• Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Mjorn

    A while back I introduced you to the track Golden milk by the composer Mjorn, and today it’s time for Mjorn to take over Behind the piano! Let’s get to know it all!

    What’s your real name?
    Miron Nabokov (no relation to the famous writer)

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    It was a game of rearranging sound to create something close enough to my own name and nature, but also with enough room to claim it’s not exactly myself for creative freedom.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am originally from a small village in Chelyabinsk, central Russia, but currently live in the Hague, the Netherlands. Drawing inspiration from both locations, naturally.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started learning the piano when I was 6, but never became a decent player, so I see myself more as a composer and a producer rather than a performer. I also know my way around a guitar but can’t do anything spectacular with it.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    I used to have a love-hate relationship with the piano. I started playing it in primary music school, when I was 6. I hated the formal education and would have left the school if my parents hadn’t insisted. Only closer to the end of that education did I start to truly appreciate music and the range of expression piano allowed. Since then, I was taking small steps towards making music, but it took me quite a while, almost 10 years since graduation.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    For a year now, I’d say. With all the electronic possibilities, it’s the piano that I start composing with, and often end up with the piano in the centre of any new piece.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    That was quite a struggle altogether. For years I thought that I can’t go further because of the lack of proper equipment, software, playing skills or theory, but slowly continued to work towards creating my own music. Eventually I accumulated enough knowledge to produce something I was happy with, and since then I couldn’t find joy in doing anything else.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Not strictly piano genre, but I can’t get enough of Brambles, Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds. They are the main parts of my artistic compass.

    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 always have a certain earworm my hands would automatically play whenever I touch the keys. Normally it’s a piece I would be working on that time, and it has been a while since I played somebody else’s music.

    What rules (in making music) need to be broken?
    It’s more of a production unspoken rule of being in the studio 24/7 and dedicating all your time to your own material. Get outside, record in the field, talk to people, go to parties, listen to other people’s music. Never limit your sources of inspiration.

    How do you record your music?
    I still have no funds to afford recording in a studio, and for now all of my chips are on music-making, so everything I do I do myself.

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    They are the great equalizers in the sense that you can do everything by yourself in your room now. Making music has never been so democratic, and I personally would rather use a high-quality sample library than go through pains and trials of recording an acoustic instrument.

    The last question is asked by my 6 -year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    They are coming from all the love and excitement I feel for the world and the people dear to me. The sounds are produced by tiny people hitting strings with tiny hammers, of course.

    Thank you very much for this Miron!

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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Olexandr Ignatov

    A while back I wrote about the track Empathy by the composer Olexandr Ignatov, and today it’s time to get to know the man Behind the piano!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Lviv, Ukraine. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing on the piano since around 6-7 years old, when my parents got the little electronic keyboard. It was red color, had some fun pre recorded songs on it and a wrong pattern of black keys too.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started playing that little red piano at first. At the same time I was also playing the acoustic guitar, which my father had hanging on a wall. Later I decided that keyboards are closer to me, and I continued learning it by myself on some cheap Casio keyboard. It had auto chord functionality, some pretty cool songs in it with the interactive learning system so it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot on it.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Since I got to study piano in a music school in Lviv, I think a year or two after that I started playing some of my own stuff when I was capable to produce some cool sounds. Improvising, you know. Except for the piano, I was really into keyboards – playing them everywhere, at home, at school, at music school – wherever I could find a keyboard – I’ll play it. So it was going hand in hand – piano and keyboards.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself?
    I think that moment was gradually emerging from the time I got comfortable with other songs I learned on my keyboards, on piano, and so on. You know, the music vocabulary slowly but steadily grows when you do that. And slowly you can create something that you may call ‘yours’, which is basically a weird melting pot of everything you’ve learned + some of your own ideas that come into your head why you play. But to do it I really had to learn a bit of theory to position myself on the keys better – for example, if I conquered the C minor scale – that’s what I was playing on and improvising until something cool started to sound. If I didn’t know the scale – it was a hit and miss. So gradually while I was learning them, my ideas started to sound better and better.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I’d say Chopin and Liszt are pretty awesome if we talk about classical composers. From the more modern ones – Jordan Rudess, Rick Wakeman, Lubomyr Melnyk… and even some today’s popular pianists like Yiruma, Hiromi, Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm.

