“What? Do you compose as well?”
“Really? Do you want to play something? Something you wrote.”
Jun Hyuk sat in front of the piano without hesitation. He shook his stiff fingers a few times and started playing the piano.
The song began with a repetition of two simple notes that continued for a time. After he sped up and built suspense, there was the hearty sound of the piano filling the room.
The sound that filled the room disappeared in moments as though it was sucked back into the piano, and the song ended with one low note that laid across the ground.
Professor Jeon Hye Jin who had been drunk in the sound of the piano for 2 minutes clapped and rubbed Jun Hyuk’s face, pulling him into a hug.
“Impressive. There really was something else so you don’t have to become a pianist.”
“But… this is a little.”
An old woman making contact was uncomfortable not just for Jun Hyuk, but for any teenage boy. Jun Hyuk tried to wriggle out, but the old woman was strong.
“What? This is when I get to hug a handsome young man.”
Professor Hwang Suk Min did not hide his surprise either.
“I thought it was impressive when I saw you arrange a song, but I guess that was nothing. Goodness. There really was something else.”
Jun Hyuk was delighted with their compliments and spoke,
“Was it okay?”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin put her thumb up as Jun Hyuk had,
“This is the first time I’ve heard such a lively song since Chopin’s Dog Waltz. It’s amazing.”
Hwang Suk Min still looked surprised when he spoke,
“What’s the title of this song?”
“A Scherzo for you who has difficulty eating a meal.”
“What? It’s difficult to eat a meal? What does this mean?”
“I wrote this while watching a stray cat tear open a garbage bag to eat.”
“What? Stray cat? Ha ha. It’s the perfect title. You have great sense as well.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin clapped as she began to laugh loudly. She thought the title was fun, but also liked that he could create music from such trivial matters.
Jun Hyuk recalled when he created this song.
A stray cat that had been watching a garbage bag from under a parked car in front of the cafe. It needed to be swift and alert to seek its prey as if a wild beast, keeping watch all around it.
“Why did it end all of a sudden?”
Hwang Suk Min was asking in analysis as a conductor does,
“A cat doesn’t run away even if a person appears while it’s eating garbage. It stops eating and watches the person until it can check whether the person is just passing by or is going to chase it away.”
“I see. I looked at you wondering why it ended so suddenly… It’s a song that made the audience into the cat.”
“Oh! If you felt that way, it’s a success. He he.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin sat next to a Jun Hyuk who was laughing in satisfaction.
“Alright, so you’re appearing in an audition program right now?”
“Are you going to be a singer when that’s over? Like an idol?”
“No, I can’t be a singer because I can’t sing.”
“You seem like you have no intention on becoming a singer.”
“Pretty much. There are a lot of good singers.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin lightly hit her head. She could see this surprising child’s profile.
“So, instruments are just tools you need when making songs? Whether it’s the piano, guitar, or drums.”
“I thought wrong. You weren’t just copying what you heard from CDs. You wanted to know what it would be like for a world-renowned pianist to play your song… You wanted to know that feeling, and to hear it yourself… So you cloned those pianists. Right?”
“Yes. That’s impressive. Really.”
Jun Hyuk was sincere in his admiration. He started to see this playful old woman, who could hear his self-composed song once and figure out his intentions, in a different light. He thought that he would need to purchase Professor Jeon Hye Jin’s CD and listen to it.
“Go Sae Won didn’t say anything because he also knew this. Then let me ask one thing. Why don’t you play the piano in your own style?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think I have my own style. For each song, there exists a pianist who can play it best. Those people’s performances are much better. That’s why I copy them. If I play it in my own way, it doesn’t sound very good… and it kind of sounds like I’m ruining the song…..”
“I think that’s just a difference between individuality and expression. Who plays better or worse is meaningless. Each has individuality.”
“Even if there’s individuality, I’m sure we would only pick one person if we had to choose. Regardless of individuality, a better pianist exists.”
“You only pursue the best? I don’t know if you’re arrogant or if you’re confident… You’re impressive.”
Professor Jeon Hye Jin had a feeling that she had guessed one of her thoughts precisely. This child could not live without music.
“Alright. I’ll be anticipating the music you’ll make from now on. Feel free to contact me if you need anything. I’ll help you in any way I can.”
Her expression and tone showed that she said this out of sincerity and not courtesy. Hwang Suk Min may have brought Jun Hyuk here for him to hear those words.
“Also, make sure you go to the hospital every month to get a check-up. The body is everything for a musician. You can’t have something happen to your hand. You have to keep checking while you’re healthy. For someone like you who plays multiple instruments, your hands are bound to deteriorate first.”
“No, I’ll contact the hospital. You go when they call you.”
Jun Hyuk politely gave the professor his farewell and left. When he came outside with Hwang Suk Min, the hall was full of students who had heard the rumor and gathered. Everyone had their phones out to take pictures of Jun Hyuk.
“These kids! Practice like this.”
After Professor Jeon Hye Jin yelled at the students, she grabbed a student and brought him back into the practice room.
“Tell me about that kid who just left. What kind of kid is he?”
