Corrinne's Musings - A singer-songwriter's life.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I write songs, I sing them... I play the piano and a little bit of the guitar.. I've released 5 albums of music, I love the scent of freshly fallen rain and the scent of lavender on bedsheets. I would drink tea all day long if the caffeine didn't keep me up at night. I hate driving in L.A traffic. I would love to one day catch the squirrel that steals the plums from my tree and make him a pet. I don't watch TV anymore. My 3 year old daughter is more entertaining than any TV show could ever be :)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Watching and Waiting

This sitting down, sifting through non-existent ideas for new songs...
this season of dryness, gets frustrating.
Yes, everything has a season. Perhaps we all need the time
to fallow. Maybe what is not apparent is growing below the soil,
spreading roots, setting the foundation for a tree; a tree that
will bear fruit when the time is right.

The important thing is to be consistent and just to put in the time.

So here I am, sitting and warming this seat with my behind,
perhaps the way a chicken or a sparrow sits nesting eggs,
knowing that one day, tiny hatchlings will crack open
these shells.

It's like fishing too. The results are not immediately
apparent, but require a fair amount of patience, of
baiting the hook, sinking the line, and waiting...and waiting...

Maybe there's something to learn from the disciples' experience.
They caught a lot of fishes, almost too much for their nets
to bear, whenever Jesus was with them. When the Lord told them
to haul their nets up, they did, with good results.

So perhaps it can be said that fruitfulness comes in partnership with the Lord;
in listening to Him, in being watchful and in waiting, in being obedient
to haul up the nets when He says it's a good time to; in having enough
strength to do so; in training and preparing for the right time, the right moment.

postscript :
My mum with a fish at Tekka Market in Singapore *grin*

Food makes the world go round

My mum, buying vegetables from a wet market in Singapore

Spices in a spice shop in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market

A variety of food at the Reading Terminal Market

Amish Apple Dumplings

I love going to the market. Be it a neighbourhood farmer's market in Singapore like Tekka Market, the Pike Place Market in Seattle or the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles on 3rd and Fairfax, I love the way that cultures, spices and scents mix and mingle in a heady tapestry...

Growing up in Singapore, I often heard Indian hawkers speaking in Chinese dialects, or Chinese hawkers touting their wares in Malay. I love the fusion that ensues in multi-cultural Singapore.

Even here in Los Angeles, I've picked up a couple of choice greetings in Spanish, I've acquired a taste for tamales and tacos, buy pastries from a Iranian pastry shop, and have a bowl of Japanese Ramen noodles every now and then.

I was in Philadelphia last year, and I made it a point to visit the Reading Terminal Market. I was delighted by what I saw : Amish apple pie, European crepes, Indian Paneer, Cajun catfish...

And the list of shops read like a United Nations of Food : Sang Kee Peking Duck, Spatoro's Cheesesteak, Lancaster County Dairy, Dutch Eating place, Kamal's Middle Easter Specialities, Profi's Creperia, Nanee's Kitchen (Indian Food), Little Thai Market, Le Bus Bakery.

I wandered and let myself be led where my senses took me and ended up in a spice shop where I found Sweet Hungarian Paprika, Turkish Apricots, Garam Masala, Apple Pie Spice, Taco Seasoning, Agar-Agar Powder (swallow Globe Brand), Worcestershire Sauce, African Red Pepper Mombosa, Japanese Sakura Cherry Blossoms, Sulawesi Toraja, all sitting together comfortably on the shelves.

This would be the ideal world, of shared food, shared smiles, all cultures and people in one nice warm brickhouse, coming together for food, conversation, commerce and laughter.

Maybe the United Nations should just get rid of their nice sterile building and opt to have their meetings in a farmer's market instead. :)


Saturday, April 07, 2007

An Easter Reflection

"If the canvas on which an artist paints could think and speak,
certainly it wouldn't complain about constantly being touched
and retouched by a brush,
and neither would it envy the role of that instrument,
because it would know that it is not to the brush
but to the artist that directs it that it owes the beauty that it bears.
As to the brush, it couldn't take glory in the masterpiece that it has made.
It knows that artists aren't inconvenienced : They make child's play of difficulties, taking pleasure in sometimes choosing instruments that are weak and defective..."
- St. Therese of Liseux.

I'm really enjoying St. Therese's autobiography, 'The Story of a Soul'.
I love her child-like nature, her metaphors, full of richness.

So here I am, thinking more about what she said about how,
being instruments, we should not take pride in our own abilities,
but rejoice that we have a wonderful artist
who knows how to make use of us in the best way possible.

I thought about how cheaply bought instruments,
like the Pearl River pianos, or the $1.99 harmonicas...
often break down after a while and a good artist,
though he can still make use of them to paint or create a masterpiece,
cannot make the best music that can be played on better instruments,
like the Steinways or Bosendorfers of the piano world,
which are sensitive to the Master's touch
and which work to enhance the Master's artistry.

We were not bought cheaply.
We were paid for by His blood...His sacrifice...
His pain...His sufferings, His cross...His death.
We are the most exquisite instruments that even money cannot buy.

