A Klingon Christmas Carol 2013 is nearing the end!

Members of bomwI'pu' (the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project) with SQuja' at the Cincinnati Klingon Christmas Carol
Members of bomwI’pu’ (the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project) with SQuja’ at the Cincinnati Klingon Christmas Carol

I’ve made a couple of appearances at this year’s Cincinnati run of A Klingon Christmas Carol as a Klingon.  While most of you folks already know I do this–and have been doing this for some time now–it has been a pleasure to see the production by a different group of folks and company.

Though it is with some sadness that I’ve had to tell folks that the Cincinnati run is done (since last Sunday) and that the Chicago run has been sold out for the last week till closing night (this Sunday) it is with some honor that I can say that last year’s Chicago run is available on DVD–so win much honor now and get your own copy as this will be the only way to see the show until next year!  Of course, the musical score is written by me and recorded by my Klingon band, il Troubadore.

You can hear some snippets from the score here:


Closing night was particularly fun as Joe Patti of Butts in the Seats actually drove a couple of hours to see the us and the show–read about his thoughts here.  On top of that, Drew McManus also gives a shout out to the me and the show.

j'onn with Joe Patti, director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University, and author of the "Butts In the Seats" blog.
j’onn with Joe Patti, director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University, and author of the “Butts In the Seats” blog.

And what can beat meeting the creator of the Klingon Langauge, Marc Okrand, during opening night of the Cincy production?

The Il Troubadore Klingon Music Project with the creator of the Klingon Language, Marc Okrand, after playing during the opening night of the Cincinnati Klingon Christmas Carol!
The Il Troubadore Klingon Music Project with the creator of the Klingon Language, Marc Okrand, after playing during the opening night of the Cincinnati Klingon Christmas Carol!

In other news, I finally got to see this clip of the video of our performance with the Wookiee Bellydancer as it aired on Channel 4 in the UK during the “50 Funniest Moments of 2012”–I’ve uploaded the clip to our youtube:

Strangely (or maybe appropriately?) enough, they’ve dubbed over our music with some Bollywood tune, but here, you can hear the song in the original Shyriiwook in the viral video from that performance in Chicago last year here:

I imagine this coming year will only be geekier than 2013, so don’t worry–I’m sure more photo and video documentation of the  strangeness that is my geeky musical life will continue to appear and if I have anything to say about it!

A Klingon Christmas Carol

il Troubadore and Deserae at the Opening of A Klingon Christmas Carol
bomwI’pu’ (the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project) with Klingon Bellydancer, Deserae, perform at the opening night of Commedia Beauregard’s, “A Klingon Christmas Carol,” at the Raven Theatre in Chicago.  2012 December 1, photo by Mark Malnekoff

Friday night was officially the longest night and to celebrate my band, the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project (otherwise known as bomwI’pu’ on the planet Qo’noS), opened for Commedia Beauregard‘s Chicago production of a Klingon Christmas Carol (thlIngan ram nI’ tay bom).  Klingons obviously do not celebrate Christmas, but they do have a “Festival of the Longest Night,” ram nI’ tay.

Continue reading “A Klingon Christmas Carol”

Updates and more updates

Splash image for the website

If some of you hadn’t noticed, I’ve changed the look of the blog. This template is a bit cleaner and less distracting than the previous one, I think. I also spent most of last night completely overhauling my website. Though most of the content is previously existing content from the old website, the structure is newer and I think a bit more streamlined than the old one. I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next week or so re-doing content (especially the bio) but also making it easier for folks to know what services I offer for various function (both performative and educational).

What I’m especially looking forward to is highlighting my compositional activities more, as I am now getting much more work in that area.  I’m also looking forward to showcasing some of my more academic and scholarly work – especially the slow development of a Klingon Music Theory which will be the basis for some of the new music I’ve been writing for various projects.

The side-column (where the current facebook like page is located) will eventually be used for more content rather than just the like page, but I have to sort out how to import/display content there. Any tips, suggestions, and/or complaints are very welcome!

on Klingon weddings and playing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy circuit

Jon Silpayamanant as a Klingon performing before a production of The Pirates of Penzance (in Outer Space) in New Albany, Indiana.

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, there is an embarrassment of riches as far as performing options are concerned, if you’re willing to think outside the box.  The past few years I’ve been playing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy circuit.  I hesitate to call it the “Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention circuit” if only because some of the best paying gigs I’ve gotten recently happen to be at organizations outside of the Convention circuit proper.

And some of that has started to creep into the so-called ‘high arts’ realm with organizations such as Symphony Orchestras playing themed shows dedicated to particular Sci-Fi or Fantasy franchises (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) as part of their pops seasons.

