Today I’m introducing you to the Iranian composer and piano player Benyamin Yahyavi and his track Her. Benjamin has played the piano since the age of 14, and started writing his own piano music about four years ago.
The track Her was released as a single on the 12th of march, 2020.
Tell us something about your track Her!
This piece expresses an emotional feeling in a relationship that has not yet been seriously formed. I believe that in order to make such pieces, more attention should be paid to simplicity and the melody should be shown more and more in a minimal space and away from any complexity.
Thank you for this track Benyamin!
Today I’m introducing you to the track Westerkerk by the dutch composer Mink, or Winterdagen. Mink has written and performed music in different band and constellations for many years, and this year is the year when Winterdagen gets it revival!
This is a solo piano version of one of the tracks of the upcoming EP ‘Phase In’, which will be released on May 29. The songs was is also released as a single.
Tell us something about your track Westerkerk!
In 2018, I had the opportunity to write an audiovisual live show with 8 musicians, which we got to perform at festival on the island of Terschelling, just off the North shore of The Netherlands. Our stage was a beautiful small old church, which had a lovely organ, and a wonderful old piano. On that particular piano I wrote this piece, in between performances. We liked the piece -and the old piano- so much, we decided to incorporate them into the performance. We put the piano in the middle of the crowd, where half way through the concert, I would perform this piece acoustically, which was an amazingly intimate moment during every performace we did. Naturally I had to name the piece after the church it was written at.
For my upcoming EP, I recorded this track on an even older and piano, with some added cello layers. This extra (solo) version of the track was one of the first recordings I did on my new piano at home. It’s part of 1631 Recordings’ new Piano Cloud compilation, which features an amazing line-up of pianists, I’m very happy to be a part of it.
Thank you for the music Mink!
Today I’m introducing you to another track by the Canadian artist SØLYS, which I have written about before here. SØLYS real name is Michael Chambers and he lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
I’ve always been drawn to the piano; as a young child, I’d often fiddle with the old upright in my grandparents’ basement. I finally asked my parents for piano lessons when I was about 12 years old. My music teacher, Bob Bruer, was a terrific mentor, and encouraged me to pursue composition.
The track Floating was released as a single on May 22nd of 2020.
Tell us something about your track Floating!
“Floating” was inspired by a recent trip back to the small town where I grew up (Midland, Ontario, Canada). I was reminded about the places I can never go back to. All the schools I attended have been torn down and rebuilt. The old turn-of-the-century library building has been completely gutted and renovated. It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing those places exist only as memories now. For me, “Floating” expresses those feelings between nostalgia and melancholy – a place in my mind where I feel both longing and comfort.
Today I’m introducing you to the track “the theme song” by Swedish composer Teodor Wolgers. Teodor learned to play the piano by composing his own pieces; right from the start!
The most important thing to me is that the music feels and vibrates with the feeling in my body when I’m playing it.
Tell us something about your track The theme song!
‘the theme song’ is part of my new EP ‘notion’. From the first second I started writing ‘the theme song’, I thought of it as an intro to a TV series and named it ’the theme song’ because of that. I wanted it to feel as if the music’s moving forward, like it’s slowly approaching you.
Thank you Teodor for sending me your music!
A while back I posted about the track Ever so still by the composer Stephen Weber, and now its time to take a look inside the mind of the piano player and organist from America, or Canada?
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I was born in Winnipeg, grew up mostly in Indiana – which I still call home – and I currently reside in Oklahoma.
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I started piano lessons at age 7. I’m also an organist and have performed on some fabulous pipe organs in the United States, Europe, and Asia. I play a little guitar and sing, but not well.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
My parents, both of whom were very musical, required that myself and my two brothers take piano lessons. I loved the learning process and the collaborative body/mind experience of practicing and performing. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where music was an important part of life and an appreciation for the arts was fostered.
How long have you been making piano music?
Well, I’m giving up my age here, but I’ve been performing or composing piano music for 53 years now. Piano and composition were integral components of my Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. My dissertation focused on piano etudes and included eight original compositions, fiendishly difficult, which I recorded on the Opus One label back in the 1990s. Many of my piano compositions are available through publishing or Sheet Music Press. I use my own works with my piano students occasionally. Piano has also been my therapy. I’ve suffered from severe tinnitus and substantial hearing loss since age 9, and the piano has provided a tremendous release from that.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I was a “closet” Scott Joplin fanatic as a youngster, but my piano teacher wouldn’t let me learn the Joplin rags because she didn’t consider them “real” music. In defiance I checked them out at the local library. I loved ragtime so much that at age 13 I wrote and notated my first composition, a rag for piano.
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
The piano has such a rich and diverse history, it’s hard to single out composers and artists. I can, however, relate some that were influential. I’ve always had a kindred spirit in Frederic Chopin and his music, so much so that I made pilgrimages to Paris and Warsaw to see his graves (yes, one for his body, the other for his heart). The piano music of Franz Liszt, Ludwig van Beethoven, J. S. Bach, and Claude Debussy have also been influential. I listen to quite a few contemporary composers and artists as well, many of which are quite inspiring.
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?
Not really. Honestly, I don’t keep much music “in my fingers”. I’ve worked really hard on improvisation over the past couple years, culminating in the release of my latest album of 18 piano improvisations, and I’ve found just sitting down and letting emotions, images, thoughts, and ideas happen spontaneously to be very gratifying.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think there’s a misconception that music has rules. Those pursuing formal study in music are taught “common practice” often as rules. They’re really not; they’re just what composers and theorists have done historically. I guess one thing that seems a mandate these days is that music must be categorized, or put into a specific genre. That bugs me. I think we’re seeing some movement away from that, but the industry seems to demand that artists and their music be categorized by genre. It’s kind of shame.
