Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy new year!

Ohhh 2016, how dreaded thou art. And yet, thy demise draws near. Whilst we are still to see most of the repercussions of all the crap that went down, it is needless to say that on a global scale, the end of this semi-arbitrary time interval is more than welcome. Hopefully, it will mentally signify the end of the compulsory desire to make the worst decisions possible!
That being said, on an individualistic level - that level to which some people manage to, ahh so enviably, restrict their worries - my year was nothing short of amazing and that is thanks to the amazing people I have gotten to spend it with. <3 I also developed a nearly unhealthy passion to piano music, moved to another country, started a company and got a new title at my job, just to mention a few of the highlights!
I will not make resolutions for 2017 as I feel like stress has the way to sneak into our lives without inviting it with artificially made secret promises, but on the same note I hope that I, and people in general, will (or would start to) adamantly exercise critical thinking in their decision making. That is the only way to keep this sinking ship afloat!
So 2016... Thank you and jog on! Happy new year, everyone!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The End Times

Even though I have been venting bout this issue for a while now in my social media outlets and to anyone who has been in a conversation with me, I thought it best to write some thoughts down in ze blawg. If you feel that the recent events have been vented about enough in the media, read no further.
  Indeed, it turns out that hatred, intolerance, misogynism and bigotry are the hip way to go nowadays, regardless of country, region or continent. I recently read an article in The Huffington Post which suggested that the recent events are showing signs of a cyclic behavior of mankind's self-destruction and it is hard to disagree with such statements, even if the scenario provided here is not something that would come to be. I do not want to rant about president-elect Trump here as it is being done enough elsewhere. Both candidates have their flaws (which probably is a large reason for this result) as do both parties. The fact that Republicans won pretty much everything else on top of the presidency is what is unnerving me. I am not an American but a country that has a significant impact on the economy, world peace and a lot of other things is now ran by a backwards conservative party lead by a misogynistic clown who would make the Joker jealous - might literally set the country back decades in terms of basic human rights (among other things) not to mention these effects rippling through to the rest of the world. It is depressing, or as one fine president-elect once said "Sad."
  It would be unfair to say that everyone who voted for him, voted for him for the reasons I listed above though. As a matter of fact, many probably voted him despite those qualities which should be equally concerning to people. There are quite a few ways to describe the colossal mistakes that were made that eventually lead to this outcome (which are rather well covered by people smarter than me in this regard).

  That being said, the global scale of populist victories should also be alarming to people, yet the vast majority (as was proven in the dark year of 2016 upon which the historians will look and laugh or cry (or both), assuming everyone's not dead yet) appears to be acting on emotion over rational thought. This has always been a problem of course, but it has been quite a while since it had the whole world go this crazy. By most metrics, conditions are better than before but people are increasingly unhappy. Economy's not doing super great but cutting down expenses at the cost of privileges just will not do and everything was better before and it is time FOR CHANGE!! It is rather tragicomic that the needed change generates resistance that manifests in frustration that manifests in people wanting change in the system that is trying to apply the change the people need. Since, for the most part, this is unfounded - it is an easy source for populists to tap into as it is easy to promise change without any concrete promises on what that means. Coated with nostalgia of how things were better before as human mind tends to alleviate the pain from negative memories over time - which is a sort of built-in survival mechanism of the human brain - and we have an unstoppable force driven by no meaningful meaning and an infinite amount of power originating from this seemingly paradoxical wheel of frustration.
  It is a difficult nut to crack obviously. Humans are hardwired to care about their near vicinity and loved ones and we are not properly equipped to handle all the trouble in the world. I have never felt like this about foreign politics before and I can't say I like the feeling. One of the troublesome aspects of solving this issue is that people on the average seem (to me) to be concerned with the bigger picture only when the bigger picture is directly affecting them in a negative manner. Oftentimes, this is when the fecal matter has already collided with the blade of the fan and they are just getting some of the splash.


Supposedly though, not all is lost yet and we should simply see what is going to happen and keep up the good fight in the hope of the good guys winning in real life as they often do in movies. Having recovered from the initial shock, I at least have some hope now. Maybe.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sick Dolls, Good Times

  As promised (threatened?), this one will be a more music oriented blog post. One of the first things when arriving here was to find a new piano teacher as I feel that this is the only way for me to achieve my maximum potential as a "pianist" (I use that word quite loosely in the current state of affairs). I want to be able to play at least some of the songs I find more impressive and relate to in their melancholic desolation.
  I feel like I am learning a lot about music during these lessons and this is a huge source of inspiration for me. I do not mean simply in the means of technique for the piano but getting a grasp of some of the ideas behind the sheet of music, such as multiple melodic lines emerging from something played with only one hand, accented notes (and how to play them or at least some ideas to it), articulation, phrases and so forth. I know I am just scratching the surface here, but having read about some theory before now gets practical context and the "ohh, that's what it means!" is a very common and rewarding feeling during these lessons. It also helps that my teacher appears to be classically aligned, so there are a lot of insights to be gained for me.
  Whilst rehearsing scales, chords and arpeggios can be tedious at times, I have also been putting work into Tchaikovsky's "The Sick Doll" from the Album for the Young (totally makes me feel younger as well!). The greatest thing about this piece, besides it being a composition of one of the greats of the late Romantic Era, is the fact that despite its relatively simple notation, it can teach a lot about depth in how you choose to play it. My first rendition of it did not sound so bad back then (also it will never be published), but having recorded it and listened to it a few weeks later, the difference is staggering and indeed I was butchering the piece beyond all measurements. With the hopes of one day being able to play something by Rachmaninoff (yet that is a topic for another post, as is my obsession with his work), being able to play something by the more considerate romantic composers is a great way to maintain motivation. By "more considerate" I am referring to composers such as Schumann and Tchaikovsky who were kind enough to compose pieces that can be played with less than 8 years of vigorous piano study and practice.
  The Sick Doll (Op. 39 No. 7) is a sad yet beautiful piece. I would argue that it is too sad for dolls, being children's toys, are supposed to get better. My impression is that this one does not though, since the next piece on the same album is called The Doll's Funeral (No. 8) which has some remarkable resemblance to the funeral march we all know too well. This is also the first piece I publish that I played myself as I am not tremendously ashamed of how this particular recording turned out. It was also the first recording with my new recording hardware so it makes it somewhat more special in a very minor way.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Almost Estonian

