Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I've been thinking of changing my twitter handle, because people think I'm a jazz-playing linguist rather than studying the linguistics of jazz, and thus only jazzing vicariously. Nevertheless I do like a bit of jazz and through my jazz-studied/playing brother and CD-buying dad, I've discovered a few favourites. Lately, I've gone back to listening to my jazzstudycool playlist and thought I'd share. I've included links to their websites as well for your convenience and edification.


Avishai Cohen
Instrument: bass
Trio & solo
Fav albums: "Continuo", "Aurora"
Fav songs: "Calm", "Remembering" etc. etc.
Why: I don't necessarily like modern jazz but I love a lot of Avishai Cohen's stuff. 'Calm' and 'Remembering' are the most appropriately named songs I've ever heard. There's sweetly melancholic songs, non-standard rhythms, complex musical development or simple repetition, on Aurora he sings in English, Hebrew, Spanish, but the other albums are instrumental with middle eastern, african and jazz influences.
Clip: Remembering

Brian Bromberg*
Instrument: bass
Fav album: "Wood"
Fav songs: "Star-spangled banner" "Come together"
Why: Great album with the upright bass as a lead melodic instrument. Only got the one album at the moment, may have to find more. I'm not american but I love his version of "Star-spangled banner".
Clip: Come together
*website temporarily unavailable at time of publishing

Oscar Peterson Trio
Instrument: piano
Album: "We get requests"
Why: jazz piano great playing jazz standards. Cool enough to be calm, jazz enough to keep you moving and occasionally make you smile involuntarily. Not as much for those who don't like a 'traditional' jazz sound.
Clip: Corcovado (Quiet nights of quiet stars)

Jacques Loussier Trio
Instrument: piano
Fav album: "Air on a 'G' string"
Why: Bach played by a jazz trio. Pure classical music doesn't work for me but this has a nice jazz kick to it.
Clip: Air on a 'G' string (Bach)

Jazz vocal

 Michael Buble
Instrument: vocal
Why: I've winnowed out the songs that are too cheesy for me. Sometimes you need some of that pop-jazz-swing-big band to make the study less dreary. In fact, nothing like some hugely dramatic music like the clip below to make everything seem significant, or insignificant as the mood may take you.
Clip: Cry me a river

Jamie Cullum
Instrument: vocal/piano
Fav songs: too many, but lately "If I ruled the world"
Why: His voice is less smooth than Buble's, he chooses more obscure jazz standards to reinterpret as well as pop songs to cover and writes originals too. Again, sometimes that pop-cool is great for a bit of cheer, but the sweetly-melancholic or ironically-upbeat or pensive music also provide a great study vibe.
Clip: I'm all over it

Non-jazz vocal

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Album: "Gurrumul"
Why: I go through phases when I skip the tracks from this CD, but I always respect it. His voice is unlike many others, most of his songs are sung in Gumatj and emote a non-urban, non-office environment.
Clip: Wiyathul

Album: "Beautiful imperfection"
Fav song: "Be my man"
Why: One of those artists I have trouble identifying the genre. Lovely voice, singing in English and another language. A bit of vocal joy to wake you up.
Clip: Be my man

Lisa Mitchell
Album: "Wonder"
Fav song: "Oh! Hark!" "Neopolitan Dreams"
Why: Although originally an Australian Idol contestant, her songs have that indie-sound, not all sugar-sweet, not all pop-cliche, not all romantic love.
Clip: Oh! Hark!

Cara Dillon
Album: self-titled
Why: She sings Irish folk as it's meant to be sung. Sweet or sad, always strong.
Clip: Black is the color

Album: "Le fil"
Fav song: "Ta douleur"
Why: Quirky yet quality vocals, "Ta douleur" is a fun song extending the use of the voice as an instrument, looping and beatboxing.
Clip: Ta douleur

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've been thinking a bit about unplugging lately. In fact it's been a bit of a meme lately: first this story reports withdrawal symptoms in young people who give up electronic media for 24 hours; then this webcomic suggested things to do when the internet won't connect. Then, via @maryam_bakht, a story in the NY times about the digital revolution "making it fashionable to be rude" and people who "treat their phones like a Tamagotchi". And lastly, today, via @emckean, a tumblr blog post about renaming "airplane mode" on the mobile phone as "interesting persion mode" - using it to take yourself off the grid for a while to give your full attention to the person you're with.