He wanted us, so much so that He paid the ultimate price.
And so it goes, we are instruments that are powerfully made.
Each of us, an instrument with a purpose, each of us,
a part of His symphony.
Each of us, a one-of-a-kind creation.


First Rose of Spring

First Rose Blossom in Spring -

How happy you are to
see the sun and to
finally open your face
to the wind's caress.
To scent the air
and colour my garden.
This burst of life,
here just for a few days,
immortalised in digital pixels.

Kindling Fire

Thinking about this dry period of creativity,
the watching and the waiting...
and remembering that sometimes you need the extreme dryness
in order to catch fire and burn brightly. Just like a burning bush...

Perhaps that's the way it is with us.

When we are feeling dry, spiritually and creatively...
when we've reached an absolute dryness,
the spirit comes and uses our dryness
to burn an intense fire within us.
There is always hope.

For without that dryness,
the fire would not kindle as quickly,
nor burn as brightly.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Lenten Labyrinth

"The Labyrinth is not a maze. Mazes are meant to cause
us to lose our way; Labyrinths are meant to help us find it.
There is one path that leads into the center and the same path
leads out. The path is not linear (ie., it does not move from the outer path of the circle directly toward the inner path of the circle). Rather, at times when we are the closest to the center on the path, we may actually be farthest from the center distance-wise."
(Taken from 'A Brief Introduction To The Labyrinth')

"God of life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and wear us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies gray and threatening; when our lives have no music in them and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, we beseech you; turn our eyes to where the skies are full of promise,"
-St. Augustine.

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12


I went for a Lenten Labyrinth Prayer walk the other day
and it brought me much comfort and peace.

Two big Labyrinths painted on fabric were laid out in the church hall, and the hall was softly lit by candlelight. One by one, we were sent into the Labyrinth, to walk along the narrow, winding pathways, the twists and turns, the very metaphor of our life's journey, laid out in cloth beneath my feet.

There were people ahead of me and behind me, all at different stages, around different turns, all walking the same path.

As I walked barefoot with measured steps within the narrow path,
I was suddenly embraced by the memory of myself as a toddler, reaching up and taking my dad's hand in the midst of a crowded shopping centre.

It was a memory from so long ago, but it brought back that same feeling of being safe and protected and comforted. Just by holding on to that hand, I knew that I would be guided to safety. And my eyes welled with tears.

I am never alone on this path. His hand is ever by my side.
All I have to do is to reach out, to reach up, to hold, to grasp
his big hand. And just like a parent holds the hand of a stumbling toddler and walks along with him, I know that He will never let go of me, unless I struggle to let go of His hand. I may fall, I may stumble, but His ever loving gaze is always upon me. He is ever present by my side.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Piano Sonata

"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist,
and the less the artist does the better." - Andre Gide

I was delighted to finally catch a concert at the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall the other day when my good friend Dan invited me to catch a piano concert by celebrated pianist Alfred Brendel.

It is a beautiful concert hall. Full of curved, wave-like
wood ceiling finishes

and shiny metal pipes bursting forth from the
built-in organ on one end of the hall.

The gleaming, majestic piano sat in the middle of the stage,
proudly lit in fiery orange-yellow lights. It sat there, silently
waiting for the pianist to come out on stage to caress its keys,
so that it could breathe new life into the Mozart, Beethoven and
Schumann pieces that were scheduled for the concert programme that night.

Alfred Brendel soon walked out on stage to loud applause and
the lights dimmed as he sat at the piano and began to masterfully
and delicately play.

He made that piano sing.
And as the notes from the piano dipped and flew,
a thought came to mind.

I thought about what St. Therese of Liseux had said about us being
mere instruments, about how we cannot take pride in ourselves as
instruments. For without a master to use us, what are we
but silent and unplayed, collecting dust in some hall.

If God is the pianist and we are his keys, ("Ebony and Ivory, live together in perfect harmony,side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we?"- Stevie Wonder), then how beautiful we sound when we are all playing the notes of a wonderful chord together, in harmony.

How beautiful the sound of an instrument that yields to a masterful touch,where the keys are smooth, and don't stick or obstruct the fingers of the artist in any way.

How beautiful the song that is played, when the artistry of the master is facilitated by an instrument that doesn't hinder the artistry in any way, but sings fully with all the resonance with which it was made to sing.

Alfred Brendal weaved his way through all the sections of the sonata,
making the piano sometimes weep, and sometimes shout with joy.

Our lives, our histories are like songs. Like sonatas.
Just as a piano sonata has a structure and a song has a song form,
different musical sections are often needed to make the song
breathe with beautiful colour and contrast.

Major has to turn into minor, consonance to dissonance, short
to long,...just like the story of human existence and history;
nothing stays the same for too long.

Our history is pockmarked with the undulations of war and peace,
of harmony and dischord, and while we are in our own time,
singing the notes we have been given,
we have no clue as to how the whole piece will play out.

But just as every song has a beginning and an end,
I'm sure there will be an awesome modulation or key change at the end of time,
as the whole of creation will be awestruck
at how perfect the whole song shall be,
as how only God knows it will be.

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