Cultural preferences

“You should develop your cultural taste” was an advice from my professor in Graz, Austria, during my Erasmus studies. I believe he was somewhat right. Sometimes I feel I’m totally out of what is happening in the art music genre. People ask me if I know this and that musician or composer and I have to admit that I have never heard of them. Of course I know who are historically important musicians and have studied it all. However, when I entered professional level of music studies I probably knew more about Finland’s rock and heavy music scene. Nowadays I’ve lost the track of that genre as well.

It’s time for February’s post. Today it’s the last day of February and in Finland it is the day of Kalevala aka the day of Finnish culture. I tried to read Kalevala once. My first boyfriend had a great old version of with illustrations of Akseli Gallen-Kallela. I didn’t understand anything! Actually today in Turku is also a premiere of the long lost opera Die Kalewainen in Pochjola. Hopefully I will have possibilty to experience it.

To celebrate the day of culture I decided to reveal some of my own cultural preferences. Not all Finnish but very global that also proves that there are no boundaries to understand culture and art around the world.

Culture is not only music but also for example film and literature, visual art and so on. Actually art music is nowadays quite underground art. It’s not part of “popular culture” and “main stream”. Since it’s my job, I should also know about it. But if I’m stuck only in that field, I think it doesn’t make me interesting as an artist. I like that there has to be a twist or some kind of a contrast. It’s the best that you follow just your own instinct and taste when enjoying culture. You can get good hints from other people but at the end you don’t have to like what everyone else likes. Next I want to share with you some of my personal favorites.

I just got my CD collection to my own home from my childhood house. It is quite full of darkness and rough sounds but also some classical hit music. It’s impossible to list everything here! I also listen quite a lot of radio since I don’t own a television. One of my favorite radio channels is actually an Austrian radio station called FM4. I get easily bored to just one kind of music or then I have periods that I listen to only one artist for few days. Anyway, I remember that I wanted to have a change and suddenly found this radio channel. As I mentioned I have studied in Graz so the places they talk about are familiar for me. That’s how I got to know Austropop and my two favorite bands are Bilderbuch and Johann Sebastian Bass. Yes, you read right, Bass, not Bach. They have talented groovy sounds. Actually I happened to hear Bilderbuch in the movie called “A Cure for Wellness”. I was so excited and probably the only one in the movie theater to recognize the piece. But I also recognized Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony that came later in the movie.

In Tampere I had a period when I borrowed all Wagner and few other operas from the city library in DVD format and had opera nights on my sofa at home. Also Graz was the place to introduce me the world of operas. With our student card we could see anything for free up in the balcony. For Wagner they even let us sit down on the seats.

Perhaps Graz has offered indeed a good place to develop my cultural taste since I also learned to listen to jazz music there. Before that I just couldn’t follow it. Now the best thing is a relaxed Sunday morning breakfast with jazz music. I don’t know that many names but I could mention that the pianist Joonas Haavisto gave me few piano lessons when I was a teenager. Now he has a great trio with his own name, Joonas Haavisto trio.

Our colleague band, The Air Force Band, plays big band music and I learned they have published a great album called Aaltoja/Waves. Find it on Spotify for example.

I have to mention really talented Tim Burton. He has made a lot of films (Beetlejuice, Nightmare before Christmas etc) and I own one of his poem books whit illustrations. I got to know Tim Burton by Ville Valo, the singer of the Finnish band HIM that was my favorite when I was a teenager. So of course I followed anything that Ville Valo recommended like a true fan.

One of the most famous Japanese anime film directior is Hayao Miyazaki and his films with Studio Ghibli are classics. Just anything by him is beautiful.

Black Books is a British sitcom created by Dylan Moran and Graham Lineham almost 20 years ago. I just laugh and laugh for the dark humour and I’ve seen all episodes so many times that I can almost remember the lines coming next.

Sherlock TV series is the modern version of old stories. Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant!

