Volume 6 / Chapter 212
When Laura went into the recording booth and sang ‘A,’ Jun Hyuk got lost intensely in thought. Laura thought of her shortcomings and waited for Jun Hyuk to say something.
He contemplated for a while and spoke to her as though he suddenly remembered something,
“Laura, shall we take a 10 minute break? Have a cup of coffee or something.”
Laura left the booth to drink coffee, and Jun Hyuk spoke to the sound engineer quietly,
“Did you hear the part where her pronunciation was shaky?”
As soon as Jun Hyuk spoke, the sound engineer sighed.
“Whew. Maestro, try listening to this.”
The sound engineer looked through a folder on the hard drive and opened up several files on the screen.
“This sound library is the file we use as a standard when we need precise pronunciation. There are recordings from vocalists and some from vocal guides. Languages are separated by series, so let’s talk after listening to all of them.”
Since it is America, a showroom of different races and people, there is a wide variety of ‘A’ pronunciations. Even those who speak English perfectly, show subtle differences in pronunciation by lineage.
Jun Hyuk listened to all of the files, took off the headphones, and the sound engineer spoke,
“Laura’s pronunciation just now was almost perfect. I honestly think it’s phenomenal that she changed so much over just 3 days. Even if it doesn’t sound precise in Maestro’s ears, the public won’t be able to tell the difference. I would even bet on it.”
“But, there is a difference in the music if it comes to the standard that I want it at. The overall feeling changes.”
“Yes, Maestro. I understood that completely since I can’t believe the difference between 3 days. It’s just that I hadn’t imagined that precise and consistent pronunciation would make such a great difference.”
The sound engineer saw that Jun Hyuk’s expression remained the same and stressed again,
“Take a look at the wave file. There’s almost no difference with the guide sound. Don’t you think it’s meaningless work beyond this?”
Laura had been watching with a coffee in each of her hands, and gently interrupted,
“Uh, Jun. How close is my singing just now to the goal you have in mind?”
The two people cried out at the same time and were speechless.
“Don’t be so surprised, Laura. I lowered my goal for exact pronunciation. You just have to get to 70%. I heard this song on the violin yesterday, and it was hard even for an instrument to maintain the same sound. 35% is in relation to the whole thing, including the technique to change tone and expression.”
Laura’s expression relaxed after she heard Jun Hyuk’s explanation. This is only the 2nd recording. If she has accomplished half from the beginning, she will be able to follow the rest.
“Laura, you’re doing well right now. Honestly, I’m also confused as to where to draw my standards. I’m going to decide after listening to you sing some more, so it’s not to the point where you have to worry. Then, shall we try it again?”
Laura went back into the recording booth with a much brighter face. Jun Hyuk listened to her singing and changed the standard value of the pronunciation he first thought of, little by little.
He directed with the thought that in the worst case scenario, he would release the score alone. If he releases the score and vocalists put the song in their repertoires, he would be able to decide on the standard then.
But Jun Hyuk could not shake the feeling of regret. He wanted to be able to hear the bliss of a coloratura that comes from perfect pronunciation with his ears, instead of just in his head.
One month passed with Danny focused on practicing for his choral concerto performance in Jun Hyuk’s apartment, while Laura was waiting in the studio in anxiety like a student who had just finished taking a test and was now waiting for the results.
Jun Hyuk, President Stern, her professor, agent, and record label executives were gathered in the studio and listening to her recording.
There was not a moment when everyone except Jun Hyuk and Laura were not trembling while listening to the song flowing through the magnificent speakers. To put it in terms of pop music, it was like listening to an album full of songs that are 1st on the Billboard chart.
When music stopped coming from the speakers, Jun Hyuk stood up from his seat and spoke,
“I believe that up to here is the best. No matter how much we work on it, it won’t get better. Oh right. We did not use machines to work on the calibration.”
Up to here?
Everyone looked at Jun Hyuk in disbelief.
It was singing that had the essence of Italian opera aria, Bel Canto. And with just one sound! Their fingertips are still trembling from the dramatic tension that dominated all 5 songs.
A fresh and beautiful melody, unbelievable tune, frequent changes in a dynamic beat, a rhythm that increases tension, and even a mysterious melisma (a group of notes sung to one syllable of text).
They had goosebumps the entire time they were listening because of Laura Goldberg’s incredible singing that could handle a song containing all of the essences of arias so wonderfully.
Because each of the 5 songs had its own character, there was no way to rank them. One song brought out the listener’s compassion and there was another where the part that repeated legato (smooth, flowing manner, without breaks between notes) and staccato (each sound or note sharply separated from the others) fluctuated to the point of breathlessness.
This song seemed to show the complete abilities of vocalists with a lot of pitch intervals, treble, and scales. There was nothing left to say about it.
But, the composer himself sounds as though he feels something is lacking.
“Maestro Jun. Why does it sound like there’s a nuance that there’s something falling short?”
“It seems that Maestro is also satisfied since the recording has already been completed.”
The record label executives seem to have already made their decisions. Their expressions while listening to Laura’s song looked as though they were ready to hand a contract over immediately.
They want to release the album no matter what, despite Jun Hyuk’s negative expressions.
