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EIF - Book 03 Chapter 014.2: Canon, Part 2

Long Wanqing, Venerable Liu Nian, Shangguan Hen, Mu Chenfeng, and the crowd had never seen a piano before. When they saw the black cloth covering the piano, they all appeared very curious.

“Where is Gu Hai? Hurry up. What is this piano? Why all the mystery? What does it look like?” Mu Chenfeng said, feeling curious.

Mu Chenfeng had not seen many instruments of such a size before. Stone chimes? Huge drums? They don’t seem to have this shape.

[TL Note: Stone chimes are ancient Chinese instruments consisting basically of tuned stones hung on a rack and struck with a mallet. Here is a video introducing it, with a performance featuring it accompanied by a guzheng, a type of zither, at the later part of the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKWqZLQDuKo.]

“His Majesty is changing clothes. Please wait,” Shangguan Hen said with a smile.

“Changing clothes? He needs to change clothes to play the zither?” Mu Chenfeng said with a frown.

As everyone started to feel impatient, Gu Hai walked out of a room in This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion with measured steps.

The moment Gu Hai appeared, everyone immediately fell silent, as Gu Hai’s attire looked unique. Moreover, it served to emphasize Gu Hai’s elegance. At the very least, the eyes of Long Wanqing and several female cultivators in the vicinity lit up at the sight of him.

Gu Hai wore a close-fitting, black cloth jacket, which made his silhouette look like it was carved with a knife. The front was short, and the back was long, parting like a swallow’s tail at the bottom. It looked extremely serious, solemn, and dignified. Wearing a pair of shiny black leather shoes on his feet, he slowly made his way to the piano.

“What kind of attire is that?” Long Wanqing revealed a shocked expression.

“I heard His Majesty mention that it was called a swallow-tailed coat or something like that,” Shangguan Hen explained.

“Oh?”

The world was large, and there were all sorts of strange attire. There would always be some kind of special clothing somewhere. Although the swallow-tailed coat did not cause a huge commotion, its visual impact instantly captured the eyes of countless cultivators.

“He is just trying to cause a sensation!” Lu An sneered on the other side of the street.

“That’s right. In the end, the zither’s quality is key in selling zithers. No matter how well dressed he is, he will just be like a vase.” Jiang Tianyi nodded.

“How are the preparations?” Lu An asked indifferently.

“Young Master An, don’t worry. I have already invited a group of master zitherists over. Once the demonstration is over, they will all give negative reviews,” Jiang Tianyi said with a faint cold smile.

“Alright.” Lu An nodded.

Gu Hai slowly walked to the piano and gently waved his hand.

A few Han Royal Dynasty officials pulled off the black cloth, immediately revealing the piano.

Everyone saw a large, strange, three-legged, black box. The paint on it looked glossy, but the sheen gave off a dignified air. However, its external appearance was just that of a three-legged table.

Gu Hai gently waved again, and the Han Royal Dynasty officials extremely carefully raised the huge lid on it, immediately revealing countless strings and mechanisms that looked extremely complicated.

A Han Royal Dynasty official handed over a cloth to Gu Hai, who used it to wipe his hands before taking a seat.

“That is a piano? It comes with a stool? How do you play it?”

“So, that is a piano! It looks quite dignified!”

“Appearance is pointless. Can it be played?”

Many cultivators seemed curious.

Then, Gu Hai slowly opened the lid over the keys, revealing fifty-two white keys and thirty-six black keys to everyone.

There was a total of eighty-eight keys. This startled the onlookers slightly.

“There are so many buttons?” Jiang Tianyi raised his eyebrows on the other side of the street.

“That is what a piano looks like?” Lu An frowned.

Gu Hai’s solemn appearance gave the two a bad feeling.

Countless cultivators in the surroundings saw the swallow-tailed-coat-clad Gu Hai sit down in front of the piano solemnly, so they became solemn as well. Although some people still appeared disdainful, the surroundings hushed. Even the master zitherist on the other side of the street stopped playing out of curiosity.

“Activate the ritual array!” Gu Hai called out indifferently.

“Yes!”

A few of the Elite Hall disciples quickly activated a ritual array in the surroundings. The ritual array was transparent, but the surrounding space seemed to ripple rhythmically.

“Is this a sound amplification ritual array? Is Gu Hai seeking drastic failure?” Jiang Tianyi said with a glare.

“A sound amplification ritual array? Gu Hai is that confident?”

“A sound amplification ritual array cannot amplify a zitherist’s artistic conception. It can only amplify the music. After amplification, there might not be the feeling of intoxication that one would feel when hearing the music of a master zitherist. All that is heard is the music. Anyone can play a piece, so there isn’t much of an advantage to it…unless it is a new piece?!”

