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Tuesday, 11 October 2005

UPIC / Done with the cops


So yesterday, I got my first shot at UPIC. It has a number of quirks one might describe as bugs, if one were not charitably inclined. Bugs that nobody anywhere will ever fix because the software is forever abandoned, which is kind of sad if you spend too much time thinking about it on the metro. So what's the use of learning dead software? A lot of the school is sort of a hagiography center for Xenakis. And what's a saint without some holy relics? The teacher said almost as much in class, even using the term "relic" but probably not in quite the same way. However, there are things to learn from UPIC:

  1. Glissandi: When you "draw" notes by drawing lines, they after often not straight. Also Xenakis was a man of glissandi. (for you non musical types, it means a note that slides around in pitch)
  2. Inexact cut and paste: When you want to copy something in UPIC, you first use your mouse to describe a box where said object should go. The paste function then scales the object to fit in the box. The chances of getting an exact copy are slim to none. It's a little higher, a little lower, the pitch range is greater or lesser and the duration has grown or shrunk. You get similar gestures, but never the same.

And I spent a bunch of time synthesizing ok but not great artificial tones in my first brush with the tool and then the sounds I heard on my walk home were so much more beautiful and musical. And then I got home and listened to my refrigerator singing. It twists around strangled tones, like singing through a pipe (ala Brend Hutchinson) and then finds a resonant pitch and some overtones and hums them for a while before wandering off. It's lovely. I think it would be cheating to just record it and call it my composition.


I went for my final (hooray (god willing)) visit with the Prefecture de Police today and got my medical exam. The took my height and weight, tested my vision and then gave me a chest x-ray. I got to take the x-ray home with me, um, in case I need it for anything. Then a doctor talked to me in English, thank goodness. "You are American? Do you have vaccines? A lot, I bet." Land of the free and over-vaccinated. Thank goodness, Wesleyan was able to fax me my vaccination records yesterday afternoon. I spent much time last night looking up translations for things like "whooping cough vaccine" but didn't end up using any of it. I got the feeling that it pretty much didn't matter, since I'm from the first world and anyway, my chest x-ray showed that I do not have whooping cough at this time. She did care about my tetanus vaccine, however, which is certainly up to date. Anyway, then the nice doctor asked if I was in any way sick, took my blood pressure and that was it. Then I payed a tax and stood in another line and got a new sticker in my passport. In a way, the temporary thing they gave me was more official looking. I'm glad I got the bank account while I still had it.

So I was stressing out over something which turned out to be no big deal. I borrowed some of Nicole's underwear for it, but anyway.

I've started walking everywhere again, because I need the exercise. Today, I walked past a large outdoor market, but I didn't buy anything. They were selling huge amounts of vegetables. It had more produce than the Lake Merrit Farmer's Market. And there were also people selling clothes and random hardware store-type items. I thought it would be better for some reason to remain loyal to the covered market by my house where I buy vegetables every couple of days. However, I bought a book on French cooking from a book vender by Place de Republique. And yesterday, on my way home, I bought a pommegranite because they are the best things ever and plus it will help hold off scurvy, the plague of students everywhere.

For those of you contemplating studying in France, the documentation you will need contains:

  • your passport
  • the visa you already obtained from your consulate
  • An attestation from your landlord saying your address and that you live there
  • a photocopy of the ID of your landlord
  • a recent gas bill in your name or in your landlord's name
  • A birth certificate
  • a recent letter from your school explaining why it exists and listing all relevant numbers and funding agencies and stating your enrollment
  • your divorce papers (if applicable)
  • passport sized pictures of yourself
  • you immunization records
  • other medical records if there's anything special about you that they might need to know about

you might need more than these things. Oh, and have 3 copies of each. Beware with the copy of the id thing, because people will take your copy of that, so make sure you have the "master" photocopy ready to make additional copies. And take all of them but the medical stuff to a bank near you. You have a legal right to open a bank account at the bank closest to your house.

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