"One time he sat down and started playing the Taiwanese national anthem," says his high school piano teacher Charles Chen. "It's usually very solemn but Chou was riffing and turned it into an interesting piece of music, one that sounded like a pop song."---from the TIME ASIA feature in 2003
"Songwriting to me is like drinking water. It comes very naturally and it makes me happy. When I act, I'm taking on another character and I have to fulfill my director's expectations. When I write songs, I have to satisfy only myself."--- Jay Chou, in an interview from HOT magazine, 2012, whilst promoting The Viral Factor
"I'm not a doctor nor a magician, but I can make the music come alive."--- Jay Chou
From all accounts I've read, Jay was composing even in his early childhood music class, where he wrote a song for a girl whom he liked. Ditto in high school and therefter. ;)
The first quote on top also attests to his knack for improvisation, which continues to charm his fans to no end, whether on the piano or in his song lyrics during live performances.
I've posted this video before but it bears watching again for this topic, as Jay's ability to pluck a tune out of thin air (or three random notes), so to speak, is demonstrated very clearly:
A fan-compiled audio clip of all three pieces, minus the talking:
Jay on a TVB show, making up tunes from random keys:
This is from a TV interview with him, where he mashes up Chopin, Liszt and adds a modern pop twist:
Jay again modifies his own song, Qing Hua Ci, from Chinese-style to one with a more updated feel:
Another instance of him having fun with the classics on his talkshow, Mr J Channel...here with Mozart's Turkish March, one of his favourites:
He made up a Chinese-style song for his guest and Treasure Hunter co-star, Lin Chiling:
I love the following clip, again from Mr J Channel, where he provided 'background music' to a story which Xuegao (Ice cream) was making up...very funny! But his accompaniment was spot-on in its appropriateness and feel for whatever Xuegao was throwing at him...lol!
NB: there are English subs!
Jay playing the Secondo part in a duet, where he comes up with amazing chord progressions for an old favourite, Home Sweet Home:
This is a wonderful vid of Jay and Michel Gondry jamming on a street in LA during The Green Hornet filming...Mackaronie anyone??
I'm so envious of all those lucky bystanders....Jay Chou playing for you for free in public?!?!?!
And he improvised a song for this talkshow:
I love how matter-of-fact and cool he is where impromptu music-making is concerned...it's just so stress-free for him!
He's like a sponge, absorbing and mashing up genres which then come back out as beautifully balanced musical masterpieces, as evidenced by the examples in my other posts on Chou Style.
As he says in the second quote above, songwriting is an enjoyable and natural activity for him.
Therein lies the secret of how he has been so impossibly prolific all these years, coming up with an album almost every year whilst composing yet more music for other artistes and his own movie.
And he's still going strong!
Secret 2 is set to have alot more music and he has assured us of his twelfth album after that...the mind boggles, but believes he'll do so as only His Royal DIAOness can....awesomely!