Arriving here for the first time knowing that there was now apartment to go back to in Finland did cause me some anxiety and being sleep deprived, I felt almost scared for a while here - inside the apartment. This was a really weird experience for me. To follow this up, the following morning I, for the first time ever, experienced sleep paralysis. It is a dreamlike state in which one is awake, but unable to move, often accompanied with some form of scary feeling, or even hallucinations. For me, it was this feeling of someone malevolent being in the same room, but with no sensory hallucinations to affirm this feeling. As far as I know, sleep deprivation and stress can cause this, but having had both of them in large dozes before, you would think this would have happened before but it had not. I would prefer for it to not happen again either.
  Since then, things have been running smoother and smoother. Having become familiar with my new apartment, I no longer feel such anxiety. With most of the bureaucrazy done, I have gotten rid of a lot of the related stress and this is starting to feel like the place I want and should be in. To an extent, this is advancing faster than I thought that it perhaps would be. I no longer feel like I'm just visiting here.
   Yet, there is still much to do before one can actually just sit down and relax without a worry in the world. It remains to be seen whether this tranquility can actually be found here, or elsewhere as I can only recall one such moment from my adult life, but I know I am progressively working towards it now. Today, for the first time since I came here, I felt like I am closer to "winning".
   Since I came here, I have set up a company (which despite low amount of bureaucracy in Estonia has been a bit of a hassle), found a piano teacher and got a residence permit, ID card and a maid. And that's on the side of Estonia. It is immensely liberating to let go of one's old place and realize that you are not going back to that place. The effect is obviously somewhat grander when it is also a different country.


Autumn cometh

A photo posted by Sami Anttila (@muhwu) on


I will probably write another post this week (as I already started) and it will be about music. Not sure whether that constitutes a hype or a warning, but I will let anyone judge by themselves.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Starting a new chapter in Life

We rarely have time to stop and reflect. Having survived an emotionally straining period of my life, I had nothing but that, whether I wanted or not. The quiet suppression of negative emotions built up and manifested itself as frustration, often towards almost everything. The deteriorating socioeconomic state, over-representation of extremism at the face of an international crisis and the population's reactions to all this were all simply draining. The feeling that we, as a society, are suddenly declining, abandoning critical thinking and replacing it with populism and obvious asshat leaders as our way to protest to the system. Feeling like an observer to all this during an already stressful period in my life felt frustrating at best and insurmountable at worst. This passive approach lead to unhappiness in more than one way, even depression. Unhealthy coping mechanisms were proving to be just that: unhealthy. That is to say, until I picked up the piano.
   It had long been a dream of mine to "go back" to it, to play again and after listening to some classical compositions, most notably Valentina Lisitsa's rendition of the 3rd movement of Mozart's Moonlight Sonata, I was greatly inspired to start again. Finally, I got the final push when my sister came to me all hyped up about how she had tried an electric piano and how the feel of it was much like that of a real one. Whilst I know very little of the actual instruments and the differences between them, this enthusiasm motivated me to get my own.
   Whilst still a novice, only having played keyboard/synthesizer in my youth, I was profoundly inspired to learn. This therapeutic hobby of solitude and beauty could in its way amend the wounds of times past and consequently reward persistence in an acquired skill respected by the many. It was the perfect past-time for me. In order to move things along I also got a teacher to help me out as the speed of attempting to learn alone did come near the requirements of my motivation and ambition.
   Feeling more in the uppety-up again, I started fighting off my crippling social anxiety and meeting new people. This gave me strength and motivation and somewhere along the way I found the courage to finally realize another long-time dream of mine: moving abroad. As the final date of relocation drew near, I was filled with excitement as Estonia awaited.
   Granted it is nearly not abroad from a geographical standpoint but the implications in terms of a fresh start and a new environment heavily out-weight the actual difference in the geographical distance. Like a lot of good things in life, one must simply ignore the natural fear response of the brain and take that one decisive step towards new adventures.
   So here I gently tread along the bricked path with the serene Ülejoe to my right, a gorgeous park to my left, my past behind and my new life ahead!

A photo posted by Sami Anttila (@muhwu) on

Problemaninoff

Turns out my weekly recaps did not become a thing as there's seldom enough time for such matters. However, I figured I'd write a pos...