The Renaissance's Melody

Chapter 1: The Orchestra

I stood in front of a brown double door, hands gripping hard on my clarinet casing. I scanned the rest of the building. It was an isolated building at the end of the school grounds. Its condition was not as I expected. The doorknob was rusty; the paints are peeling off the wall, molds formed from the broken air conditioner pipe and it has the piercing small of brass polish.

"Are you kidding me? This is the Renaissance? Oh come on, how can I beat my cousin if the music room is like a military prison?" I sighed.

This can't be happening. I bet my entire life on this. My dignity and pride is on the line! I have to show my cousin that I will, no, I can play in an orchestra and beat his puny orchestra!

It is a funny story actually. The life changing events happened a few months back, when I took an audition for a solo competition.

My fingers dance on the key of my clarinet, producing melodious tune with every press. My body sways to the rhythm of my fingers, following the melody it produces. It was beautiful. The tone of my clarinet was beautiful. I love this moment, I simply love it.

I glanced at the judges. They just watched me playing. On their faces were…frowns?

Wait, something is wrong. They can't frown. My tone is beautiful. My technique is flawless. My phrasing is perfect. What is there to hate? Oh yeah, the dynamics! I slapped my head inwardly for not realizing. They need more vibrations from my tone. Therefore, more volume!

I pushed my breath into the clarinet more and more, making it go louder and louder. My lips started to hurt due to the pressure but I hold on. I must ace this audition! With a final accent, the song ended.

I pull out the mouthpiece from my mouth and glanced at the judges. On their faces were…the same frowns. Wait, why are they frowning?

I take a look at the piano player I hired to accompany my solo. He has a sad look on his face with his fingers rubbing his temple.

"Heh?" I let out an exclamation of shock.

"I am sorry dear…" The head judge took a look at his clipboard. "Syazana, but you didn't make the cut. I am sorry."

"Heh?" Another exclamation of shock. "B..B..But why? My playing was perfect! My tone, my technique, my phrasing, my dynamics. You can't fail me here." I began my desperate plea to make the cut.

"Yes, I agree. You played beautifully. However…" His eyes wandered to the piano player. "Did you realize that you are playing with an accompaniment?"

"Hm…yes?" I lied. I didn't even hear the piano. Why should I? I just need to focus on my stellar playing.

"Well, I think you don't because you were playing three measures ahead of the accompaniment."

"Wait…What?" I said in disbelieved. A full three measures? That is at least 5 seconds!

"Yes, you didn't play with the accompaniment. Although it is a solo competition but it is not nice to hear two parts playing separately at different parts of the song. So, I'm sorry. Please leave."

I stood frozen. I…failed?

I went out from the audition hall and into the corridors, still shocked. I turned to the piano player.

"Why didn't you play with me? Why didn't you try to catch up?" I let out my frustration on him.

"But I did! You just keep trying to play faster! Then, you suddenly drag the tempo. How can I follow you?" The piano player lashed out.

"Just follow me dammit! It is not so hard. You are supposed to be a grade 8 piano player. Simple things like following tempo should be a piece of cake!"

"It is a piece of cake, if only I HAD a tempo. Your tempo is irregular and you picked an irregular time signature song. How the hell I am going to hit the downbeat the same time with you?"

"You shut your face! I pay you for it so do as you told!"

"Screw this! You don't have to pay me! I won't accept money from working with people like you!" He turns around and took a few steps. Then he paused and turns around back at me.

"This is for you!" He flashed his middle finger. With that, he strolls down the corridor.

I gritted my teeth, trying to hold back my anger. My knuckles are turning white from gripping the clarinet casing. That bastard…

"Makes me so pissed!" I kicked the trash can. The poor thing tilted and fell onto the ground. Thank god it is empty.

"My, my…throwing a tantrum here won't solve anything." That voice. I knew that voice too well. The series of overtones which just boils my blood.

"Aziz…why are you here?" I said through my gritted teeth. I glanced at my cousin who is a few meters from me. He is taller than me with a slight buff figure. His hair is combed fully backwards and shines due to the excessive amount of gel he used. His tuxedo wrapped his body perfectly. To top it off is his custom-made oboe casing which has a nice gleam to it. A handsome musician I dare say but his attitude and expression is of a sick sadist.

"Well, acing the audition that you failed." He said in a matter of fact way. His statement made me to grit my teeth even more that my teeth just might shatter.

