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Nucleus



December 31, 07

A Return to New Year's Resolutions


I've poo-pooed New Year's resolutions for most of my adult life, noting that the gyms tend to be full in January and sparse in February - ie, i never had faith that i'd ever have the willpower to actually commit to superficial statements of intended change. But after seeing the powerful effects of slaying a $55,000 debt ogre in only 9 months thanks to a written budget and goals glaring at me from a (digital) page, i'm beginning to realize the true benefits of word-smith'd dreams. What seems so mundane on the surface belies the underlying secret of such exercises, mainly: organization and focus.

Dan Miller, author of "48 Days to the Work You Love", runs a terrific life and career coaching website at www.48days.com. In his latest December newsletter, he has a link to a great outline for 2008 resolutions that models his 7-point wheel factoring all aspects of life balance:

  • Finances

  • Physical Health

  • Personal Development

  • Family Relationships

  • Spiritual Health

  • Social

  • Career


  • I spent some time filling in the outline via Google Docs and came up with the following goals for 2008 (so far):

    1. FINANCIAL Income, Investments

    Five-Year Goals
    Set up substantial kids' college funds
    Be on track to have net worth of $1 million

    One-Year Goals
    Set up $50,000 emergency fund
    Achieve all wishlist budget items

    Beginning TODAY!
    Budget weekly savings of $200 for wishlist items
    Develop better business accountability and profit/loss statements and future plans for real income growth


    2. PHYSICAL Health, Appearance, Exercise

    Five-Year Goals
    Get body fat down to 15%
    Be able to bench 200 pounds

    One-Year Goals
    Lose 5 pounds (get to 140 lbs)
    100 pushups daily
    100 situps daily
    60 pullups daily
    5 mile runs 3x per week

    Beginning TODAY!
    30 minute workouts in the morning


    3. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

    Five-Year Goals
    Improve Korean, especially reading
    Learn Japanese
    Learn German
    Learn French

    One-Year Goals
    Learn about mutual funds and stock market investing
    Find wholesome books for inspiration and motivation
    Read at least 2 new books per month
    Memorize Japanese characters
    Learn PureData/GEM
    Learn Blender 3D modeling

    Beginning TODAY!
    Learn 2 new Korean words per day
    Maintain list of books read on website

    4. FAMILY Relationships (incomplete...still working on this one)

    Five-Year Goals
    Get closer to family members - be praying for them regularly

    One-Year Goals
    Closer relationship with Mom and Dad
    video interview parents for their history and personal backgrounds

    Beginning TODAY!
    Teach piano lessons to Eric and Timmy more regularly
    Read to boys every day
    spend more time talking with Kyungmi

    5. SPIRITUAL (incomplete here too...)

    Five-Year Goals
    Memorize all of Psalm 119

    One-Year Goals
    Commit 10 psalms to memory
    Finish theology books (Thomas Watson, etc.)

    Beginning TODAY!
    Pray more actively and specifically for church members and missionaries
    Begin memorizing select psalms

    6. SOCIAL Increased number of friends, Community involvement, etc.

    Five-Year Goals
    hmmm....

    One-Year Goals
    Connect personally with network contacts at least once this year
    Reconnect with old school alumni
    Prepare Christmas cards and messages ahead of time
    Keep in touch with family on a regular basis

    Beginning TODAY!
    Improve responses to emails and phone calls

    7. CAREER Ambitions, Dreams, Hopes - REALLY INCOMPLETE

    Five-Year Goals

    One-Year Goals

    Beginning TODAY!


    I'll try to update this as soon as i'm able, particularly on the Career section. On the book side, here's a list of what's been read this month:

    Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
    Dance with the Dragon by David Hagberg
    Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey
    48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller
    QBQ: The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller

    A lot of personal development literature, as you can probably tell. Several books need finishing, as follows:

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D.


    Several more are on the burner as we speak - the list immediately above has been loaded from my Audible library onto my new 8 gig iPod Nano (Kyungmi's Christmas gift to me - thanks, Honey!)

    Quite a long list...certainly more than daunting at first glance, but hey - if i can chunk away almost $55K in 9 months, i think i can start attacking this list of resolutions, in much the same way: a little bite at a time. I'll keep y'all updated, and hope you'll keep me accountable in return!

    Best wishes for your own New Year's resolutions for 2008!