“Alright. Let’s do this.”
President Stern did not need to hear any more. Since the record labels seem to have decided already, all that is left is what the two parties are thinking.
“Laura, you can decide on matters of releasing an album. Jun is going to release the scores for these songs. That means anyone can release an album and use it as part of their repertoire in their concerts. If you want to release an album in your name, there are record labels that would completely welcome that as you can see.”
Everyone in the studio looked at Laura. She could not forget the last thing that Jun Hyuk said.
<It won’t get better>
She does not know what final shape Jun Hyuk has in mind, but this means that no one can reach it. This is not just applicable to herself, but to everyone.
Jun Hyuk spoke to Laura, who could not quickly make up her mind because of various thoughts,
“Laura. Why are you hesitating? You saw how the people here reacted. It was really great. The track was so good it wouldn’t have any shortcomings even as an album.”
“B… But, didn’t you just say that it didn’t meet up to your standards?”
Jun Hyuk’s expression was bright and Laura was still gloomy. Jun Hyuk looked at Laura and started talking to her deliberately,
“If your singing was too much of a mess to release an album with, I wouldn’t have let anyone else listen to this track. The quality of music is more important than my opinion.”
Jun Hyuk was looking at Laura warmly.
“And… let’s try it again after you get a little more experience. It’s not a bad idea to keep it in mind as a goal to take on.”
Laura seemed to brighten up a bit. The record label executive was even brighter at Jun Hyuk’s words to Laura, and smiled.
Yoon Kwang Hun and Danny listened to the CD that Jun Hyuk brought, and did not even think about leaving the studio in the apartment. Yoon Kwang Hun was lost in Laura’s aria, and Danny was listening to it on repeat because he was thinking of how a violin melody would be able to surpass her expression.
“Isaac. When is the album being released?”
President Stern was relaxing with a cup of coffee in the living room. Laura’s first album is enough to make news, but President Stern can be relaxed because he is sure that her album will act as promotions for Jun Hyuk’s song.
After hearing Laura’s album, all sopranos and soloists are going to try to surpass her. They are going to release albums and Jun Hyuk’s 5 songs will be put on stage. Royalties will come in each time, and this revenue will be greater than that of the Berlin Philharmonic.
President Stern snapped out of his joyful thoughts because of Jun Hyuk’s question.
“Huh? Album? I’m sure she’ll release it as soon as the performance with the New York Philharmonic is over.”
“Is that also marketing?”
“Of course. The record label isn’t stupid. Your performance with the New York Philharmonic is going to be a success, and the album will make headlines. I’m telling you in advance, but you’re really going to be a superstar after the New York performance.”
President Stern saw that Jun Hyuk was not fazed by the word ‘superstar,’ and brought up what he had wanted to say in the studio,
“I thought Laura’s singing was phenomenal. She’s going to change the way people judge the abilities of a soprano singer. If Bel Canto’s experimental stage of ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ had been ‘Scena della pazzia’ until now, it’ll now be your ‘I, E, A, O, U’.”
Donizetti, the Italian composer representing the first half of the 19th century, is a genius who created the opera ‘Love Potion’ in just 2 days. The aria ‘A Furtive Tear’ in particular makes the audience’s tremble when love’s dream comes true with a lyrical and gently melody.
His life was tragic, however. His son could not forget his mother who died during childbirth, was healthy until he caught syphilis and developed an abnormality in the cranial nerve. He spent his last years in an asylum before a miserable death.
The opera that overlaps with his tragic life is ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’.
This opera’s Act 3 Part 2 is ‘Scena della pazzia,’ an aria sung in fear and despair in a blood-drenched wedding dress for 17 minutes inside the madness of a sad destiny. This song has become a way to measure a soprano’s abilities by how they handle expression it.
It is also the song that made Maria Callas into the top diva of the 20th century.
President Stern was sure that Jun Hyuk’s song would surpass aria ‘Scena della piazza’.
“Why aren’t you satisfied? It was great.”
“I also think Laura’s is great. It’s just that it’s not the song that I wanted to hear.”
“So? You’re going to record with Laura again?”
“We’ll see. It could change once we release the score and Laura’s album comes out.”
“It could change?”
“Yes. Laura’s album is going to become a guide. Someone else might be able to figure out my intent to use one tone. Then there will be quite a few people who take the challenge… Who knows? There might be a singer who handles it better than Laura does.”
“Then, you’ll try it with again with that singer? Is that what you mean?”
“Yes. Of course I have to try it again if there’s someone who shows more promise.”
No one can follow his ambition to create the perfect music. President Stern tilted his head.
“I said it in the beginning, but I thought that there were tons of singers who could do better than Laura can. But after hearing this, I think I could be wrong. Surpassing Laura is going to be hard for anyone. It’s not a matter of being good or not. It might even be impossible to maintain perfect pronunciation in such a flamboyant song.”
“Then, I’ll have to give up. I’ll be satisfied with 70% success.”
He said that he would give up, but his expression did not. His face was saying that he would find a soprano to do a world tour with.
Looking at this, even President Stern started to develop an obsession. He wants to hear what Jun Hyuk thinks 100% is.