Q&A with Vienna, December 2007

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Vienna
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Postby Vienna » Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:28 pm

Erik wrote:I felt uncomfortable posting this here because it is probably way off topic, but since the topic of digital distribution has come up, Trent Reznor recently released the "sales" figures and "freeloading" figures for the Saul Williams digital only release "The Rise and Inevitable Liberation of Niggy Tardust."


Thanks for this too, Erik. Lots of good information for me to ponder.

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Postby dbeattie » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:08 pm

Reileen wrote:
Vienna wrote:Hi. Had to duck out for a few days to wrestle with Finale™, but I'm back now.


Do you have Finale Notepad or the version that you actually have to pay for? XD Whatever the version, what's your thoughts on it? I used Notepad for a little bit to transcribe/compose a rearrangement of a video game theme I was working on, but when I actually tried to transcribe something that I'd fully composed in my head, I sort of failed hardcore at it. :oops:

Interesting... so Vienna uses Finale. Meanwhile I've been using Sibelius for all the sheet music I've been making for her! Interesting disconnect there... Finale vs. Sibelius is such a long-standing debate in the sheet music community! I like Sibelius for its combination of tremendous power and first-class user-friendliness, meanwhile of my several musician friends who use sheet music programs, more of them use Finale than Sibelius. I haven't used Finale since I was using Finale Notepad as a demo to decide which program to buy, so obviously having evaluated the two of them I picked Sibelius, but that was in 2003, and both programs have been improved since then, so I shouldn't say anything more than that.

About transcribing one's own compositions... I gotta say, it's an extra challenge, and I wouldn't blame you for not being able to do it! I'm a composer myself, and while I've certainly produced sheet music for arrangements for small ensembles, when needed,... and working from recordings (album and live) of Vienna and other artists, I have produced sheet music for them, I've never yet fully created sheet music for any of my own piano songs. The problem is, music is so complicated that sometimes we as composers don't actually figure out what we're doing consciously; and creating sheet music requires conscious detailed knowledge of the music. Bringing it from the subconscious layer where it is born and performed to the conscious layer where sheet music can be created can force extra compositional steps, leading to changes in the way the music is performed, which may not always be desirable. That's why I imagine Vienna finds it easier not to make her own sheet music, but rather to have somebody make it from studying recordings of her performances. People like her and me may play the filler notes to our songs relatively consistently, but if we have to think about them everything might get screwed up.

Vienna wrote:
Here's Johnny wrote:Daniel mentioned playing covers of Vienna's music, and it reminded me of something. There's a video on youtube of a guy playing the album version of Gravity (instrumental only).

Check it out, Vienna. It's a nice tribute, with a bit of improv interspersed.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=CeeFwCd3X0E


Oh, this makes me so happy. :)

It makes me happy too. He is obviously a good pianist and can play by ear and he did a lot of improvisation in a style faithful to Vienna's music, but I can hear very well the spots that he probably took from the sheet music that Vienna and I put together because the piano riffs match exactly in certain places. :)

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Postby My_Name_Is_Daniel » Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:22 am

arcsol wrote:
Vienna wrote:
another question for vienna (and anyone who happens to know). i wanna play 'Nothing without you' using the Clothespin Technique™. how do you do that? dbeattie told me to use a certain tuning then half-barres. what are the chord shapes used? if i'm not that busy, i'll see if i can figure out how to play the song sans the retuning.

thanks!


I know she uses open D tuning on Mission Street, I think its the same for this song... I'll tab it out soon.

*edit* its a different open D tuning than Mission Street, its tabbed out in the recordings section :)

btw Vienna, I've noticed over the years many different changes in your touring personnel, allowing many different musicians to interpret your music for you in many different ways. I'm curious, what other instruments are you curious in performing with? organ? banjo? trumpet? dulcimer?

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Postby dbeattie » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:28 am

My_Name_Is_Daniel wrote:I know she uses open D tuning on Mission Street, I think its the same for this song... I'll tab it out soon.