I have loved reading since I learned how to read at the age of five. After that I also began to write myself. I’ve written many short stories and thought I would publish a book as well but the story remained as a short story. I also have written poems and lyrics for songs I haven’t composed. So now I focus mainly on writing my blog and less fictive stories. Anyway I enjoy reading books. I don’t have just one favorite author and I probably missed all the big classics. One summer I wanted to read only Kafka. And of course I have Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and all the works of Edgar Allan Poe gathered in one book. When I studied for German language examinations I found a pink book in the library. It was written by Ildikó von Kürthy auf Deutsch and that was a way for me to really learn the language. Von Kürthy writes women books. Not too heavy to read and stories that all women understand.

My latest discovery is Harlequin books. I found a big pile of them left on one table in my work place. I admit they are a bit trash literature. But I love them! They make me laugh so much with their absurd story lines. And every time you know what is going to happen eventually and you started to guess it when and how it will happen. Like horror movies you try to guess who is going to die next. This time the matter is just when the main characters are going to have hot sex.

I’ve been working with couple of theater productions playing the music. And I wrote earlier about working in the theater. One of my best theater experiences was in Tallinn. I was a alone and a bit nervous if I would understand everything since it was in Estonia. It was at the end of my second year in Tallinn so I already spoke quite fluently. And I didn’t have any difficulties to understand. I felt I even understood something that only Estonians would understand since it was Estonian play called Bloody Mary. Really intensive and thrilling show. After that I went to a bar and ordered my first ever Bloody Mary drink.

Fashion is maybe not part of traditional arts but it is also culture. People express themselves by the way they dress and appearance is part of the cultural categories. As you probably already noticed that my favorites come mostly from dark alternative culture. I also enjoy the dark and goth fashion. I have dressed up a bit that way myself as well.

 

photo by Heli Palomaa

photo by Heli Palomaa Tuska 2005

Nowadays it’s more mild but I still enjoy the twist. I just both a pink shirt with blacks bats with sad faces for example. So in Youtube I was randomly watching some videos to kill time during my army service. And I found the channel of Black Friday,a New Zealander goth girl. I began to follow her vlogs and she is really warm-hearted girl and I enjoy to see the goth culture and lifestyle although I have found also the more colorful side of me. Yes, there was a time when black was the only color I would wear.

Another vlog that I follow is by Chris & Eve. They have two cats called Turbo and Jet. Just a lovely couple and cats!

I love drawing, painting and taking pictures and again I think more dark pictures capture my attention. I can’t name many artists but I’ve attended to exhibitions of H. R. Giger and Tom of Finland for example. And I love to see the style and the technique of the artists. I really would love to paint myself more and learn about it. I was pretty good in school. However I didn’t get in to a “art school” as my sister and many other friends did. I was sad and thought I was for sure good enough there. Same happened by the way for Adolf Hitler too. He applied to study in  Academy of Fine Arts Vienna but failed the exams. Well, maybe someone already decided that I have to focus on music in my life.

For me it’s sometimes difficult to go to concerts for example. With theater it’s more easy because there is a plot to follow. Anyway it is not easy to get that feeling “this was amazing”. I’ve seen many famous musicians but sometimes I have felt nothing from their performance. First I thought I was just stupid because I didn’t understand what everyone else liked. But lately I just have came to a conclusion that it is all very personal what hits the right buttons for you. And those times doesn’t come very often. But when they come, you can remember them always and want to experience that again. Anyway, people are seeking for many kinds of experiences through art and culture. Someday you wish to laugh and other times to cry.

So after all I feel I have my own taste. And it is developing as I get older. There is maybe not that big strive to find something new anymore as it was when I was a teenager. The question is more what kind of art I would like to produce myself. And as an artist myself I should be able to give those wow experiences for the audience. I think it is only possible when you do something that comes really from your heart and is part of who you truly are. Not that you try to be a copy of someone else. You can let the influences show and also when playing someone else’s music there is always part of his or her emotions lived through by your own emotions.

I wish really enjoyable cultural moments for everyone!

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