    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 don’t have any particular song here… but I like to warm up with some Dream Theater or just play some favorite tunes from my favorite bands and artists. Whatever comes to mind at that moment.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I won’t go too far to tell which exact rules should be broken – but I’d say you can break the rules if it serves the bigger purpose, helps you create something cool sounding or something unique that wasn’t heard before. Or some that just don’t make sense for you or limit your creativity. If there’s some ‘don’t do it!’ thing about playing  – investigate why exactly it is a rule, and if it’s just someone’s fixated idea for no reason – go ahead and break it if that helps to come up with something better. But you better don’t ignore some valid rules like “don’t play with the tension in your arms’ and such, you can’t be ignorant of such things and try to outsmart that. You’ll end up in a hospital and that’s it.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I do all my music by myself in a compact home studio. I don’t need a big one at the moment. More than that – I found that the more things in the studio you have – the less creative can you become. I try to do maximum with the instruments and tools that I have and really put them to work. So I record with my KAWAI VPC1 or just my Komplete Kontrol keyboard controller straight into my computer – and then process everything inside in the Studio One 5.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I love them when they are recorded properly and provide you with options to either create a great sound by tweaking things or they sound amazing out of the box. Sampled instruments now have become pretty huge but they quality is also so much better than it was even 10 years ago. I use sampled instruments in my productions every time, not only for piano but for all my work (writing royalty free music, custom projects, and such). It’s just awesome and so easy to work with and helps you get the job done in a fast and efficient way.

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

    It’s a good one! I don’t know. Tell your son that I am catching them in the air, when I can. They are usually hanging around me somewhere close and when I sit at the instrument sometimes I can catch one of these bad boys. Then I tell everybody that I wrote it! Not all songs are created like that, though.  But I’d say – the best ones happened pretty much like that! But, usually it’s a more boring approach – I sit down and try to joggle my music vocabulary accumulated though years until some cool combination appears. Sometimes I just whistle my melodies into my iPhone and then record them. So yes, I really don’t know one answer for this! It’s a bit of a mysterious thing, really. 

    Thank you very much for this Olexandr!

    For more information, please check out these following links:
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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Jan Ove Fjeld

    A couple of months back I wrote about the track Sky Divine by the Norwegian composer Jan Ove Fjeld, and since it’s Thursday today we’ll get to know him a bit better!

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    Been playing most of my life since I was about 5-6 year old, grow up with a upright piano in my parents house, I used to play a bit guitar as well, but last 20 years ive been focusing on the piano, and be good at one instrument, always loved the sound of a piano too.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    Always played on the piano at home, started with flute lesson for a while too, but it wasn’t really my thing, started early with piano lession through most of my childhood, but I never really got into notes, so my piano teacher tried a new approach, building on what’s already there, musicality and a good hearing, she played, I watched, and that worked fine even on more advanced stuff like Chopin etc, so I actually dont read notes, in return ive developed an incredible good hearing..

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    That was early, I remember playing the piano at the school in front of my class, playing those boring pieces ive learned from my teacher, when no one responded I started improvise, and messing around playing random things right there and then, and it sounded a whole lot better and I could se people responded and was moved. My piano teacher also used to write down some of my compositions, I was maybe around 8-10years old…

    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? 
    No not really, I dont like playing same pieces to much. Sometimes I just close my eyes, hit the record button and play for an hour with no intention, no ideas, just random stuff from what I feel that day. Sometimes it can come some fantastic stuff out of that, witch I can then build on, and hopfully end up as a finished song. I rarely play my own songs, after its finished I need a long break from that song listening to it over and over. I belive many independent artist must have it same way…