"Shut….up…." I spoke the words in the calmest way possible. I can't lose my temper here; he will use that against me.

"Well, you are just sad because you can't play with others. No wonder you always play alone in your room. Unlike you, I have an orchestra to play with and I tell you, it is awesome and fulfilling."

Multiple arrows of sarcasm pierced my heart. Oh, my blood is way beyond its boiling peak. My pride is wounded. I need to defend myself.

"Oh yeah? Well I'll show you I can play in an orchestra. An orchestra so good that they will make your orchestra sounded like a group of kindergarteners banging random kitchen utensils!"

"Oh? Well prove it then. I can play in an orchestra and beat mine. However…" Aziz stared at me directly. He took a few steps towards me until he is really close. He whispers into my ears. "If you fail, then….."

"Oh my god!" I back off. "You wouldn't…" I narrowed my eyes, as if challenging him.

"I would. If you succeeded, then I will do the same thing." He grinned as he extends a hand for me. "Deal?"

'I will do the same thing.' That statement tempted me so much. I must win no matter what. And now, I will make a decision that will forever alter my life as a musician and as a person.

"Deal!" I took his hand in a handshake.

And the rest is history. I searched far and wide for the perfect orchestra to beat my cousin to the pulp and I found it, an all-girls orchestra at Sekolah Seri Puteri, a boarding school. With all my might, I studied very hard for my PMR examinations, hoping that I can admit myself into that school.

The letter of the Ministry of Education came after a long wait which carries the name of the school I will go for Form Four. My heart shattered when I got admitted to Sekolah Menengah Sains Selangor instead. However, hope is not lost as Sekolah Menengah Sains Selangor or SMSS for short only has an orchestra by the name of Renaissance. Renaissance…it has a nice ring to it. A fitting name for an orchestra which going to have my clarinet's tone to spearhead all the other school orchestra and ultimately beat Aziz's Orchestra, the SDAR Symphony from Sekolah Dato Abdul Razak.

And so, here am I, standing in front of an old building that should be the music room of SMSS' The Renaissance. This is my first time here. They were supposed to have a meeting now. Should I come in and introduce myself?

I clenched my fist. I came this far. No way, I am turning back! Just enter and say 'Hello, I'm Syazana Eliana, the new Form Four member.' Yes, that would be sufficient.

I grab hold of the rusty door knob and gave it a careful twist. I push the door open and stepped inside quickly. The orchestra were seating in their positions facing three persons sitting at where the conductor should be. The orchestra is quite small. I'm guessing around 40 plus members. As I expected, they are having a meeting. It is time to introduce myself.

"Hello! My name is Syazana Eliana, the new-"

"Fuck all of you!" A shout stopped me.

"Heh?" I send a surprised look.

"Get out of my way!" A short, stubby boy came to me and shoved me aside before leaving the room.

"Pau, wait up! She is not serious!" A thin scrawny boy followed the other boy outside.

"Haiz, there he goes again. Don't you think you should lessen the insults?" said a girl sitting beside a boy with crew cut hair.

"What? I'm just stating his faults on the job. That sissy can't handle even the simplest task" Said the crew cut boy.

"But still, he is the Treasurer." The girl replied.

"Aw, shut up. I got this." The boy catches my eyes. "Eh? A new member?"

In an instant, the whole orchestra turns to face me. The crew cut boy stood up.

"Orchestra, new member's formation!" he exclaimed like a king giving out orders to his army.

Several persons stood up and quickly make their way towards me. A chubby boy, a boy with a creepy smile, a tall boy whose appearance can be compared to a goat, a bespectacled girl, a large girl and boy with a pretty face. They made a line in front of me.

"Wel~" The chubby boy sang a low note.

"Come~" The other boy sang a major third above it.

"To~" The goat boy add in another harmony

"The~" The bespectacled girl sang.

"Or~" The large girl sang a high note

"Ches~" The boy sang a really high note which impressed me.

I expected a 'tra' but it seems that no one is singing the final note of the harmony. The mini choir is trying their best to hold their notes with their breaths.

"Nina!" The crew cut boy shouted.

"Tra~" a tanned girl came dashing from her seat and sang the final note.

"Welcome to the orchestra." The crew cut boy broke through the line of choir. "I am Dan, the president of the Renaissance." He flashed a sly grin, a grin similar to Aziz.

Oh, this orchestra…is something else.