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    December 21, 07

    What i want for Christmas...a Wii-mote VR Head Tracking System

    This had me bouncing up and down in my chair like a giddy schoolboy, even dragging my poor wife out of bed to behold this amazing spectacle of video game possibilities:



    Johnny Chung Lee is my new idol, what with his amazing output of creative immediate-impact geekiness like the $14 steadycam...i want to be just like him when i grow up! I have to reiterate his plea to Nintendo Wii programmers to MAKE SOME GAMES WITH HIS VR HEAD-TRACKING SYSTEM!!! (even though i don't personally own a Wii...yet...)

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    December 07, 07

    Robot Violinist: the result of too many Rodes etudes?





    Robina needs to work a bit on her bow changes, but nevertheless an impressive computational/mechanistic achievement! Now instead of telling students that their playing is a bit "stiff and robotic", i'll just mention that they sound like a Toyota...

    Funny...looks like she plays vibrato the same way that i did when i tried to learn the violin as a kid - instead of rotating the finger pad forwards and backwards, i would just lift my finger up and down for a "pseudo" vibrato...

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    November 12, 07

    Tablet PC sighting From the Top

    Well, whattaya know! i was sitting in my hotel room at Skidmore College the other day channel surfing when i came across the TV version of NPR's "From the Top", the PBS show featuring Classical Music kids and hosted by pianist Christopher O'Riley. I had heard the show on the radio a number of times, but never realized that there was a televised version, taped in front of a live audience at Carnegie Hall. So anyways, i'm watching the show and noticing that the music on Christopher's piano is awfully thin...and bright...and there's a funny cable snaking under the piano...



    Whoa! Looks like Christopher is using a Toshiba convertible Tablet PC (my best guess, given the color scheme and button layout) with the screen flipped around - note the double-page layout in portrait mode, allowing him to see two pages at a time instead of the single-page portrait mode that i use with my Fujitsu slate model. I'm curious about the pedal system he's using to turn the pages - i'll see if i can email him about that. Anywho, the Tablet PC is certainly much more aesthetically pleasing for the camera than having to flip pages by yourself (as you can see one of the young pianists doing in the above video) or having a huge wall of paper scores as in this other video of Christopher playing Elliott Smith:



    Ah! i just did a bit of research on Christopher's site and found from his 'comments' page that he is using a Gateway Tablet PC with the eStand music reader software and its accompanying footpedal.

    Now how cool is that?

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    October 31, 07

    Video Votes

    A new video distribution site called Flix55 is soliciting clips for inclusion for some possible TV airtime, based on the number of votes received. Apparently, there are even cash incentives for folks who manage to get their favorite clips nominated (not quite sure how that works yet, besides the "incentive" part - something to do with adding friends as "cash buddies" who are supposed to help promote your video). Sounds somewhat dubious, but i guess that's one way to quickly market a new video site. In any case, someone from Flix55 recently asked if i would upload my video interview with Classical Accordionist Lidia Kaminska, which has been getting a lot of viewership on YouTube lately.

    Here's the video - if you feel moved to (possibly) help promote Classical Musicians on Internet video sites and possibly TV, please cast your votes by pressing the "play" button!



    **NOTE: it appears that there's no way to vote or rate the video from the embedded file. To do so, i think you have to view the video directly from the Flix55 website. Again, if you feel so-moved (and i hope you do!), click on this URL to jump to the Flix55 page with my clip and rate accordingly.

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    October 24, 07

    Way of the Wikipedia, Part 2

    I just came across this Reuters article a few days ago, with an irresistable intro-hook paragraph:

    "They say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. But these days, it seems you haven't really made it unless you have that most prized of status symbols - your very own page on Wikipedia."

    A few lines down, it points out the fact that unlike social networks sites like MySpace and Facebook, Wikipedia does NOT allow you to post articles about yourself. (Wikipedia, in case you're not familiar, is the world's largest online encyclopedia that's open for anyone - yes, anyone - to submit and edit articles to.)

    Of course, naďve moi didn't initially realize that when i plopped over to Wikipedia a few weeks ago, signed up for a free account and promptly started to Copy-Paste my biography into the Wikipedia article framework. At first, all looked fine - but then when i tried to test the article and refresh the page, a glaring banner had suddenly appeared along the top, announcing itself as the "CorenSearchBot" or something to that effect, warning that the text i had inserted had been directly copied from an external source (uh, yeah...like, my own website?). Well, i tried changing a few lines around, omitting sundry details, and re-pasted the edited biography -

    No go. Man, that search bot was tough to fool!!

    I then studied a few other biographical articles within Wikipedia to get a flavor of the language style required and came up with a fairly decent draft.

