Singing Positions

Disclaimer: I’m supposed to be studying over the summer to make sure I don’t lose anything in the chem and bio departments, so for anyone who doesn’t care about the basic anatomy lesson, skip to the next paragraph and the pictures that look like they’re from the ESC world.

Breathing, or more specifically, ventilation, is an active process. It takes energy. The diaphragm requires ATP in able to flatten, expand the volume of the thoracic chest cavity, and make the pressure lower than the air outside the body. This creates a gradient for the outside air to flow into the chest cavity (lungs), and we see that as inhalation. But in the case of singers, flattening the diaphragm isn’t enough. The external intercostal muscles are also used to expand the cavity outward, and combined with the diaphragm the singer can take a deep breath to sing that long note or increase the power in their voice.

It’s pretty obvious that most artists sing standing up, because that position allows the greatest thoracic cavity volume. (Yes, I chose the most literal song title on purpose.)

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While standing is the most common, it’s not the only position. Some decide that to squat…

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And others decide to kneel. While they’re not standing, their chest cavity isn’t really affected since their upper body is still upright.

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Sitting is also an option. I guess some people remembered that they sat down for choir practice and sang okay enough if they sat up straight. If they still inhale deeply enough, they can probably pull it off.

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But sometimes sitting down is the only option, especially in the case of irreversible motor nerve damage. In that case, their singing and breathing techniques have to change to fit their current condition, and sometimes it’s really noticeable that the thoracic cavity when sitting isn’t as large as when standing. As a result, there would be less power coming out if they wanted to maintain the long notes.

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Lying down is a good way for people to feel if they are inhaling deeply instead of just the basic diaphragm flattening. It’s apparently also another singing position that artists can choose. While meme makers have decided that artists sing lying down because they’re tired, it still takes as much energy as standing up.

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And of course, while some artists choose to move and let the background remain static, other artists choose to remain static in a really awkward position and let the backdrop move for them. I don’t know who else would want to sing when they’re in the middle of a sit-up outside of Sergey Lazarev though…

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Or who else outside of Tanja would do this:

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What happens when you write during a meltdown…

***Disclaimer: I wrote this when being in a really bad/unstable mood after being triggered and needed to vent out words. Bear in mind that not everything in this post will be coherent or be like my “regular” thoughts.

Singing along to Croatia’s 2006 entry almost always cheers me up, especially the “oh-oh-oh” part in the intro where I can sing as off-key as I want to. But we’re not here to talk about the song…

I sometimes call myself Štikla. Yes, it means stiletto/high-heel. Yes, it’s not even a real name and I don’t speak any Croatian (or any ex-Yugo language, or any Slavic language). Yes, it doesn’t really make sense because I hate wearing shoes and only tolerate them due to legal and/or safety reasons. I’ve also never worn heels for more than 30 seconds unless I’m at the store reminding myself why I wouldn’t want to wear them for a longer period of time. So why would it be this name?

Long story short, I called a beta-test ex-SO Duša due to working on my Balkan Ballad paper at the time, binge-listening to ‘Ajde Jano. Štikla just followed since it was the first word that sounded like a name. Two months passed and I called off the beta test due to lack of communication (and eventually finding out about being purple and cakey), but the name just stuck. And after using it for a while, I decided that Štikla actually works.

Despite never being diagnosed by a doctor/psychiatrist, I’m sure that there’s some chemical disaster in my head. I can’t concentrate unless I’m actually interested and I bury myself into the topic. I don’t have a filter when someone tells me off. The Ohrwurm Network constantly plays in the back of my head. I hear “The rest of the trays are 22 [cookies]” instead of “The rest of the trays are 20 [cookies], too” at the bakery. And half the time I feel like a zombie for no apparent reason. I’ve also taken around 25 online ADHD tests; they say people should get tested if they score a 20 or higher, and I keep scoring a consistent 35. So yay, it’s great. To make things even better, without my headphones I’m about as stable as a football (the American kind) player running in 6-inch heels. They say that 3 days I’m okay, 1 day I have an incident, and then I’m tolerable for 3 days again. But sometimes it just takes one word to knock me off, especially without my $8 psychiatrist pumping music into my ears.

