Let me introduce to you Juan María Solare; born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, now located in Bremen, Germany. He is a pianist (with an academic degree and hundreds of concerts on his shoulders) and a composer; most of his compositions are for piano solo or at least includes include piano. However, he has written for nearly any existing line-up, including chamber music, electronic music, orchestra and choir.
Tell us something about your track Siesta Norteña!
Siesta Norteña (translated; Northern Nap) is a simple, minimalist dreamy piano piece, only three minutes long. “Simple” means here that it has a single central idea without contrasting, secondary idea, and that it isn’t multi-layered.
It was conceived after a siesta (nap) and therefore in a state of semi- somnambulism, which also means that your self-censorship is close to zero. I can strongly recommend you to compose (also) in such states: you play and write down anything that comes to your hands, uncensored. You can say to yourself: “if it is rubbish, I can always destroy it later”. However, later you might notice that with a few tweaks here or there the original idea wasn’t that bad. Your starting idea was usable – with or without modifications (and possibly with further development). So your faculty of intuition receives the message “they are listening to me”. And therefore your intuition, your imagination, develops and gets stronger. If you do NOT write down such apparently silly ideas, your intuition receives the message “what I deliver is unimportant, they don’t take me seriously”. In other words, if you wonder how to have a stronger intuition, you have to begin trusting in it through writing down whatever it dictates you.
Will this song be a part of a bigger release?
Siesta Norteña (Northern Nap) is the first of the six-piece cycle Himmelsrichtungen (Cardinal Points). Why six? The cardinal points are four, but I added two (Cenit and Nadir), which define a third dimension (Cenit: above, Nadir: below). The two added pieces also symbolize the generalization and the overcoming of the system (of any system).
Each of the six pieces is dedicated to Ulrike Dehning and her five sons and daughters: Maria, Christian, Johannes, Juliane, Friederike and Ulrike herself.
Today I want to introduce you to Elijah Bisbee, an American composer based in Cleveland, Ohio. I immediately fell for the track Dust (hushed), and the reason for that is the same reason as Elijah mentions below; you can hear the whole piano!
I’ve always been drawn to the idea that music can help create and shape spaces – for inspiration, relaxation, healing, etc. Being able to create a mood is just cool – and proves the transcendence and importance of music.
Tell us something about the recording of Wander (live)!
The EP was recorded at one of my concerts. This particular one was held at my house (I host monthly house shows for local Cleveland artists) and we had video and audio set up to record. I had borrowed some lighting, a smoke machine, and other random things from a friend. When it came time to start the show, we let the smoke machine go for awhile (mind you, we had tested it the previous day) and right when I was about to start the first song, all of the smoke alarms in the house started going off. Talk about ruining the mood!
Can you tell us something about the release?
Wander, Live is a collection of a few live tracks and one “hushed” track called Dust. I call it hushed because it will also be included on an upcoming release, but more produced. I really love the vibe of Dust (Hushed) because it invites the listener to feel the whole piano – creaks, dampers, hammers, and all. Such an intimate experience. I think that’s a theme through all of my music, actually. I don’t really obsess over the cleanest recordings and such – I actually obsess with bringing in the other noises that make the song feel like an immersive experience that can transport the listener into the room/story the song is telling
Thank you for this wonderful EP Elijah!
Today I want you to introduce you to the song Chimera by Khyaam Haque, and American composer based in Chicago!
I primarily compose classical, new age, and electronic music.
Tell us something about Chimera!
My most recent track ”Chimera” off my upcoming concept album “Minutiae of an Iridescent Mind” is about an illusory monster the main character of the album encounters while exploring an island. The character doesn’t know if the monster is real or not, but knows that it resembles herself in many ways. She finds the monster beautiful but has to defeat it in order to get to where she wants to go. Metaphorically speaking, the track is about overcoming and parting ways with the aspects of yourself that aren’t pushing you towards your life goals.
Will this song be part of a bigger release?
Yes! My upcoming album “Minutiae of an Iridescent Mind” is a surrealist tale about a woman experiencing a phenomenon in Tibetan Buddhism known as “Bardo” (a state of existence between death and rebirth). She doesn’t know what’s happening to her, but is under the impression her consciousness is split into two pieces. In this purgatorial existence, she hears of an island that possesses a magical lake. Anyone who drinks from the lake is given the gift of eternal happiness and wholeness. She sales across the sea to find the island, meets a talking cat, encounters an illusory monster, and eventually finds the lake. The lake is actually the gateway to her next life. Musically, a lot of the tracks are written in the same key and have a mixture of classical and electronic instruments.
