• Spotted!

    Spotted: Thomas Hewitt Jones feat. Simon Hewitt Jones – Above and Beyond

    Today it’s time for yet another track by the British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones, this time featuring his brother Simon who plays the violin. You can read all about Thomas and his music by clicking on his name above.

    This track was released as a single on the 30th of July, 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Above and Beyond!
    This track is one of a set of singles I am releasing currently alongside my commercial writing. I am enjoying collaborating with some of my musical friends and colleagues, and in the case of this track, my brother who is a violinist who performs all over the world and once played with a hip-hop band in Glastonbury!

    ‘Above and Beyond’ is written for my brother, Simon Hewitt Jones, who performs it at soloist alongside myself on piano and cello. Because of COVID19 lockdown, the track was recorded and assembled remotely to make it possible during these times.

    Thanks again Thomas for sending me your wonderful songs!

    For more information, please check out any of the following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Thomas Hewitt Jones – Skylark

    Today I’m presenting you to another great track by the British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones, which I have written about before here on the blog. You’ll find out everything about him on this Behind the piano post, so I won’t introduce him further here.

    The track was released as a single on may the 3rd of 2020.

    Tell us something about your track Skylark!
    The inspiration for this track was the idea of a bird in flight, tweeting (in the non-twitter sense!) as it flies. Funnily enough, the solo violin was the last part of the track to be recorded. It is one of a series I am writing and releasing during lockdown because of the coronavirus epidemic, and the violin solo was recorded remotely by Matthew Denton. The rest of the instruments were recorded in my studio.

    Thank you Thomas for once again sharing your music with us!

    For more information, please check out any of the following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Thomas Hewitt Jones – Synchronicity

    Today I’m introducing to to the latest track by Thomas Hewitt Jones, the British composer which I have written about before here!

    This track is taken from the album Neoclassical, which was released late 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Synchronicity!
    This was written with the idea of two moving objects, perhaps two fast cars or two competitive cyclists, travelling alongside each other in gentle competition. It was based around the idea of built and sustained momentum.

    Thank you Thomas!

    For more information, please check out any of the following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Thomas Hewitt Jones

    I have previously written and forced you to listen to the fantastic music by British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. And now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into out knowledge about this man!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Dulwich, London and my family came from Gloucestershire. Many of my relations are still there and it feels like home, in some kind of way. I currently live in Bickley, near Bromley.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing the piano and cello from when I was about 4 years old. I also play the organ and keyboards in general – and odd instruments which lie around my studio. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Many of my family are musicians, and so I grew up around it. There was also science in the family, but music won me over!

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I have been writing as long as I remember, and from a young age found myself interested in writing down and structuring my own music, as well as enjoying performing and communicating it to others. Without sounding overly pretentious, the ability of music to communicate that which words cannot is a lifetime’s fascination for me.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I was given an old tape recorder with a microphone. I initially used it to record pretend ‘radio programmes’ as a kid, but quickly became interested in recording music which I had written. My school also had a printer and binding machine, so I started printing my own schoolboy music as well!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I love listening to all kinds of performers and pianists. The ones which really speak to me make whichever music they are playing incredibly fresh and appealing, as if it has just been written.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
    Playing Bach at the keyboard is something I do to relax, and I absolutely love it. His music is contrapuntal as well as just vertical, and so it is a feast for ears, eyes and brain.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Music would be boring if everyone wrote in diatonic harmony all the time. That said, our musical ancestors have evolved music to the point it is at, and so to compose music today without at least being aware of the basic rules of harmony and counterpoint is not only disrespectful but limiting. This is why I believe we need to deliberately break the rules in our own ways to achieve an individual style, rather than totally disregard them. In the 1960s and 1970s musical composition went as far as it can ever go away from any sense of order, and I personally feel that human emotion can now be expressed in all kinds of creative ways through music without totally throwing out what came before.

    How do you record your music?
    I usually record large orchestras in central London in studios designed for the task, and smaller projects and overdubs at my home studio. I do sometimes mix myself, but tend to get mastering done elsewhere as a separate pair of ears (of a mastering engineer you trust) can help a record.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I use them, but usually write away from the computer first and record as many live instruments as the budget allows, because writing music straight into a sequencer to make samples sound good can be extremely limiting.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Every human on this earth should have access to music as it helps us communicate – cavemen knew this! It has an untold number of benefits to people’s lives, despite governments’ unwillingness to allocate enough funding for a proper musical education which should be a birthright. 

     I would add that writing music is an obsessive, tiring, wonderful, addictive, intense, fulfilling occupation.

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

    God knows…I don’t think any creative really knows!

    Thank you very much for this interview Thomas!

