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Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts

Monday, August 7, 2017

Codes and Antlers Abound at a Coca-Cola China Promotion in Bengbu

Coca-Cola promotion in Bengbu, China
Coca-Cola promotional event in Bengbu, China

For this year's summer campaign, Coca-Cola China with the help of McCann World group rolled out new packaging called the "Code bottle":
Cia Hatzi, McCann Worldgroup Regional Vice President for Coca-Cola said, "The codes include more than just emoticons, but also numbers mixed with characters and graphics. When communication involves feelings and emotions, we can turn conversations into real connections, which is the role Coca-Cola can help facilitate.”

The campaign debuts with two films that will run on both TV and digital platforms. The stories focus on friendship and romance, two themes which appeal to Chinese youth. The first spot, “Friend Hunt” [which came out in June] centers around an invitation, using codes, to connect with friends for a special moment. . . .

The second film, “Break-up”, [which came out in July] incorporates codes for consumers to trace a young couple’s relationship journey, from the first time they met, to their first date, first kiss, first fight and first break-up, and ultimately how they reconcile over a bottle of Coke.


Versions of both ads were displayed yesterday in a Coca-Cola promotional event at the Intime City (银泰城) shopping center in Bengbu, Anhui province. The last time I took a close look at a similar Coca-Cola promotion, I possibly came close to destroying one of the displays due to incorrectly believing the intended interaction involved slamming a red target as hard as one could. This time I decided to avoid any undesired feats of strength and just observed.

In addition to the large video screen, there were interactive booths, none of which even to me looked like they required any hitting.

Booths at a Coca-Cola promotion in Bengbu, China


The more stations visitors attended, the bigger of a gift they could receive in return. For example, with a stamp from one station visitors could get a small bottle of Coke. With five stamps, though, visitors could use a machine which produced a large Code bottle according to their own specifications. The station with the longest line was a virtual reality ride.

virtual reality ride and large video screen at Coca-Cola promotion in Bengbu, China


Also popular was a money grabbing booth which somewhat ineffectively blew paper tokens instead of money.

kids in a money blowing machine at a Coca-Cola promotion


Of course there was plenty of Coke around.

Coca-Cola bottles with deer antler caps


And at least some of the part-time staff were college students.

two young women wearing deer antlers and one young man at a Coca-Cola promotion in Bengbu, China


The full festivities lasted just one day, and today only a scaled-down version remained.

smaller version of Coca-Cola promotion in Bengbu, China


All of the red deer antlers on displays, bottles, and heads of female staff aren't signs of Coca-Cola getting into the winter holiday spirit way too early. Instead, they are an integral part of this and other Coco-Cola promotions featuring the popular Chinese singer and actor Lu Han, who is the main character in the "Friend Hunt" ad. The character for "Lu" — 鹿 — in his name means "deer" and many of his fans wear deer antlers to show their support. One of Lu Han's performances in Beijing even set a Guinness World Records title for "largest gathering of people wearing antlers" with 1,731 participating. For context, this number surpasses the world record for "most dogs in costumed attire", which was set by 1326 dogs in St. Louis, USA, but falls well short of the world record for "largest gathering of people wearing false moustaches", which was set by 6,471 humans in Denver, USA.

In addition to the antlers, the displays include other references to Lu Han, such as the Shanghai mailbox he made famous. So along with the codes, there was no shortage of symbolism. The event seemed to be a success in terms of turnout yesterday. They may have hoped for a slightly larger crowd when I happened to be observing, but many more people would have made it difficult to move around and participate.