    Moments later - and i really mean, MOMENTS! - several new angry banners began appearing all over my article like neon parking tickets on a Philadelphia street, declaring that the piece was in imminent danger of being summarily deleted and banned from the Wikipedia universe. Several administrators angrily demanded to know if i was the self-styled author of the subject under question. I answered affirmatively, and tried to defend the new 'neutral' tone of the writing. Several more mentions of auto-biographical violations were thrust upon me, and it started to look pretty bleak for yours truly to retain even a micron of Wikipedia real estate...

    Well, i think an apologetic stance helped somewhat, and even a plea for help as i really had no idea what was going on, and felt badly that i was evidently in the virtual equivalent of tresspassing in a library with muddy shoes on. Fortunately, several other authors began chiming in and checking out some of my reference sources - an absolute requirement, by the way, to have a prayer of hope to be considered "notable" enough for inclusion in the world's largest online encyclopedia. The Wikipedia gatekeepers looked kindly on my references, and even spent a good deal of their own time cleaning up the text and adding footnotes and proper text alignments and the like. The key was to immediately keep 'hands off' of directly editing the body of the article - i was free to submit reference, media, and text suggestions within the discussion page, but directly authoring my own article was a "no no".

    Therein lies the key. You cannot author your own article, but certainly a hired press agent can do so on your behalf (as i'm 99.99% sure most of the uber-popular classical musicians' articles are authored by). Otherwise, you will need to rely on your own notoriety and the kindness of fans and strangers. Newspaper and magazine articles are an absolute necessity to substantiate any portion of your article, so the more you can have on hand (Publication name, article author, date of article, and - if possible - page number and/or URL link) the better equipped you'll be to keep your virtual stake in the Wikipedia ground. This can make things very difficult for unreviewed musicians and composers, but then again it creates incentive to get out in the public light and let your local publications know about it as much and as often as possible until something gets written about you.

    After several trips to the Wikipedia I.C.U. and much discussion between administrators, it looks like Hugh Sung has at least a decent foothold in Wiki-posterity for now. i'm not quite sure how "prized" this is as a "status symbol", but it's certainly neat to have seen the process from the inside out.



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    October 23, 07

    A Nice Student Recital Review

    This may be the very first time i've ever had a performance in one of the Student Recitals at Curtis reviewed, thanks to a new blog called Chamber Music Today:



    Many thanks to Dr. McNair for the insightful review not only of Elena Urioste's wonderful performance, but of the background to the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor as well. Be sure to check out the references to my Tablet PC in performance!

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    October 17, 07

    I oughtta be in pictures...

    Now THIS was a real head-spinner -

    http://movies.nytimes.com/person/533950/Hugh-Sung



    What in the world was my name doing on a NY Times movie review page??

    Upon further investigation (ie, clicking the link) it turns out that i make a cameo (i assume) in a film called, "Aaron Rosand: Celebrating a Life in Music". I write "assume" because for some reason i can't open the link properly in my browser. Anyone catch the preview of the film? How does my hair look? Does my leg keep jumping around too much? Is my tie on straight?

    LOL - somehow i don't think the Paparazzi will be hounding me on the PATCO high speed line anytime soon...congratulations to my esteemed colleague Aaron Rosand on the release of this new film!


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    October 15, 07

    Greg Stepanich on Classical Musicians in the Video Blogosphere

    Greg Stepanich from PalmBeachPost.com writes in his Oct. 12th post about the innovative ways classical musicians and institutions are marketing themselves, including an increasing wave of internet videos being used to educate and market classical music. Mr. Stepanich very kindly highlights the blog of "yours truly" as being "one of the most consistently interesting blogs out there..." (Why, thank you!) and points out my video interview with soprano Jacquelyn Familant where she talks about the importance of self-marketing. He also mentions my link to Charles Griffin's website and notes that Charlie is making PDF's of his scores directly available for purchase via PayPal. There's also a terrific reference to the Lynn University Conservatory of Music making their master class and rehearsal videos available for viewing thanks to BandDirector.com. We should see more conservatories following this model, a la shades of iTunes University!

    Many thanks to Mr. Stepanich for recognizing the efforts of musicians trying to find innovative ways to share their art in a visual society!



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    October 13, 07

    Running with David Toub on Amie Street

    i'm not a professional runner by any wild stretch of the imagination, but at least i've come to the point where i can actually enjoy my runs, particularly when i have great music to inspire me into that peculiar frame of mind that i can only describe as "the zone". i suppose this is the point where runners' endorphins kick in to produce that special "high" that makes you feel like you're flying over the road. i've always had a particular affinity for electronica for my runs, music that provides a steady accompaniment to the breathing and heartbeat rhythms as my body struggles to overcome the first mile of sluggishness and my mind gradually stops fussing about how i feel and settles itself into the delicious zen of the pavement.

