. Is that no matter how famous they get (and I see it in other entertainment fields here), they are always willing to have a little fun.