Tuesday, 8 July 2008

C'est fini

« The important thing is being obsessed, then noticing when something more important than your obsession comes along«  Brian Eno.
The termination of my Taiwan stay is getting more and more real. I am the acrobat who’s about to fall from the rope into the void. The project is far form being finished. The mixing hasn’t been done at all. We were still recording the vocals for the last song today. Even trained singers need a whole session for a song, much less the untrained ones. However Wei-Wei did a fairly good job. Se was the last one to record her vocals and I know that she was under the pressure of singing if not well, at least adequately, especially after all the comments she would have heard from me or Micky about the other members of the cast. To my greatest relief, she showed a very good musicality and proved a fairly good singer, in spite of her inexperience. ChingYao gave me a good hand at supervising her voice and also providing backing vocals for a few songs. It was truly enjoyable for him, for it offered him an opportunity to sail away from the classical realm. I appointed him company vocal director until the last performance day. It was a hoot to do the backing vocals with him and see the harmonies slowly come to life as each part was being added. I even got to do my first singing in Mandarin! When all else fails, just sing!
I will leave Taiwan an illegal visitor, won’t get to see the result of all this labour of love - if labour it can be called, for it was all but work in the usual sense of the word. I could go on forever in this studio, recording instruments, mixing, singing, composing, playing this wonderful Steinway grand piano, directing the musicians...
Music is my life.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

This is the Muppet Show

Mayhem that would not speak its name. I have reached this stage of exasperation when I no longer care about anything, just do my part of the job and then leave. The actors hired for Auntie proved to be incompetent when in front of the microphone. I’m aware that we lose forty percent of our capacity and self confidence because of the pressure of doing well and right. However, the casting for this musical was done regardless of the crucial fact that they would have to sing!
Now Micky, the producer and sound engineer, has to spend hours fixing the vocals. Not just one note here and there, but usually the intonation, the phrasing and the pitch. After this laborious process, the result is: decent singing.
Complaining about the situation won’t help matters. I have grown attached to the performers. They’re wonderful people. But if I let my emotions lead me, then I'm in trouble.
While discussing with Micky, I stated my wish to audition an entirely new cast for the CD. I have learned yesterday that the album might be distributed by EMI -fantastic news, but which means that it would be self-sabotage if we keep the original cast on the CD. At best, we would have some sympathetic support and at the other end of the line, the company will no longer be taken seriously at all. The decision isn’t mine to take. I am just the composer. I tried my best. However, when so much money is wasted because of ill judgement or just plain ignorance of the facts, somebody has to speak up.
I’m leaving in 6 days. There isn’t much time left for anything. Everyone is very nervous and tries his best. But the set of dice isn’t the best combination. Yu-Guo should not be the director. The rehearsals are dragging along because he cannot handle the demands of the actors. Lian Yen should not be in charge of the promotion simply because it is a job that should be performed by someone who’s been professionally trained for that. I’m really concerned and worried. And I feel even worse because I will not be there to give them support to the very end. Feel like abandoning a group of handicaped children...
So what happen now?