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!

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