In most cases I just want to sit down and listen to something to calm down and not think about anything surrounding me. Family members constantly tell me off, that because I don’t do well at uni, because I failed an exam partly from having a panic attack midway, that I wasted time following ESC (or really doing anything that isn’t studying/finding a job/being “productive”), that I don’t listen to instructions, that I’ve got the mental capacity of a 10-year-old who thinks she can do something just because she’s pushed electrons in orgo once or asked recent car problems. They call me ungrateful and lazy when I can’t think straight because I’m not over Estonia qualifying 1 day after the semi, or that I wasn’t doing my job when I wasn’t able to get EPA employees to sign petitions for the EPA (That’s illegal by the way).

Since I’m not diagnosed I try to self-medicate. I talk to myself, try to sing it away, write, work on the Eurovision Confessions queue. Sometimes it works when I’m alone. But when they’re around they then tell me to shut up, stop singing, quit being snarky, stop using any language that’s not English or Mandarin so I can’t fight back. My symps start firing at overload, and there’s absolutely no way to use the methods that CAPS or my neuroanatomy prof taught to breathe, count to ten, and starve out a panic attack. They’ll be standing in front of me when I try to go down the stairs, when I’m leaving the bathroom, when I’m in the kitchen making dinner, telling me off again and that everything I do is a waste of time. I’m sometimes less than 20 centimeters away from them, and I know I can push them down or close the door on them. I know what a kitchen knife can do while making a pot of stew. And yet I don’t do anything, because they’ll throw me out and I don’t have a stable enough income to make it by myself. Or they’ll call the police for bodily harm. I don’t want to cry but sometimes it comes out as voluntarily as breathing and swearing (and it’s just great that it leads to a blocked nose and inhibited breathing in about 15 seconds); I shake on the inside like the Spitak earthquake of 1988.

I just want to talk to someone else outside of the family and vent it all out over coffee. Or go to an open mike night and sing it out, the bright lights blinding me so I can’t see the audience while singing off-key. Or maybe even just stand outside at 3AM and let out the loudest scream in the world for the darkness to take away all the pain. But no, I’m still at home, I can’t even mutter minced swears. I can only stay silent with a blank face, hoping that Constellation Prize starts playing on the Ohrwurm Network, thinking to myself, “If you don’t want to see me, go blind. If you don’t want to hear me, go deaf. I can’t move anyways.” I consider for a few seconds whether it’s a good idea to do that, and I quickly shake off the thought, reminding myself that I won’t be able to follow the next year’s Eurovision or watch South Park if I follow through.

Or in the worst case scenario, I’d learn to wear heels. Bare feet don’t do much damage when stepping on someone. Heels do. And you never know when that would come in handy.

***After reading this through a few times, I’m going to keep this post as a record in case I get to actually see someone about this.

 

2017 Wishlist

It’s already been over a week since the 2016 season of ESC ended, and Post-Eurovision Depression is kicking in. (In my case it also means start binge-watching South Park and meeting up with friends to hopefully avoid PED getting too bad). But since the 2016 season has ended, I can start wishing about 2017:

  1. I’ll actually be able to watch the contest live on TV: I’ve been following the contest since late 2010, but I’ve never been able to watch the entire contest. Part of it’s due to living in the USA and being in the wrong time zone (as in: 3pm isn’t the best time to watch TV), but it’s mostly due to family members trashing my interests and saying that I’m wasting my time, so they just tell me to run errands in the middle of the contest. So thanks, specific people. If it’s possible, I’d love to watch the contest with other fans as well. This year I spent half the contest messaging a friend in the UP and snarking over performances with him; while that was fun, it would have been even better if we were commenting in the same place.
  2. More songs that are non-English or at least partly non-English: Given the recent trend of trying to get everyone to understand the story, almost everything is in English. This is really disappointing for people who want exposure to new languages or aspects of countries’ cultures; instead of getting to hear the sounds of various languages with the right syllable count, they get songs co-composed by Google Translate fumbling over words that don’t rhyme or emphasize words in the wrong syllable (e.g. “all my trouBLES” or “sound of siLENCE”). But now that Ukraine, Bulgaria, and France achieved top 10 with songs that weren’t 100% English (Especially Ukraine’s win with Crimean Tatar, a language that’s never been heard at the contest prior to this year), there’s a chance that delegations will get confidence to select entries to show off their languages once more. The audience won’t have to understand the lyrics; they just have to feel the emotions from the tune and syllables in order to vote.
  3. Fewer songs that are literal Swedish dishwater: Okay, so I’m talking mostly about Azerbaijan, who managed to maintain its 100% qualification record with a confirmed Melodifestivalen reject and entered 8 Swedish composed entries out of 9 years’ participation. Yes, the acts are (mostly) staged well, but it would be nice if the country decided to enter the contest one time with something less like a Swedish import, like in 2012 and 2014 when they threw in a balaban into the tune, or maybe something that was *gasp* locally-composed or even something with the language. Azerbaijan’s not the only offender though; out of 43 42 entries (sorry Romania), 10 entries had Swedish involvement. I’ll say that yes, Bulgaria was actually pretty good, but unlike Azerbaijan this year they had a performance that a) depended less on backing vocalists, b) focused more on the singer and less on the choreography, and c) seemed more “authentic” through the screen than staged.
  4. More marmite entries: YouTube ranking results (if people take the time to compile 1400+ rankings) are usually able to gauge which entries are in the top 10-15. However, they tend to be wildly off when it comes to the “nice/middle-of-the-road” entries and the “bad marmite” entries. While YouTube ranks the “nice” entries in the middle and the “bad marmite” entries in the end, voting results tend to go the opposite direction due to the “bad” entries often going OTT with staging. It didn’t matter that the audience loved or hated Cezar; Zdob si Zdub; they at least remembered the dubstep vampire singing really high and the fairy/gnome on a unicycle. Unfortunately, this also meant that entries such as Jüri Pootsmann and Melanie Rene were ignored despite decent songs and performances. I’d like to see more experimental entries or songs that don’t fit the ESC stereotype that aren’t just in because they’re radio friendly, and that the audience can only love or hate with nothing in the middle.
  5. Verka Serduchka making some kind of performance: She’s awesome. Enough said.
  6. Less overall drama: 2016 was definitely not short of drama and shitstorms. First there was alleged corruption in the EBU when Kath Lockett and Vladislav Yakovlev got fired from questioning the fate of YouTube traffic ad money, then the new voting system gets announced in February (way after countries announce participation) and details about it keep appearing well into April, TVR got expelled from Eurovision three weeks before rehearsals began due to a €14.5M debt and poor communication with the EBU, and right after the contest Americans found out that the YouTube stream, official YouTube performance clips, AND the stream on the official Eurovision page were geoblocked due to contract details with Logo TV. Could there be less drama next year? Even three shitstorms instead of four would be nice…
  7. More references to the host country: Due to the circumstances that Sweden hosted only three years prior to hosting this year, SVT decided that they weren’t going to go the 2013 route show off Swedish culture/talent/usw and decided to cover more global issues instead, like the migrant crisis and making fun of Eurovision itself. However, next year we’re going to a country that last hosted in 2015 and has been on the news portrayed negatively due to drama surrounding Crimea and Donetsk. While these aren’t going to take center stage, Ukraine’s going to have to pull up some kind of positive stereotype or at least focus a lot more on cultural aspects to distract the audience.

You know you’ve been watching too much Eurovision when… (pt 4)

Click here for part 1,  here for part 2, and here for part 3.

1. You look at your car dashboard and decide that whoever designed the speedometer must be a fan of Molly Pettersson Hammar.

Miles per hour? What are you talking about?

2. You’d be able to pay for your flight to Kyiv (or wherever Eurovision will be hosted next May) if you got a dollar every time someone asked if Eurovision was like American Idol.

Oh, it’s a singing competition? Like Idol?

3. You cringe whenever someone brings up “Azerbaijan” and “Kardashian” in the same sentence.

I don’t care how much Samra looks like her. Don’t say it. Of if you really have to, don’t do it on public broadcasting.