After conversations with some of the staff, I was given an small ice cold bottle of Coke. Perhaps they felt I had interacted enough despite not participating at any of the stations. Perhaps they were just happy I didn't mistake anything for a strength tester this time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Chinese Media Quiet About Putin's Surprise Performance on the State Guesthouse's Rather Out of Tune Piano

While waiting to meet China's president Xi Jinping, Russia's president Vladimir Putin played two pieces on a piano at the historic Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

T

The performance was shared by a variety of news outlets, including Russian new outlets as in the above video posted on YouTube by the Russian government funded RT news. But The New York Times reported one notable set of news outlets declined highlighting the performance:
Chinese propaganda chiefs did not appear to be amused that Mr. Xi had been upstaged to some extent at his own conference, and the official Chinese news media pointedly made little mention of the piano performance.
After watching the video, I wasn't at all surprised by the lack of official Chinese commentary on Putin's musical display, though I am not sure Putin's performance potentially upstaging Xi was the only or even main issue. The Chinese propaganda chiefs had another reason to be concerned.

While the small grand piano may look great sitting in the large formal room, it is terribly out of tune. Presumably this is not due to poor tuning (I can't imagine a professional tuner leaving a piano in that state) but due to a lack of tuning. Perhaps it doesn't strongly jump out to many people. Any of the news articles I have read don't mention it at all. But the tuning should make any trained musician cringe. Back when I studied music performance at a conservatory, I wouldn't have even practiced with a piano in that condition. I can't imagine anybody would have.  Putin himself possibly knowingly reacts to an especially offending key early on (see the 11 sec mark in the above video) but continues on . . . diplomatically.

So it is very possible, in fact I hope likely, that some relevant people on the Chinese side recognized they essentially invited the President of Russia to play on a piano in a condition not fit for a middle school performance. While they may not have been sure how many people would notice, they wouldn't want to drawing any attention to the fact that some things are not as harmonious as they may appear.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Birthday Fanfare for the Common Man

I haven't done a music-related post in a long time. I thought of this because it was recently brought to my attention today is American composer Aaron Copland's birthday. He lived from November 14, 1900, to December 2, 1990.

So below is a video of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man (1942). A portion of the piece was performed at the celebration for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States in 2009. The recording below is from farther in the past — 1958. Leonard Bernstein provides a brief introduction before Aaron Copland himself conducts the New York Philharmonic.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Play, Chainsaws, and Smashing Ukeleles in Taiyuan

billboard advertisement for a performance by Jolin Tsai (蔡依林) in Taiyuan

In a section of Taiyuan with several newer shopping centers, over a month ago I saw the above advertisement for Taiwanese pop star Jolin Tsai's (蔡依林) concert featuring music from her most recent album "Play". A concert poster with a fuller image reveals that Tsai is destroying a disco ball.

concert poster for Jolin Tsai's "Play" performance in Taiyuan
Source

I am guessing that Tsai didn't really put herself at risk of being cut by flying disco ball shards, no matter what her feelings towards disco balls may be.

Whatever the case, the video for the song "Play" is remarkable. So much happens that I don't even know where to begin. In the 2014 piece "Asia’s Dancing Queen May Have Given Us the Year’s Best Pop Music Video" in Time, Nolan Feeney highlighted some key parts:
Nudity, aerobics-inspired choreography and fantastical colors all play major roles in the Sims-inspired clip. Also, someone gets hit in the face with a ukelele, so there’s that, too.
The scenes with apparent nudity are appropriately blurred, so the video should be safe for work as long as a company doesn't have a strict ukelele-violence policy. The official YouTube version doesn't include English subtitles, but this video does (may need to click "CC" to turn them on):


For those in the U.S. now wishing they could see the Play World Tour live, you missed a big chance. Tsai performed in Atlantic City earlier this year.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hearing Kinmen

Beishan Broadcasting Wall (北山播音牆) in Kinmen


Only a few miles across the water from mainland China, the Beishan Broadcasting Wall (北山播音牆) in non-communist-controlled Kinmen County:
. . . stands on a cliff right by the sea. The concrete wall boasts 48 speakers, each with a reported range of 25km, that used to crank out propaganda like 'Our steamed buns are bigger than your pillows!' to the communists. These days, the speakers prefer the more mellow numbers of the late Teresa Tang, Taiwan’s best-loved songbird.
Unfortunately, they didn't turn on the three-stories of speakers to broadcast Teresa Teng's message and songs at a non-deafening volume during my visit to the wall.

