Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Speaking of the highly gifted...

Lim Jeong-Hyun
"Another Youthful-Looking Experimentalist"

Check out the video showing what this young, South Korean guy known as "funtwo" can do playing Pachelbel's Canon on a guitar!

The young native of Seoul, South Korea is 23-year-old Lim Jeong-Hyun, who has recently become famous enough to make the August 27th edition of the New York Times in Virginia Heffernan's article "Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last."

To my surprise, Lim hasn't been playing guitar so long:

Jeong-Hyun Lim ... [is] a 23-year-old Korean who taught himself guitar over the course of the last six years. Now living in Seoul, he listens avidly to Bach and Vivaldi, and in 2000 he took a month of guitar lessons.

Six years doesn't seem very long to me for someone to become so dexterous with a guitar, but I suppose that Lim's both highly gifted and hardworking.

How did he come to make his video and get it on YouTube?

It started with a 25-year-old Taiwanese guitarist, Jerry Chang, who last year did a rock version of Pachelbel's Canon on video, called it "Canon Rock," and uploaded it to his band's website. Soon, a lot of wannabees started testing their skill against Chang's, and one of these was Lim:

"First time when I saw JerryC's 'Canon' video, it was so amazing, I thought I might play it," he wrote. "So I practiced it by myself using tab and backing track from Jerry's homepage." On Oct. 23, 2005, he uploaded his video to a Korean music site called Mule. From there an unknown fan calling himself guitar90 copied it and posted it on YouTube with the elegant intro: "this guy iz great!!!"

I recently watched the video and was impressed but also a tad skeptical because I could hear backing and because Lim's finger movements sometimes looked out of sync with the sound. Well, there's a reason:

Repeatedly newcomers to the comments section on YouTube suggest that the desktop computer visible on the right side of the video is doing all the playing, and that funtwo is a fraud. They point out that there is a small gap in timing between the finger work and the sound of the video. These complaints invite derision from those in the know. (Funtwo's use of a backing track is no secret, and as for the gap, he says he recorded the audio and video independently and then matched them inexactly.)

Derision, eh? I'm glad that I didn't post any doubts over at YouTube. I hate being derided. Lim, however, despite shyly obscuring his face with the brim of a baseball cap in the video, doesn't seem to mind derision, for as Heffernan notes:

[E]ducational imperative is a big part of the "Canon Rock" phenomenon. When guitarists upload their renditions, they often ask that viewers be blunt: What are they doing wrong? How can they improve? When I asked Mr. Lim the reason he didn't show his face on his video, he wrote, "Main purpose of my recording is to hear the other's suggestions about my playing." He added, "I think play is more significant than appearance. Therefore I want the others to focus on my fingering and sound. Furthermore I know I'm not that handsome."

My wife thinks that Lim looks fine, and while she can't be trusted -- for she says the same thing about my appearance -- in this case, she's right. Lim does look fine.

Plays fine, too.

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At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hm. Technique is more important that appearance...that's a new perspective for rock. You always come up with something different! Will he be an "early achiever" and resign at 25? Then again, he might go on as long as Keith Richards...
He knows he's not handsome...he's obviously practised the star's false modesty.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

A lot of Asians tend to assume an air of humility, probably because there's such shame in losing face that they take the safer course of apologizing for themselves in advance.

But I'd bet that in his heart of hearts, Lim knows that he's not ugly (though my daughter called him "funny-looking") and that he's great with a guitar (on that point, my daughter was impressed).

As for my coming up with something different this time, I owe it all to the other, more musically attuned Korea bloggers over at Lost Nomad and Marmot's Hole.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:00 PM, Blogger Wonderdog said...

Some soulful riffs brought to you by the "Professor of Seoul" himself.

Good stuff, Jeffery. I borrowed this and put it on our blog.

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Wonderdog, but you should really think Lost Nomad or R. Elgin at Marmot's Hole ... or Funtwo himself.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:20 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uh ... make that "thank Lost Nomad" ... or "think of."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:39 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Hey Jeffery, I just started grad school so I've had time to do about..oh...nothing besides preparing for class and other related tasks..when I start writing for class I may put some of my stuff up, but until then, the bric-a-brac I assembled over the summer in the Burrow may get kind of dusty... Good to hear from you though..

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Wonderdog said...

I will think Lost Nomad for the remainder of the day...Lost Nomad...Lost Nomad...Lost Nomad...Hope it doesn't interfere with the deposition I'm taking this afternoon.

At 4:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daniel, what are you studying ... literature, perhaps?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:22 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Wonderdog, just think "Misplaced Nomad," then go do that ... uh ... deposition?

I'm no authority on your job ... but you're going to be removing Jesus from a cross?

deposition n.

5. Deposition The removal of Jesus from the cross.

The Protestants already did that back during the Reformation, didn't they?

KM's gonna be irate.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:46 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Nope, I'm going for an MBA. Perhaps one day, after all the blood, sweat and tears, I'll realize my life-long goal of being able to work in a, I hardly dare say it, -could it ever be so?- a cubicle! Just kidding. I'm getting a masters in french literature.


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