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    There is no rules, if it sound good it is good.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I record in my home studio, but have plans of moving and expand my studio.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Many sampled instrument sounds great, but not always easy finding the right one.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    If you’re making music, try not to force creativity, dont dwell on things to long, if it doesnt work put it aside start on something else and then pick it up later. Ive used countless hours on pieces that doesnt work. Dont try to make thing to perfect, that one note coming in slightly later, can lift a song, make it more human, and some really great stuff can come from a wrong played note, at least give it a chance, take regular breaks, listening with rested ears gives you perspective, is it to slow, to fast, parts not working, ive learned to trust my instinkt from that first listening with fresh ears. It usually is right.

    The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    From a lived life. In many people eyes I dont live that normal life that is expected from me, Ive always done my own things, and always felt like a bit of an outsider, I dont have my own family, so I can develop al my time on my art, also find a lot of inspiration in nature, forest mountain, sea. I love nature, and has a huge respect for it, and it makes me sad to se people destroying it. And for all those who listen to me, Thank you very much.

    Well, thank you!

    For more information, please go to these two links:
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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: David Snyder

    A couple of weeks back I presented you with the track Whimsical by the American composer and piano player David Snyder. Today we’ll get to know the man behind the song a bit better!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Grand Forks, North Dakota. I currently live in Los Angeles, California.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been playing the piano for fourteen years. I also play the guitar, ukulele, and sing! 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started playing the piano through lessons at eight years old and immediately became obsessed. For some reason, those eighty eight keys intrigued me so much, and I found myself constantly improvising, reading music, and jamming with my brothers and friends. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    Growing up I doodled and jammed at the piano, but during high school I genuinely started to develop an ear for composing and create entire musical works. So although I feel as if I’ve been making piano music my whole life, its probably been about nine years. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    When I was in middle school, I was enamored with the piano, and auditioned for an international music camp—taking place for a week during the summer. To my surprise I was accepted on a full scholarship. During my time at this music camp I was incredibly inspired by other musicians, teachers, and friends to continue making music and continue to compose. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Oh man, this is such a hard questions. I will forever be a Piano Guys fan, and I love Ludovico Einaudi’s emotional work. I also enjoy Chad Lawson and Ian Wong’s music. 

    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? 
    For some reason, I always find myself playing “Stressed Out,” which is one of my original pieces, to warm up at the piano. The arpeggiations and chord structure is always amusing for me to play, and the quick notes are perfect for warming up my fingers. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Sometimes I feel that musical structure needs to be demolished just as much as it needs to be reinforced. Personally, while making music, I find myself feel held back by theory trainings or basic musical structures, rather than allowing an emotion or moment take control of my musical flow. Sometimes the basic musical voicing that we are taught need to be thrown out the window, and a musician simply needs to play the unexpected and allow emotion to drive the music rather than a lecture or theoretical process. 

    How do you record your music?
    I record my music myself in a church at a grand piano. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    I think that sampled instruments are wonderful in given circumstances. Personally, I enjoy a live, real, grand piano feeling and sound. 

    And the question from my 6-year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    My music mostly stems from moments, memories, or feelings. I love to create music that melodically describes a moment in time that was very meaningful for me.

    Thank you for this David!

    For more information, please click on any of these following links:
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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Austin Fray

    Today I’m presenting you to the artist Austin Fray! I have not written about his music before, because the songs I have heard from him isn’t really a fit for the blog since it leans more towards the ambient/orchestral genre. It is indeed wonderful music, and since Austin plays the piano I of course wanted him to be a part of the Behind the piano series!

    So, here we go!

