Snow Faeries in China

This is not a soundmix but a single tune. It has a very special meaning to me, it transports me back to a true, innocent and beautiful experience. A wonder-full moment.

After arriving in China and spending a few days in a youth hostel in Shanghai I took a train to Suzhou, a city known, as I was yet to learn, for its silk and where a long time ago the Silk Road originated. I stayed with my very first Chinese hosts, a lovely family of three. Adele, the daughter, was an extremely clever and full if life eight or nine years old who became my friend and Chinese teacher for a few days. As I was taking my things out the car, Adele commented on the guitar. She speaks excellent English for her age. I said without thinking about it “if you want, we could write a song together”. Adele heard me and didn’t forget my offer. In the next few days, she reminded me relentlessly about what I had said. What I had in mind was to make her write some lyrics in English and then fine a tune – the only way I know of writing songs. Adele could play the piano and one afternoon I had helped her practice a difficult passage in the piece she was learning. When she asked again about the song the next day, I don’t know why, I said “alright, let’s do it. But do you prefer composing with the piano or with the guitar?” “Piano!” she answered.

I had never written anything on the piano, despite 9 years of private lessons. I could play a few classical pieces, learned them by heart and that was it. But I didn’t want to disappoint this sweet little girl and as my role obviously here was to guide her, I did. I don’t know how it happened but there was a chemistry between the two of us and it worked out. I was throwing together the all session as it went but pretended I knew exactly what I was doing. I played a sort of bass line as accompaniment and told her to improvise on it. She didn’t even know what “improvising” meant, but she did it! Adele was very intuitive and dedicated, naively passionate and hard-working at the same time. Very motivated for sure, and excited about the creative process. She had never done it before either, but it came very naturally to her. So we played again and again and again, constructed our little tune. Adele was so fresh and spontaneous that it was a blessed pleasure to interact with her. The young girl is not only a little pianist, she is a fencing champion as well. At some point I suggested “here you could add a variation”. She asked “what’s a variation?”. I said “It’s like, you take the same melody as before, but you change it a little bit. You can start the same but change the end, for example”. “Like we do in fencing!” she answered enthusiastically, what ever she meant with that.

The recording above is the result of our work. I did very little, most of it is Adele’s inspiration. We played it for her mum as a surprise when she came back from work and she had tears in her eyes watching her daughter play and I play it. At the end she sounded rather incredulous when we told her that Adele herself came up with the melody. I helped Adele figure out the title of our little piece. It’s called Snow Faeries. I hope you’ll see them around while you listen to it :) .

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