“Professor, you don’t know?”
“I’m asking because I don’t know.”
The student told her about Jun Hyuk’s past, participation on the audition program, and the issue that created news online.
After the 1st live stage was over, Producer Kim Ki Sik went to Yoon Jung Su’s recording studio.
“Jung Su, I heard Jang Na Rae’s track and it’s so good. Even our music director said he predicts she’ll be 1st place this week.”
“It’s great, right? I was really surprised too.”
“I heard you offered to scout her.”
“Yeah, but I told her to think about it more. She might get other offers after the 2nd performance goes out.”
Kim Ki Sik brought up a difficult favor,
“Can you just scout her? Jang Na Rae is going to be eliminated this week. Save me.”
“Jang Na Rae was this week? I was under the impression she was going until the 3rd stage.”
“She was supposed to. Lee Hae Jun and a boy from another agency were supposed to be eliminated this week.”
“Lee Hae Jun? He’s pretty good too, but he’s getting eliminated already? That’s a waste.”
“Lee Hae Jun’s going to debut next month as an idol. He’s the main vocal there… They’re thinking it’s enough if his vocals are recognized twice on a live stage. Anyway, the agency of one of the people to be eliminated asked to have him advanced to top 8. I guess they looked into it on their own and the reaction was pretty good.”
“So you’re saying the pushover is the one without an agency.”
“Yeah. What are we to do? But listening to her track, it’s so good it’s a waste to eliminate her.”
If Jang Na Rae does not make a mistake, she could give the best performance. But if she is eliminated? The viewer protest would be fierce. Though of course it would not go for more than one week.
Producer Kim was not against eliminating Jang Na Rae because of the viewer reaction. He was just struggling to keep the program alive.
“Signing a contract immediately is difficult. I’m thinking of training her slowly. Since she’s young, she might want to gain popularity quickly. If that’s what she’s thinking, I can’t sign her on.”
Yoon Jung Su was looking far into Jang Na Rae’s future. Enough to flatly refuse Producer Kim’s request.
“What happened with Jun Hyuk?”
“Jun Hyuk? Damn, I gave up too. The 3rd round is the last. He needs to get ready for the 4th performance, but he’s saying he hasn’t finished for the 3rd. I can tell he has no intention of doing anymore.”
“Producer Kim, you must be having a hard time.”
It was obvious what would happen if Jun Hyuk who had been the reason for high viewer ratings left. Producer Kim needed to prepare for that.
“Is he going to sing?”
Yoon Jung Su could not hide his curiosity. From the way Jun Hyuk had directed Jang Na Rae, he instinctively knew how to express with vocals.
“I told you, I gave up. Whatever he does, the 3rd round is the end.”
“But his track record is great, right?”
“Yeah. His mission songs from the preliminaries are good too, but his piano from the live performance is incredible. It’s topping all the charts. But I think the two versions of Kanon are the biggest waste. Especially the rock version. If we had aired edited parts of him playing all of the instruments like a music video, it would have sold better than this round’s piano song.”
“Why didn’t you do it?”
“We don’t have the rights to that. No one thought of this kind of situation. We didn’t show the whole song on air… and it’s just footage anyway.”
Producer Kim looked as if he had lost out on something big.
“Oh right. Hyung Joong has an agreement for those two versions of Kanon.”
“What? Hyung Joong? Really?”
Yoon Jung Su’s eyes widened in surprise. For Jo Hyung Joong who only composes and produces to get involved in distribution issues meant that he was that confident in Jun Hyuk’s music.
“Yeah. He handed a blank check to Jun Hyuk’s lawyer to tell him to write the price of the songs.”
“Really? That cheap man? It’s no joke. Well… he did listen to it himself.”
“Yeah. They agreed to go half and half in the end. I’m pretty sure they’ll release the songs as soon as Jun Hyuk is eliminated. They got footage from our station as well.”
“I guess Jun Hyuk is a goose that lays golden eggs.”
“I’m pretty sure it’ll be wild. Jun Hyuk will be able to make $200,000 or $300,000 in six months.”
“The viewer ratings will plummet once Jun Hyuk is out. The kids this season are pretty much the same.”
“That’s why I’m asking you for this favor. I’m trying to make Jang Na Rae popular. She needs to take Jun Hyuk’s place. I’m thinking of pushing it to a battle between Jang Na Rae and Jessica.”
“Battle? They seemed to be close. The picture seems like it would come out well.”
Two people who are close in a competition of good faith. There’s bound to be applause regardless of who loses. However, Kim Ki Sik scoffed,
“Close? They hate each other. Where are friendships on a program where they have to step over each other? We just edited it so it seems that way. They’re both clever. They pretend to care for each other whenever there’s a camera present.”
“Well… anyway, I’m sorry. Signing her on now is hard. If we rush a contract or pressure her into it, the end result isn’t good. If it’s not something she really wants, she’ll lose her will.”
Kim Ki Sik needed to create a new strategy upon Yoon Jung Su’s refusal. He needed to review the contracts to ready someone to eliminate instead of Jang Na Rae.
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