Act 8: Lively 13
Thinking back, I think it was quite difficult to choose the second song and it was in fact easier choosing the first song, Elf King.
Elf King was something that could only be done by myself – it was the type of song which even the genius of the century Kim Wuju as well as the prideful Lee Suh-ah weren’t able to do as of yet.
It was a song choice dedicated to make the most out of the sword style changes.
After choosing the first song like that, I had to choose the second prac song, but my head turned blank like I had been smacked by a rock.
Should I show off high notes?
No, Kim Wuju would be able to make notes higher and better than mine.
Should I show off techniques?
No, Kim Wuju would be able to display better techniques.
Kim Wuju’s La Danza. Just from that one song which I heard during the study group, I felt like I was being blinded.
Even teacher Ku Mingi told me to just choose a song I was confident with for the second song, perhaps because he couldn’t think of any special moves either.
That was the huge gap existing between Kim Wuju and myself – a gap which could never be overcome just because I had been singing for longer.
‘A song I was confident with.’
Closing my eyes, I listened to the accompaniment flowing out of the piano and smiled.
That was why, choosing the second song was easy yet difficult.
When my goal was to come out on top, my head was blank without anything popping up, but when I decided to just try my best, there were too many songs I wanted to sing.
I used to sing this and that song a lot. Ah, this song is super good as well…
The songs I had been singing for the past 20 years flashed past my head – the songs I sang as a run-of-the-mill baritone of Korea; as the disciple of teacher Kwak Jungsoo, Jo Yunjae.
I picked one from those.
A song I was the most confident in, and one that had been polished diligently throughout 20 years.
‘Baritone Jo Yunjae’.
It was a song representing him.
Slowly, I opened my eyes as well as my lips.
“É triste il mio cuor senza di te…”
[My heart is sad without you…]
Tristesse by Chopin.
When I was young, my mother who was a classic-lover used to play lots of art songs from time to time.
José Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo…
Unknowingly, I grew up while listening to the songs of all sorts of bigshots but I was in fact not very interested in it before middle school.
I only thought that they were good at singing and nothing else.
Only when I was in the second grade of middle school and entered a choir to learn singing after a strong recommendation from my mother did I realise how great they were. I realised that the songs I had been listening to everyday were in fact extremely difficult tasks.
After that, I picked one of the songs from those bigshots who then became my idols and practised them.
This song was the very first one I started.
I had admired the beautiful song of separation which José Carreras had sung.
“Fai soffrir quest’anima che t’ama”
[Make this soul suffer that loves you]
This song called sadness was literally quite simple. It didn’t require fancy techniques, or ear-splitting high notes.
Emotions and only emotions.
How well could you express the emotion of ‘sadness’ and how well could you convey that to the audience. That was all there was to it.
In fact, wasn’t that the fundamental essence of singing?
Singing wasn’t a boastful showcase of showing off techniques or high notes but was about moving the emotions of others.
“Sei tu la vision che ogni sera…”
[You are the vision that every night…]
Softly, I whispered before slowly closing my eyes.
It was actually quite interesting when you thought about it.
Songs were nothing but waves of air resulting from vibrations of the vocal cord. How would these touch the emotions of people, you might think but… perhaps everyone has experienced it at least once.
Shuddering after listening to a song.
We tend to pick opera singers that could gift us with those experiences as the best singers.
“Sognar fa il cuor che nell’amore spera…”
[Dreaming makes the heart that in love hopes…]
However, it was difficult to have the emotions of others waver.
Specifically speaking, the standards that enable us to touch the emotions of the listeners were ambiguous. On some days, I would sing super zealously only to receive cold reactions and sometimes, there would be teary listeners after singing half-heartedly so… it was hard to make anything out of it.
However, after practising with Lee Suh-ah on the emotions and after investigating the characters following the advice of the teacher, there was something I understood.
Just like how characters spoke during acts, opera singers spoke through songs.
If a character conversed through lines, expressions and gestures, opera singers talked to the audience through lyrics, tone and pronunciation.
In the end, a song was about letting others hear my story.
Like how Lee Suh-ah was moved after listening to my poor past and how ‘O sole mio’ which I sang first after returning to the past was moving,
If I explained why I was singing this song and why I was using this voice, the listeners could be moved with more ease.
That was why teacher Kwak Jungsoo made me investigate the characters. Firstly, the singer had to know the background to relay that story over to the audience.
With admiration feeling my heart, I pulled my emotions up as the highlight approached.
“Più da me non tornerai–!”
[You’ll never come back to me–!]
Sorrowful lyrics longing for the return of the loved one…
To be honest, I didn’t really get it because I had never wanted anyone that desperately. If you were breaking up just break up and if you’re meeting someone, just meet them. Why cry over something like that?
However, there was one thing that I desired so desperately.
There was a level I couldn’t reach no matter how much I tried and there was a wall which deterred me from advancing as limits.
That helplessness, depression and sorrow when I reached that wall.
Wouldn’t that be similar?
That was what I talked about.
“Mentre triste vola la canzon–!”
[While sad flies the song–!]