How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
I have a full time job as a professor and administrator in higher education, so the things I do at my Digital Audio Workstation are just a hobby. I have a very modest setup, do all the creating, performing, mixing, mastering, duplication, graphics and such with a master controller keyboard, interface, mic, monitors, and computer with Logic Pro X and Finale along with various instrument libraries. Oh, and publicity/promotion; I have that part. I’ve also done collaborations with various instrumentalists and included their contributions on my albums.
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I have mixed feelings about this, of course. As a purist, there’s nothing like the action and sound of a fabulous Steinway concert grand. When I want that, I use the one at the university. But, I truly appreciate the technology that allows me to access all kinds of instruments. I sometimes write large scores for orchestra; since there’s no way I could afford to have those works recorded, using orchestra libraries allows me to at least archive the composition and get an idea what it sounds like.
Anything else you want to share?
I think I’ve been pretty long-winded already. I guess a parting thought is mentioning the intrinsic value of creating music. It’s hard for everyone to get heard in today’s world, but what’s ultimately important to me is what the creative process gives back to me; I discover, learn, experiment, grow, and continue to find my own voice, release, and modes of expression. It’s hard to find that elsewhere.
The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
Your son has gone right to the core of something that is very mysterious to me, the creative process. Honestly, where compositions come from continues to elude me. A complex answer is one’s “essence” or spirit, the combination of the mental, emotional, and physical self. The simple answer is somewhere deep within. I can say with certainty what inspires or instigates the creative idea or process; for me it’s nature, beauty in its various guises and manifestations, images, experiences, and curiosity.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!
Today I’m introducing you to the British composer Sherwood Roberts and his latest track Reflections. Sherwood started playing the piano at the age of six. He wrote his first tune at the age of 14, and never stopped.
(my teacher) Paul Young was a fantastic patient teacher who really helped fertilise the space for my love of piano to grow.
The track Reflections was released as a single on the 17th of April of 2020.
Tell us something about your track Reflections!
‘Reflections’ is a track that I initially started writing in 2012 and have been tinkering with for years. I felt it best represented this body of work which is why I chose to lead with it. I wanted to make a beautiful record on a real instrument in world class studio so once I’d found the D grand at AIR Studios 1 and Producer Olga Fitzroy I rented it for 2 days. I hope we’ve succeeded.
Thank you very much Sherwood!
Today I’m introducing you to the track Berceuse de la Mer by the Italian composer Igor Longhi. I’ve come across the name a couple of times when I’ve been browsing around the online piano community, and I was happy to find Igor!
Igor is from the town Trieste in the north of Italy, and has studied the piano since the age of five. He has explored many different genres and in 2015 he made his first EP with solo piano music.
since that moment I used the piano as a confident, a friend, a therapist… to elaborate the feelings that hits me more.
The track Berceuce de la Mer was released as a single on the 24th of April, 2020, but will also be featured on an upcoming EP.
Tell us something about the track Berceuce de la Mer!
Berceuse de la Mer, is a lullaby I wrote for my children, before the Covid-19 crisis started. I started to sing the melody sitting on the bed where the littlest one was laying, and after he fall asleep, I took a pentagram sheet and wrote it down. I think this is the song that took less time ever in my composing history ☺ it simply came out, I only had to write it down.
Few days after, I went to my studio and started to record. The choice of a felt piano, was almost obligate as it’s a lullaby 😃
Why Berceuse de la Mer? Well, it’s really easy.
While I was singing the melody of this lullaby (berceuse) to my babies, I imagined myself as the sea (la Mer, in French) and the babies like a paper boat sailing over it.
Thank you for sending me this Igor!
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!
Today I’m introducing you to the latest track by the German pianist Felix Reuter. This is a fresh and unique editing of the “Grande Sonate Pathétique” by Ludwig van Beethoven. I was first a bit skeptical about posting about this, because I rather post about original content, but this was way to good to sit out!
Felix grew up in a musical family and started playing the piano at a early age. He did his first performance ar the age of eight! Today he lives in Weimar and make a living as a composer, pianist and music comedian.
The track was release on a three part EP on the 29th of April of 2020. You can download the sheet music for the EP here!
Tell us something about the track Petite Sonate Pathétique – Part II!
Since my youth, again and again I have come in touch with this piano work. Each time I play it a little different. Beethoven’s Sonata contains many catchy musical phrases – it is easy to imagine people whistling them on the streets and playing them at home in the 19th century. That was just how composers got famous in those days. The second movement of Beethoven’s work felt so close to pop music to me, I decided to focus on this vibe and emphasize it even more. Also, I liked that part even more in E flat major and so I changed the key.
Thank you for the music Felix!
Today I’m introducing you to the track Sleeping Beauty by the Austrian composer Daniel Hubert Schröckenfuchs. Daniel lives in a small village near Salzburg, and started playing the piano at the age of ten (even though he would have preferred to play the guitar at the time).
The track Sleeping beauty was released a single on the 17th of April 2020.
Tell us something about your track Sleeping Beauty!
The title „sleeping beauty“ came very quick. After a long day with piano lessons I was working in my rehearsal room on different tunes and didn´t get anywhere. I was really tired and wanted to go home. Then I thought of the Woman that was waiting for me and started playing. I made two takes, then I had it. I think it’s not a big thing, it´s very simple but you can hear the emotions, the love and the power I felt in that moment. That´s why this tune is very special to me.
Thank you Daniel for sharing your track with us!