Monday, March 06, 2006

Of Genus, mitosis, and Japan (Part 2)

On the topic of mitosis..

Snowparang has pointed out to me that this is not exactly "mitosis", since it doesnt result in the creation of 2 duplicate entities. Rather, the end result may be 2 very different creatures, sharing the same environment and resources.. That part i have to agree. What i do not think will happen, is the original cell 'suffering' from any degenerative backlash. ( But whatever the case, i will still be using the word "mitosis", one - for lack of a better word to use and two - Operation Mitosis sounds quite impressive. )

Time and again, I have debated this same issue with Alex and Owls.. but no conclusion can be reached. That's because nobody knows for sure what WILL happen to Genus (as we know it), should it ever revert back to its former days of catering purely for NUS undergraduates, as a place for learning and enjoyment of guitar playing, while socialising and forging new bonds of friendship. But that is precisely it!

The "Genus" as we know it today has evolved throughout the years, in terms of the make-up of its membership. Especially evident in the recent 3-4 years, this trend has resulted in a slightly 'top-heavy' kind of distribution, as compared to the 'bottom-heavy' scenario years ago when i was in my undergraduate days. Let me explain:

'Top-heavy' refers to the situation whereby there is a (relatively) large cohort of senior players in the ensemble, in relation to the entire membership population. To me, a player is considered senior when he/she is either in the final year of NUS studies, or has already graduated (could be doing post-grad, or working), and returns as an Alumni player. One characteristic of such players is that they have played in the ensemble for at least 3 years or more, and usually would have developed a certain level of technical abilities, together with a decent sense of listening and musical ideas.
I do not have the exact figures with me (i guess i can get the numbers if i really want to.. just lazy lah), but a very rough estimate would put the percentage of senior players in the ensemble as 30%.

This is in stark contrast to the "old" days whereby the seniors are a rare breed in the ensemble, and the Alumni considered 'untouchables'. I remembered when i was in my 1st year in Genus, we had a grand total of ...*drumroll* ONE alumni playing in the ensemble. Back then, the 3rd years students were considered the lao chiaos, and any 4th year students were SUPER lao chiaos. I have a feeling the percentage of these breed was about 10% or less. That is the 'Bottom Heavy' era of the past.

IMHO, if Operation Mitosis were to take place, it would simply put Genus back into its original roots. It would become a place for younger players (undergraduates) to learn, and really enjoy the process of playing guitar, without too much stress from their seniors, who grow increasingly annoyed by the apparent lack of musical progress of the ensemble as a whole. The conductor will then have a group of players of more similar abilities, and he can better judge the need for Sectionals and mini-ensemble practice sessions to advance the preparations of the group. In other words, he will not be "misled" into thinking the group is playing wonderfully when in fact, only the front row of seniors are producing the bulk of the sound. Note: The Pareto principle (80-20 rule)

One clear objective of the new entity from Mitosis, would then be to uphold the ROI that the bureacrats at CFA so desparately wants - in terms of better performing standards, better musical variety, and overall, a better image for CFA as a mover of the Arts in Singapore. And in truth, a more compact and technically competent small ensemble (like the current one that Owls has initiated) would be in a better position to achieve those targets, as compared to the current Genus, with all its 'fringe' players - no offence intended.

Sure, there would some problems created and difficulties to handle. The obvious one being the limited resources (includes instruments and practice venue) that would have to be shared by the 2 groups. Logistically it may be more tiresome and there could be accountability issues. Another probable concern would be the "talent drain" that some Genus loyalist (kekeke..) claims would lead to the ultimate demise of Genus.
Some of these worries are indeed, noteworthy issues but nothing that cannot be solved with proper planning and execution. Other worries are .. well, simply needless worries which may or may not materialise at all.

At the end of it all, i have arrived at a seemingly simple conclusion:

Operation Mitosis may not just be an interesting idea that we continue to dabble with..
It is probably becoming inevitable.

But therein lies a problem... Japan.

To be continued...


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