    Hello Austin!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from Knoxville, Tennessee in the United States and live in Los Angeles, CA. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started playing piano when I was 8 years old. I play a little guitar and bass, and I grew up playing saxophone in the school concert and marching band. 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started playing music mostly out of a fierce competition with my older brothers to keep up with what they were doing. Turned out that I really was genuinely obsessed with music in my own right! My whole family is musically gifted and it was always a big part of growing up. We were raised in the christian church and played music in worship services as soon as we were capable, 12 years old in my case. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I was drawn to improvisation and casual composition right away in my studies and started writing and recording my own chord progressions and melodies in middle school. My productions have grown over the years but the piano has and I imagine always will be my home base and sonic vocabulary. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    In fifth grade, I remember choosing to perform my own compositions for my music class, compared to playing written piano music. 

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm are quick favorites that come to mind. I’m not an avid listener of solo piano works. I typically am drawn to fuller productions. Growing up, I loved Dave Brubek and Bill Evans. On the pop side, I loved early Coldplay and Keane as they were very piano driven. 

    I’m so happy that you mention artists like Coldplay and Keane here! They make piano music as well, in their own way.

    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? 
    My favorite piece to play is Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb. Such a stunning composition! And of course, Claire de Lune, which baffles me in it’s genius as well. I took a break from my Jazz training to study these two pieces in order to get into music schools. 

    How do you record your music?
    I own an older Yamaha U3 piano that I record in my home studio. I use AKG C414s and Lauten Audio condensers to capture the upright piano from the front with the outer panels removed. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    In music, I believe that putting your own art first and communicating your human experience through your music is the ultimate goal. The means of getting there are secondary. Following trends and emulating your icons and idols can be a start, but the good stuff happens when those mechanisms are transcended and your humanity seeps through the notes. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Sampled instruments are a great way to sketch your compositions or add impossible effects into your work. Samples do things people can’t do and people do things samples can’t do. It’s important to know which universe to live in for any given musical idea. Neither are bad, but trying to pass off something made for a human, given to a machine to play, doesn’t normally go over well. 

    And the questions from my 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?
    My songs come from the inner 10 year old boy that is completely sucked into the story of ultimate goodness, selfless sacrifice, courage, or generally, heroism. Now, my songs are aiming at the same things but hitting a lense of adult experience that casts a nuance to the conversation. 

    You told me a bit of your work as a media composer in LA, how did all of that start out?
    I started working on indie and student films in high school with some friends from school. I was the sound guy and the composer. I followed this rabbit trail into college and began writing trailer music after a profound internship in Los Angeles before my sophomore year. By the end of college I had a major studio theatrical trailer placement to put on the refrigerator.

    And what happened after moving to LA and finishing college?
    After moving to LA to intern for Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions, I got a job as an assistant at Bleeding Fingers Music and then was promoted a few months later to be a staff composer. This culminated in scoring a feature film “The Parts You Lose” and scoring a roughly a dozen episodes of FOX’s The Simpsons from 2017 thru 2018, including the season premiere of season 29 “The Serfsons”.

    Tell us a bit of how all of this had an effect on you!
    I was doing all this in my early 20s and being exposed to vast amounts of stress and deadlines in a fast moving scoring company working on all kinds of media from comedy, animation, film, reality, scripted drama. This was all incredible except that my artist side was left on the sideline as I was primarily a member of a larger team. That’s why my album “Origins” is so significant to me. I had years of unwritten music that needed to come out. It’s a commentary and instrumental journal on my personal journey through the beginning of my adult life when my career at Bleeding Fingers was such a loud voice drowning out the smaller inner voice. 

    Thank you very much Austin for sharing your story with us!

    For more information on Austin, check out these following links:
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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Garry DW Judd

    So, it’s Thursday and time to get to know another contemporary composer. This week we’ll get to know more about the British composer Garry DW Judd which I have posted about before, here!

    Let’s get to it!

    What’s your real name?
    My real name is Garry DW Judd

    How did you come up with your artist name?
    My parents did it for me! Actually, I have written a lot of film and television music under the name Garry Judd and I wanted to present my classical music separately, so for that I use my middle initials DW.