On the whole, however, there’s always been music at conventions–even if it only consisted of filk music.  Part of the Klingon schtick is as much act as play and the idea came to me as a whim after il Troubadore started playing Sci-Fi conventions at the request of some bellydancers.  We decided we needed our own act and schtick, thus was born the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project.

Ok, so I talk about the short series of events from bellydancer request to Sci-Fi convention to developing a full blown Klingon Band personae as if it’s an everyday thing.  But seriously, for me, it is.

That’s the specific issue at hand here.  Over the years I’ve heard all manner of musicians grouse about the lousy economy and the lack of work.  And here, I’m talking primarily about those musicians who do not hold full time or professional positions as musicians–this includes freelancers, but also just your normal everyday band musician.  I know I’ve brought up this issue plenty of times in the past, but don’t want to flood this post with a ton of links.

Continue reading “on Klingon weddings and playing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy circuit”

>Xenomusic for kids


So it looks like I might be giving a Xenomusic workshop for kids at ConGlomeration in Louisville next April.

"What is ‘Xenomusic’?" you might ask?

Well, basically, it would be the music of Alien races.  Sometimes referred to as "Exomusic" or more plainly "Alien music" or "Extra-Terrestrial music"–it’s all the same, really.

Ultimately, the idea, which was suggested to me by an online friend and frequent Con-goer, is something that just appeals to me.  One of the things I’ve missed (though at the time, I probably didn’t quite feel the same–heh) is working with kids.  While I as at Gymboree Play and Music that was my primary role–a music teacher that is.  But unlike most government sponsored music teachers (in the school systems) or private instructors (which function like tutors) I was actively involved in teaching groups of children between the ages of one to five.

Yeah, that’s right–between the ages of one to five!  Just think about that for a second or two.

The idea, well, at least my conception of the idea (since I did sign a form stating I wouldn’t publicly discuss the actual methods or philosophy behind Gymboree’s programs–trade secrets, after all) is that children don’t have to be a certain age to start learning something about, well, any subject.

Given what I know about the research on infant and child neurology and psychology, in a way, it would be better to start teaching music (if fluency in music is the goal) at a younger age rather than waiting till it gets taught in, say, kindergarten.

I won’t bog this blog down with copious links and references to the body of research dealing with early phonemic acquisition and the ties between language and music developmental neurology (you can find some links to research about that at my comparative neurocognition blog here for that!) because, there are far more interesting issues that don’t require a more technical knowledge of basic human neurobiology.

See, one of the things I love about teaching children (and young adults, for that matter–since that is my, um, "day-job") is seeing the learning processes firsthand, but more importantly, given some kind of structured direction to what are already natural tendencies (along with language and art, music is one of the few universals that all human populations share as an activity).

And while, being a classical musician, I’ve had the opportunity to have tons of interactions with children through music as a result of outreach programs and in-school presentations, what I’ve been most dissatisfied with during the period when I was most active playing clubs and bars, and well, for the most part, the places that rock and pop music groups often perform is that there is this sharp divide between the all-ages scene and the 18+ (or 21+) scene.

Despite the fact that, in a sense, Western Art music is slowly declining, what I am going to miss most about this scene is the fact that [at least] in America, blind auditions for spots in, say, Symphony Orchestras actually happened as opposed to the fact that, say, in the pop and rock music scene you find what is mostly a boys world.

I’m still remembering a particular online forum thread discussion I had started at a local (to Indianapolis) music forum that got deleted (it was titled "Gender and Rock"–or rather, that’s what I had titled it).  And while the powers that be at that forum assured me that it wasn’t because of the touchy topic (I won’t go into some of the details of how "local band musicians" view women musicians here) but because of the forum pruning feature that lops off old threads.  Which would ring true some of the other very long discussion threads that I’ve started, which have been longer dead, weren’t still available to be viewed.

And wow–as much as I didn’t want this to be a rant about sexism in music, here we are–or rather, here I am.

*Steps back a bit*

Ok, so the best aspects of the American Western Classical music scene are on the decline just because it is on the decline.  This is arguable, of course, and that’s not the issue I’m concerned with.  Rather, the issue is, if it is on the decline AND if how it seems to be a bit more egalitarian than, say, other genres of music–then basically all the good things about the American Western Classical music scene are also slowly dwindling away.

And one of those many things just happens to be how actively involved with children this particular musical culture is.

That’s not to say that pop and rock musicians haven’t stepped up to the plate regarding engaging children–and that’s a good thing.  I’ve been seeing more and more programs and educators and entrepreneurs really making a stab at getting past the commercial or "rock star image" aspects of pop music (and I’ll make it clear that I mean "Western pop music" here–which includes rock and heavy metal and rap and country, etc).

That’s probably the subject for another blog.

Anyway, I want to give back more–and at an earlier level than the one I am currently engaged in (mainly k-12 right now) because, well, to restate the tired old adage:

"Children are our future"