The Minimal Piano Series is a musical project divided into several volumes that we decided to launch in 2017 motivated by a strong desire of discovery.
A couple of months ago, just when I released my EP Spring, I saw this post floating around on facebook promoting what was called The Minimal Piano Series 2. I got curious and checked it out. Apparently it was a completion for being featured on the album with the same name. I sent in one of my songs, but I didn’t “win”.
Just recently the album was released and I listened to a couple of songs. I liked what I heard, and contacted Roberto Grimaldi at Blue Spiral Records (which is the record company in charge of the competition and release) and asked if I could do a quick interview about the release. So here it it! However the interview is not with Roberto. Find out below!
Who are you?
I’m Italia Buccino, actually art director and label manager of Blue Spiral Records.
What is the minimal piano series?
Each volume contains pieces selected thanks to an international contest reserved to original and unreleased compositions that includes the piano as the main instrument of the piece. The compositions are chosen by a high-level international jury. Then our label release the result on Cd and on all digital platforms.
How did you come up with the idea in the first place to host these competitions and make these releases?
The idea was born because we wanted to give the opportunity to emerge to pianists and composers with skilled talent but that did not receive the right attention from an increasingly fast and distracting world.
We basically produce piano music, especially of the minimal and modern-classical genre,
Minimal understood as essentiality in compositional elements, or taking inspiration in a way more or less faithful from historical minimalism. This genre gives rise to curiosity because it joins the classic tradition to modern matrices.
So we decided to create a project that is unique in the world.
We also received a lot of criticism from people who did not understand the spirit of our initiative, but with our stubbornness we have shown the great quality of the project.
Wow. What kind of criticism?
I prefer not to delve into the subject. Blue Spiral Records prefers to respond to criticism with the quality of its work.
How many submission did you get for the competition?
In the inaugural edition we received 95 submissions, the second year 112.
Anything you want to tell about the release?
The goal is to carry on the talent of younger generations, aware of the difficulties but also able to imagine a future where music returns to be the main pivot of present and future society.
Will you host more competitions like this is the future?
We currently think that the only possible competition for our label, according to our artistic needs, is The Minimal Piano Series. In 2019 we will organize the third and probably last edition of the contest.
Thank you for the chat Italia!
Please have a listen to the compilation below. I’m pretty sure you’ll find a couple of new favorites. I certainly did!
And keep a look out for the Minimal piano series part 3!
Today I’m gonna introduce you to one of my biggest fans! Eh, well. Not really. But Richard have been sending me songs for a couple of months, and I always enjoy hearing them! A couple of them have been featured on my Sleepy songs by others playlist (but since I’m trying to keep it to one submission per artist there might be only one of them on there now). When he sent me Flicker it was no doubt I wanted to feature it here.
Short introduction! Richard LaBrooy is from the land down under, Melbourne to be more specific!
I’m simply trying to push some of the boundaries of the current neoclassical language.
Tell us something about your track Flicker!
Flicker revolved around the idea of static memory. I wanted to try and find harmonies and melodic fragments that evoked a sense of lonely optimism. I went through a barrage of ideas, finally landing on what I have now. There was something about those chords that felt distant, yet bittersweet. I eventually decided to augment it with chamber orchestra, which always helps to push the emotion. I’m not sure if it translated how I intended, but it was definitely fun to write and sat very close with me. I don’t really believe that an artist’s original intentions should matter in the end. I think that once a piece of music is heard by someone — from that moment on, it belongs to them. It’s theirs. It means whatever they want it to mean.
Will Flicker be featured on an album or EP soon?
This is a single, so it’s a stand-alone release. However, there is are a line up of tracks coming over the next few months all under a very similar theme. They’re the first string of releases that I’m actively releasing, so it’s an incredibly vulnerable and exciting time. If only a few people get a chance to listen to them and see something in them worth listening to again, I’d be happy.
Well. I’m listening! Thank you for sharing this wonderful track with us Richard!
Today I’ll introduce you to Vincent DiFrancesco (viola) and Evergreens (Nick Goleeke, piano). They’re both from Seattle in the USA. Their history goes back to when they were in school and played together, but this collaboration presented today is their first release together.
We both have an appreciation for minimalist, ambient electronic, and neo-classical music.
Tell us something about Weightless!