    With that in mind, i'm getting inspired to crank my MP3 runs up to the next level by adding tracks from post-minimalist composer David Toub. Close to a year ago (November 2006) i performed one of David's works - "objects" - as part of Sequenza 21's first ever live recital for contemporary art music. The original MIDI rendition of "objects" is now available on Amie Street, a terrific work for marimba, piano, and electronic organ - the hypnotic sonic blend would make for a perfect running companion!



    Be sure to check out David's other Amie Street offerings, including some fascinating minimalist meditations for solo organ:



    Minimalism, to me, is a bit like those old stereoscopic posters, where you let your mind's eye drift over the collage of patterns until a three-dimensional picture gradually emerges into view. Perfect for running music, i'd say - see you on the street, David!

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    Classical Music selections on Amie Street

    While Amie Street is carving out a terrific niche for independent and alternative rock bands, i wanted to draw some attention to some of the Classical Music selections i found notable as a way of both introduction to new Amie Street listeners and as encouragement to my Classical Music colleagues to consider contributing more tracks to this fledgling new distribution website.

    (Ok, i'm afraid that embedding these player files from AmieStreet.com might "break" those of you viewing this site with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, so hopefully y'all will just defect over to Mozilla's Firefox Web Browser en masse!)

    Here's a little summary of some of the worthwhile Classical Music tracks that can be had for almost nothing on Amie Street:

    The Ingrooves Symphony Orchestra has a pleasant selection of albums for folks new to classical music. You can't go wrong with building a nice, inexpensive beginner library of Easter, Christmas, and miscellaneous selections for orchestra and solo piano with the albums below:

  • Beethoven for Beginners




  • Birds and Flowers




  • Easter Spectacular (though i think their "Messiah" selections are waaaay too slow and pedantic...)





  • A Classical Christmas - very staid interpretations of traditional hymns and choruses for the Christmas holiday season




  • I enjoy interesting transcriptions of all kinds - here's something that works pretty well, i think:

  • Bill Furner - guitar improvisation with synthesized orchestra background based on Chopin Nocturne No. 2




  • i've got to learn more about composer Kobi Arad (i suspect he's also a pianist, given the high level of pianism chops in these recordings) - he's got an incredibly eclectic mix of hip hop, lounge, jazz, classical and contemporary classical compositions compiled over several albums. Really remarkable stuff here, if i may say so!

  • Experimental works for Orchestra and voice, string quartet, piano and tape by Kobi Arad




  • Lush romantic and jazzy tracks featuring piano and string quintet by Kobi Arad - album titled "Ancient Novice"




  • Some inventive "re-compositions" by Kobi Arad - this one of Messiaen's "Les Corps Glorieux":




  • ...and this one of Anton Webern's "Immer Schmerz":




  • My good friend Charles Griffin has several albums of his works up. Of note:

  • Vernacular Dances and other Chamber works (i set his Vernacular Dances to visualizations for my Visual Recital). Be sure to check out the last track "The Persistence of Past Chemistries", a neat percussion chamber work!




  • From the Faraway Nearby: Homage to Georgia O' Keefe - Walter Cosand and i premiered the 2 piano version of this work (listen here and here), but this is the original setting for 2 guitars. Beautiful and haunting renditions wonderfully performed.




  • Feel free to drop me a note if you post anything up on Amie Street and i'll do my best to give your material a listen and a review!


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    October 10, 07

    More Portals for Podcasts

    Earlier today i received happy news that InstantEncore.com has just added my blog's RSS feed to their News section. Pickings are a little slim at the moment, but hey! this site's just a few weeks old! Already it's easy to see how nicely their strategy to be a comprehensive Classical Music portal for news, podcasts, concerts, recordings and streaming media is coming together. The interface is clean and easy to navigate, and promises a wealth of consumer-friendly access to the rich world of Classical Music activities.

    The "Video" section is still blank, and i've put in a request to have my video podcasts from Blip.tv added to their "Podcast" page. Hopefully we'll see some more legs for some of my video and audio material.

    Special thanks to Evan, Margo and the entire InstantEncore.com team! Keep up the great work!

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    October 08, 07

    Stock Market Music on Amie Street



    amistreet.gif i first encountered Amie Street through composer Charles B. Griffin's website a while back. At first i thought it was just another basic MP3 upload site for artists to promote their own tracks, with a curious pricing scheme that allowed newer tracks to be free and popular ones to range in price, up to 99 cents. To be honest, i didn't spend much time exploring around and soon forgot about the Amie Street concept.