The following two minute video offers additional information about the structure's capabilities, perspective on its size, and a translation of Teng's message:




Another video offers a purer form of Teng's message and singing without anyone speaking over it:



On the side, I have yet to see a steamed bun the size of a pillow.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Future Seen Higher at Future Dancehall in Hong Kong

As a result of a good friend's wedding, I spent the New Year holiday in Hong Kong. I won't be here long, so I expect to only do a few HK-themed posts before returning to other topics. In that spirit and on the lighter side, here's some advertising I saw today in Hong Kong:

musical event advertising posters in Hong Kong


For a clearer view, here's an online version of the advertisement which caught my eye:

Future Dance Hall New Year's 2016 Promotion

There's just so much going on I don't know where to begin. So I won't. Like the scene of lightsabers during New Year's in Hong Kong, I will leave it to readers to ponder what may have inspired it or find any meaning. If you're interested in digging deeper, the associated event page on Facebook (the source for the 2nd image) is probably a decent place to start. It helped me answer a few of my questions. It also led to new ones. That's often how these things go.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Two More Mobile Moments on Stringless Sculpture in Changsha

The stringless serenade never ends — neither do the opportunities to sit and check your mobile phone.

two females using mobile phones and sitting on chairs which are part of sculpture


I'm less sure about what the other statue is doing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two Mobile Moments on Stringless Sculptures in Changsha

Earlier this year at pedestrian street in Changsha I considered "the competing interests between those who wish to use a suitable sculpture for an extended period of time as a place to sit with others who desire to use it more fleetingly for photos". When I stopped by a shopping center during a recent day in Changsha, I saw people using two previously-noticed sculptures with stringless string instruments for the former purpose.

man looking at his mobile phone while sitting on a sculpture of chairs with a harp in Changsha

female looking at her mobile phone while sitting on a sculpture of chairs and a serenading violinist in Changsha

In both cases, not only was someone taking advantage of a place to sit but their attention was focused on a mobile phone – a theme for some future posts about Changsha.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bowless and Stringless Statues in Changsha

Since I broached the topic of string players yesterday, it is an opportune time to mention two statues of string players I have seen in Changsha.

The much larger statue is titled "Liuyang River" and was erected at Furong Square in 2002.

The Liuyang River (浏阳河) statue — a woman playing a violin but without a bow — at Furong Square


The second statue is at the back of the Kaifu Wanda Plaza shopping center.

statue of a man playing a violin next to a table and chairs behind Kaifu Wanda Plaza

I didn't see a name for it.

Both statues caught my eye since the violinists are missing their bows, which would make it rather hard for them to make music given their arm positions. Additionally, the larger violin had no strings and the smaller violin had broken strings. That said, just being statues is a rather significant obstacle to overcome in itself. I can't rule out artistic motivations, but I assume the bows are missing for pragmatic reasons. It doesn't feel the same without a bow though.

Also behind Kaifu Wanda Plaza is a statue sculpture of a stringless harp.

statue of stringless harp with two chairs, one of which is occupied by a real man sitting informally

It shows signs it once had strings or something to represent strings. Given the number of people interested in having themselves photographed interacting with it and the nearby violinist statue, I can't say I am surprised by their current state.


Added note: No, the man in the chair is not posing for a photograph. He is simply taking advantage of a place to sit — a common sight for the times I have passed by.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Musical Suona Moments in China and Canada

The video in the previous post may have been a jolt for readers expecting something more . . . Chinese. So to help soothe any frayed nerves, here is a man I saw playing the suona, a Chinese double-reeded horn, at Chengnan Park in Shaoyang, Hunan:

man playing the suona surrounded by greenery at Chengnan Park in Shaoyang, Hunan


For some music, instead of abruptly switching back to a fully China-themed post and possibly shocking some readers with yet another big change, I will share a duet which includes both Eastern and Western instruments performed by Zhongxi Wu and David All in British Columbia, Canada. The tempo picks up significantly around the 1:30 mark.


