Genius of a Performing Arts High
Chapter 2.8 - Bit by bit 8
Chapter 2: Bit by bit 8
While I was awkwardly going through google maps, Chloe quickly changed the focus of the conversation. She talked about the songs she liked, how it was like living in France, the things that had happened since admission and stories about the Improvement Concert.
Talking on and on about stories with no contextual link seemed to be because she wanted to quickly go over my embarrassment. She was really kind. If it was me, I would’ve used it for 5 years as a teasing material.
Staring at her with admiration, I wanted to do something for her in reply so I opened my mouth.
[Chloe, should I teach you Korean from now on?]
She, who had some yogurt around her mouth opened her eyes wide.
[You need to continue attending this school and it would be hard to make friends if your Korean’s not good.]
[Ah… I would appreciate it but wouldn’t it cause you trouble…]
Chloe twisted her hair seemingly feeling apologetic. Well indeed, it was easy to say I’d teach her, but it would definitely eat up some time. While I was biting into the toast, the thing about the Improvement Concert suddenly came to mind.
I need to find an accompanist so I guess that should work.
[If you’re sorry then you can help me a bit as well. I’m going out for the Improvement Concert soon, can you help me for that?]
[Yeah, in about 3 weeks. Deal?]
When I held out my hand in a fist, after giving it some thought, Chloe smiled and tapped it lightly.
Hmm, I suddenly found myself an accompanist – and the ace of the piano department at that. There were rumours that her skills were tremendous.
‘The concert. I’m looking forward to it.’
After I got rid of the last bit of yogurt, Chloe opened her mouth.
[Have you decided on the song for the Improvement Concert?]
I put the spoon inside my mouth and wondered.
Song, huh…What song should I sing? There’s less than 3 weeks left till the concert so it’s true that I should be picking the song some time soon. Taking the phone out, I checked the Improvement Concert announcement.
Let’s see, an aria less than 6 minutes long, or two short songs. There weren’t too many limitations and was probably telling the students to do whatever they were confident in.
First it had to be a song without fancy skills, as my body was still not perfected. If possible, I would like a song with low difficulty but with emphasis on diction…
But if I were to pick an obviously easy song, it would be hard to get marks.
After a while of building thoughts upon thoughts, I stared at Chloe.
[Should we first head off to the practice rooms?]
Being a weekend, the practice rooms were quiet. Going through loads of empty practice rooms, we found one we liked and entered – it was a small room with a grand piano.
Wow, a Steinway.
Carefully peeking at the room with her head in the doorway, Chloe tilted her head.
[Is it okay not to reserve them beforehand?]
“There’s not much meaning to it during weekends. Just go in and use it I guess?”
Looking at the innocent, admiring Chloe who had been enlightened, I felt some guilt creeping in. Am I just teaching her weird stuff…
“Cough. Then, can I hear your piano for a bit? I want to take your style into account before choosing the song”
“Account, what does that mean?”
“Ah account, account… Mhmm… What should I play?”
“Anything. I don’t know much about pianos.”
Lightly sitting down on the seat, Chloe struggled and tried to change the height of the seat. I just realised but she was quite short. Since my own height was short, I had never really noticed it.
After adjusting it, she looked towards me.
“I’ll play… Schumann, Fantasie… Do you know?”
“Uh… I think I’ve heard it before.”
Actually, I had no clue.
Although I was extremely interested in opera, I wasn’t particularly interested in instrumental songs. It was a life busy just listening to opera songs.
While I was giving some excuses inside, Chloe gave a wide smile before facing the front and sitting properly.
Staring at the sky with a serious expression for a while, she then raised her left hand high and heavily pressed down on the keys.
A low note covered the ground. Above that, Chloe started to calmly manipulate her left hand.
‘Hmm… the code is a major.’