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am from London originally and I now live in the Hertfordshire countryside just north of the city.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I always think of myself as a composer rather than an instrumentalist, but I have been playing the piano, guitar, bass, clarinet and various others since I was eight.

    Tell us about how you started playing music.
    When I was fourteen, I had the option of doing music as a more serious subject at school and onward at university…That was when I set my sights on being a composer for a living. Before then I had been in a band, but that showed me that I wasn’t suited to being a performer.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    My first major piece was Three Knobblers for Piano when I was eighteen. The concert pianist Leslie Howard played them at the Wigmore Hall in London and on BBC Radio 3.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    My music teacher gave me a score of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro and set the record playing in the music room. It was a beautiful sunny day, with butterflies and bees buzzing in and out of the French windows. That was the moment I knew that I wanted to be a composer!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    As a composer, I tend to think of composers rather than artists. I love piano music by Grainger, Ravel, Debussy and Bartók. Of course my favourite pianist is Leslie Howard who is known as a specialist in the music of Liszt.

    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 rarely play the piano, other than to experiment with my own music, so it’s more like noodling when I get a chance! I tend to compose away from the piano.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I like to experiment with form. I think that there are enough sonatas and symphonies in the world already, so I’m constantly thinking of new ways to present the music. That’s why I came up with the idea of one hundred Electric Nocturnes…A book of ten variations, with each subsequent book being a set of direct variations on each piece. So it’s a block of ten by ten which can be navigated in different ways. That’s the sort of thing I like to do.

    How do you record your music?
    I compose anywhere, although I have a ‘composing shed’ in my garden. I record the music in my home studio, which is in another, bigger shed!

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    Of course, nothing beats the nuances of a live performance on a real instrument played by a real human, but I love to experiment with sampled instruments and other techniques (like granular synthesis) in my film work.

    Anything else you want to share?
    I’m occasionally asked to give advice to aspiring composers and I always say, know your music theory, be honest and don’t stop!

    And the question from my six year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from?

    Your son’s question which is a very interesting one.
    I really don’t know where the musical ideas come from, but I’m very pleased that they do! Sometimes it can be a series of notes or harmonies…Other times it’s a feeling or mood. The hard work is in presenting those ideas in a way which is honest to yourself and also something which no one else could (or would want to) do.

    Thank you very much Garry!

    For more information, you can check out these links:
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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Paul-Marie Barbier

    It’s Thursday, and time to introduce another great contemporary composer and piano player to you! A while back, I posted about a track by Paul-Marie Barbier (also a member of the band Caravan Palace), and today we’ll dig deeper intro the mind of Paul-Marie!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I grew up in Vannes (Brittany), near the well known “Golf du Morbihan”. I now live in Paris.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I started learning piano at the age of 5 (I’m presently 38). At 12, I began studying percussions and especially vibraphone. I also play guitar and various electronic instruments.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    There was a piano at home… I had the chance to meet a very good teacher. I entered a music school (“conservatoire”) at 9 and studied harmony, composition, piano and percussions until the age of 20. Then, I came to Paris to learn  jazz theory and to focus on vibraphone.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    It’s my first solo piano album ! But not the last… I’ve already planned to release some more albums within the next months. I also compose movies soundtracks. 

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself !
    Well I composed my first piece when I was 7 !  I have always wanted to be free on playing my own compositions. But it needs time to be confident in yourself. I think I got ready at the birth of my first child, 8 years ago.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I do love Chilly Gonzales’s work. His career is very inspiring. The main theme of “The Leftovers” composed by Max Richter has been like a shock to me. Simplicity, pure elegance and sadness… 

    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? 
    One of my own, I must say… It’s called “If Not”. Plus “A flat 7/8” a short piece I composed ten years ago.

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    Tough question… I think there are no rules when you make music. (?)

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I have my own little studio with all my instruments. I recorded my first solo album with a friend, Arnaud Vial, who helped me to focus on the moment. 

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    It’s evil ! So convenient but not reality… I mean, for a solo piano album. As a soundtrack composer it’s just awsome.

