• Spotted!

    Spotted: Music Within – Saudade

    Today I’m introducing you to the latest track by Rob McAllister, also known as Music Within, the Canadian musician, producer and multi instrumentalist from Toronto, Canada. You can read a lot more about Rob and his project Music Within here!

    This track, Saudade, was released as a single on April 24th.

    Tell us something about your track Saudade!
    ‘Saudade’ is a Portuguese word meaning ‘missing something or someone. It refers to a deep, emotional state of nostalgia where one experiences distant memories and feelings both happy and sad. With the current global situation happening around us, I imagine that many people across the world can relate to this feeling now more than ever.

    Thanks for sending me this Rob!

    For more information, please go to the following place to find more!
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Music Within

    Today it’s time to get to know more about the person behind great compositions as A moment of symmetry and Julichka’s Theme. Let’s go!

    What’s your real name? 
    Rob McAllister

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I look at it more as a project name rather than my artist name. With the name, I was trying to find something that communicated a sense of depth and passion and curiosity. I was pretty pumped when I discovered that Music Within was unclaimed by any musician or composer and I just went with it!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I’m from a city called Welland in Ontario, Canada. I now live in Toronto, Canada.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    Wow, well after being asked to count it out it looks like I’ve been playing the piano on and off for about 20 years now! I also play guitar and trombone regularly, and a few other instruments in a studio / production capacity.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    When I was about six years old my parents started me in piano lessons. (Big thank you to them!) My sister was already a few years ahead of me, so I was eager to catch up.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Approximately 7 years.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    My first experience writing music rather than just playing someone else’s music was actually in a band setting. When I was about 14 I played trombone in a ska/punk band. It was a lot of fun writing the horn parts and definitely opened my mind up to the reality that I could create my own music.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    It’s difficult to say ‘favorite’ artists but here are a few that I like a lot: Angus MacRae, Joep Beving, Jasha Klebe, Bruno Sanfilippo, and Rob Simonsen. I also recently discovered an album called Waves by AVA which I’m really enjoying!

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Waltz in D-flat major by Frederic Chopin (popularly known in English as the “Minute Waltz”)

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    Hmm, tough question. How about the rule of music needing to fit into a “genre bin?” I’d say it’s a good one to try to consciously break. “Weird and strange” can become “unique and ground-breaking” if given the chance. 

    How do you record your music?
    I record most of my music myself at my “project studio.” When I have parts for live strings I send it to a few musician friends who can record the parts from their own studios. For a few of the tracks on my upcoming album, the piano was tracked in a Toronto studio called Soleil Sound.

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without sampled instruments. When I was first starting to compose music and discovered that I could play all of these amazing, realistic sounds with my keyboard it was like opening Pandora’s box! And I still use them regularly today. So to speak down on them would be total hypocrisy. All of that said, now that I’m a bit more experienced and I’ve trained my ‘production ears’, without a doubt live instruments with live players always sound better, enhance the composition and evoke a more emotional response. How’s that for tiptoeing the line?

    The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?

    Great question! I think they come from all around us. You can get inspired by a cloud in the sky, a ray of light, something you read, a film you watch, a sad experience, and of course other people’s music. You sit down and have fun experimenting. You chip away at the nothingness with your own personal experiences and your unique strengths.

    Thank you very much Rob!

    For more information, please go to the following place to find more!
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Music Within – Equanimity

    Today I’m introducing you to Rob McAllisters new song Equanimity with his project Music Within. I have, of course, written about Rob and his music before, which you can find here! And there will also be a Behind the piano post about Music Within if you’re reading this close to when it was posted.

    Long story short; Rob is a Canadian composer who currently lives in Toronto. He started playing the piano when he was about four years old, and started making music about eight years ago.

    The song Equanimity is taken from the latest album by Music Within, which was released only two days ago (Friday the 8th of November). The album holds the same title as this tune.

    Tell us something about your song Equanimity!
    The string part that you hear in this track is a combination of violin played by my friend Drew Jurecka, and my electric guitar played with a violin bow! I had already been experimenting with the sound for another track (a collaboration with SØLYS called Aerial Dreams) and was enjoying the result it produced. I fed the guitar through my amp with a reverb pedal on it and bowed the part. Fun times!

    Thank you very much for this Rob!

    For more information, please click on the following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Music Within – Boundless

    Today I’m introducing you (again) to Rob McAllister, the Canadian composer based out of Toronto. I have before written about two different songs from Rob (which you can find here) where he made three different versions of the same songs. Pretty interesting!