A lyrical main melody was in the forefront, and behind that, there was an endless continuation of another melody as the accompaniment. Glancing at the piano, her right hand seemed to be moving with an emotional pace while the left hand flew across busily and appeared peculiar.
I don’t know.
Shrugging my shoulders, I sat back and appreciated her solo. It was really good. There wasn’t anything else I could say as an opera major.
If I had to add, then I’d say her emotional expression was good too. The control on power when pressing the keys and other minute controls gave an illusion to various emotions. Even from all the accompanists I had been through, she had a talent at the top level.
And after around 3 minutes, the song ended and I enthusiastically gave a round of applause.
“You’re good. As expected.”
After some murmuring and thinking, Chloe asked.
[Can you give me some feedback? What was good and what wasn’t?]
Those were important indeed.
I thought deeply before opening my mouth.
[First, the emotional expression was very good. I think it’s my first time hearing this kind of delivery skills from around your age group? I’m not sure about the piano department but opera department kids are somewhat lacking in diction. After all, they’re all young]
[And the negatives… I’m not too sure about those…]
There wasn’t anything in particular even after a deep reflection. I just answered with whatever came to mind with a shrug.
[Is the main melody a little weak? The accompaniment is quite difficult yeah, but that shouldn’t kill the sound of the main melody, I think.]
Chloe gave some murmurs of admiration and stared directly at me.
Why? When I blinked my eyes in confusion, she replied with a bright smile.
[It was because you said the same thing as my teacher. Your ears are really good.]
Rather than saying my ears were good, it was more like a trained instinct that had been built from experience since I did listen to a lot of accompaniments. It felt like I was showing off in front of a kid so I quickly switched the topic of the conversation while feeling embarrassed.
“Song. What song should I go with… do you have any suggestions?”
“Song… I don’t know.”
I was asking for an opera song from a piano department… After quickly organising my thoughts, I searched through my head at my repertories.
What would be the best
Since there was a good accompanist should I choose a song with fancy accompaniments to make the most out of?
No. If I get suppressed by the piano, then that would just highlight my lack of skills. It had to be a song that just got enough of Chloe’s advantages.
‘An emotional song would be good.’
Even then, it had to be a song without an extremely high note. The highest tone had to be lower than A4, as I had no confidence to reach a note higher than that even with tons of practice.
An emotional tenor aria…
The first thing that came to mind was, una furtiva lagrima. It was a damn emotional song, and it was also famous. I hummed through the melody in my head to see if it was fine.
‘… non chie…’
Around the middle, the humming melody was blocked by a wall – a period where the melody scaled up and down like crazy.
‘… This won’t do.’
A scaling part going up and down with 32nd notes with this body was impossible and was like throwing an egg at a rock. Besides, due to it being a famous song, if the scaling part was done poorly, a deduction on marks would be inevitable no matter how well the other parts were done.
Then what else are there
While I was going through the rest, a song suddenly popped up.
“Do you know Mozart’s Magic Flute?”
The Magic Flute.
It was an opera that even people that had no idea on opera music would’ve at least heard of. No, perhaps they might not know the title – but wouldn’t they at least know one aria, the one extremely famous for high notes, Soprano Aria of part 1,
The so-called Queen of the Night aria?
“Ah! That ah ah ah! Song?”
“Huhuh, yeah that one.”
When I grinned finding that cute, Chloe seemed to have found it funny and sang the Queen of the Night aria. The bits and pieces of staccato, as well as a high note deafening the ears
“Ah ah ah ah ~ Ah! Ah! Ah!”
Oh, she can go up quite high. If she did opera instead of piano, she still would’ve been quite good at it.
After a while, I decided to open my mouth and chime in. It was impossible with the chest voice, so I went with a complete falsetto, but even then, I consciously maximised the resonating chambers.
The ringing was quite solid.
“Ah ah ah ah– ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!”
A female soprano voice that was one octave higher than my vocal range – that came out from my mouth. I could see Chloe being surprised.
