A Voice from the Darkness, or The Case of the Disappearing Earrings – La Corda D’Oro , Part 2


 

 

 

 

This time I will continue our look at novel La Corda D’oro: I Can Do It For Your Sake by Megumi Fujino (藤野恵美の”金色のコルダ:君のためにできること”).  Chapter two is about Ryotaro Tsuchiura, who plays the piano in the main group of students at Seiso Academy.  The first scene starts with the lunch bell ringing and Ryotaro grabbing some lunch and going out to the sports area to watch some of the other students play soccer.  One of the students playing soccer is Kenjiro Suzuhara, and Ryotaro pays particular attention to him as the game progresses.  I guess this is a soccer club that meets at lunch.  They start with rock, paper, scissors to determine which team will perform the kickoff and start the game.  This is a rough scene to read as a non-native, because there are so many katakana loan words for soccer terms that it’s kind of blinding.  As he’s watching the game, Ryotaro compares playing soccer to playing the piano, something about the force you use to play the keys being relevant to soccer kicks.  The forward calls for him, and he helps them make a goal.

Somehow, the scene jumps from talking about their soccer game to the selections for the music concert; Len, Ryotaro and Kahoko’s playing technique; and the judge’s assessment.  Ryotaro thinks about his performance of Liszt’s “La Campanella” in the contest, which you can listen to a version of here:

I get the impression from this book that there’s always one contest or another going on at the school that the music students perform in, and they’re always talking about it.  As Ryotaro goes toward the school entrance, he meets 3rd year general studies student Nagara, and they talk more about soccer.  Another student from the general studies department joins them to talk about the annual ball game between the students of both departments.  Apparently, the year before they played baseball, and this year it will be soccer.  Teams will be picked by department major, so it will be the general studies students versus the music students this time.  Hino’s name comes up again, and her ambiguous status between the departments seems to be the reason Nagara wants her to drop out.  They disperse as the conversation ends.

After lunch, Ryotaro goes to his next class but doesn’t see Hino.  He meets another classmate, Nami Amo, and she asks if he is looking for Hino.  While she’s fumbling with her camera, she tells him she thinks Hino is on the rooftop.  They talk more about whether Hino has dropped out.  It’s a little vague, but I guess the concern is that Hino dropped out of school altogether rather than just out of the soccer game.  Amo chatters on particularly about Hino’s pretty star-shaped earrings, and she takes out a notebook from her pocket to consult about the design.  They apparently were stolen, and Amo has been keeping track of what has gone missing.  But Ryotaro really wants to hear about Hino’s selection for the contest, not her accessorizing.  Amo is covering something going on in the music school and asks Ryotaro if he wants to come along.  They head for a classroom where someone is playing Liszt’s “Liebestraum.” When they enter, Ryotaro realizes it is Hino’s violin, and she’s performing in a contest. Ryotaro does notice that her earrings are especially nice just like Amo said, though this must be a different pair.

Later when a group of girls from the music department waits in front of the practice room, Amo calls Ryotaro over.  She’s still looking at her notebook and asks Ryotaro if he ate.  Shoko Fyuumi, a first year music student, is also with them after coming out of the contest location.  Ryotaro tells them he plans on practicing the piano at lunch, so they go to another classroom, talking about playing simple Chopin pieces at the school matriculation celebration.  In the classroom, the window is open, and just outside they hear a girl shrieking, though maybe that’s too strong of a translation for the sound they hear.  There is some speculation whether the crying might be a ghost, but in the meantime Fata, one of the school’s fairies, floats up before Ryotaro and Amo.  Ryotaro can see Fata because he is participating in the music contest, otherwise not everyone can see the fairy.  There is apparently more than one fairy flying around the room. This is really interesting because the anime only talks about the fairy Lili.

Amo opens a glass door to get better lighting and sets up her camera shot aimed at the piano. The fairies tease Ryotaro as he prepares to play, though Amo can’t see them.   Amo begins questioning Ryotaro and writing down his answers as Ryotaro tries talking to the fairies, but they don’t answer him.  Both he and the piano are flooded in a golden light as he begins to play Debussy’s “Golden Fish”.  It truly feels like the golden fish is flying as the fairies add their magic to the song.  When his performance ends, the fairy magic also stops.  He closes up the piano and leaves the room.

When he is out in the hallway, he runs into Kazuki Hihara, one of their circle of friends, a trumpet player who also participated in the contest.  Hihara came to practice in the room with the fairies.  They talk a bit about the selection Ryotaro just finished playing.  Hihara approves of it.  Inside the room, Ryotaro sees Fata has disappeared.  Hihara tells Ryotaro Hino is on the roof with her violin, and Ryotaro thanks him as Hihara leaves quickly.

At the main entrance, he sees Amo again as they leave school for the day, and he offers to assist her.  Because of the rash of thefts that has worried her recently, she is grateful for his help.  Amo mentions ghosts again, but Ryotaro thinks of the fairies and looks at the fairy statue outside of the school.  She also chides him on stalking Hino, but he thinks she doesn’t understand that Hino is a close friend.  Amo walks back toward the music school for some reason I’m not clear on, and Ryotaro follows.

Once inside the school building, Ryotaro  and Amo head back to the practice room, and there isn’t a trace of anyone around.   She silences him as they hear a noise that they think might be the wind.  They get back to the idea that there’s a ghost crying and look nervously around the darkened school grounds.  Ryotaro senses something near him and hears footsteps.  After a tense moment, it turns out to be a tabby cat, the one that belongs toProfessor Kanazawa!  Kanazawa also appears, and the cat meows at him.   They talk about hearing a ghost at school, whether they are hearing the wind or a girl crying.  Ryotaro thinks of B horror film scenes when he hears it, and there is some question as to whether the ghost could be connected to the string of robberies at the school, which includes Hino’s star earrings.  It turns out there’s an old house in the forest near the school, and they hear another sound in the darkness and move toward that house.

