Thursday, August 23, 2007

music and rust

“At least you made it sound like music,” I commented. My friend smiled. The French horn swelled like pus, and then receded, sucking back in every note as if it were a shy child. Only the piano accompanied the soprano onstage.

“The pianist's rhythm is wrong. That's not how I wrote it,” my friend said. He had arranged all the songs for this book and made them sound like they weren't disjointed Lego blocks. When he was commissioned to do this, all he had received were crudely transcribed melodies. He fixed the harmony, added accompaniment, and straightened up the rhythms. The final products sounded elegantly polished. There were parts for flute, piano, French horn, and a choir. He was not allowed to touch the words though, which grated against the glistening music. It was like having rust in your milk.

“Pretty didactic, no?” my friend murmured. His talent, apparently, goes beyond music, he can also make the most understated understatements. “I'm thinking of writing new lyrics for one of the melodies,” he added. He could probably present it to the 86-year-old composer/lyricist who, after having met him for the first time that afternoon (they had only communicated through email prior to that event), said that she would have more work for him. She has more songs that need to be arranged. She needs all the help she could get, no doubt about that.

After the event, the audience flowed out of the small auditorium toward the lobby where cocktails were served. I spotted some high profile personages in the academe and literature. The old composer/lyricist was herself a distinguished person when she was younger.

At the lobby, high-heeled matrons swarmed around us. Introductions were made and congratulations were thrown in. My friend meekly smiled as professors and school officials commended him for a job well done, vainly suppressing their astonishment at how young he is. “Are you still a student?” one of them asked. “No, ma'am,” my friend simply said. The lobby sagged with the weight of excited chitchat. Waiters scurried in and out, serving drinks and some finger foods. My friend was dragged back into the auditorium to be introduced to the composer/lyricist. The choir and the musicians beamed with every flattering phrase they received. Some stray camera flashbulbs punctuated the crowd like sequins of a fully-beaded ball gown. Guests started queuing by the buffet table as manufactured laughter ricocheted against the ceiling. I took some food and melted into the wall.



At 12:36 AM, Blogger Jigs said...

Your friend is pretty brilliant. He deserves the recognition from his peers. And you are a good friend for supporting him.

At 12:52 AM, Blogger Jap said...

Surely you're the wind beneath his wings, Slim. He wouldn't bring you to an important event if you didn't give your all out support. I say congrats to the both of you =)

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Clark Can't said...

I'm adding you to my favorite links. Feel free to add me up. TY>

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Rey said...

Music, like any other form of art, is part of the creator's soul.

Hearing its notes murdered like that first hand is sacrilege. It's like making an impressionist painting and somebody made it into some Harlem graffiti.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Sidney said...

It is nice when you understand the language of music.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger joyfulchicken said...

Does your friend give lessons?

A good arrangement can make a crappy song sound passable. So perhaps we should blame talented arrangers like your friend for much of the chart-topping crap we hear now, heh.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Major Tom said...

Cheers to your friend. Arranging music, especially the classic kind shouldn't be anything close to easy at all. Jusy imagine how one would merge the notes for the horns, then the piano, then the strings---it'd be nerve wracking and mind bending of the ultimate kind.

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Beejing said...

How sweet of you to support your friend!

Link exchange?

At 4:31 AM, Blogger ie said...

the last sentence really got me. i do that sometimes too.

and oh, this post is definitely a milk without rust.

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is so picturesque... ;p

At 5:15 PM, Blogger weng said...

ang potah! ang dami ng post, nahuli na naman ako!!!!

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous fruityoaty said...

I have a brilliant musically-inclined friend as well. She's studying to become an opera singer.

Gotta say, I just love your writing.

At 12:17 PM, Anonymous patrick said...

events like these bring out the worst in people. i hope you didn't feel the need to brand the people there as phonies. because it can get you into trouble. but you're not that type so i'm probably wasting space.

by the way, i have a new site. might want to check it out.

thanks chris.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger slim whale said...

jigs -- yup. he is incredibly talented. i won't be surprised if he becomes famous someday

jap -- hahaha, "wind beneath his wings?" hhehe. i can't wait to tell him about this. he'd surely die laughing. he invited me because i was the only one available at that time.

clark can't -- thanks so much. drop by again if you have the time.

rey -- i couldn't agree more. however, when one gets commissioned to do something, like what happened to him, one doesn't have much choice but to endure seeing the butchery.

sidney -- perhaps it's the only language i understand deeply

joyfulchicken -- yes, he gives voice lessons. he's mostly into classical and show tunes. he hardly touches pop music, and i don't think he'd branch out into that area. hehe

major tom -- yup yup. i can read notes fairly well but i can't seem to write them down (or transcribe them on the staff at least). i have great admiration for real artists

beejing -- thanks. i can't access your site. blogger said it does not exist. oh, and I don't really go for link exchanges. i don't want to be linked by someone just because i agreed to link their site in return. i hope you understand. send me the link to your site and let me visit it. thanks

ie -- i love doing that. i don't want to attract too much attention to myself. not that i get a lot. we would be great buddies at a party.

jeff -reiji -- thanks.

weng -- update your blog! looking forward to reading you again!!! at di na natuloy ang inuman natin, potah

fruityoaty -- really? that's so cool. i love opera music. hey, thanks for the kind words

patrick -- i'd rather not generalize. some of them might not be phonies. thanks so much for giving me your new website. i hope you won't get into trouble again. be careful.


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