A highlight which I sang at least hundreds and thousands of times.
Added to that, I was not using teacher Ku Mingi’s vocalisation method which was still somewhat foreign but teacher Kwak Jungsoo’s vocalisation that I had been using throughout 20 years that felt all the more familiar.
The lyrics flowed past my tongue and the notes went up with ease. The vocalisation was solid and the breath left naturally.
“Che canto a te!”
[That I sing to you!]
My head felt blank.
In the midst of my mindless song, I could suddenly feel the smell of wood unique to practice rooms seeping inside my nose.
The snug yet frustrating smell of that room which perhaps took over at least half of my entire life – the memories of my songs at that place flashed past my head and repeatedly disappeared before popping back up.
“Solamente a te…”
[Only to you…]
I who first started practising after entering Future Arts High, I who had been happy about the return, the me who had been depressed and the me who was drunk in a sense of accomplishment…
The songs which were sung by my countless selfs resonated in my brain before soon mixing into one.
Teacher’s Kwak Jungsoo’s advice; teacher Ku Mingi’s teachings; singing in line with Chloe’s piano; morning duet with Han Dasom; the confrontation with Lee Suh-ah, Kim Wuju, Jun Shihyuk, and the songs I sung with Noh Jusup.
All of that became one and leaked through my lips as a song.
[Sad without love…!]
Soon, it came to an end.
The flowing accompaniment of piano left behind echoes and dissipated, as the lumps of emotions in my throat steadily vanished.
There, I stood still slowly taking all that in with my body.
From within that slow flow of time, a sudden enlightenment flashed and disappeared.
This was how I had to sing.
Blankly sitting on the bench, I glanced up at the skies.
I could see the clear June sky.
The warm breeze touched the sleeves of my shirt and rustled the leaves as the overwhelmingly bright sun rays shone down.
Sitting at the garden of Future Arts High, I was in a completely blank mood.
‘I don’t wanna do anything…’
Right now, I was sitting on a bench while saying that but I didn’t even wanna do that. After the prac test was over, it felt like all the energy had left my body.
I did pour in everything I could for that test.
Glancing at the distant travelling clouds, I thought back while slowly blinking my eyes.
Earlier today when I sang Chopin’s Tristesse, after finishing the song, I bid farewell with a somewhat drunk mood and struggled myself out of the venue. In fact, I didn’t even remember what I said to them. Did I say ‘thank you’? Or maybe ‘I’ll be taking my leave’ or ‘thanks in advance’?
I had no idea.
Perhaps I had been possessed by something.
It was the same with the song.
That feeling I had back then… how would I say it? A sense of unity? It felt like I poured out everything that had been bottled up inside me. I tried recreating that strange, indescribable overflow of emotions at a practice room straight after that.
But it didn’t work.
Maybe it was because I was energy-less but it just didn’t work.
After heaving out a sigh, I scratched my head before lowering my arm back down.
In any case, it was great that the test seemed to have been a success. All that was left was to wait for the results but as for the actual results…
I had no idea to be honest.
I think I did well but Kim Wuju would’ve done a great job as well. On top of that, since Lee Suh-ah didn’t tell me her songs to the bitter end, I couldn’t even imagine her results.
With a frown, I tried guessing the results but sat back up straight after eventually giving up on it. In any case, the results of the prac tests would probably be announced tomorrow morning.
I remember myself being startled because of that quick announcement of results. So until then, I just had to wait I guess…
Tapping on the chair, I was looking into the skies when Noh Jusup who was staring at the phone from the side suddenly raised his head up.
“I think they’re coming now.”
Hearing that, I looked forward to find familiar silhouettes of girls in front. From the left, things that seemed to be Chloe, Han Dasom and Lee Suh-ah were seen quickly walking towards where we were.
When I raised my hand up high, Chloe ran up before anyone else.
“Hi! Were we late?”
“No, you’re right on time.”
Next to Chloe in bright smiles, Han Dasom and Lee Suh-ah approached before greeting us. Unlike Han Dasom who was wearing a faint smile, Lee Suh-ah still had a hollow set of eyes.
The reason for today’s gathering of the Concerted Music members + alpha was simple – it was for a small party after the prac tests.
Today, after the prac tests, the teachers allowed us to leave freely and that was exactly the reason why we had gathered today.
But seeing Lee Suh-ah who still couldn’t bring herself out of the aftereffects of the prac test, I tapped her with a click of my tongue.
“What have you been doing to be like that? Did you fail your prac tests or something?”
With a depressed expression, she looked at me before turning her head over to the side.
Her reaction was abnormal because usually, she would’ve glared daggers and screamed. I was tilting my head when Noh Jusup brightly opened his mouth from the side.
“Oi! Let’s stop talking about the prac tests and let’s go play. We need to play until the results are announced!”
I felt a bit sorry for him after seeing him display such a bright expression.
It’s going to come out tomorrow morning though…
‘Right. Ignorance is bliss.’
With a nod, I followed the kids from behind and carried my feet. A faint breeze passed by the pathway filled with sunlight.
‘I wonder… what the results are going to be like.’