*edit* its a different open D tuning than Mission Street, its tabbed out in the recordings section :)

Actually, I believe Mission Street for guitar is written and performed in standard guitar tuning. I have transcribed all the picking so I know it works that way and is probably easiest in standard tuning. A piece of trivia, though: Nothing Without You was originally performed in C# (with an open C# tuning, not open D). At some point she changed it to D, and then after that it seems she started performing it in D even when she played it on guitar.

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Forum Q/A comparison

Postby Here's Johnny » Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:09 pm

So, the current Q & A has over double the amount of pages from previous years. Pretty Cool!

Vienna is quickly approaching rock star status. Now, all she needs at one of her concerts is a bit of moshing, and she'll be complete!

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Re: Forum Q/A comparison

Postby if(!u){i=null;} » Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:16 pm

Here's Johnny wrote:So, the current Q & A has over double the amount of pages from previous years. Pretty Cool!

Yeah, I think we've stayed way past last call and she's going to kick us out soon. Perhaps she'll pour one last round.

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Re: Forum Q/A comparison

Postby My_Name_Is_Daniel » Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:16 am

Here's Johnny wrote:moshing


not a bad idea...

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Postby asteroid » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:09 am

if(!u){i=null;} wrote:


Sorry for not quoting anything. Just want to say this name is REALLY COOL.

I was inspired of this: "9.8m/s^2" :wink:

But although the number 9.8 is special to me, I don't want to register another ID and waste the space on your database...
Vienna's volunteer agent on midomi.com

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Postby silversong » Fri Jan 11, 2008 7:25 am

Hi Vienna,

I recently joined this forum after discovering your website; although you've heard it a million times before (likely!), your music has made a difference in my life; I have been inspired/moved by it, and thank you for creating such emotive songs and melodies. I've gotten about five of my friends into your music; they thank you, too!

My question is: What are the songs that you find yourself constantly drawn to playing at shows? Which songs show up on every set list? And, can you give me a little insight into Recessional? It's been my song-on-repeat for the past month.

Thanks a lot and once again, you rock!

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Re: Forum Q/A comparison

Postby Vienna » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:34 pm

if(!u){i=null;} wrote:Perhaps she'll pour one last round.


Perhaps I'll try, yes. :)

MUSIC PROJECTS

Kay wrote:Is there anyone you can see yourself recording a whole album with as a side project, maybe covering other themes that don't get explored in your own music?


I just saw Kitka perform in San Francisco last week, and now I wish I were part of a vocal group doing music off the beaten path like that. And I still entertain fantasies of learning just enough bass to be part of a costume punk band or something.

GEORGE wrote:My question was if you had any contact to collaborate with Ani Difranco. I thought since you played with Todd Sickafoose and Allison Miller you may have a connection.


Haven't thought of asking! I've never worked with Allison, actually. Though she and Todd are two of the most remarkable musicians I've ever heard, and I've heard a fair number by now.

rahau wrote:Have you ever met Alice Wu? It sure would be cool if you could score one of her films.


We were introduced over email a few years ago by Jay Stone Shih, the TV host who interviewed me for China Crosstalk. Never did get in touch in person though...I'd love to meet her sometime. Doesn't mean I'm remotely qualified to score a film yet, though—hers or anyone else's!

tomballjerry wrote:Come on, Vienna...Your singing + 50's standard tunes = magic Don't you think?


Jessie_k4758 wrote:Do you like jazz, blues or other swing era music? Ever play it?


spyfferoni wrote:Ever thought of doing a covers album???


I was at a dinner party recently where they had an old standards radio station playing in the background, and I surprised myself with how many old tunes I recognized. "That's 'I'll Be Seeing You', isn't it? Ooh, 'Four Brothers'! Wow, haven't heard 'At the Savoy' in ages..." It would be fun to try singing those. I don't know that I'd record them, though—I'd probably look for a local group doing that repertoire and needing a vocalist.