    Thank you very much for your participation!

    For more information, please check out the following links:
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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Wings for Louise

    It’s Thursday again, and today we get to know the French born, but Canada based composer Wings for Louse!

    What’s your real name? 
    My name is Charly Martin 

    How did you come up with your artist name? 
    I’m a big fan of the metal band Tool. They’ve got a song called « Wings for Marie » Wings for Louise is kind of a tribute to this song. I changed the name Marie for Louise to keep a French name, but also in reference to the French band « Louise attaque ». When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the fact that they named Louise but they’re only mens in the band. I found this dichotomy, very cool at an early age, even if at the age of 6 I didn’t know what was a dichotomy… 

    Where are you from? And where do you live? 
    I was born and raised in a small town in south of France near Spain, called Narbonne. It’s in the Languedoc region between Toulouse, Barcelona and Marseille.

    8 years ago I moved to Montreal in Canada to study sound design. I really loved the city and the people here, even if I was a bit confused by the different North American culture at the beginning. I discovered the Québec culture who is a very rich and fascinating culture, so I decided to embrace this culture and became a permanent resident of Canada. Now I’ve got two home. 

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well? 
    I started playing the piano three years ago. I discovered a label from Montreal (Moderna Records) Who were releasing piano music and I remember being blown away by the intense emotions that I felt, listening to this music… 

    At this moment, I was releasing music with my previous Electronica project Echo 6, I was very inspired by artists like Sigur Ros, Jon Hopkins, Christian Löffler and I only used some simple piano chords or really simple short piano melodies in my music. After diving deeper in the Modern Classical music scene, I decided to learn the piano by myself. Two years ago I decided to start my own « Piano project » and here we are ! 

    I also played drums in a Post-Core band in France, and used to be a Guitar teacher for 6 years. I also play a bit of accordion and I really want to learn Trumpet ! 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    I started to « play » music when I was 12, after I seeing a friend of mine take my father’s guitar and play a song by The Offspring. The next week we started a band and played shitty Metallica covers. 

    How long have you been making piano music?
    I started to make my own piano compositions two years ago with this project Wings for Louise.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    During my adolescence, I mainly listened to metal music, but some day I discovered the album Days to come by Bonobo and one song in particular, transmission 94 who literally blew my mind. The next day I started learning how to use a music program to create music like Bonobo. I released my very first EP « Make a Sound from silence » with my project Echo 6 in 2010.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”? 
    I discovered the genre like many people with Erased Tapes artists, (Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds) I also knew Yann Tiersen’s music before and he’s still one of my favorite artists. but now that I dived deeper into this genre, I listen a lot of Dominique Charpentier, Jean-Michel Blais, I also like the Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. 

    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? 
    Actually yes, I like to play « Instantané » by Dominique Charpentier from his album The Cakemaker Soundtrack , this piece is very slow and emotional and there is a really nice arpeggio. 

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken? 
    Every rules should be broken. In music, in life, except maybe in physics… It should be broken to go forward. 

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc. 
    I have a home studio where I can record my piano. I like to layer real pianos sounds with sampled sounds. 

    Whats your take on sampled instruments? 
    I use them a lot in my process, I produced a lot of electronic music before this project and still doing it. Sampled instruments are very useful and can bring you unexpected ideas. Even if I’m convinced that certain emotions from a violinist for example can’t be reproduced by a sampler. The piano is a very easy to sample instrument so there is a lot of really good libraries. 

    Anything else you want to share? 
    Yes, thank you very much for your time and for your interest in my music. And thank you to people for reading your blog ! 

    And as always, the question from my five year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    All my songs come from the world, from life who surround us. I’m just a simple converter who transform air into notes. 

    Thank you for your participation Martin!

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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Domenico Quaceci

    Today It’s Thursday! Horray! And today we’ll meet the composer and piano player Domenico Quaceci!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I am Italian, from Sicily, and I live in Catania.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I have been studying piano since I was 10 years old, but I can say that I started “playing” it even earlier by going by ear discovering its sounds, key by key. I also play other instruments like guitar, bass and drums because of my strong interest into pop music.

