Act 10: D.C. 9
Flashing my eyes open, I turned towards Han Dasom who had been standing still.
“Should we first sing something random and practise singing together?”
I quickly picked a list of songs that could help us practise. It had to help us match our voices together while also showing her the timbre I thought of, and plus, Han Dasom had to know it as well.
Blinking my eyes, I thought of a decent song.
“You know Time To Say Goodbye right?”
“Un! I’ve sang it a few times…”
Since it was a famous crossover song, I thought it was highly likely that she knew about it. Nodding my head in satisfaction, I started playing the piano accompaniment albeit clumsily.
“First off, just sing however you want. Let’s edit it as we go.”
Slowly playing the piano, I closed my eyes and thought.
Unlike trios and quartets in which a small number of people had allocated parts for themselves, it would be a song sung by a large number of people. Besides, the Subscription Concert will be in the form of orchestral music with lots of instruments and thus the density of sound would be greatly higher.
Dozens or at least hundreds of performers would all be producing sound. Countless instruments and an ensemble of forty would be spread behind us.
At the front of all that were the four main vocals and their voices had to break through a sound made by a hundred musicians.
“Quando sono solo sogno…”
As Han Dasom began her song, I quietly closed my eyes. Her soft voice and the whispering timbre spread across and formed a beautiful song, pleasant to the ears.
‘But it’s not suited for our goal.’
Listening to her song that seemed to tickle my ears, I quickly analysed it. I liked how she put a lot of breath in and expressed her emotions. She also remained faithful to the basics and showed off her skills.
However, it was too soft.
Due to mixing more breath in, more breath seeped out and there wasn’t enough resonance as a result. It was good that she emphasised the words by enunciating them sharply but because of that, it became harder for it to reach further.
Although it was overall good, there was no way it could ever break through the sound made by a hundred, and at this rate, her sound would be buried by the accompaniment and the chorus without reaching the audience.
It would be a different story if she had a microphone but…
‘Wait, a mic…?’
Due to the sudden flash of thought that hit my head, I halted but soon shook my head.
There’s no way they would give us a mic right? It was after all, a Subscription Concert of Future Arts High, and with the goal being a display of the students’ skills, we would be required to sing with our bare throats.
Breaking through the sound made by a hundred with sheer volume would be the best way to highlight the students’ skills.
Thinking that, I immediately sang my part.
“Quando sei lontana sogno…”
Gathering the breath I sucked in, I compressed it and calculated inside my head. Breaking down the lyrics into bits, the end results were ten pieces, which meant what I had to do now was simple.
I just had to cut the breath that filled my stomach into ten exactly the same pieces before letting them out. It had to be done without wasting a single bit of breath so that I could make the biggest sound I could ever make.
Then, I had to have the sound explode.
In the blink of an eye, I let the air speed through all the resonating chambers inside the body – the body itself, mouth, nose and the head.
I used each and every empty space and like beating a drum, I felt the handful of breath getting larger as it passed through each resonating chamber. And finally, when the sound escaped through the lips after going around the mouth once, it was large enough to fill the entire practice room.
“Veduto e vissuto con te–!”
My body twitched and vibrated, as the dense mass of sound embraced my body. Due to the pressure given off by my sound, I felt the strings of the piano resonating and twitching by itself.
I guess it was safe to say that I had recovered most of my skills from before the time travel.
Organising my thoughts, I sang before tilting my head.
It was a duet part; why couldn’t I hear Han Dasom’s voice?
When I turned around in curiosity, I found Han Dasom staring with widened eyes, standing at a place slightly further away. She seemed startled, judging from her shrunk appearance.
“What are you doing? We need to sing together.”
Coming to herself, Han Dasom opened her lips with a stutter.
“Sorry… I was surprised… You can make your voice that loud..?”
“It has to be at least this much to pierce through the accompaniment. I’m sure you can do it as well after some practice.”
Seeing the dumbfounded look on her face, I smiled. Well, Han Dasom’s singing style was quite far from a loud, grande style, but since that could be solved more or less by practising, it was okay.
Nodding my head, I stood up and turned my body towards her.
“Firstly, you did well just then.”
“You did well, but you already know there’s one problem right?”
I shook my head when I saw Han Dasom thinking with her lips closed.
“It’s too soft. If the accompaniment is played by one person, or if you’re singing with three others, like how we had always been doing, that’s okay. As long as the audience can hear it, it is a good song but this time, we will be performing with a hundred other performers.”
Interlocking my fingers, I met my eyes with hers.
“If we sing like you, can the audience hear it?”
How could a sound unheard be anything close to music? After carefully listening to my words, Han Dasom formed a serious look on her face.
“Right, that’s why I sang like I swallowed a burning charcoal just then.”
With a smile, I walked around the practice room and continued giving an explanation.
“So, we know we have to sing loud but how? Do our bodies have to be large? But I sang loud just then despite being small.”
Seeing her fall in deep thought, I smiled.
“In fact if you think about it, a human body is a huge instrument. Think of a violin. They are quite small compared to our bodies and yet they make quite the sound.”
“So if we use all the empty resonating chambers in our body like when playing a violin, how loud would the sound be?”
