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Genius of a Performing Arts High

Chapter 2.3 - Bit by bit 3

Chapter 2: Bit by bit 3

Which part of a song is the most important?

If we were to list, there would be countless choices. It could be the highlight part with the highest pitch, the ending which gives a lingering aftertaste to the audience, or it could be a part with fancy skills involved.

Everyone would have different thoughts, but...

I think the beginning is what really matters.

‘The introduction...’

With a glance, a letter written on the front enters the eye.


The musical notation ‘piano’. It means to sing softly – a dynamic that can be written casually by the composer. From that casual one letter, the executant has to read the composer’s intention. 𝙞𝚗𝓷𝗿𝚎аd. 𝙘𝒐𝚖

Soft, but how soft? Starting soft and going up or the same throughout?

‘No, here I should flow down from high.’

I did it like that.


After deciding on the first sound, the following can flow naturally with the breath – like a wave. And I just have to maintain the air intake as if opening a tap of water.

The eyes quickly checked the spacing between the notes.

A part where it is okay to breathe normally, and the phrasing required 7 beats. 7 beats – that was the time the song requested of me. Now, all I needed to do was manage my breath. That little bit of breath I had had to be divided into seven equal parts, and letting them out with the exact timing. That alone was enough to softly connect the song.

This was commonly referred to as, the ‘Legato’.

“Ah- Ah-! Ah ah ah-...”

Of course, it wasn’t easy for this body to handle. The unfamiliar feeling made the mouth crack... but opening my eyes wide, I maintained the resonance within. The weak diaphragm muscles trembled and refused to obey the brain... but I concentrated my all in forcing the breath out.

Singing – to perform that task at a level ever closer to perfection, I asked of more than what the body’s capabilities could handle.

Whoever was before me no longer entered my eyes.

A complete immersion.

The first verse, and the second flowed without a stop.


Decrescendo. Gradually lower the sound. As soon as that thought appeared on the head I carried it out. Squeezing out the air quivering inside, a soft voice escaped from the throat.

Next. From the score, I realised the next segment had the highest note of the song within.

‘High note’.

In addition, there was a demand for emphasis written next to it, and there was a list of notes connected without a stop.

I quickly made a decision.

‘It’s impossible to sing in one breath.’

Giving up on perfect phrasing, I decided to separate the link between notes on my own accord. As that would result in causing the least harm to the song.

In return, so to speak, I threw in all the remaining breath into the highlight.


Making the highest note with all the breath added in it caused my vision to dim. The things in front blurred as furniture appeared misty like watercolours.

And from within, I could see the kids focusing on my song. With their bodies leaning forward, and with their eyes penetrating my mouth.


That alone was enough compensation for all the hard work.

“Ah- Ah-...”

The last note was expressed thinly before closing the mouth.

It was the end.

Lowering the chin down and looking over the class, a sense of nervousness flooded in. It was time to receive feedback on my song – time to view the attitude from the honest audience. During this time, an edgy trembling would reign over me – a strange nervousness filled with both slight fear and joy.

This is the same whether I’m a student or a professional executant.

Thinking such things, I lowered my head.

And sounds of claps entered my ears.


‘What was that...?’

Ku Mingi suddenly came to himself.

He could hear the sound of applause after Jo Yunjae’s song getting softer. It wasn’t the time for appreciation. Thinking as such, he began to do the work of a teacher.

A teacher who opened their mouths to proceed with the lesson.

“Hmm... Thank you, the two students, for the solos”

After staggering his words for a bit, Ku Mingi quickly added on.

“Right, that just then were their solos. How did everyone feel as you heard their solos? Shall we start from student Jun Shihyuk’s evaluation?”

Evaluations flowed out.

“It was strong.”

“The ringing was rich.”

“Enough to send the body trembling.”

Ku Mingi nodded his head. They were still students so the evaluations were rather simple – they focused on the volume that directly attacked their ears and the high notes.

Of course those were important, but it was not enough to explain all the pros of Jun Shihyuk.

Jun Shihyuk.

He glanced at him standing proud and evaluated.

‘He knows how to use his body properly.’

A large body with a fitting resonance, powerful vocal cords and an overwhelming lung capacity.

He is cleverly making use of the body gifted from heavens made for opera. That alone would be enough to have him succeed as an opera singer without much effort but his control was great and the basics were good too.

“Overall very well-balanced. Then, how was student Jo Yunjae’s?”

The students tilted their heads and carefully opened their mouths.

“A soft feeling?”

“It was nice to hear.”

“Uh... it was okay.”

They had puzzled expressions. It was somehow nice to hear but that was it. No prickling of the eardrums nor a strong resonance behind. There wasn’t anything fancy either.

And yet, it was nice to hear.

There was nothing they could devalue so the overall opinion was that it was so so, but Ku Mingi thought.

‘That’s in fact what makes it amazing.’

The ringing is not that good nor is strength, but was nice to hear?

‘Firstly there’s the fact that the timbre he was born with is good but...’

Lee Suh-ah raised her hand. Her eyes glaring at Jo Yunjae were sharp.

