Yiruma

Yiruma is my favorite musician; I would love for people to try listening (links below). Beyonce, Tupac, and John Mayer are high on my list as well – vocal power, raw intelligent expression, and guitar skill respectively are amazing examples of what people are capable of – but Yiruma is the best for me because he communicates astounding beauty.

Yiruma is an internationally renowned Korean pianist. Growing up, my dad would play his songs on an old stereo system we had every Saturday morning. Regardless of what was happening in our lives/ the challenges that week may have presented, Yiruma would bring us to a place of peace and gratitude for being alive at that moment. Nothing mattered besides being there in the room with each other, appreciating.

I don’t know how true this is, but my mom said Yiruma’s unique style is partly a result of his having shorter fingers than normal pianists. If you’ve played piano, you know it’s hard to play well if you have smaller hands. I’m not a classical music theorist and lack the vocabulary to describe it well, but I would characterize Yiruma’s style as a flowing blend of notes close together on the keyboard. His shortcoming ultimately became an important source of success.

It’s one of my long-term goals to be able to play his songs. I played piano when I was younger but had to quit for a number of reasons. In college, I started to pick it back up. Among other things, it helps me practice focusing – getting into flow states and letting my body do the work instead of thinking so much.

I wrote a poem a few months ago about what the experience of listening to Yiruma is like for me and hope to make people feel the same when I play for them one day.

Yiruma soothes
His songs are waterfalls
Streams cascading
Spray floating off the surface
Like summer dew that clings to arms
When rolling sideways
And peering into eyes like pools
Propped up
By formless drops on the grass
That scatter and gather
Held together by longing
Soft scars, tears of joy, grateful releases of breath, loquacious lyrical language
Panging poison pandemonium pleasure of poetry
The notes don’t actually touch.
Like electrons, protons, atoms, quarks, upquarks down
Emergent particles (waves)
Held together by
The empty space
Where life overflows

You can find a compilation of his songs here. Or I would start with his second studio album, “First Love”. “May Be” is probably my favorite track.

JB

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