I'm sure the fact that I used the word "meme" in the opening sentences there says something about my own need to unplug.

I had a bit of an overdose of the computer the other day and so extracted myself from the office to sit by the river and enjoy, for lack of a more poetic way to say it, the outdoors. It was lovely. I do encourage people to get outside in the fine weather and enjoy it. Remind yourself about fresh air and noise and RL*!

At the same time, sometimes we can't get away. We have to use a number of electronic media simultaneously and they can encourage productivity. Without Facebook and Twitter I wouldn't have got half of those links above. I am typing this, while listening to my "jazzstudycool" playlist on my ipod. And yesterday I had a productive stint study-buddying with a friend in NZ who was online at the same time. Although we couldn't hear or see each other, we assumed the other was studying and so felt the peer pressure to knuckle down, but at the same time had someone to throw the occasional comment to rather than detour onto social media.

So what's the point of this? Basically just to compile all the links above. Read them - they are interesting! And then force yourself from the computer for fifteen minutes, if only to make you appreciate it more when you get back on.

PS. And this is why working in a cafe works for me (via @lynneguist)

*Real Life to those of you who live so much less of your life online that you have no need for an acronym for the alternative.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I referred someone to my blog today and when I looked at it, it seemed a little unloved. Pretty, but unloved. So I thought I should write an update. The news of the week is that I finished my work so am now solely a PhD student. It feels great - being able to study for more than 2 full days in a row almost seems like a luxury! So advice point 1 to other PhD students: work, but know when to say no more! My supervisor (who was also my boss) has been very supportive. Last week was also the 2 year anniversary of starting my studies and therefore also marked exactly a year until I submit my thesis. I might not submit right on 3 years but the plan is to knuckle down and do everything I can to at least get close. I have too many friends who've ended up out of candidature, out of money (not necessarily their fault), and I don't want to be there.

Study-wise at the moment, I'm bouncing between reading up on Appraisal and Genre, submitting abstracts to conferences, and trying to finish two articles. Not sure that I'll be able to afford to go to the conferences, but gotta put the abstracts in first before I find out. They're also a useful deadline - there's a certain amount of reading and analysis you have to do before you can propose what to write a paper about. So advice point 2: submit abstracts to conferences, even if you end up unable to go.

Which brings me to the articles. I'm writing based on my presentation at 5ICOM (5th International Conference on Multimodality). It as supposed to be one article, but it went too long so I'm trying to turn them into two articles. The writing was surprisingly enjoyable, the refining is a bit of struggle at times. We'll get there in the end. I'm trying to get them into a good enough condition to send them to others for feedback. Again I have friends who have submitted their thesis or are planning to and then write a few articles to get a few publications out on their thesis to improve their chances of getting a job. Or if they have a job lined up, they're trying to juggle writing articles with settling into a new job or even move cities. Advice point 3: write early, if possible!

So that's where I'm at. I've also started a (old-fashioned, handwritten) journal to keep myself accountable to myself. I got a lovely journal for Christmas and momentarily considered writing my thesis in it, but who's going to write a thesis by hand these days? I used to write journals, but stopped when I came back from France as day-to-day life seemed comparatively boring and not worthy of journalling. If there's any time that's worthy of recording, this should be it! And who knows, maybe one day I can do some sort of linguistic analysis on my journalling over the years, or reflect on the thesis-writing process.

That's the beautiful thing about studying linguistics - EVERYTHING is potential data. As I tweeted today - Ouroboros! The self perpetuating, self eating snake. Not sure that analogy is as good as all that, but hopefully you know what I mean.