    Fast forward to this past Saturday. My oldest son now owns my beloved video iPod, so i'm stuck with either listening to MP3's through my (bulky) Samsung i730 PDA phone or with my dinky little Lexar MP3 player that came as a 'bonus' with my Bose Q3 headphone purchase. Well, i've been finally getting back into running and needed to quickly find some music for "exerci-nsperation" for Saturday's run. Being bereft of my iPod has made me a virtual iTunes orphan since i can't easily port over DRM-trapped tracks to any of my other devices, so i tried to think of some other options. i started revisiting AmieStreet.com and had my "aha!" moment when i finally understood how really, really cool this site is!



    AmieStreet.com works as a virtual "stock market" for music. As i stated above, new tracks get introduced for free. The more popular a track becomes by the number of downloads, the higher it starts to rise in price. The cool part here is that if you download a track - either when it's brand new and available as a free download, or at any price point as it climbs in popularity - and then write up a recommendation for the track, you will have the opportunity to accumulate purchasing "credits" as the track (hopefully) rises in value. Say for example, you download a classical music track - oh, perhaps like the Chopin "Raindrop" Prelude in D-flat major (hint hint) while it's available as a free download. If you really love it and feel inspired to write up a recommendation for it, you'll "lock in" your "purchase price" - in this case, $0. If the track climbs in value, say to 55 cents, then you will be rewarded that amount to apply to any purchase within your Amie Street account. If the track is only available for a price, then you will need to purchase it first before writing a recommendation. Your received credit will become the difference between your purchase price and the final price (up to 99 cents, i believe) whenever you decide to "cash in" your credit for the track.



    i don't know about you, but i find this utterly ingenious! By this system, listeners are rewarded for exploring and sharing their discoveries, and artists are given a viable tool to promote their work while still retaining full rights to their material. From what i can tell from my initial foray, AmieStreet has a $5.00 "storage fee" for each track. i'm assuming that once enough sales come in to cover that fee, then the artist will start receiving 70% of the proceeds above that amount.



    i'm just dabbling with this for now, but i'll keep everyone posted as i upload more tracks for sale. You can visit my Amie Street "store" at http://amiestreet.com/hughsungpianist (banners soon to follow here on the site). Oh, and if you're curious as to what i ended up running to on Saturday:



    Junkie XL - Music from SSX Blur -




  • A51

  • Dark Territory

  • Fly Zone

  • L'Envers

  • Rail Yard

  • King's Crown




  • Be sure to check out my recommendations for two of Charlie's works, " The Lawrence Tree" and " Oriental Poppies". See you on Amie Street!





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    October 02, 07

    Way of the Wikipedia, Part 1

    Just got home from an exhausting recording session in Baltimore, but i wanted to post this before i crash for the evening: H now stands for Hugh Sung in the Wikipedia!


    For those of you who might not be familiar, www.Wikipedia.org is one of the largest (if not the largest) online encyclopedias on the internet that anyone can contribute to. That being said, one cannot simply write up self-promoting articles and expect them to be left in the Wikipedia repository willy-nilly - that lesson was learned the hard way by yours truly! With the open-source medium comes an amazing crack team of administrative editors and correction "bots" that are virtually instantaneous in their oversight of anything that enters the Wikipedia domain - in fact, if i recall this correctly, approximately 5,000 articles actually get deleted from the Wikipedia each day because of inappropriate or uncompliant content.


    I'll get more into the tale of my Wikipedia journey when i'm less starved for sleep, but for now let me extend warm thanks to wiki-admins GoodDamon, Timotab, and especially ArielGold for their patience with me as i stumbled around in wiki-newness!


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    September 03, 07

    Video of MusicReader test

    I just received an email announcing a successful test run of a new product being developed in the Netherlands called the MusicReader. Not many details about the program yet - it appears to run on Tablet PC's with page turns enabled by foot paddles from Pedalpax Corporation (enabling both forwards and backwards page turns). Check out the demonstration video from their website below:



    I'd love to see more details on the various functions of the MusicReader program, particularly with regard to annotation and networking capabilities. It'd be nice to see details about the pedal paddle too - seems to be silent operation from what i can tell from the video, but it's hard to confirm. Looks very promising and a welcome addition to the growing field of digital music readers!

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    Welcome!

    Thank you for visiting this site! I hope you'll find this to be a friendly place to learn about and discuss the fascinating technologies available for the Classical Musician. A great place to get started is with the ongoing "Getting Started" series. Remember, the worst questions are the ones you never ask, so feel free to email me!

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