Friday, 20 June 2008

Asian bazaar

Less than three weeks left in Taipei. Oh how quickly it went! The more I age, the more I lose any sense of time. That’s what elderly people tell me. You don’t have the same view on time. Days may still be days, but they feel like seconds, with no time to claim their happening before they‘re swept away by another day. They can find more space in my memory, where there is not time line, and no time limit. A whole month can be seized within a second. 
On my side, everything will be finished next week. The last song has yet to be recorded, but it’s not going to take long - well I wish. I have one final session with the string quartet tomorrow. Hopefully they will be competent enough to play well all that I need from them, in the tight dot of a time they have given me. They’re cute girls but play like well trained robots. All the notes are there, but the emotion has gone somewhere round the maze.
ChingYao experienced a similar situation for his recital a couple of days ago. He had a whole evening at the National Concert Hall. A program of art songs and opera arias. It all would have been perfect for him to enchant us with his wonderful voice, were he accompanied by anyone else but that pianist who was assigned the task. It would have been fine if only she merely played the note, but I guess she was feeling more nervous than ChingYao himself. In Schumann’s cycle Dichterliebe, for example, she rushed through each song as if she was chased by bees. Poor ChingYao told me he had the feeling to be a in a washing machine. Hardly any time to pronounce the  words, much less catch his breath.
In some sort of ironic strike, I won’t be able to attend the Golden Melody Awards, because I have been ill-informed about the time and date - not the first time it happens though. So I will be at the studio with my string girls as they congratulate each other on stage.
As a consolation, my friend Eric, who is working for the promotion of artists like Wang LeeHom has invited me to attend another evening of the Golden Melody Awards, this time for pop artists. That shouold be in two weeks. It may be more fun actually. However I would have loved to see how Pan Lili performs her two songs from Auntie.

I’m trying to pen down the string section of the Buddha goes to Bollywood for tomorrow‘s session while an actor is rehearsing his part for Ciao, Ci Chao in the next room. Bollywood rhythms and Chinese opera style singing make a very odd blend in my head… I can’t say what he sings is my favourite type of music. It’s bearable, if not enjoyable when it’s a woman singing I have seen a few Beijing opera plays. In the case of Ciao, Ci Chao, the vocals, interestingly are set against a westernized music, played by piano, bandoneon and violin, and the actor, I must say sounds more like a cat in pain. Because of the vocal mannerisms behind this tight nasal falsetto?  Or do I need more getting used to?  Maybe the latter. Since the actor is replacing the actress who‘s now in Beijing and can‘t make it for the ceremony, he’s got to cope with the original key regardless of the range… Now he’s practicing his make up. It’s really fascinating to watch how, layer after layer, the character slowly emerges.
Buddha number is finished at last, now complete with taigu drums and shamisen (thank you Anmitsu girls!) and really sounds like a feast at an Asian bazaar in a Maria Montez film! I hope the purists will forgive me for my musical irreverence!
A whole day at home with no appointment and rehearsal is what I needed. Even if I had to work, I’m glad I didn’t have to endure this daily mrt/taxi/bus routine for today. And since I just learned from my bank that I have no money at all, it’s preferable not to be tempted. One can spend very little, if the only expenditure is for food. There are many street stalls selling delicious food for next to nothing. That’s how I shall end my stay here. The focus is tightening down solely on the music. My life is very ascetic at the moment and I resisted the distressing idea of only working on the music, especially when I hear my friends saying that I work too much. Now I realise that this desire to be amused and entertained, shop and spend money may be relevant for people who lead a boring or stressful life. But why should I feel bad if I only make music? Of course, it’s a bit draining at time and a change of mind is necessary. The contentment that fills me when I’m making music is beyond comparison. And poor as I may be, I will always be able to do that. 

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