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    As a child I started playing because of my curiousness about the piano and then my parents pushed me towards academic studies of piano and music in general.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    With the aim of escaping from the “boredom” of classical studies, I started varying the themes of Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin’s sonatas, or even exercises in pure technique. Then I moved on inventing new tunes. I can say that I have composed dozens and dozens of simple tunes, certainly not very mature to be called songs, but very funny for me anyway.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    I used to play in a band and that’s where for the first time I recorded my “creations”. Together with the degree in piano and the musical studies I have faced over the years, this fact pushed me to write down my music for solo piano and start this career as a pianist and composer. Surely my musical maturation has just begun but I can finally say “I have something to say” by using my music.

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    The artists who I cannot miss in their personal ranking are Ludovico Einaudi, Giovanni Allevi, Roberto Cacciapaglia, Max Ricther and also Yann Tiersen.

    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? 
    Well, there is a song that I play and play when I finish my day of studies, when I am bored because of the repertoire I study or when I want a moment of peace: yes, it is a composition of mine!

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    In my opinion you realize what are the rules to break only when you find yourself in front of something unusual, and you wonder if it is appropriate to insert it in the composition or not.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I am fortunate to have a piano at home, excellent acoustics and to collaborate with a label. Therefore we prefer to “set up” a recording studio in my house and record with a real instrument which, in my opinion, is definitely the best for piano solo music. Unfortunately due to Covid I have to say that I had to resort to the use of keyboards.

    Whats your take on sampled instruments?
    As I said before, if I have the choice I prefer a real piano, but there are some great samples that do their job very well (and I know something about it). I would definitely say that the samples are fine for music that is not only piano, but also with electronic instruments.

    Anything else you want to share? 
    I have already written and recorded an album that due to the covid it was published yet, so on my Socials and digital stores (spotify, youtube, apple music, etc …) you will find some single tracks that have been recorded by myself and mixed by my label’s stuff, as I really have a lot of music in my head and I don’t want it to remain locked up in my mind, for myself only!

    And the question by the 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    My songs come from images that I have in my head, these images can be like paintings or images of moments that can be associated with that song (just like a soundtrack). Sometimes I compose pieces starting from a chord or an arpeggio that I necessarily want to play on my composition and everything revolves around that gesture, that movement, those notes.

    And the question by the 6 year old son:
    Where do all your songs come from? 
    My songs come from images that I have in my head, these images can be like paintings or images of moments that can be associated with that song (just like a soundtrack). Sometimes I compose pieces starting from a chord or an arpeggio that I necessarily want to play on my composition and everything revolves around that gesture, that movement, those notes.

    Thank you very much for this!

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  • Behind the piano

    Behind the piano: Rui Ribeiro

    A couple of months back I wrote about the track Falkenberger Straße by the Portuguese composer and piano player Rui Ribeiro. And since it’s Thursday; why not learn more about his history!

    Where are you from? And where do you live?
    I was born in Lisbon, Portugal. I currently live in a little town hidden in the middle of the woods, north of Portugal.

    How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
    I’ve been playing the piano for around 25 years now but I started to play the organ earlier when I was 7, so I think it’s fair to say I play keyboard instruments for more than 30 years now. Besides keyboard instruments I played the drums, the trumpet, and the violin (not very well though!) 

    Tell us about how you started playing music. 
    My father was taking driving lessons when I was a kid, and the time for those lessons was after school. So he’d pick me up from school, and take me with him to those lessons (I was sitting in the back seat of the driving school car while he was learning how to drive). The driving instructor was a rude and unprofessional lady that frequently ordered my father to stop the car in front of her house so she could take some groceries in or whatever. Coincidentally, right next to her house there was a music school with a huge window. While me and my dad were waiting for the instructor in the car, I could see and listen to kids like me playing all sorts of instruments, and that just sounded and looked like a magical world to me. I was fascinated by that and my father was keen to notice it. I eventually enrolled in that school and that’s how it all started.

