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Genius of a Performing Arts High

Chapter 1.2 - As if Singing 2

Chapter 1: As if Singing 2

There are those days in life, aren’t there.

Days when you’re very sick for no reason.

Seemingly just a light flu, suddenly ending up with the head heating up as if being grilled and the body becoming powerless without being able to do anything. 𝒊𝒏𝒏𝙧𝗲𝓪𝙙. c𝒐𝙢

Having done nothing special the day before – not going out to cold places, not meeting anyone with the flu, and yet becoming sick – those unlucky days.

I had that happen once. During the 3rd year of middle school, right before entering high school.

Perhaps, it was due to being a day before admission, it was etched deeper into memory.

“Aigo... Who does this kid take after, that his body is so weak? Anyways Yunjae, I’ll leave the medicine here so you must take it regularly okay? Mum has to go out for work. Call me if it gets worse!”

The warmth patting my head vanished and the voice got softer.

What...? I couldn’t understand the situation.

While trying to knead the bits and pieces of thoughts together, I fell into sleep, unable to fight against the overflowing desire.


I had to repeat sleeping and getting up due to the boiling heat and the aching body.

The mindlessly flowing dreams merged here and there as the past reappeared like an illusion.

The young appearance of mother singing as a part of the choir. Me who grew up watching that, me who hummed with a childish appearance and me studying for the admission test. The family, happy with me passing the test, the store attendant preparing the uniform. Friends looking down, angry expressions of the teachers... and... the old faces of my parents.

Like bubbles, the painful school days surfaced and filled my brain.

Future Performing Arts High School.

I had been accepted into that school, where the best arts prodigies gathered, by luck.

Since I, who had no specs or nothing, had been picked into the male Opera department which only had 7 students, it was something worthy of being called fortunate.

In the year I applied for, there was a strange lack of applications for the Advanced Opera sector and since the school had to pick at least a certain number of students, they must’ve had to bite the bullet.

And finally, my skills were displayed in broad daylight, surrounded by condescending eyes.

I had no care for them.

Because I really loved music.

When I woke up with a start, I was on the bed.

Slowly turning my gaze, I could see the swaying curtains next to the windows, through which a faint scenery was displayed – a scenery of old apartments. The moonlight passed through the curtains, shedding subtle light onto furniture inside the room.

Lifting my arm, I placed my hand on my forehead and could tell that the fever had considerably reduced.


I struggled to raise my upper body, and the room entered the eyes. Clothes rolling around the room, a room I was not used to.

‘No, It feels like I’ve seen it somewhere before?’

With a frown, I thought for a bit, before deciding to search through the bed for my phone.

Here it was. A solid rectangle.

After somehow finding the phone, I lifted it and that was when I realised something was odd. Turning the phone upside down with trembling hands, the carved logo reflected the moonlight.

‘Galaxy S7’


There were too many problems.

First of all... the phone was extremely heavy. This heaviness couldn’t be explained by blaming it on the weakness of my body. And, lo and behold, there were buttons on the bottom side – pressable buttons, those mechanical ones!

Besides, even after bringing it close to my face, there were no signs of holograms coming out and the phone was too hard to fold.

Is it a phone from 20 years ago or something?

‘Wait, 20 years?’

With a sudden realisation, I opened the room door and staggered towards the toilet. The house was of an unfamiliar structure, yet my feet carried forth on its own.

The toilet... is probably this way.

And when I reached the front of the mirror...

There was a young version of me – about 20 years younger.

It wasn’t easy to understand the situation but it wasn’t hard either. After struggling and turning on the astonishingly old-fashioned phone, I checked the calendar and a few news, to reach a conclusion.

I had returned to the past. To 20 years ago, the spring of 2020, right before entering Future Arts High.

Why? For what reason?

No, instead of those minor issues, there was something more important.

Closing my mouth and looking forward, it reflected a young man – a young man with short hair, average height, long neck and a feeble body.

Hmm... No matter how I saw it, it wasn’t enough to bring out enough volume.

After scrutinising my body like scanning through a tool, I slowly opened my mouth. Through the white teeth and the red mouth, the uvula and the velum on top could be seen.

The uvula lightly vibrated when I made a small sound.

“Ah ah ah ah ah -”

As a habit, I started scaling.

From C3 to C4.

Do re mi fa so la ti do.

When I softly raised the pitch, it somehow went up albeit barely. Let’s try a little higher.


Re mi.

The pitch that barely reached 2 Octave E, was torn apart like being crushed as it approached F.

A pitch break. Out of tone.

My face naturally crumbled.

Me who had worked for 20 years as an opera singer, had been crushed at a mere F4. A tone easy for even the amateurs who prided and called themselves karaoke experts – that F4. It was only then that I truly realised that I had returned to the past.

As I carefully controlled the vocalisation muscles while frowning, the results remained the same.

Lowering the larynx and fiercely closing the vocal cords, raising the velum and forcing the diaphragm to increase the pressure.

This body which had never been trained couldn’t follow even one given order. After going down slightly, the larynx would shoot back up, it was difficult to keep the vocal cords closed, and raising the velum seemed unfamiliar.