All three of the tracks were recorded in about 45 minutes or so in a practice room of Boston Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, where Nick and I met for a weekend. Evergreens selected the room because the piano was fitted with felt. Everything was improvised – we did only one take of the first two tracks. In between takes though we totally fooled around laughed our heads off. And the mics were still hot so we have a lot of memorable and hilarious audio still to look back at. We had to settle down before recording again.
There’s something really special about improvising. When I was in the room with Nick, I could feel like we were communicating in a very special way, something not possible with spoken language. When you’re nervous about what’s going to happen next but things fit together in the spontaneity of the moment – that’s what makes improvisational sessions like this so beautiful.
Is there a theme throughout the release?
The theme here at first was the improvised element. For a listener to be able to hear two people essentially having a conversation musically over the course of five or so minutes is something very special. After recording however and listening through the session, Nick and I shared ideas about what kind of images or feelings we associated the pieces with. For the title track in particular, Nick had a very strong image of a figure floating or swimming in water. The idea of feeling almost weightless, submerged in water, was very powerful in this context.
And if the link doesn’t work, you can find the wonderful album Weightless here!
Thank you for your participation Evergreens and Vincent!
Today I’m introducing you to Kevin Kerrigan; an instrumental music artist from London, England. I came across his song The Lake a while ago, and I got curious about it!
Tell us something about The Lake!
One winter’s evening I switched off all the lights and stayed up all night playing the piano. This is something I do quite often (since I was a kid) but this time I decide to record it. I would occasionally drift into semi-sleep, but keep playing.. By sunrise the album “The Moonlit Castle” was recorded, and I went to bed. The Lake being one of the songs.
Tell us something about this latest release of yours! Is there a theme throughout the album/EP?
Iit’s about night time! I wanted it to sound intimate and warm, with soft, reflective tones and dreamlike feelings. It’s quite thoughtful and melancholic I suppose too. None of this was planned really – it all came quite naturally due to how/when it was created. The piano had the soft pedal down the whole time and was recorded with vintage ribbon mics which give a very soft, muted sound which is evocative of the fragile light of candles or dreamy moonlight.
Thank you for this song, and this amazing album of yours!
Today, I’m introducing you to composer and pianist William Ogmundson from New London, New Hampshire inte the USA.
Tell me something about the song Marble Halls!
I didn’t write this particular song, though I wish that I had. It was part of an opera from 1843 by William Michael Balfe entitled The Gypsy Girl and was sung by Enya in the 90’s. This is my solo piano version.
I’ve always loved this song-the lyrics are beautiful and tragic. Unrequited love. I recorded this in one take at pianist Greg Maroney’s studio in Pennsylvania. That almost never happens, but after we listened to it, we both agreed that there wasn’t much point in doing multiple takes-somehow I got it right the first time around, and I figured Greg would know better than most people so I went with it. This was part of a whole day of recording, where I captured all the tracks for my upcoming CD Forevermore and also the first third or so of an Animal CD which I’ll probably finish up this spring.
A few days ago I introduced you to Giuseppe Costa from Italy through Behind the piano. And today we will present his latest track to you!
Tell us something about Rather than words!
This song has a story. There are songs that have animated humanity regardless of gender and style, music capable of uniting people’s hearts and inspiring them in everyday life as in large companies. There are passages that enlighten people’s lives and others that orient them, so that life can be beautiful and virtuous. I think this is beautiful, and the ability of art and music to communicate in such a convincing way of sensations is fantastic. A direct and true communication, without the use of words that instead could be not understood, misinterpreted. Instead it is possible to get to the heart directly. I played this song with the ambition to get to the heart and to animate to the goodness and dissolve the conflicts, which instead prevent the heart to be able to live beautiful and even bad feelings.
Tell us something about this latest release of yours! Is there a theme throughout the album/EP?
After my album Recital which includes 5 50-minute improvisations in 5 consecutive days, I decided to take a break from extensive projects and publish several EPs. Currently I publish one every 10 days.
Today I want to introduce you to Jon Winterstein, a German composer, artist, performer and songwriter. He has been writing and making music in different genres over the last six or seven years, at first with the guitar as the main instrument, and now also on the piano.
When composing piano music, I want to take the listener with me on an emotional journey through new as well as long-known lands.
Tell us something about Conjectures!
The main theme of “Conjectures” is uncertainty. That is pretty much all I can say, everything else is subject to interpretation.
Is the track part of a bigger release?
I am planning on releasing an EP within the first quarter of this year. Conjectures was intended to be the first single release of that EP, but since I have already recorded quite a number of tracks, this could change.