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Postby Vienna » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:25 pm

Now, for the questions that got posted after my last organizing session...

MISCELLANEOUS (part ii)

Here's Johnny wrote:I realize that you bring some faith-based elements out in your lyrics occasionally. What are your current thoughts on spiritual issues? How do they impact the way you do music? I'll understand if these questions are overstepping.


Not overstepping, but I'm afraid I don't have anything definitive to say on the topic. I'm an outsider to faith and organized religion, a fascinated passerby pressing her nose against the window. Sometimes that fascination shows up in songs, I guess. In 2004 I took a tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and at the end when they had us fill out information cards I wrote "Unitarian Universalist" in the line for Religion. I'm not certain that there's a spiritual realm that exists separate from the natural realm, or that there is a God, or that morality arises from something other than biology and social contracts; I do know that I'm surrounded by astonishing and mysterious things every day of my life, and I can't even begin to explain them.

Ang Mo wrote:Vienna, what is your New Year's resolution for this New Year?


I don't do New Year's resolutions, but I am a devotee of 101 in 1001. Made my list in November 2005, so I've got until this August. I've only completed 42 as of today, so I'd better get crackin'...

Here's Johnny wrote:The next time you are in Houston playing at the Mucky Duck, what are the chances of you doing a separate show at Cy-Fair College?


With enough advance planning, quite good! :) I'm all for spending more than one day in a town, and the club + college formula works well.

arcsol wrote:i wanna play 'Nothing without you' using the Clothespin Technique™. how do you do that?


Just tune the guitar to an open D major chord (or C#, I'm not a stickler for keys—D just works better for my voice). I think the strings work out to D-A-D-F#-A-D, low-high. Then bar (barre?) the lower 4 strings for the G, A and A#maj7 chords, and just the lower 3 strings for the Bm chord. It was keeping those upper strings open that made me resort to clothespin grip; my fingers aren't nimble enough to do it the standard way.

CandaceC wrote:Do you watch ze anime? >.>

Aleu wrote:I wanted to ask that xP To follow up on it, if you do, are there any favorites? I know you've mentioned that Howl's Moving Castle AMV once :3


I watch very little of anything except YouTube clips these days, I'm afraid. I have seen Ghost In the Shell, Spirited Away and Grave of the Fireflies. My sister is much more dialed in to anime and manga (last I checked she was a Naruto fanatic).

if(!u){i=null;} wrote:Whilst in Vienna, have you ever been in the Musikverein on Bösendorferstraße? [...] The crypt tour at St. Stephens and a stroll through the gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn are a must. So much history and music in your namesake.


Yes indeed. Next time we're there I hope I'll get to wander around in the daytime a bit more. Thanks for the tips!

Aleu wrote:Do you feel like your live performances are better than your studio recordings? Because after listening to you live, I've never been able to listen to your CD's without a little sigh of discontent (Thank God for achive.org <3)


I would like to capture more of a live feel in a studio record sometime. But I think that albums and the shows are meant to be different, and there's a lot more going on at a live show: your own participation as part of an audience, the whole visual aspect, the way you can watch each musician create the music in real time. That might be part of why the live performances feel more compelling than the CD—unless you're talking about listening to archive.org only, in which case my theory is shot. :)

Aleu wrote:Odd question, but are there any emoticons that you favor? It looks like you're a fan of ;), but are there any others hidden away that you're not telling us about? :O


Haha! I like having emoticon wars with Eric Cheng on occasion, with those silly expanded sets on Yahoo. And I still think :idea: looks like someone with glasses after getting punched in the nose.

Have you ever had Top Ramen?


Gee, thanks a lot. I was all ready to go to bed, but now I've got to make a detour to the kitchen...

I'm trying to transition more to vegetarian/organic/local/unprocessed/etc. food every year, but childhood programming leaves me with a serious soft spot for drive-thrus, microwaveables and the just-add-water aesthetic.

How good is your memory of fans? For example, do you remember the one that Wolf Trap that asked you to sign a Geico ad?