Falsetto – even while singing falsetto, we had to make it resonate like the usual opera voice. Even I was surprised to find out that it was possible with this body but as expected, after reaching higher notes, it became harder.
At that point, I was just screaming.
“Ah ah ah ah ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!”
I fully immersed myself and acted as the Queen of Night with a frown and spread my arms out, to which Chloe responded with a laugh. I grimly glared at the one and only audience and breathed out the last line.
“… Tochter nimmermehr!”
We stared at each other and laughed after the song before realising that we went off track. Ah I suddenly got immersed in the atmosphere. I calmed myself with deep breaths when Chloe asked with bright eyes.
[How did you do that just then? Female voice?]
[Un? This? Ah–!]
When I did it again, she became amazed.
[Wow amazing! You were a countertenor? It’s my first time seeing it!]
I didn’t learn it enough to be called an expert of falsetto. It was just a small skill I learned back then when I was lost because my singing skills had become stuck, without showing any signs of improvement.
Becoming somewhat embarrassed I scratched my hair.
[No it was just something I picked up along the line. Hmm. It came out better than I thought.]
It was a little straining on the throat but it was strangely easier than it should’ve been to make a high note. I think I reached B5 albeit for a short time?
While massaging the larynx, I continued talking.
[Now, let’s return to the talk about the song. In any case, during the first part of The Magic Flute, there’s a prince of the world of light, Tamino, and there’s a song he sang when he was infatuated by the portrait of the daughter of the Queen of Night. I’m thinking of doing that aria.]
[How do I look it up?]
[Pass it over.]
When I searched for the first line of the aria, ‘Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon’, the score immediately popped up. I gave the phone back to Chloe and she placed it on top of the piano’s holder. Isn’t the screen too small to use as a score?
[You can play straight away yeah?]
Can I sing this song
Actually, I don’t think I could sing this.
“You can start immediately when you’re ready.”
Chloe then literally began immediately.
A slow piano music filled the background. Quickly going through the score, I realised it was the tenor part straight away. Wow, a G4 from the start. Raising my eyebrows up, I rang the highest note I could possibly sound.
The vocal cords vibrated like crazy and barely made the G4 note. It was barely, barely done, and at this rate, it was more like a noise than a song. Even Chloe seemed surprised and glanced at me before continuing the accompaniment.
Auh, this is hard right now. Will I be able to bring it up to that point in 3 weeks I wonder
I continued singing with a frown.
It was once again, a G4’s turn. Failed. Will I be able to breathe here? There was a point like that but no, it broke the momentum as I expected.
“… dann mein.”
Squeezing my everything and struggling for around 4 minutes, I felt all the energy leave my body. Heaving a deep sigh, I thought back to the song.
The highest note: A♭4.
Since the highest note my body could achieve was F4 right now… it was a song 1 and a half note higher than what I could sing.
1 and a half.
It sounded quite easy when said like this but the higher it went up, the further the difference was between notes so… I had no idea if it would be possible or not.
‘But first off…’
Let’s practise with this song as the goal. If I couldn’t reach it, then I would have to change to a simpler song. I gave a nod and looked towards Chloe but her expression was strange. She had a face filled with half-astonishment and half-worry.
After trying to read my mood, she opened her mouth.
[Um… You’re going to enter the Improvement Concert in three weeks with this song?]
[Un. It was a bit bad right? It’ll be better after some practice.]
[That… I’m not sure if it’ll get better or not.]
Chloe had an expression that seemed to say, ‘You sang like that and think its possible to get better after some practice?’. I wanted to give some excuse but I decided not to.
… Even from my perspective, it sounded like a pig’s oink. I tried to make a note I wasn’t able to, so there was no way it would sound nice in the first place, but even then…
I gave out a dry cough and changed the topic.
[Kuhm. Then I’ll go study and let my throat have some time off. I’m going to study some more maths…]
I quickly headed off to the self-study rooms.