Tuesday, January 5, 2010

“Orange Note”


“I've never been in a musician's house before,” said Nani. “He must have a lot of weird musical instruments inside.”

“Not necessarily,” said Wahid as he's driving them both to his friend's apartment. Sifar, a composer, wanted to give him his latest piece of recording to send to his studio for mastering.

“Does he have cool art at least? Maybe he's a collector or something..”

Wahid gave her a serious look.

“You're staying in the car, I don't want you stealing anything.”

“Hey, I resent that!” said Nani. “I hate it when you call it stealing. It makes me sound like a thief.”

Wahid opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Nani.

“It's not like I take their valuables or anything like that! I just like to take some souvenirs.. Like that time I took that flower from Jules' garden. It was only one flower! She had an entire garden! We don't have a garden, Wahid.”

He raised his hand in protest, “Yes, but—”

“..and that time when I took those chopsticks home from Nguyen's place, those were disposable chopsticks ok? He was going to throw them away anyway..” she continued with a huff.

“Well.. that doesn't mean that—”

“I just like to take a little piece of the person home with me. It's a gesture of affection.” she said with a sigh.

Wahid waited until he was sure she was done. “Okay..” he breathed. “I wouldn't mind if you do it with their permission. If you'd ask them nicely I'm sure they would be happy to let you ‘take a little piece of them home’ with you.”

“So what's the problem then?”

“The problem is that you do it discreetly. It's like you don't want to get caught doing it.. and since you take those stuff without their permission.. it is technically stealing.”

“It's not stealing.” she said, indignant.

“Well, whatever it is, I don't want you doing it,” said Wahid as he slows down their dark blue wira to a stop in front of an apartment block. “Just stay inside, this will be a quick one.”


“Afterwards we can go to McDonald's and I can get you a Happy Meal,” he said with a smile as he leaves the car.

Nani locked the car from the inside and turned on the radio before sticking her tongue out to Wahid.

Sifar was already waiting for him just outside.

“Salaam.” greeted Sifar. “I got your message. Sorry I didn't reply. I, uh, hadn't topped up my credit yet this month. Aheh.”

“No worries, man,” said Wahid as he let himself in. “You done with..what is it called..”

Blow Me Away,” said Sifar, smiling, motioning for Wahid to enter the living room with him. “Sorry about the, erm, mess.”

Wahid entered and took a look around. The first thing he noticed was the mess he was talking about. In one corner there was a giant stack of books, notes, pieces of paper and artwork piled up to the ceiling. He looked at it for a few seconds before realizing that it was actually a bookshelf. The shelf part of it obscured behind sticky notes and thumbtacked bits of sheet music. In another corner was a large electronic keyboard which apparently doubled as a desktop with a jumble of books and more sheet music strewn about on top of it.

The rest of the apartment as far as Wahid can tell is no less of a mess. There was a grandfather clock right next to a digital mixer with more buttons than he could think up uses for, both sitting among a spaghetti of wires and miscellaneous cables spread out all over the floor. There were a few more end tables and stools all occupied with books and even more sheet music. He wasn't really bothered with the mess. He was more bothered about something else.

“No television? ” he thought aloud.

“I don't have enough money, heh.” answered Sifar, somewhat apologetically.

“No radio either..” he said as he looked around once more, just to make sure.

“That's uh.. that's a personal choice.”

Wahid cocked his eyebrows.

“I don't like.. erm.. when I listen to other peoples' music I worry that it might creep into my own work,” he said as he pointed to the sofa nearby, inviting Wahid to sit down. “Coffee?”

“Oh, no thank you.” said Wahid as he sat down on the sofa, which was the only piece of furniture that didn't look like too much of a mess. Save for a stack of magazines that was pushed to one side. “Speaking of your works, I just came here to pick up the latest version.”

Sifar let out a sigh. “See.. the thing about that is, uh..”

Wahid wasn't aware of it before, but now he's noticed that Sifar seems a little fidgety.

“I've been having some trouble finishing this latest one..” he said as he moves towards his bookshelf and started turning over some of his stacks of paper.

“I have a good intro..” he continued, moving over to the keyboard and shuffling about the papers. “..and a good chorus.. but..”

“You looking for something?” asked Wahid.

“Yes,” he answered, turning to face Wahid. “The buildup of the song is perfect, the tonal resonance fits the mood I wanted, but I just can't find the right way to end it,” he continued.

