Finnegan Hu Interview [Sarah Shen]



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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Shen: So, introduce yourself?
Hu: Uh, hi I’m uh Finnegan, I’m a senior, I’m a math major and I’m from China.
S: Uhm, where - so yeah, you’re from China - what’s your music background?
H: Uhm, I used to play piano since I was five and, uhm, I stopped at - when I was twelve. And I started to play bass since I was in high school
S: How did you get into playing bass?
H: Uhm, I just got really into rock music when I was in middle school. So I just, uhm, once I went to a concert and I just really like their bass player. So I just, thought that - it’s just so cool. So that’s how I decided to start playing bass.
S: How did you get into playing jazz?
H: So uhm, when I first entered the school, I was really just looking for a bands to play in. And uh, then I found out that Jazz Bands really the only bands that has bass players. So that’s how I started to play bass in Jazz Band.
S: When did you join the jazz ensemble?
H: So the jazz ensemble with Dr. Davison, this is my first semester here. But, I played in, uhm, Dr. Esleck’s jazz combo. Do you know the smaller jazz combo? Since freshmen.

Segment Synopsis: Finnegan describes his music background; he goes into detail about how he discovered jazz through rock music and when he joined the different jazz ensembles on campus.

Keywords: Background; Bass; Concert; Jazz; Rock

Subjects: Jazz discovery via rock; Joining the ensemble; Music background

00:01:56 - Interactions in Jazz Band

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Partial Transcript: S: So, what do you think of the group dynamic, uhm, like the interactions between the members in the ensemble that I’m observing compared to the interactions between the members in Esleck’s?
H: Oh, uhm, you mean when we’re playing or like - ?
S: Oh just like in general, like in rehearsal, but also in performances.
H: Uhm, I think it’s really great and, uhm, I think every member in the band is pretty skilled. And I think the the arrangement is pretty good for playing the songs that Dr. Davison selected. And uhm, is that what you mean by group dynamic?
S: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Uhm, and like, how is that compared to like Esleck’s trio that you’ve been in since uh, freshmen year?
H: Uhm, so there are, of course, more people in Dr. Davison’s group. So, the songs that we play in Dr. Esleck’s group are, uhm, more for smaller groups and it’s also probably easier. So, uhm, it feels, I feel like the - how do I say it - play in Dr. Davison’s group is more uhm…it’s like feeling playing in orchestra. It’s kind of different.
S: So what do you think about Dr. Davison’s conducting?
H: Uhm, yeah I really like it and he’s uhm…he’s really encouraging. Even when you are not doing good, he’s like, you’re doing a great job, you’re doing a great job, and and he’s always like telling you take the coda or something like that. And uhm, he also gives a lot of advice, and sometimes it’s really good advice how to play how to play some kind of notes or...
S: And I know I attended the rhythmic? The rhythm sectionals.
H: Oh you were in his band?
S: No, you know how I observed the other day. Uhm, do you think - how much of an influence does his Cuban, sort of, music, play into your choice of songs in the band?
H: Oh uhm…
S: I mean do you feel it at all?
H: Yeah, there uh, quite a lot Cuban, or latin, music in the songs we’re playing. Is that what you mean?
S: Yeah, and does he - you know, when he’s conducting the rhythms, does he get the Cuban feel across - do you feel like he gets the Cuban feel across to most members, or?
H: Honestly, I don’t really know what Cuban feel is. So, I guess?

Segment Synopsis: Finnegan talks about the interactions between members and the general atmosphere in Jazz Band. Briefly discusses Dr. Davison's Cuban influence on music selection.

Keywords: Cuba; Group dynamic; Interactions; Rehearsal; Rhythm; Skill

Subjects: Cuban influence; Group dynamic in Jazz Band; Interactions between members; Relationship with director

00:05:51 - Connections to the Campus Community

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Partial Transcript: S: You mentioned you were from China. Did joining the jazz ensemble on campus make you feel more connected to the campus? Or different people on campus - different majors, minors, etc.
H: Yeah, I mean…connect to the country…hm, probably not necessarily. Cause, uhm, I guess, uhm, cause I’m from Beijing, which is a big city, and uhm, people also listen to jazz music. So it’s not that like, we don’t listen to jazz music in China but in U.S. we do. Uhm, but, of course it helps me connect with other people and if we’re playing together or if we can communicate, like, make friends in the band. Yeah.
S: Do you feel like you’ve had a chance to make friends you, or interact with people, you wouldn’t normally have on campus?
H: Yeah, definitely.
S: Do you feel like it brings together different majors and have people communicate better with each other? Or do you think people still stick with their own groups?
H: Uhm, I’m not saying that playing together definitely uhm..brings people that probably wouldn’t be together to be friends. But it definitely gives us an opportunity to..cause we are playing together, we probably share the same interests even if we’re from different places or if we’re in different majors. So I guess that helps, that sharing interest in music.
S: Did joining - uh in what ways do you think the jazz ensemble impacts the campus as a whole? Or just jazz in general on campus, what do you feel like its role is, or if it has any role at all.
H: Uhm, I guess first, as you said, the band members we’re playing in a group and it helps us to bring us together. And uh, to communicate. and also -
S: What about the rest of campus that’s not involved in the ensemble?
H: Right. One thing, we have the concert. And anyone can attend the concert. And uh..
S: Do you feel like your friends, or people you know from your classes who are not part of any music activities are more interested, or can be more interested in jazz if they attend these concerts or do you think like these concerts have any influence on the campus community as a whole?
H: Uhm, I mean if I ask them to attend the concert, they will. And uh, I don’t think they will, if they have no musical background, they will attend the bands. Uh, I guess some of them might have a better understanding of jazz music and they might listen to jazz.
S: Are you involved in other music activities on campus other than this ensemble and Esleck’s trio?
H: Uhm, well that’s my - I’ve been playing in Dr. Esleck’s combo and this semester I’m playing in the ensemble with Dr. Davison’s Little Big Band.
S: Which do you think is, uh out of the three of them, which do you think is more representative of the jazz community on campus?
H: Uh, jazz community. I don’t know if there is a jazz community on this campus. [laughter] Uhm, I guess if you’re saying the jazz scene on campus, I guess Dr. Esleck’s jazz ensemble cause it has more people and also the music that we’re playing is more, I guess, more formal jazz or, uhm, more serious jazz, I guess.