“His diction was perfect.”


That vague word explained what Jo Yunjae had done.

Diction. How one made the sound and maintained it. If one note was to be sung by 100 opera singers, there would be 100 different ways.

Would you go in soft and end strong or vice versa.

The change in pitch. Would you start with a high note and sink back down to the original note or do the opposite, by pulling a low pitch up.

Texture. Would you use a bright timbre or a dark colour.

The score wouldn’t explain all these, so the executants had to judge what was right, and allocate the correct one for each segment. And Jo Yunjae’s ability in that was amazingly excellent... was Ku Mingi’s impression.

“Diction, yes. The diction was good. Analysing the theme of the song and preparing a fitting song. A wonderful attitude perfect for a singer. Wasn’t an image drawn inside your heads naturally as you heard the song?”

Only then did the students show admiration.


Stopping his words for a bit, Ku Mingi made a befuddled expression.

It was close to perfect.

That was the problem.

That kind of diction wasn’t something people could be born with.

Of course, the learning speed could be born with and be fast, but time was required in perfecting diction. It required the time to listen to lots of songs and sing for the body to learn them.

For a high schooler to perfect that? It made no sense no matter how talented they were.

But Jo Yunjae had done it.


Ku Mingi consciously made a stern expression and got rid of all the side thoughts. He acted out the teacher that would point the student to a direction they needed to face.

He opened his mouth.

“The diction was good but the rest was not. Especially the last part. You stopped the note because you lacked breath right? This not only did not follow the score, it doesn’t fit into the diction either. It was plainly due to lack of basics.”


Jo Yunjae nodded heavily and agreed. After seeing that, Ku Mingi continued his words.

“And there’s a bit of an unstable feel in keeping the resonating chambres open. The diction was good but the lips were strangely closed and was slightly ruined. Was it because of breath? In any case the techniques are good but the practice is severely lacking. As if...”

Ku Mingi swallowed his next words.

‘He learned singing for a long time but never sang before.’

Because it didn’t make any sense.


After coming back to the seat I sat energylessly on the seat.


It felt like my entire body was lacking in strength. Feeling the hard chair on my back, I let out a sigh.

Just then.

Up to singing solo with Jun Shishyuk was okay. I did somehow succeed in bringing out everything to finish the song.

The problem was after that.

Teacher Ku Mingi said he would teach us the difference between solo and concerted music and made us sing a song together but...

I made a pitch break while singing the song.

It seems my muscles had loosened and were unable to be properly controlled.

The kids that had heard it burst into laughter while Jun Shihyuk scoffed from the side. Being made to sing and miserably failing... and teacher Ku Mingi having cheered me up back to my seat was what had happened just then.

‘I’m seriously going to practise hard.’

Teacher Ku Mingi’s lesson continued while I was self-evaluating as such.

“Now, there was a little bit of an accident but I think you understand my point. How was their singing before the mistake? Was it like concerted music?”

How, you say but.

“Uh... I couldn’t hear Yunjae’s voice at all.”

“And it would sometimes pop up which was a little annoying.”

“There were parts that weren’t matching.”

Simply put, it was smashed.

A loud banging noise was right next to me so how would my voice be heard? All that was left was Jun Shihyuk’s violent growls beating my sound into pieces.

It was at a point that could hardly be called a song.

“This is why the vocalisation method for concerted music is necessary. Like what happened with student Jun Shihyuk and student Jo Yunjae, two completely different ringing and tone flowing together in harmony requires practice. Shall we watch a video?”

The atmosphere thus settled down and the lesson continued on. Showing a video and teaching vocalisation methods, as well as having everyone sing and pointing out the lacking aspects...

After some listening it was relatively interesting. After all, it was learning the basics after 20 years, and comparing my interpretation with the teacher’s was quite fun as well.

While I was somewhat indulged in listening to the lesson, I felt a touch on my shoulder. When I turned my head, there was Lee Suh-ah.

The same old cold expression... was what I thought but it looked strangely flushed. Her eyes also seemed to be shining.

While I was startled by that appearance, she opened her mouth.

“... Just then, how did you do that?”

“What do you mean how?”

She strangely neared her face and I pulled my neck back from the strange pressure.

“How did you sing... hmm... that sounds a bit strange. How did you practise until now? Is there a special method?”


It was a strange question. I’ve never had the chance to properly practise with this body... but that wouldn’t be the answer she was looking for.

I looked back on my memories.

... In the first place, because I was admissioned into the school immediately after coming back in time I had no time to really practise. All I did was go through breathing exercises a bit inside the dorm, and even those were the basics of the basics where I just breathed in and out.

But I can’t reply, I did breathing exercises could I?

While I was hesitating on what to say, Lee Suh-ah made a frown.

“Alright. You did well. I just wanted to say that.”

“...Uh right. Thanks.”

After finishing her own words she turned her head back forward.


How abrupt.

Staring at the ponytail twitching behind her head I thought to myself.

‘... Did I somehow recover my image from the framed picture...’

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