    How long have you been making piano music?
    This is a hard question to answer because I started to improvise music in the piano right away, even before I learned any music theory or technique at all. Even today, after all the music education I had (conservatory, college), I still sit at the piano and the first thing I play is an improvisation (that sometimes ends up growing into a piece). So I can’t really pinpoint the exact time when I started to make piano music. However, I only decided to make some of this music public as late as 2015.

    Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
    Well, as I said before, it was always very natural for me to create music out of nothing, so there wasn’t really an “aha” moment for me. I remember, though, the first time I wrote a piece to offer to someone: I was in high school and was in love with a girl; because I was too shy, I thought that offering her a song showing my feelings would be better. It didn’t work very well, but I realized more clearly in that moment that I could do it!

    What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
    I end up not having favourite artists in this contemporary composer/pianist genre because I like to find new ones and realize how different they can be. It’s really beautiful to witness their different personalities and ideas. I must also confess that I don’t listen that much to fellow pianist/composers of today (I should probably invest more time on that), and most of the time I listen to the classical repertoire instead.

    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. Every time I sit down by the piano I mostly start to improvise. Unless, of course, it’s a concert and then I’ll play my music!

    What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
    I think that rules are definitely made to be broken, but I believe they’re usually broken in different times and ways. For instance, it’s very clear that nowadays the “standard piano sound rules” in recordings are being broken: long gone are the days that all recordings sounded the same, with their Steinway Ds, decca trees, similar studio sound engineering and so on. People are now recording with different pitches, prepared pianos, felt pianos, and looking for a more unique sound identity. I think that each era has its innovations and it’s very important not to stagnate in the same processes. I don’t know what rules need to be broken, but I do know that it’s important to think freely and not to get too attached to any music rules.

    How do you record your music? Yourself? In a big studio? etc.
    I always record it and produce it myself, but studio wise It all depends on the final result I’m after. My first two solo piano albums were recorded in big studios, with top gear. The first one on a Steinway D, the second on a Yamaha S7. It sounds very standard, and it was what I was after to serve those pieces. However, my whole third album (to be released in September) was recorded in a friend’s garage, on his Yamaha U3 semi-abandoned upright piano, using unusual gear and techniques. I was looking for a different type of sound, and that worked for me. My next EP I’m already working on, is being currently recorded right here in my home studio, with the windows opened and featuring bird sounds… it all depends on the result I’m searching for.

    What’s your take on sampled instruments?
    I produced and composed mainstream for many years before dedicating myself to my own piano music, and during those times I extensively used sampled instruments for a vast number of reasons. I witnessed the unbelievable development of these virtual instruments over the past decade, and I must confess that sometimes I got lazy and instead of going to choose the right piano for a recording, set all the microphones, call in the piano tuner and so on, I would just pick a virtual sampled piano from the list I had, and went for it. It’s easy, sounds great, and it’s much faster than recording a real piano. However, there’s a very serious downside of all this: everything starts to sound the same, and a lot of the sound identity and imperfection of music making starts to disappear. That’s why I decided at some point to use sampled instruments much less than before. I do recognize, however, that these can be immensely helpful in many situations but, at least at this point, I’m happier working with real instruments.

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

    That is a very interesting question that I already made myself before (little kids always make interesting questions!)… but I still can’t answer it. There was a friend of mine, a singer and songwriter, that once said her song ideas are floating in the air, and sometimes she can grab some of them, other times she can’t. Truth is, I have no idea where my pieces come from. I could say that they come from my intellect or compositional abilities, but I feel that’s not true. The composer skill is in deed what makes the development of an idea into a full piece possible… but the initial idea itself, that little seed, it doesn’t really come from my technical skills. I have no idea where it comes from…

    Thank you very much for your participation Rui!

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