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Journal Entries
Note: Background images in December 2002 and January 2003 journal entries are selected from Frances Ku's collection of her original watercolours.

Bon Journal

Out of tune and out of sync

Everyone has a bad hair day every now and then. Last two nights were suboptimal to say the least.

I first noticed that the hotel piano was out of tune just before the New Year. Having gotten my own piano tuned, I could detect the relative difference. When I'm in a good mood, it doesn't bother me. But when things go wrong, it bugs me. This feeds unto itself, and my playing gets affected.

Being out of tune sometimes makes me get out of sync. I start making mistakes. I start hearing the mistakes and become more self-conscious. I then make more mistakes. I wince when I play high notes that are really flat.

Every evening I play, it's a different experience. The sound I produce is affected by the number of people in the room. On party nights, I have to really bang. On quiet nights, I feel like I'm talking to the listeners with my music. When the piano is out of tune like this, I dare not play too loudly.

What else irritates me besides an out-of-tune piano and greasy keys? People who sit right behind or next two me and can't stop talking. These seats should be reserved for the real connoisseurs. Instead, when these seats are occupied by talkers, they talk even more loudly. I take this as a challenge to find the right piece of music to get rid of them.

People's innocent remarks also affect my playing. One security guard this week said, "Well, I don't hear any clapping or cheering." What is that supposed to mean? One older lady had asked me if I was a student. Why? Do I look like a student or do I play like one? Another had asked if I did this professionally.

When I'm in a bad mood, it really comes out in my playing. I would subconsciously choose to play depressing music. Even if I've got a happy tune in front of me, I'd play it with a kind of melancholy.

For the optimal performance, here are my conditions:

1- piano is in tune

2- no party going on

3- everyone who sits within 2 meter radius of me should observe certain behaviour: no loud talking, no smoking.

4- don't interrupt me in the middle of a piece

Now, all I need to do, besides getting my own tuner to tune the hotel piano, is to change my schedule so that I will never have to play when there's a party going on.

19 January 2003 Sunday

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Anne Ku
writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.