Volume 1 / Chapter 13
He walked through the cafe door early in the morning and the soft melody of a guitar was floating around. Jun Hyuk sat in the middle of the cafe and stirred the air with his fingers without realizing that Yoon Kwang Hun had walked in. It seemed like he was following the guitar’s melody with his finger.
Yoon Kwang Hun waited until the CD track was over. When the music ended and the cafe became quiet, Jun Hyuk’s eyes opened wide and he ran over to the closet packed with CDs.
“You need to stop and work, right? What are you doing instead of preparing the cafe for business?”
Jun Hyuk finally realized that Yoon Kwang Hun had come in and bowed to the cafe owner. Since it had been decided that he would start working, the first thing to change was the way he referred to the man. Yoon Kwang Hun also thought that it would be better for Jun Hyuk to call him that than mister so that he could gain a sense of responsibility and seriousness.
“Did you listen to music all night?”
“Yes, boss. But who is this person? Someone who plays the guitar?”
“Why? You like it? Jeff Beck. He’s a British guitarist.”
Jun Hyuk brought another CD and handed it to Yoon Kwang Hun.
“What about this person? This person playing the piano.”
“Glenn Gould. I guess you heard Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It’s incredible.”
Yoon Kwang Hun held the CD that Jun Hyuk handed him and smiled slightly. Jun Hyuk had fully taken his words to listen to all music without prejudice into consideration – rock, the blues, classical, etc.
“So? You haven’t answered my question. You didn’t sleep last night?”
“Hurry up and get the cafe ready so you can go in and sleep.”
As Yoon Kwang Hun was about to drink a cup of coffee, Jun Hyuk came carefully to his side.
“Can you teach me english before hangul? All of the music is in english. It’s so frustrating to be unable to read the CDs.”[TN] hangul is korean for…well, korean.
“It isn’t important who the people are. Just start by listening. Whatever it is. For now, it’s important that you listen to a variety of music.”
He couldn’t even write properly in hangul yet. Yoon Kwang Hun was also frustrated because he could not comprehend why someone who learned music scores so easily was having such difficulty memorizing the Korean alphabet.
However, it was obvious that he had been born with his talent for musical instruments. He remembered music he heard for the first time perfectly and could identify each sound by their instrument. All that was left to work on was the skill.
When he held a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, he remembered all 22 frets, 6 series, or 132 sounds perfectly. After he memorized the chords, he didn’t need to look at music scores to play any guitar performance.
Yoon Kwang Hun had purchased the Blu-Ray of a world famous guitarist because he was unable to play an instrument himself. After Jun Hyuk watched these guitarists’ live performances and saw how they handled their instruments, his own skill on the guitar improved steadily.
During the first year spent at the cafe, Jun Hyuk only played the piano and guitar. He slept once he finished preparing the cafe for business and listened to music from the moment he woke up in the afternoon. Once the cafe closed at 10 at night and he was done cleaning up, he practiced the piano and guitar until morning.
Yoon Kwang Hun was able to witness Jun Hyuk’s gift every day. He never once rested and even if he had practiced for 10 hours, he said that those 10 hours were short. It seemed as though he could not believe that the time had gone by so quickly.
Talent meant devoting oneself so much so that time is forgotten.
Jun Hyuk had reached the level where he could imitate anywhere from B.B. King’s blues to Yngwie Malmsteen. After another year passed, he could play the piano so well that a passerby would think that he had majored in classical music.
Music scores accumulated faster than his guitar and piano skills increased. He had now moved on from listening and imitating to creating his own music. The scores ranged from short instrumentals to the 40 minute symphony that he had wrestled with for over a month before its completion. Once he finished a song, he didn’t look at it again because he would write another song come tomorrow anyway.
“Jun Hyuk, what’s this song? To be honest, it’s a bit bothersome.”
It sounded as though there was a dissonance through the introduction that was almost uncomfortable to listen to. Of course, it could also be attributed to the fact that Yoon Kwang Hun had not been properly educated and could not imagine the melodies played by all of the instruments in an orchestra. He closed the score before going through very many of the sheets. He was not sure why, but he found the discomfort and uneasiness unbearable.
“You think so? I really like it.”
“It’s too experimental. What is it that you were trying to express?”
“Um… was it when I was 10 years old? It was when I was begging on the streets while singing gospels… I was beaten with a belt because I hadn’t brought in enough money. It was the first time I had been beaten so severely… and I passed out. The fear and pain I felt then and the frustration of not knowing when the beatings would stop? I tried remembering those feelings. I ended that song at the point where I had fainted. It doesn’t seem right?”
How could he talk about such a harrowing experience with a smile on his face…..
Yoon Kwang Hun felt even more uncomfortable than when he had been looking at the music score. From what had been occasionally disclosed to him over the last two years, it seemed Jun Hyuk’s street life had been more dramatic than a soap opera or a movie. He came to know that reality was more miserable and gruesome than an author could put into expression.