    Rob introduces his project Music within as a cinematic/ambient/modern classical project where he makes music for films that hasn’t been made yet.

    The song Boundless is released as a single, but will also be part of the upcoming album Equanimity which will be released in November of 2019.

    Tell us something about Boundless!
    I collaborated with Toronto based filmmaker Patrick Tomasso to create some short films for my new music. In the video for ‘Boundless’ we headed out to an open field that he had scouted out and shot some lovely sequences. My girlfriend Julia was a great sport and acted as the main character. The final result he created for me is stunning and I think so fitting for the music.

    Thank you for sharing with us Rob! Wonderful, as always!

    For more information, please click on the following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Music Within – A Moment of Symmetry

    A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Rob McAllisters project Music Within and his song Julicha’s Theme. Basically, Ron has done it again. On Julichkas Theme there were three versions of the same song: Solo piano, Sting quartet and music box, and this time he has used the very same instruments to perform his song A moment of symmetry!

    Tell us something about the recording of the piano version of the song A moment of symmetry!
    For this recording, I really wanted to use a ‘felted’ piano because of its soft, warm and beautiful sound. (For anyone who doesn’t know: a foot pedal on the piano literally moves a piece of felt over the strings so that the hammers hit the strings with much less force, muting and significantly softening the sound). So, I was over at a friend’s studio on a quiet Sunday afternoon to record. I’d been there before and had played around on his upright piano so I knew that it would be very nice to play. We were all set up and ready to get going when I realized that the foot pedal which normally moves the felt in place wasn’t working. After checking it out it was clear that this particular piano simply didn’t have the felt piece! 🙁 … 
    I wasn’t ready to give up on the sound I was envisioning just yet though, so I hurried out to a fabric store and bought a big sheet of green felt. After cutting it into several smaller pieces we were able to rig up a system where the felt hung down from the top of the piano and stayed between the hammers and the strings. We held the pieces in place using a bunch of guitar pedals as weights! So I hope you enjoy the sound of the piano, I worked hard for it. Haha!

    For more information, please click on the following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Music Within – Julichka’s Theme

    Today I’m introducing you to Rob McAllister, also known as Music Within. Rob is an Canadian composer and multi instrumentalist based out of Toronto. He makes music in the ambient/(neo)classical genre, and also makes music for picture and other media.

    This release is kind of special. It consists of three tracks, but only one song. The song is called Julichka’s Theme and has been recorded in three different versions; string quartet, solo piano and with a music box. This is a very common thing when making music for films.

    With the music box, the melody is a young, playful child. The theme grows up on the solo piano, with more emotion and expressiveness. The string quartet has the strength and grace of experience; a warm beauty fills the room. 

    It was released mid February and is one out of many releases by Music Within.

    Tell us something about Julichka’s Theme!
    I wrote this romantic melody for my girlfriend Julia, which is where the name comes from. ‘Julichka’, which is a nickname from her grandma, means ‘little Julia’ in Czech. To help inspire the theme, I imagined watching a cinematic film about her life and tried to capture her essence: love, compassion, curiosity, wonder. On the piano (which is where I originally wrote it) I find it also has a bit of a whimsical/magical feel to it. 

    Thank your for sharing this interesting song! I like all three versions!

    For more information, please click on the following links:
    Facebook / Instagram / Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Ruben Fjellner – Vindelälven

    Today I’m introducing you to the track Vindelälven by the Swedish composer and piano player Ruben Fjellner, located in Umeå. Ruben started playing the piano about five years age to deal with stress.

    Just improvising on the piano has brought me so much peace and joy, especially as someone who otherwise spends (a bit too many) hours tweaking synth patches within Ableton.

    The track Vindelälven was released as a single on the 16th of august, 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Vindelälven!
    This track is inspired by a river in the north of Sweden called Vindelälven. I have such dear memories of this place – and my great-great (something) grandfather actually had this “thinking pine” overlooking the river, where he often sat and composed both poems and preachings. For me, the river holds this kind of magic that I wanted to capture musically – how it moves through the landscape in a completely peaceful yet dramatic way. The polar opposites of calm and rapid water served as a huge inspiration for this piece.