“No, I mean were you actually looking for something?” he said, getting up from the sofa. “You look like you lost your keys maybe. I can help you find it.”

“Huh?” said Sifar, his face blank.

“You were walking around and touching everything like you were looking for something, I don't know..”

“No no no.. please, it's okay,” he said as he picked up a book and shook it by the spine to see if anything would fall out. “Just... some cash.”

“How much?”

“A hundred Singapore dollars.”

Before he could say anything in response, the doorbell rang. Sifar went to answer it.

It was Nani. “May I use your bathroom?” she asked.


“That's my friend, Nani,” said Wahid, a little embarrassed. “She was supposed to wait in the car,” he continued, glaring at her.

“Oh, uh.. right.. sorry. It's just through that door,” said Sifar.

Nani thanked him and scurried off to the bathroom.

“Sorry. She's a bit of a pain to have around. That's why I made her wait in the car. Ha.”

They both shared a chuckle.

“Hey, this reminds me of something,” said Sifar, giggling. “Do you know what the ‘brown note’ is?”

“What is it?” he asked.

“It's rumored to be uh, there's... supposedly this frequency that would cause people to lose control of their bowels. A note that can literally make you shit yourself.”

“No way. Because of the resonant frequency?”

“Yeah!” he replied with a laugh.

“Play that one at the end of your song, maybe it will get her out of the bathroom quicker!” he said as they both laughed.

Sifar removed a stack of files from on top of  a stool in front of his keyboard so he can get comfortable on it. He took  a deep breath and began playing a few melodies.

“Maybe that's what I need..” he said as his fingers kept playing.

“I can never get the hang of pianos,” said Wahid. “I can barely play Guitar Hero.”

Sifar started to repeat the last three bars he was playing, ending each one with a different flourish.

“Can never reach that darn orange note,” he continued, “My little finger just can't quite reach it. Especially if it's a really fast song,” said Wahid as he mimed playing the guitar with his hands.

Sifar stopped playing, but his hands are still on the keyboard, “I've, uh, never played Guitar Hero,” he said, without looking up. “Little finger..” he whispered to himself. He extended his pinky and played an E-major chord.

Wahid turned to look at him, his mouth open. Sifar kept his fingers where they were and grinned at him. “I found it,” he said slowly. “This is it. This completes it! This is exactly what the song needs!” his face glowing. “Okay, I'm going to uh, play that last measure, but I'll end it with that chord”.

Sifar played it and right at the end, he hit the keys with a bit more force than before. The sound echoed through the room and once it was silent, Sifar stood up from his stool.

“That gave me chills, man..” said Wahid quietly. “That must have been the resonant frequency of my brain.”

Sifar smiled widely. “I know, right? Heh.”

Just then, Nani emerged from the bathroom and walked in. “Hey, are you guys done?” she asked. “I know I am. Hehe.”

Sifar opened the front door, “I found it. Now I can finish it up by tonight and uh, send a copy to you first thing tomorrow morning,” he said, still smiling and slightly jumpy.

“Cool,” said Wahid as he exited the apartment with Nani. “See you tomorrow, man.”

Wahid and Nani walked back to the car. Wahid was still thinking about how lucky it was that Sifar found the right way to end his song. He also felt privileged to witness and be a part of his friends creative process. Nani had her hands in her pocket and was whistling a tune.

“What's that?” asked Wahid. “Sounds familiar,” he said as he opened the car door.

“Wasn't it the song he was playing?” she answered before continuing to whistle the tune.

“Oh yeah. Good ear.” he said as they both got into the car and started the engine.

Wahid didn't immediately shift the gear and start driving. He waited for the car to run for a bit before turning to Nani, “Did you steal anything?”

Nani stopped whistling. “I did not!” she insisted.

“Come on, be honest. Was it soap?”

“I didn't take anything.”

“Some toilet paper then,” he said as he made his way out of the apartment housing area.

“I didn't touch anything, I told you,” she replied, pouting her lips.

“Okay then. Let's go to McDonalds.”

“Oh, wait!” she slapped herself in the forehead. “I forgot. I found something.”

“I knew it,” he said with a smirk. “Well?”

“An orange note.”


  1. Haha... I can't believe I haven't been to your blog in months.. Good stuff...

  2. I can't believe it took me so long to continue writing again. Wait. Yes I can believe that.

  3. this reminded me of that composer dude in asterios polyp.