My aunts and uncles are well aware of the conflict I have with my parents. They’ve since become a surrogate family; the ones I call on Mother’s and Father’s Day, the people I visit when I go to Toronto.
With every cheque they send, my thank yous feel less and less meaningful. It’s difficult to show how much I appreciate their love and acceptance and support when they’re well off and tend to have everything they could ever want or need.
One of them mentioned Teresa Teng as a favourite singer during a conversation last year, and I realized a cover of one of her songs would be a befitting gesture. The arts were tightly controlled by the Chinese government for 30 years and any song heard on the radio was either patriotic or political, until The Moon Represents My Heart was released in the late 1970s. It marked an important cultural shift when emotions were considered puerile or bourgeois, and became a favourite among many generations.
This song in particular is well-known by people from all three China’s (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan), as Teresa Teng’s popularity extended beyond both borders and dialects. She became a comforting familiarity when I was growing up, as I would catch her voice floating in the background no matter where I went or who I visited.
I’ve had my nylon-string and electric guitars for years now, but depression robbed me of the patience to do anything with them. Admittedly, the loftiness of my goals were also holding me back. I kept trying to make commercial quality tracks without ever having taking a single lesson on sound engineering or music production; no wonder I kept getting frustrated every time I tried to create something.
A cover with only two instruments and no singing seemed like a reasonable way to get comfortable with the mixing and mastering processes, as well as the intricacies of a powerful DAW. The tabs aren’t mine, but I added the solo section in the middle so I could express the main melody in some fashion1.
I’ve come to accept continuous improvement over delayed perfection, mainly because the delays always extend into infinity and I never get anything done. I’m elated (and relieved) to know that I managed to finish a project I initiated for myself without any pressure or deadlines. It’s a satisfying reward after many days when I just wanted to play a game for some instant gratification but pushed myself to practice instead2, and years of broken concentration. I’m also glad to finally have a little sample of the tones that I can coax out of my most recent acquisitions of wood and steel.
- I’ve been trying to understand how some artists — like Ratatat — can create catchy but technically simple songs, since I’m too lazy to practice shredding. [↩]
- I can’t even begin to imagine how many times poor Heather was subjected to hearing the same thing over and over again, and not often played well. [↩]