    Thank you for sending in Ruben!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Claire Bigley – Awaken the Deep

    Today I’m presenting you with the track Awaken the Deep by the American composer and piano player Claire Bigley. Claire started playing the piano in second grade and is classical trained. The past five years she started to make her own music through improvisation!

    The track Awaken the Deep was released as a single on the 6th of august, 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Awaken the Deep!
    As I was creating this track I wanted to invoke a conversation with Soul. As I played, it felt more like a conversation awakening the deep within or Soul. Bird Song seemed like the perfect companion for this as the birds have such a beautiful way of heralding in the new day.    

    Thank you for this Claire!

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Tewksbury – Sitaantaago Elegy

    Today I’m introducing you to the American pianist and composer Tewksbury from Hamilton, Canada. Tewksbury has been a musician for his entire life even though this project is fairly new.

    The track Sitaantaago Elegy is taken from the album Paths, which was released in June 2021.

    Tell us something about your track Sitaantaago Elegy!
    The song ‘Sitaantaago Elegy’. It comes from the Sitaantaago Glacier (more commonly called the Mendenhall Glacier) in Juneau Alaska.  I was lucky to spend a few weeks in Juneau in Alaska, this place that feels unreal how big and empty and raw it is, housesitting for a friend, and my daughters and I went hiking almost every single day while we were there.  

    Seeing a glacier in real life is stunning, and you’re never really prepared for it, since it makes you reflect on time, and your place in this time on the earth. The Sitaantaago Glacier is in accelerated retreat due to climate change, and as you hike in to it, you pass rock cairns that mark where the glacier was at different times in history – 1700, 1800, 1924, 1956, 1988.  It’s retreated 2.5 miles so far, so you keep experiencing how large it once was as you, yourself, move through space. It’s stunning, and dire, and within a few decades the glacier will be gone.  It’s sobering to experience a thing that is almost certainly already dead.  In this song, I wanted to write a farewell, and to say goodbye with a beautiful moment. It’s a dark place to go, but I see beauty in it, and I hope that people who hear this song do, too.

    Thank you very much for this!

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: David Pepper

    A while back I wrote about the song Afon by the British composer and piano player David Pepper. Today we go Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the song a bit better!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Fishguard, which is a coastal town in West Wales within the County of Pembrokeshire which is home to the Uk’s only Coastal National Park. After studying at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England  and also living abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland I am now back and based in Fishguard where I work as a musician, composer, pianist & curator of cultural events. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing since around the age of 10 and also learnt the Trombone as we have a really good Brass Band locally. My main instrument is very much the piano now and I don’t get much time to play brass much but it was very influential growing up as it enabled me to play in large ensembles which was not often the case with the piano in earlier years.  

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started to have piano lessons outside of school and also learned various brass instruments with the local Goodwick Brass Band and also individual lessons within School for the Trombone. I then started to take music more seriously and choose to focus on it as a career and decided to  study Music at a College of  the Arts. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been making piano music from a very early age but I am only starting to release my piano music now.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    As I was learning the piano once the technique developed and I learnt more complex harmonies & Scales it came to naturally to go on exploring these myself often through improvisation. From then it is a questions of sketching down some of the better ideas and forming a score and then recording. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I admire what Olafur Arnalds is doing by merging organic and electronic sounds through some really exciting  use of technology. I was really into a lot of late classical and Romantic era also, with composers such as Schumann, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin. Philip Glass is also another bug influence.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Over the last year or so I have been spending a lot of time performing, composing and improvising a project I am working on called Finisterre which Afon is the first track to be released. Other composers would be Metamorphosis by Philip Glass.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think you have to try and make music that you feel inspired by yourself. Structure is important in music but that does not have been created in the conventional form, there have been so many interesting ways of making music over the last 100 years. Many of which are yet to brought into the mainstream or fully accepted.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I record sketches myself and then I record at studio in Pembrokeshire called StudiOwz which is a converted chapel in rural Pembrokeshire that is very peaceful and they have a lovely Bechstein Model C Semi Concert Grand Piano 7’4

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I have not used samples on my latest recordings but I am open to this in the future and as I mentioned I do admire the work of Olafur Arnalds and also the Berlin Composer Nils Frahm. I think the use of sampled instruments  are relevant and connected to today’s sound world and society and I would definitely like to explore this especially in live sets and bigger venues to create a more multi dimensional sound world. 

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 

    Songs come from my environment and experiences 

    Thank you very much for this David!

    For more information please check out the following:
    Facebook / Instagram / Spotify