    For more information, please check out any of the following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Thomas Hewitt Jones – Clockwise

    Today I’m introducing you to Thomas Hewitt Jones. Well, I have introduced you to him before, so this is another track; from another album! Thomas is a Brittish composer, pianist and cello player living in London. This is his second release from the Juice Music label, which is a part of EMI Production music.

    Clockwise is kind of a fun song. Am I allowed to call it that? It’s fun because it’s so playful and nice. It starts out with a small piano part and then it just breaks loose into this end scene taken from a movie where the gay gets the girl after chasing her through an airport. Or something like that. I really enjoyed listening to this little song! A perfect start of any day!

    The song is taken from Thomas latest album Electro cello.

    Tell us something about your track Clockwise!
    With Clockwise I wanted to write a piece of music representing clockwise movement. I was thinking of a moving object’s trajectory when writing, and the piano motifs in particular are supposed to sound as if moving in circular motion, while the chugging cellos aim to evoke momentum. At the track’s climax, legato cellos outline the harmony and hopefully add a sense of drama.- As I was playing all the parts myself, I laid down the piano first and then recorded the cellos over the top in order to be able to record to the essential moving parts. I had to write the track very quickly, hence the double meaning of the title – I had to be aware of the minutes counting down while composing this one!

    Thank you Thomas for sending me this! Wonderful!

    For more information, please check out any of the following links:
    Website / Spotify

  • Spotted!

    Spotted: Thomas Hewitt Jones – Autumn of Life

    Today I’m introducing you to London based composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. Becoming a composer was kind of an obvious choice since two of his grandparents were composers and that Thomas comes from a very musical family.

    The track Autumn of Life is taken from the album Contemporary String Quartet which was released in February of 2019.

    Tell us something about your track Autumn of Life!
    I recorded the album with the internationally-acclaimed Carducci String Quartet – my cousin Emma Denton is the cellist! The album is loosely themed, with each track exploring a different emotional concept. This particular track, Autumn of Life, explores the passing of time, and it remembers my Composer Grandmother Anita, who was a huge inspiration to me both professionally & personally.

    Thank you for this Thomas!

    For more information, please check out these links!
    Website / Spotify

  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Aatraus

    A while back I posted about the track Gone are the days by the Finnish composer Aatraus, and today we go Behind the piano to get to know the person behind the artist name a bit better!

    What’s your real name?
    Sami Lehtiö. My piano album bears my real name, but orchestral music I only release under my artist name.

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    I tried to come up with a more international name than my own, and I was ready to make music under an old online alias that I always liked. It was, however, quite hard for some Finns to pronounce, so a friend suggested I just adjust it to fit a Finnish mouth. I shunned the notion at first, but then it grew on me, and now I love it.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Finland and live in a city called Tampere.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    We got our first keyboard when I was seven, and with that my dad taught me my ABCs, so to speak. I’m 31 now and have been playing on and off since then, but I was never really any good. Only in the last six years or so did I actually try to learn a bit more as I started taking composing more seriously. Before that I did have my own power metal band, but I played the drums.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always been creative and music has been my number one outlet. It’s hard to pinpoint how I started, but my father has always been musical and music was a big part of my childhood in one way or another. Funnily enough, I never wanted to be a musician but a writer, until I noticed how much easier it was for me to write a story in melodies than it was in words.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I probably wrote my first composition at age 13. We started our band soon after and made bad metal for a few years. Some 10 years later I started playing a bit more determinedly and learning orchestral composition. Although almost all of the songs I’ve ever composed have been piano-based to some extent, this new album is my first project to feature only piano.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I discovered early on that I could learn songs by heart pretty easily, but because I wasn’t very good, I couldn’t make other people’s songs sound correct without following notation. Soon I got frustrated trying to copy others, and I started playing how I felt comfortable. Not long after, I could play a handful of songs from memory, all of which were my own.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Hard one. I like to listen to all kinds of composers and make new discoveries. If you pushed me, I’d probably say Ludovico Einaudi and Yann Tiersen, and also Alexandre Desplat to whatever extent he fits this genre. If I may, I also want to shoutout fellow SleepySongs feature Thomas Hewitt Jones, who I’ve been a huge fan of since discovering his album Neoclassical.

    Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s?
    I can only really play my own songs. If I sit down to play, I usually warm up with the same song. For a long time it has been “Cascades”, which is quite an old composition, though I recorded it for the first time for the new album. If I sit down to compose, I might not warm up at all, because I like to empty my mind into the melodies.

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    I am a huge perfectionist myself and constantly struggle with being content with any piece of music I write, so I want to say the presumption that music should be perfect, because someone like me out there needs to hear it.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I have a rather primitive home studio where I make all of my music.

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    They are a life-saver for someone like me, who has a strong creative disposition to make music but limited resources to record real instruments or musicians. They also allow me to compose everything I do on a piano, the only instrument I truly play.

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    Mostly, trial and error.

    Thank you very much for this Sami!