Volume 2 / Chapter 57
“I’ll play the rock version first.”
As Jun Hyuk sat in front of the drums in the recording booth, the producer and composers working with Jo Hyung Joong rubbed their sleepy eyes and started watching.
Jun Hyuk’s music had already aired throughout parts of ‘Tomorrow’s Star’. They had been surprised at the 10 seconds shown of Jun Hyuk on the drums, but this was the kid that Jo Hyung Joong had raved about. Everyone wanted to see how impressive he was.
“Teacher, he doesn’t need a metronome?”
The engineer preparing to record saw that Jun Hyuk did not have an earphone in his ear.
“Leave him. He’ll be able to play one song on beat.”
Jo Hyung Joong signaled to Jun Hyuk,
“Okay, you can start since everything is ready.”
Jun Hyuk started to swing the drumsticks with force. Everyone focused on the performance, but it was not the drum they had expected. It was a plain drum, maintaining a very simple beat.
The only thing unusual about it was that this simple drumming went on for 8 minutes.
When Jun Hyuk finished his performance and came out of the booth, the sound engineer and Jo Hyung Joong had puzzled expressions.
“Was it too monotonous?”
“Huh? Uh… No. It was really breezy. It’s good. But Jun Hyuk, 8 minutes is too long. It’s a song to perform. No matter how famous the song is, there isn’t an audience willing to hear 8 minutes of it.”
“It’s 12 minutes.”
“The whole thing is 12 minutes. In the middle, there are going to be two points without the drums and just the bass and guitar… I held those places in the middle of the drum.”
They had not even realized that he held spots in the performance because he kept repeating the same simple rhythm. But 12 minutes?
“Hm, it’s too long anyway.”
“Then listen to the whole thing and shorten it for me.”
Jun Hyuk went back into the booth and spoke,
“The bass goes first… the guitar is second, first, I’ll play them like this twice.”
The bass and second guitar were also plain. The bass did have a funky rhythm, but there was none of the grandeur shown on the piano.
The last performance started. The performance beginning in glissando (holding strings down with left string while transferring a sound as if sliding) excited everyone watching.
It was fast and magnificent. He played so quickly that the right hand picking the guitar was almost invisible, and the left hand was pressing and pulling the stainless steel strings freely as though they were rubber bands.
“Is… Is he really 17 years old?”
“I… thought so. How old was he when he first picked up a guitar pick?”
They had said that the instruments he knew how to play were the guitar, drum, and piano. He started with music 2 years ago. Just from his performance skills, this was impossible.
“Wow, this is what a performance is. That kid really is impressive. How can he do it in one go without a single mistake?”
“Jo Hyung Joong spoke after seeing the recording studio staff who could not stop admiring Jun Hyuk’s performance,
“You heard that as a perfect performance without any mistakes?
“He made a few mistakes. He’s just passing the minor mistakes. It’s fine as long as it has the effect he wants. That kid’s not an amateur. Amateurs only have the thought that they can’t make mistakes whether they’re singing or playing an instrument.”
Jo Hyung Joong shared an episode from his past,
“I’ve recorded Kwang Suk before. Listening to this, I’m thinking of Kwang Suk.”
“Are you talking about Kim Kwang Suk who passed away?”
“Yeah. That was when he performed in Daehak-ro everyday. He was recording his new song holding an acoustic guitar and his voice was cracking. We still couldn’t stop the recording. Even that cracking voice made us ecstatic. Music is like that. If it’s full of atmosphere and that atmosphere comes out, it’s enough.”
Jo Hyung Joong’s satisfied expression did not go away.
When Jun Hyuk came out of the booth after completing all of the pieces, Jo Hyung Joong applauded him sincerely. He had been a musician for over 20 years. Though he heard the drum, bass, and guitar parts separately, he already heard them as a complete song in his head.
“When did you start learning to play instruments? It’s as if you were born holding a guitar pick.”
“It’s been about 2 years. There’s a practice room in the basement of the cafe I work at.”
“Really? You really practiced for 2 years and you can play like this?”
He had confirmed again. Talent ignored the laws of time.
The sound engineer let Jo Hyung Joong and Jun Hyuk know that the song had been put together,
“Teacher, the track is complete.”
“Really? That was quick.”
“The track lengths were exact, so there wasn’t much work for me to do separately.”
When he pressed the play button, turbulent metal music filled the recording studio for 12 minutes. The guitar pumped intensely, the drum filled the emptiness, and the bass picked up the melody, creating a perfect harmony.
“What do you think?”
Jun Hyuk spoke when the music was over. Jo Hyung Joong was the first professional Jun Hyuk was working with since he had learned music. He wanted to know what an expert thought.
“Honestly, there are no flaws to point out except for one.”
“What is that?”