Segment Synopsis: Finnegan talks about how jazz makes him feel more connected to the campus. He also discusses the Jazz Band's interactions with the rest of campus through concerts and which jazz ensemble is more representative of jazz on campus.

Keywords: Campus; Communicate; Community; Connections; Interact; Jazz

Subjects: Bringing different interests together; Connection to campus; Jazz concert attendance from the campus community; Representation of jazz community

00:11:34 - Jazz and Rock

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Partial Transcript: S: Uhm, so, circling back to you and jazz. Compared to - you said you originally got into playing bass because of rock and roll and attending those concerts - but what does playing jazz mean to you compared to let’s say playing rock and roll?
H: Personally, I like rock music better but uh..before I was playing Jazz Band here at UR, I knew jazz music but I don’t really listen to it. But after I got into the band and start playing I started to listen to it - jazz music a little bit. And uh- Oh you were saying playing - how’s that different from playing?
S: Uhm, yeah, just in general how you feel about the two genres and also your playing them as well.
H: Uhm okay, yeah so for me - I feel like the [inaudible] or spirit in jazz is really different from rock music. Uhm..I think that in jazz music, I really like it’s attitude. So it’s, uhm, jazz song I feel like jazz song is not too sad or not too happy. It’s just a chill attitude that I really enjoy. And uh, so, uh in terms of playing in a jazz band, because I’m a bass player, and bass has pretty important role in jazz band so, uhm, I - and also it’s, I mean compared to playing bass in, for example, a punk rock band, it was just playing the same note over and over. So, it’s much more challenging but very uh..enjoyable to play in jazz band.

Segment Synopsis: Finnegan talks about his experiences with bass player role differences in jazz and rock ensembles. Furthermore, he discusses what jazz and rock music make him feel.

Keywords: Attitudes; Comparisons; Jazz; Rock

Subjects: Jazz and rock differences; Role of jazz and rock; Roles in different ensembles

00:14:00 - A Predominantly Classical Music Department

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Partial Transcript: S: So I know, the - I’ve heard - or I know in general, for me in general, the music community composed of majors and minors, and people generally interested in being part of it is small, or a low number of people on campus. Just like, in the music department in general. And I know a lot of those people do a lot of classical music. Uhm, do you ever feel like the department should expand more into the jazz, or even the rock area that you originally wanted to do?
H: So, uhm, yeah I really agree with you. I’m really glad you bring that up. So for rock music, I mean I love rock music but I don’t think it’s something that you can teach in school. Or you can, or an instructor can guide a rock band and we can have meeting like every uh, Wednesday like something like that. I feel like rock uh rock band is more of like just friends getting together and uhm, playing, practicing by themselves. But, yeah, uhm, I really think that uhm, I guess our curriculum, for music major or music minor is kind of too focused on classical music. That’s the feeling I got when I’m taking music classes. And for example, I was considering taking - uhhh, music minor - and I took, I was in music 110 and music 211. And I just, I mean, of course those are important, uhm, knowledge you need to have in classical music. But, uhm, if I uh, if I don’t want to be trained as a classical musician or like that. I feel like I really don’t need to know the knowledge. Yeah, and I dropped that class too. [laughter]. But yeah. Uhm, yeah, I think that, uhm, I would really like to see our music department to, uhm, expand not only the curriculum, and also the, the different kinds of music scenes in UR.
S: Uhm, do you - do you feel like the department would be willing to advocate - or do you feel like in general, the department is willing to expand into those genres. Like if you asked to start, uhm, let’s say like, not a rock ensemble, but sort of like a rock group, or rock get-together, do you feel like the department would be willing to sponsor that?
H: Hm
S: Or do you feel like there are enough people on campus interested in that to even start it?
H: Uhm, I feel like, yes, but it might not be like the school starts the rock band first and people start to register for that band. I feel like it’s more like friends get together and tell the university, we want to practice, or we want to do shows, can you sponsor us.
S: Do you think that’s something you would want, ever? Or do you just like the idea of people getting together to play rock.
H: Yeah, uhm, I think I prefer the idea of people getting together.
S: Mhm, the latter.
H: The latter.
S: Alright, well, thank you!

Segment Synopsis: Finnegan talks about his thoughts on the predominantly western classical music centered music department at the University of Richmond. He speaks about his wishes for the department and possible expansions in the department that could be made.

Keywords: Classical; Division; Jazz; Music training; Support; Theory

Subjects: Classical training; Expansion of the department outside of classical music; Jazz, rock, alternative genre support; Music community composition; Theory class