...no. I signed a Geico ad? Sorry. I do remember signing iPods a few times, though. And a futon mattress. And a hairy chest. That was fun, albeit sweaty.

My_Name_Is_Daniel wrote:I've noticed over the years many different changes in your touring personnel, allowing many different musicians to interpret your music for you in many different ways. I'm curious, what other instruments are you curious in performing with? organ? banjo? trumpet? dulcimer?


I'd love to add electric guitar to our mostly-acoustic mix. Some warm hollow-body tones, slide and E-bow, subtle effects pedals. Pedal steel is a remarkable instrument, too. I love orchestral colors: English horn, French horn, trombone, clarinet, bells and timpani. Just haven't figured out how to use them yet.
Last edited by Vienna on Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Vienna » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:42 pm

Whoops, missed the last one...hi silversong!

silversong wrote:My question is: What are the songs that you find yourself constantly drawn to playing at shows? Which songs show up on every set list?


As you might expect, the "hits" tend to get regular play: Harbor, Gravity, Whatever You Want. I like to put the less typical-sounding songs in there too, for variety: 1br/1ba, Unwritten Letter #1, I Don't Feel So Well, Hope On Fire, Pontchartrain. Usually City Hall or Soon Love Soon or both end up in there, for the warm fuzzy feeling.

And, can you give me a little insight into Recessional? It's been my song-on-repeat for the past month.


There's some stuff here, and here. (Too bad this Q&A isn't indexed for topic search; it did get pretty long!)

So that's it until next time, folks. Thanks so much for hanging out with us, and thanks for caring about this music. See you soon, I hope...

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Postby arcsol » Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:29 am

Vienna wrote:Now, for the questions that got posted after my last organizing session...

MISCELLANEOUS (part ii)

[sic] It was keeping those upper strings open that made me resort to clothespin grip; my fingers aren't nimble enough to do it the standard way.



*gasp* i despair to describe mine if you call your fingers as 'aren't nimble enough'. hahahahaha.

from personal experience - if you're still interested in playing the guitar, try using a left-handed guitar (i'm assuming you use a right-handed one). that may solve the 'lack of nimbleness'. you see, i'm a lefty. logic says my left hand should have the inate capability of playing the usual guitar (you form chords using the left hand). sadly, it didn't work that way - my left hand feels really awkward making the chords and traversing frets, and the right hand knows nada and refuses to learn anything when it comes to tempo, strumming and PIMA.

so i reversed my strings and started playing happily. think 'jimi hendrix' (oh i'm soooooo not worthy *kowtows*)

sadly, left-handed acoustic/classical guitars in the Philippines are virtually non-existent due to a lack of market. however you can get one made for you by a luthier for a cost. for now, i'm happy with my current classical guitar. maybe when i get the itch for a decent folk guitar and monies for it i'd have one made.

Vienna wrote:So that's it until next time, folks. Thanks so much for hanging out with us, and thanks for caring about this music. See you soon, I hope...


thank YOU for the music that keeps a lot of people sane (me included) and for joshing with the fans (which a lot of artists are not inclined to do) and for being a gracious host and and and... yeah, the 'i see you soon' part - i sure hope it does happen soon.

toodles vienna. and thanks again for the wonderful time. *waves*
A VT fan from the Philippines?

Do check out the 2014 Vienna Teng PHILIPPINES tour thread!

Drop a line and say hi! Post on the thread, leave a PM if you want, or send an email at marc dot a dot public at gmail dot com so we can make this happen!

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Postby sheeba » Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:25 pm

Awesome Q&A! Thanks, Vienna!

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Postby cmooreNC » Sat Jan 12, 2008 10:20 pm

Yes! Thanks so much for this year's version of your Q&A, Vienna. I can't believe you actually got back to something I asked weeks ago in one of your last posts on the thread. Indeed, the whole thing was just wonderfully long and enjoyable! Thanks for taking all that time to "discuss" with us. :D
Chris


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