“It’s too long. You have to perform this heavy rock song for various audiences. Heavy metal, an instrumental without lyrics, length of 12 minutes. There aren’t many people willing to accept all three.”
“Hm… Then will you arrange it again?”
“Me? Ha ha ha,”
Jo Hyung Joong laughed cheerfully.
“I can’t do that because to me, it’s music without any flaws. I must not change it and I don’t have the ability to change it. You have to do it.”
“Of course. I don’t want to take out a single note.”
Jo Hyung Joong had more advice to give, but saved his words. Jun Hyuk’s version of Kanon was a song that unleashed the desire to show off. He must have had this thought while watching the countless electric guitar versions of Kanon on YouTube.
I play a lot better. If there is someone who has mastered all existing guitar techniques better than I have, come out. It was a performance that gave off this vibe. In this way, it became long for no reason because he needed to show all of the techniques he had.
However, this useless boasting would automatically disappear if the song was shortened to 4 minutes. They needed to take out all unnecessary parts in order to really get the essence of Pachelbel.
He pushed a Jun Hyuk, brooding in thought as though already thinking of new arrangement, back into the recording booth,
“Then should we hear the version with the three guitars?”
The version where the violin melody from the original song was changed to guitars was completely different. He recorded the slow bass rhythm and calm acoustic guitar without a drum first. When it was difficult to predict what form the complete song would take, Jo Hyung Joong questioned Jun Hyuk as he prepared to record the last melody,
“Jun Hyuk, what are you doing?”
“Excuse me? I’m setting the guitar.”
“Why are you doing two?”
“Oh, I’m going to play them together.”
“Together? You’re going to play two at the same time?”
“Yes, because the performance is important.”
It could not be? Jo Hyung Joong thought of one guitarist,
“Are you going to perform in Stanley Jordan’s method?”
He was an American guitarist who was able to play both the lead and rhythm guitars using both hands in methods like tapping and slapping. He could play the treble and bass at the same time in a twin melody.
Like Stanley Jordan, Jun Hyuk put one guitar around his shoulders and one on the stand.
The same melody of 8 bars flowed from the two guitars. This was Kanon itself. Kanon was a chorus where the the first part was sung followed by the chorus while leaving a certain measure in between. Jun Hyuk imitated the leading melody while playing in a format with successive chords in a temporal flow.
Jun Hyuk’s two hands moved elegantly over the two guitars as though there were two people performing.
After hearing both versions of Kanon, Jo Hyung Joong’s instinct as a producer tingled. He did not know how long Jun Hyuk would survive on the program, but he wanted to put Jun Hyuk’s songs together to make an album.
He had already created four songs. Finkl’s song NOW in jazz on the piano, the two versions of Kanon, and Shin Hae Chul’s From the Sun to the Boy.
There was no reason to gather only the songs from the broadcast. This was a child who had the talent to continue creating music.
Jo Hyung Joong’s phone rang as he was excited with this expectation,
“Yeah, Producer Kim. Why are you calling?”
– Hi. I just wanted to see if the work was going well.
“Yeah, there’s no problem. Don’t worry about it.”
– Is Jun Hyuk working on the mission song?
“Yeah, there’s a lot to think about because all three songs are good.”
– Excuse me? What do you mean there are three songs?
He had called to check on Jun Hyuk’s state, but heard something unexpected.
“Jun Hyuk arranged a classic and it’s no joke. I’m wondering which will be better too.”
– You know… we can’t change that.
“It’s okay. It’s a classic without copyrights.”
– Copyrights aren’t the problem. There’s another problem involved…..
“Geez. He’s doing so well on his own. Is it a problem with the contract again?”
Jo Hyung Joong spoke with a voice full of irritation. It was obvious that the variety show entertainment production executives and the main producer had agreed to share the profits with the agency holding the copyrights.
– Don’t say anything to me. I’m just a wage earner. I have to do what the people higher up say.
“Fine. We’ll do the appointed song, but you have to listen to a favor me.”
– Sure. Tell me what it is.
“Arrange for an orchestra. We don’t need a lot, just 16 people. You can’t do students though. You have to get people beyond that.”
– Why an orchestra all of a sudden? Can’t you work on the MIDI operations?
“Jun Hyuk’s piano is really good and the orchestral accompaniment came out nicely. It’s a waste to do as a MIDI operation.”
– Alright. We have to do that much for you. Also… is Jun Hyuk doing well?
“Yeah. I was careful with him for no reason because you said stuff about him being rogue. He’s a good kid and just does music. Why? Did something happen?”
– No, it’s nothing. I was just wondering.
It seemed everything was still okay. Producer Kim Ki Sik kept praying that they would pass over this without any problems.
Jun Hyung Joong painstakingly polished the three songs to the point where he would have no problem releasing an album with Jun Hyuk right away. For a week, Jun Hyuk forgot everything and concentrated on creating the best music.