“By amplifying the sound, Gu Hai is not planning to succeed on the artistic conception but to conquer everyone with the music?”

“With the sound amplification ritual array amplifying the music, if he does not play well, This Street’s Best Zither Pavilion’s reputation will be completely in the gutters!”

Countless people in the surroundings stared at Gu Hai in shock.

Then, Gu Hai extended his hand and pressed the first key.

Dang!

Everyone immediately stopped and looked at Gu Hai. The sound amplification ritual array amplified this note and spread it in all directions. While it could not reach the entire city, it still covered a tenth of it; many people suddenly heard this sound.

“A piano’s sound seemed more agile and ethereal!” This was the first impression that many cultivators had.

Dang! Dang! Dang! Dang dang dang! Dang!

Gu Hai’s fingers moved continuously, pressing the various keys and making the piano sing. Earlier, everyone had felt amazed. However, that quickly passed.

There were no illusions from any artistic conception, just the most ordinary musical performance. However, many people became immersed in the melody as they listened.

Silver Moon City had consistently received the baptism of the music Dao over the many years. The people in the city more or less understood music and could appreciate it. Often, they could tell whether a piece was good or not just by listening.

As the sound of the piano rang out, many people closed their eyes and listened.

When the surroundings quieted, Gu Hai, who was playing the piano, revealed a faint smile.

Gu Hai was not a master musician, just a person selling pianos. In business, advertising was crucial. If he wanted to sell pianos, he needed to snatch the initiative and gain momentum.

Hence, Gu Hai chose his first piece with great care. There were countless master zitherists in the city, and he could not produce an artistic conception. In that case, his piece had to be a classic, so classic that it would be like an earworm, repeating endlessly in their heads.

The first song that Gu Hai picked was “Canon,” the catchiest piece on Earth.

Back on Earth, Gu Hai had heard some modern songs so catchy that they became earworms, prompting countless people to sing and dance to them. However, none of these could compare to “Canon.” Could those catchy songs remain popular for close to a thousand years?

From its creation several hundred years ago, “Canon” had been an undefeatable legend in the music world.

When the piano first appeared on Earth, it was not accepted by mainstream music. Most musicians did not think much of this big instrument until a group of piano geniuses appeared—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frédéric Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, among many other talented pianists—and slowly pushed the piano to the peak. They created many classical piano pieces passed on until now, raising the piano to a divine status.

However, not many knew that Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frédéric Chopin, and many other composers used canons in their pieces. Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fate Symphony,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and many famous pieces used canons.

This was because the canon was no longer a piano piece but more of a style. It was just like the kata of martial arts, able to bring out countless variations.

[TL Note: A canon is a contrapuntal compositional technique with the same musical motif starting at different times and overlapping each other. I doubt that my description can do it justice, so here is a Wikipedia link if you want to know more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_(music).] 

Most musicians would use a short canon in their songs or even just create a variation of the entire canon.

Songs from various countries on Earth used the canon. When Gu Hai was young, he had heard many popular modern works incorporating canons. The background music of movies and dramas had canon variations.

As a style, the canon had many variations. When Gu Hai was young, he had heard that there were more than two thousand variations of it.

More than two thousand variations? It became even more complex over hundreds of years. Perhaps ordinary listeners would not notice. But in the olden days, the musicians on Earth hailed it as holy scripture, just like the Bible of Earth’s west.

As long as one was a musician, one would compose one or two songs with a canon.

This was a royal-level piece, an earworm, a divine piece that had not faded over a millennium. 

Borders did not limit music. Likewise, it was the same for worlds. As long as there was humanity and the same appreciation, a classic would always be a classic.

Perhaps the canon was not the best piece in this world, but at this moment, it became an intense stimulus for countless master zitherists.

Gu Hai wanted to use this feeling to publicize his piano.

He wanted this agile and ethereal feeling to strike everyone’s heart. He wanted everyone to think of the piano whenever they thought of the canon.

The piece that Gu Hai played was Pachelbel’s Canon in D, the one perfect piece among the canon-styled pieces.

Dang dang dang dang dang! Dang dang dang! Dang dang dang… The music rang out.

DragonInWhite's Notes:

Just one chapter today due to adjustments for the end of the month. Also, this is the last chapter of the month. As usual, there is no chapter on the 1st of every month. So, no chapters tomorrow.

Chapters for August: 59 / 50

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Written by Guan Qi — Watching Chess. Translated by DragonInWhite. Edited by VampireCat.