The fundamental basics weren’t there and thus obviously, it couldn’t even make a proper pitch.

No, it would’ve been fortunate had it been just the pitch that was the issue. Even the breath that I had trained had vanished like it was an illusion.

The magnificent ringing had degraded to a deflating balloon, and from being able to hold a note for over 30 seconds to having trouble holding it for 10 seconds.

After I stopped the tuning and glared at the mirror, I could see the younger version of me scowling back.

‘Truly worthless.’

A while after the glaring showdown, my lips lifted up and smiled.

That didn’t matter.

Because even so, I could still sing.

Then what should I sing? Soon a melody appeared within and stuck there – a bright and exciting melody. If one didn’t sing after having these thoughts, that wouldn’t be an opera singer.

After snickering and opening the mouth, the familiar lyrics softly flowed out.

“Che bel-la cosa, e’na jurnata ‘e sole-”

[A beautiful day with the dazzling sun]

I hummed and started from the introduction. The joyful Napoli, South Italy region’s folk song – the so famous, O sole mio. The faraway moonlight, the old toilet, the gloomy lamp – forgetting all of these easily, I thought solely of the bright, burning sun.

A simple and yet certain signpost hanging on the sky; the sole light, guiding myself forward.


As I imagined myself walking straight following that, a decent colour was added to the sound.

“N’aria Serena Doppo’na Tempesta -”

[The cool wind after a stormy rain]

Up to here, it was simple. No matter how untrained, this was simple.

As far as the bean sprouts, ie. the notes remained within the stave, anyone could sing it.

The problem was the breath though.

Put emphasis on the desired parts by exhaling the air to add to the ringing. Sometimes, there would be more breath mixed in, and less on some parts. Keeping the breath to maintain the legato was important in opera.

As if using a furnace at a blacksmith, the exact amount of air needed had to be calculated and carried across the vocal cords. This was enough to add rich ringing to the miserable music.

Of course, it was too much for an untrained body to handle.

Simply, I was lacking breath. After all, breath management had to be supported by the physical body. The muscles pulling and stabilising the diaphragm, and the muscles for maintaining a constant breath – all of these were lacking.

That was still okay.

When I lacked breath, I stopped singing and drew in large breaths. If I did this kind of phrasing at a choir I would be buried in insults but, whatever.

I was alone.

The me right now was a conductor, an accompanist, a soloist and an audience member.

While struggling to manage the smile that threatened to escape, I carried on.

Finally, the climax.

“Ma-! N’atu sole -”


A high pitch reaching 2 Octave F.

‘Would it be hard with this body?’ was what I had thought, but it could be squeezed out after trying.

It was literally squeezing. Breathing as much air in and expanding the stomach, I also expanded the inside of my mouth to secure enough room for resonance. And stopping just before the note for a breath was ... well, a given.

After gathering all that air and emptying it in one go, the vocal cords screamed as a high pitch resounded. Thanks to that, the appoggio was completely ruined, but, what else can I do, when that was the only way possible?

And thus my little concert, step-by-step, slowly reached its end. A strange concert with stops in between lyrics to breathe.

“O sole mio~ sta’n fronte a te-”

[My sun is with you]

Ending the chorus and closing my mouth, the toilet turned quiet after several echoes. Drip, drip. The droplets from the tap resembled the claps of the audience.

Giving a smile, I thanked inside.

‘Thank you. Thank you.’

Now that even the farewell was over, only the last stage was left. After singing, there had to be feedback. Using the phone, I played the recording app which I had set up beforehand and my voice started to flow out. Since it was a toilet, the sound echoed a lot and the recording quality of the old phone was lacking but... there was no need to blame the equipment.

The problems were too obvious to do that.

‘It’s all over the place.’

Let’s go over it one by one. I couldn’t use any head voice and sang as if to tear my throat. The breath was lacking and the lyrics were in bits and pieces; the resonance was insufficient and the ringing was very lacking; the throat which forcibly raised the pitch was itching and the abused diaphragm started to hurt like someone was pulling on it.

There were endless amounts of problems. A thought that my body was seriously close to garbage during this period subconsciously appeared in my head.

Well, it might also be because I wasn’t used to this body from 20 years ago. After cowardly finding things to blame on, I sped over onto the pros.

Hmm... the things I did well...

The expression was quite decent since this relied more on experience than the body. I properly understood the parts that required emphasis and emphasised those and in hope of further highlighting it, I weakened the surrounding notes.

Conveying the lyrics, as well as vowel pronunciation was flawless from my perspective and all the lyrics connected naturally.

Ending the tone, as well as the introduction seemed to have been carried flawlessly.

Overall it wasn’t the best but... at least, wasn’t this a lot better than those periods of soulless singing?

The me inside the mirror was making a smile as if in agreement with me. Raising the other side of my lips to change the current expression, I thought.

So, in conclusion...

For a debut song, I guess it would be given a 7 out of 10. Other than the severely lacking physical aspect, it was quite well done, hey. As a reward, I patted my head when a large voice suddenly emanated from the wall.

“You crazy bastard! What the fuc* are you doing in the middle of the night!”

The old man next door seems to be in disagreement with my score.

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