4. The last thing you’ll think of when you see the name “Für Elise“ is a singing garbage truck or one of Beethoven’s most famous works; the first thing you think of is an Eesti Laul entry that got robbed in 2014.

5. Seeing this on your TV or computer screen is totally normal:

As is this:

And this:

6. You start laughing in front of the donut case while everyone else gets confused about what’s going on.

Donut, donut, donut, donut, donut, donut, glad I may, eat nice I say. So many!

7. You buy a pair of yellow Swedish clogs (and start singing Diggiloo-Diggiley)

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8. You don’t tell your SO that you love them; you give them 12 points

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9. You’ve attempted to sing mid-sit-up to determine how hard it actually was for Sergey Lazarev to sing while on the screen

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(It’s actually really hard if you haven’t worked on your abs for a while)

10. You are now an expert at splitting your screen and tuning out external noise to watch multiple national finals at the same time. It doesn’t matter that much with the songs because 80% of them are in English.

Not included in picture: Phone with downloaded SVT App to watch Mello

11. Your boss  wanted to ask why you could only work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during one particular week in May. (While mine knew about the contest because she grew up in Antwerp, she also knew about streaming it on YouTube so I still had to work the entire week…)

Thanks to LogoTV messing things up that wouldn’t work this year.

12. You get extremely disappointed at Pride Prom when you find out the DJ doesn’t even have “Euphoria” on their playlist. So much for “DJ, please take me away.”

Overall thoughts

So now that the contest is over and it’s been confirmed that Ukraine a) has won and b) will host the contest in 2017, it’s time for everyone to comment/complain about the contest:

The shows are getting really long: While I absolutely love Eurovision and watching the live performances/interval acts/voting, I live in a country where the contest doesn’t really matter to most people and have never been able to finish watching a live show. 3pm? Go drive to the grocery store and pick up some vegetables. 5pm? Start making dinner. 6pm? Start eating dinner, and don’t eat in front of your computer. 7pm? Well the show is over, and I missed everything because time has no mercy. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but getting interrupted and missing out on half the show is really annoying.

ESC is merging with the Tony Awards: When someone asks for the Nth time whether Eurovision is like Idol, I’m now going to direct them to this and say it’s more like OTT talent show meets European geopolitics meets Tony Awards, but only one award is presented.

. So maybe I should look into the shows getting nominated for the Tonys in June, and that’ll help to allay my Post-Eurovision Depression. (And thanks ManuElla for teaching a TOEFL/GRE word!)

It was easy to see the effects of the split voting: I guess this can be seen as a good thing, since instead of complaining 3 weeks later once the results get posted, people can get the anger out of their system early. We’ve all seen how the jury and televote cancel each other out (i.e. Poland’s 2014 jury last place + televote 5th= less than 10th place and therefore no points), or how diaspora televoting and/or politically-biased jury votes could affect the scores. And of course that happened to no one’s surprise.

But this time the effect of the jury and televote canceling each other out went a bit overboard. Australia, which was first place in the jury vote, placed 3rd in the televote. Russia, which was first place in the televote with over 400 points, placed only 5th in the jury vote. As a result, Ukraine, which had placed 2nd in the semifinal, 2nd in the jury vote, and 2nd in the televote, was able to creep through when the values were added together. So to really no one’s surprise, the Russian delegation that was hyped to win in the odds (sorry about people who lost their money) became frustrated at the voting system, and that the jury robbed their chances of winning.

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Polina Gagarina (Russia’s entrant last year) then pointed out that while Sergey Lazarev hadn’t won the contest, it was okay because the televoters were the people who he could count on to cheer for him at his concerts and download his music. And he still got a Marcel Bezençon Artist award, so the delegation can’t say it was a total fail.

The semifinal results are up: After seeing the semifinal results, I almost cried again. Iceland was 14th? San Marino was 12th? And how the hell was Estonia LAST in the semifinal? I mean I understand that the ESC staging wasn’t as effective as the Eesti Laul staging, but last place? (Thank you Finnish televoters for giving him 12 points…)

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Otherwise, what else did I get out of the show?

LOVE LOVE PEACE PEACE…