Han Dasom tilted her head and asked.
“Then what do we have to do?”
Raising my lips, I gave her a warm smile and an obvious answer.
“Practise. Until we can use all the resonating chambers.”
After that, a full-scale practice of Han Dasom and I began. First, I edited her song until she could let out a louder sound and matched her voice tone with mine, so that it sounded nice when we sang together.
This way, there would be a synergistic effect if we sang in a duet and thus, we would be able to get higher marks during the interview.
We then picked a few potential songs to practise, and when the song for the Subscription Concert was announced, we sang that together without even taking a break.
And before long, the interview day that would decide the main vocals of the Subscription Concert was upon us.
Glancing at the empty hall, the teacher in charge of freshmen students turned towards Song Muntak with a nod.
“I think the preparations are mostly done with, principal. The kids are all ready as well so I think we can start now.”
“Hmm, I see.”
With a satisfied smile, Song Muntak stared at the stage located in front of the hall. With a camera in the middle and speakers as well as other electronic devices, the interview marking the start of the important event, Subscription Concert, was ready to start anytime.
As Song Muntak watched all that with a content smile, the freshmen teacher scratched his hair and asked.
“But by the way principal, I heard you would be recording the preparations of the concert this time around?”
Turning towards the curious teacher, Song Muntak crossed his arms.
“You’re right. Youtube’s quite popular these days right? There was that youtube contest or something last time and… maybe some of the teachers enjoyed it – they suggested we film a few things.”
He then touched his chin in thought.
He hadn’t been expecting much from mere videos uploaded on youtube but… the reactions were more positive than he thought. There were quite a lot of views and more importantly, the fact that Future Arts High’s reputation was increasing was a satisfactory thing from his perspective as a principal.
That was the reason he decided to film more videos in spite of it being slightly bothersome. Listening to his explanations, the teacher in charge of the grade nodded his head.
“I guess we should warn the students to not say anything weird.”
“Well… yes I guess.”
Song Muntak caressed his chin with a nod and turned back towards the stage. Seeing the microphones placed here and there, he smiled.
To make sure he could follow the recent trends, he had decided on a number from a musical for the concert. He wanted to keep classical music for everyone, and especially the youngsters, not as an exclusive product of old people.
That was one of the reasons he decided to use microphones for this concert.
‘Our school’s kids won’t be used to musicals yet…’
And going through the accompaniment played by a hundred musicians was extremely difficult with a song they weren’t accustomed to. Even though the opera department students were outstanding, it would be difficult this time around.
Therefore, he decided to use mics and besides, there was no reason not to use microphones since they were singing a piece from a musical.
‘Now, I guess I should start preparing for the interview.’
Leaning back onto the chair, Song Muntak searched through the papers in his hand in relaxation. He went through the files which had imprinted faces of freshmen opera students – Lee Suh-ah, Han Dasom, Kim Wuju, Jun Shihyuk and Jo Yunjae.
After going through the files once, Song Muntak rested his chin on his hand and thought.
Hmm, although there was an unexpected result during the Prac High-achievers Concert last time…
‘Isn’t it too obvious this time?’
Shrugging his shoulders, Song Muntak signalled to the teacher standing next to him to allow students inside.
One thing that had been outside my expectations was the choice of song. It definitely had a different melody compared to the song from my memories, and was completely unexpected.
…I who had based my practices on my past memories was therefore very frustrated but on a positive note, it was fortunate for us, because it was a musical song which Han Dasom and I were familiar with.
It was probably a song which those who only studied arias and art songs wouldn’t know so we, who knew about the song beforehand, were comparatively better off.
“No problem right, Dasom?”
In a good mood, I decided to observe my contestants and first off was Lee Suh-ah standing next to us. Pulling Han Dasom along with me, I approached her and threw her a greeting.
“Did you prepare a lot?”
After throwing a glance, Lee Suh-ah was about to indifferently turn her face towards me but when she caught sight of Han Dasom, her eyes remained on her.
Han Dasom raised her hand with an awkward smile but after glancing at us two, Lee Suh-ah responded in a rather thorny tone.
“You guys are always together these days, aren’t you?”
When I gave her a curious look from the sudden irrelevant question, Lee Suh-ah seemed surprised by her own words and came to herself after opening her eyes widely.
“…It’s none of your business. What have you been even doing these days; I can’t even find you. Are you practising properly?”
Hearing the rapid questions leaving her mouth, I shrugged my shoulders and pulled Han Dasom forward.
“I’m busy these days preparing for this with her. Even if you fail this interview, don’t say anything to her okay?”
After staring at Han Dasom for a while, Lee Suh-ah bit her lips and turned her head away with a hmph.
Why so cranky?
Anyways, I came to make sure their relationship wasn’t soiled after the interview but it seemed that it wasn’t very helpful.
It was then that a shout reached my ears.
“Guys! Let’s enter slowly in one line.”
As the teacher pushed the door wide open with those words and the students began entering the hall one by one, I focused on the gap between the door and the teacher. Through that, I could see the brightly lit hall and the stage in front.
I looked into Han Dasom’s eyes for a bit before carrying my feet inside.