[on YouTube]

I feel safe saying that is the best suona and bagpipe duet performance I have ever heard.

Seeing Fame in Changsha

A bit of fame I saw Saturday night in Changsha:

young man wearing shirt with "FAME 08" on the back with a young woman


A bit of Fame I didn't see (or hear) Saturday night in Changsha:


[on YouTube]


In fact, I have never seen dancing like that (it really gets going just after one minute into the video) any night in Changsha. I have seen other styles of choreographed dancing here, though, including at the previously described pole dancing school. More about the non-pole style of dancing I have seen, often as part of mobile phone promotions, another time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Little By Little: More Expression at a Hong Kong Pier

Where there was a temporary Tiananmen memorial in Hong Kong earlier this week, today the pedestrian area was back to its usual state.

people walking at the Kowloon Public Pier


Nearby, also as usual, several musical groups were performing — including Poco A Poco.

musical group Poco A Poco performing at the Kowloon Public Pier

Next to their sign was a QR code to the Poco A Poco Facebook page which expresses:
Positive Message x Hong Kong!
Spread Love
Spread Smile
Spread Happiness
Although their goals differ from those who built the memorial, Poco A Poco's use of Facebook, popular in Hong Kong but blocked in mainland China, is also a sign of how there is less censorship and more free expression in Hong Kong than almost everywhere else in China.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Police, Models, and a Violinist: Two Chongqing Trios

This afternoon near the New Century Department Store in Chongqing's Dadukou district I saw three People's Armed Police marching up and down a pedestrian street.

Three male People's Armed Police at a shopping street in Dadukou, Chongqing

At least two appeared to be armed with large weapons.

Four minutes later, after stepping off an escalator inside the New Century Department Store I saw two models and a violinist performing music accompanied by a recording.

two female models and a female violinist wearing a gold sparkly dress in a Chongqing department store

Presumably they were part of a fourth anniversary store promotion.

In some ways the two sights couldn't contrast more strongly, especially seeing them so close together. But both touch on themes in China I have noticed and pondered. And both brought to mind many similar things I have seen in China in the past.

They don't always come in trios though.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Activities At Scenic Chaotianmen: Outdoor Karaoke

At the scenic Chaotianmen docks in Chongqing yesterday, I saw two men setting up a portable karaoke system in front of a scene which has changed significantly during the past 6 years.

man setting up a portable karaoke station at Chaotianmen.


Elsewhere at the docks, I saw another man showcasing his karaoke offerings as well.

man singing at a temporary karaoke station on the steps at Chaotianmen Dock.


Nearby on the steps, I spoke to two college students visiting from Xi'an, China, wearing newly purchased flower headbands.

two Chinese female college students wearing flower headbands


When I later walked by the same area again, the students were the first paying customers I saw at the temporary karaoke stations.

female college student singing karaoke outdoors at Chaotianmen Docks


For singing two songs, they paid 10 RMB (about US $1.60).

Activity at the outdoor karaoke stations may have picked in the evening when people come for river cruises to take in more of the city's rapidly evolving skyline lit up at night.

Monday, December 15, 2014

China's National Anthem Ban

China has expressed its concern about when and where the national anthem is played:
China has banned the national anthem from being performed at weddings, funerals, commercial and other non-political events, state media reports.

Under new rules, the anthem is to be reserved for major political and diplomatic occasions, as well as places such as sporting arenas and schools.
Performing the anthem in the wrong setting will lead to people being "criticised and corrected". I am not sure how the rules apply if a wedding is held at a sports arena.

I see a bit of irony in China banning only its own national anthem and am reminded of an event in China several years ago which involved another patriotic song:
China's state TV accompanied coverage of the historic launch of the country's first space laboratory with a patriotic US song, America the Beautiful. . . .