Because it’s nighttime, it’s shadowy and frightening, and Shubert’s “Demon King” piece comes up in the conversation.  They come across a pond and the old house and speculate whether it’s the source of the sound.  They are jumpy, thinking again of horror films, and a door creaks open.  Inside the house, they hear a howling and then the sound of wings flapping because the house has become a nesting place for crows.  Ryotaro nearly steps in a hole where the floor is rotted.  Moonlight shines off of something – Hino’s earrings!  The missing gold mechanical pencil on Amo’s list is also there.  As the wind blows, they hear the shrieking again and find a big tree with branches stretching to the second floor that has a violin string twined around it in a way that takes advantage of the phenomenon of sympathetic resonance.  They don’t know who did this at this point in the book,but Ryotaro talks with Kanazawa about the Aolian harp and how it works similarly:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeolian_harp

Here’s an example of an Aolian harp in action, though there are plenty of more sinister sounding or more musical sounding examples, depending on the shape and materials.  Even regular harps make music in the wind:

The guy who made this video has a website where he sells these harps:

http://www.aeolianharps.com/

Here’s an eerier sounding one:

The chapter ends with them at practice again.  Ryotaro thinks of Hino and plays Chopin’s “Aolian Harp Etude” while looking at the moon.

Chapter 3 focuses on Keiichi Shimizu, the drowsy boy who plays the cello.  Shimizu leaves the practice room and ends up on the rooftop where he plays his cello for quite a while, including Dvorak’s “Songs My Mother Taught Me”:

He thinks of various songs and performances while sitting on a bench with the cello and bow in hand.  He thinks of Hino’s performance of the “G String Aria” and how he really likes the sound of her playing.  This part where he ruminates about music goes on for quite a while.

Later when he’s back in the music building, he runs into Nami Amo.  Amo tells Shimizu about the ghostly things going on in the practice room and takes down more items on her list of things that have gone missing because she wants to try to catch the thief.  As a member of the journalism department, she is on her way to interview Hino and Oosaki and has her camera with her for a photo.  Oosaki was the winner of their last contest, so she wants an interview with him.  They hear Hino playing a Faure song on her violin somewhere nearby, and when Kanazawa appears, they talk about the next contest and practice.     Amo continues to discuss Hino with Shimizu and decides he can do a better job of interviewing her than Amo can as a fellow music student.

They go to the Journalism Department together, and she gets him an arm band declaring him part of their writing team.  He goes to the music room to wait for Oosaki, and while he’s waiting, he’s ruminating on another cello piece.  I’m not sure if the lights are out in this room, but he sees a dark form flying around, just a crow that is squawking.   Shimizu notes how discordant its song is, but he also sees the dark figure of a man standing there.  He thinks it is the thief Amo was telling him about earlier.  Shimizu only caught a fleeting glimpse of him as he glanced into the first floor practice room.  The window in the practice room is open a little, and since Shimizu has Amo’s polaroid camera, he takes a photo of the dark figure.  The man flees, leaving Shimizu standing there in confusion, but he catches the photo when it pops out of the camera.   It’s too dark to tell what it took a picture of.  He sticks it in his pocket and leaves.

He sits somewhere else for a while and thinks about music again, but he falls asleep clutching his cello case.  Oosaki wakes him up, and Len Tsukimori is with him.  They talk about Hino and the contest’s music selections.  He almost forgot to go to lunch because he was dreaming of playing his cello.  Finally, Oosaki asks about Shimizu’s armband and if it means he’s joined the journalism department.  Shimizu explains that he’s helping Amo with her interviews and mentions Hino and Oosaki are the people he’s supposed to talk to.  Oosaki decides to do the interview at the school of general studies’ entrance.   Shimizu takes out a notepad with Amo’s questions.  He wants to know Oosaki’s impressions of this year’s contestants and his view of things as a former contest winner.  They go over his opinion of the other students one by one.

When they finish, Oosaki goes back to the music room, and Shimizu starts playing his cello for a time, then leaves school for the train station.  On the way, he runs into Amo, who asks him how the interview went.  He gives her the details, but when she asks about the photograph, he remembers he has the photo of the thief.  He didn’t get one of Oosaki.  Amo is puzzled when she sees the photo.

The next morning, his aunt wakes him up early even though he doesn’t have school on Saturday.  He takes his cello case and goes out, thinking more about music, taking the train to school.  He ends up at a park nearby, and he is starving because he forgot to eat breakfast before he left.  In the park, he can hear the sound of a temple block or fish gong.  That’s kind of special, so you can read about it here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wooden_fish

Luckily, he runs into his school headmaster, and they discuss the photo and have lunch together.  The chapter ends with Shimizu thinking about a performance.  Next time we’ll look at the last two chapters of the novel, which now seems to have a mystery that it needs to resolve.It’s really funny the way all of the students are constantly thinking and talking about Hino, who is really the main character of the anime the novel is based on, but she remains elusive for the most part.

Part two of a three part series.

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About Lady Xiansa

Lady Xiansa is a writer, linguist, artist, and dancer. She has been a core volunteer for the Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization since 2007 and has provided content for Pitt JCS anime events since 2011. She has taught both ESL and Beginning Korean. Her novel, The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak, won the Bronze Award for Young Adult Fiction E-book in the 2016 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards.
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