Viewers of CCTV were treated to a minute-long animation set to the American song.
I suspect some criticism and correction occurred at CCTV's offices afterwards. Regardless, China has not announced any bans on America the Beautiful—something wedding and funeral planners might want to keep in mind. As CCTV knows, it's a great piece.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dance Dance Revolution from Shanghai to 1812

Dance games similar to Dance Dance Revolution are popular in many video arcades I have seen in China. An arcade in the trendy underground D Mall in Shanghai has several. When I took a look today, most were in use, and some had people sitting in a row of chairs waiting to play.

people playing a dance video game in D-Mall in Shanghai

people playing dance video games in D-Mall in Shanghai

girl wearing a face mask playing Dance Evolution at D-Mall in Shanghai


Dancing games aren't my thing, so I didn't jump in. But recently a new online version of Dance Dance Revolution caught my interest.

screen shot from Dance Dance Revolution: 1812 Overture Edition

As described in Classic FM:
Ever wanted to be in the percussion section of an orchestra for the epic final bars of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture? Who wouldn't? All those firing cannons, thundering drums and crashing cymbals are just fantastic. Not to mention the full orchestra and rapturous audience in front of you.

The viral news site Us vs Th3m has created a game that lets you control the greatest percussive cacophony in music history.
I am not convinced the 1812 Overture is the greatest percussive cacophony in music history, but it makes a great choice for the game. Given my musical training, at first I found it odd I wasn't able to achieve a perfect score. The excerpt is not unusually difficult compared to other classical music, and the game allows a far greater degree of rhythmic freedom than most conductors would deem acceptable. After focusing on the music instead of the screen, I realized the visual cues, which aren't the way I am used to reading music, were sometimes causing me to hit the keys more quickly than the actual rhythms. So I tried playing more "by ear". My performance immediately improved, and I found 1812 glory. Perhaps there are some interesting perceptual/cognitive/motor issues to explore.

Whatever the case, you can play "Dance Dance Revolution: 1812 Overture Edition" here. Bonus points if you can explain how it is possible to score higher than the perfect score of 1812*.



* I have scored 1844, and see others have as well, but not sure how. I suspect it involves the series of triplets in the cymbal crashes.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Taiwanese Politician Wants People to "Lean on Me"

While no other political signs in Taiwan have caught my attention as much as Lin Jinjie's (林金結) Barack Obama signs, one set comes in a clear second for their use of a familiar-to-many phrase.

Like Lin Jinjie (林金結), Ye Linchuan (葉林傳) is a member of Taiwan's Kuomintang party and he has his own page on Facebook. Unlike Lin, Ye is a council member in Taipei City and his signs do not include Barack Obama. Instead, at least some include the title of a song from the 70s by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. Lest there be any doubt about the source of the phrase, the lyrics to the song "Lean On Me" appear in light lettering on the sign as well.

Lean on Me campaign sign for Ye Linchuan (葉林傳) in Taipei City

Lean on Me campaign sign for Ye Linchuan (葉林傳) in Taipei City at night


Not only did I see Ye employing this theme on several signs in Taipei, but I also saw it on the tissue boxes at a restaurant where I sometimes eat Taiwanese-style cold sesame noodles for breakfast.

Lean on Me tissue box for Ye Linchuan (葉林傳) next to a plate of sesame sauce noodles

As I am not familiar enough with Ye or local Taipei politics, I will refrain from commenting on the effectiveness of Ye's campaign tactics.

I will say, though, that the noodles were tasty.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

(I Believe That) I Like "Esa-Pekka's Verse" by Apple

ESPN's "I believe that we will win!" ad left me me a bit surprised and asking a few questions. Another ad I recently saw also left me surprised but did so in a rather positive manner.



The ad by Apple is remarkable for featuring Esa-Pekka Salonen, a conductor and composer of "contemporary classical" music. As Alex Ross notes, despite their incredible talents, artists like Salonen usually doesn't garner much mass-market attention. I would say more except that I don't need to, because Ross already wrote a great piece about the ad on The New Yorker.