August 2012: The beginning
After assesing very carefully and profoundly where i want to go and who i want to be in life (or better what i want to spend my time doing), i reached a carefully balanced out decision. I want to be a musician. My family have a guitar that has been borrowed to family friends.There so happenes to be a guitar (classical) at the place i hang out every day. My first move is to look up on youtube how to play my favorite songs. So i look at tutorials every day,a new one, carefully study them (spend like 1 hour pausing videos and trying to do the things), write down the chords and practice them. The first two weeks are very hard (technically) when i strum the chords, my fingers are all out of place, the chords are "lagging" , the sounds are not quite right. This does not discourage me in the slightest. If anything it encourages me, i just keep going every day and repeat what i learned and practice it, adding new things as i go on. After a week i hear the progress i made on the first song i learned, "africa unite" by Robert Nesta Marley aka Bob marley. I keep going on like this for 2 months, i get to the point where i confortably can change chords easily and get it right, learning new songs, and start managing to sing along while i play. In the meantime i get back my family' s acoustic guitar, an Ibanez performance.
my most sentimental possesion. Not real image, but pretty close
After having it for one month, i get a setback. A friend a mine, who is a very talented percussionist, while trying the guitar brakes the lower E chord. This sets me back because it takes me 2 weeks to get a new string. (he broke it and never got me a new one, which i was expecting from him. But its easier to expect things like that from people you know less).
After that lesson (and 2 weeks of inactivity) i promised myself never to let hardware or material things ever stop me from progressing, and so it has been since. Truth is, you can easily play and have fun with 1 single chord, but i did not know that at the time.
In this period i keep playing, and get interested in theory of music. I get ahold of a program called "musescore" and start messing around with it. I realize from reading on the internet, that i must take some kind of lessons lest i continue into the music. I cannot understand why these sites are talking about, what i need is a proper introduction to music Theory. After research, i find the place for me. Start taking theory and guitar lessons once a week 2 hours. Theory hits me very hard and i like it right away. From the first lessons, i take what music really is. music=math for me. Notes in relation to each other are nothing else than a matemathical progression and sequence of numbers. Music can be broken down to numbers of all sorts.
All music theory is written in a language that developed from Medievil times; a conventional way to record music and allow easier comunication, and also record it for historical reasons. WIthout it, they probably would not have been any classical music coming our way.
The guitar lessons go south right away, i never study the material that my teacher teaches me, but nonetheless it makes me progress anyway, and makes me understand the single notes on the guitar. I like my teacher, he is young and loves music, and says one must play and study, and find the right balance beetwen the too. After seeying i don t follow his classical teaching metod, he introduces me to some strumming patterns which i love right away and practice hard. He teaches me that reggae is almost always on the upbeat, and a style, not really its own gendre (guitar speaking ofc)
On the theory side, my teacher is oriented towards me doing "solfeggio" (reading music sheet). He says i must learn this and practice this every day. He is correct, as i am to find out later on. Once you learn to do solfeggio (counting the beats trough notes) i realise later, you can pick up much easily most musical instruments. Every time i have doubt he encourages me to look into it, and apply the theory. Very basic stuff, but until i get it right and it right he refuses to progress me any furthur
The book used, is the most popular Italian solfeggio book for beginners, called "bona"
This book is boring. But it is a correct approach
I forgot to mention that, as soon as i started to see how notes worked, i was much more interested in how i can put notes together than applying or executing other peoples work. I am fascinated on what can be done here. I have had much more success in studying theory and solfeggio when i have studied and practiced my work, than that of other people (with the exception of Edward Grieg, Verdi, tchaikovsky, and recently discovered Eric Satie)
Spring 2013: A whole new world
Anyways i was going to these lessons regularly for 2 months, and creating some stuff with musescore in the meantime. After i posted a blog on tl, i got some good advice from some musicians suggesting that i get ahold of some more advanced software to make music. After research (always do your research!) i get ahold of a program called reason. Immediatly i start watching tutorials on how to use this program, and start applying what i learn. This leads me to my first theory oriented work (a song in F minor Harmonic, i have only ever used Harmonic minor) and another non-theory oriented work, a 12 minute track called "aliens children playground"
which took a lot of work and effort, but in the end i broke trough, after a moment of difficulty; Have faith, put hard work and effort, and things just fall into the right place. And they did.
I have always been fascinated by music and sounds, not only those coming from humans, but also those coming from animals. i made this with the built in nature sounds of the program, crickets birds and other stuff. The program has a vast array of instruments, effects, drums, but just a couple of nature samples.
After finishing that work, i realize that i must sample my own sounds from nature so i can be free and indipendent and use the sounds i want and need. I also bought a Xylophone and a very basic flute (recorder) to experiment.
without the decorations on the side
With the guitar, at this point, my abilities are strumming, singing and playing together at a stable rythim. In the winter i had approached bar chords. These are difficult at the beginning, but constant practice and hand sour along, it gets much better during the spring. As at the beginning, rewards start to come after practice. I think i practice so hard even beacuse i like playing reggae with guitar, and bar chord up-strum with mute are what i like to hear. In reaggae, the guitar is not a main instrument most of the time, mostly a companion, muted on the downbeat. Again here, 90% of what i play is of bob marley or other reggae, other than that very famous song of Paul Dukas from "fantasia"
During this summer i continued on the studying and going to lessons. I also got my hands on a state of the art semi-professional recorder, the maratz pmd 620
Starting to sample sounds and trying to understand how that shit works. I learned about decibels, and that most sounds in the professional movie industry are lower than -16 decibels . The lower the decibels, the better the sound quality in general. I learnt just enough to be able to sample, there is still a lot of learning to do.
By experience i start to understand that not only i can make nature samples, but also instrument and sound samples of instruments and just sounds, as long as they are sampled properly.
Metal clangs, hits, percussion samples.
so i start sampling everything that i like, in an underground room. Its not sound-proof, but being underground is already a small soundproof and thats all the minerals i have to make it happen. You gotta work with what you have. And you will manage.
Continued to play that xylophone as well, and then i moved to started playing with the piano. With the piano i only play things i write. With the guitar, i continue to practice and have fun and start playing around at parties and stuff. PLaying around and with other people is great fun.
I also write my own songs with lyrics. After hearing what the computer can do with single guitar strings and arpeggios, i want to do this with guitar.These sounds are part of what i am writing. so i delve into arpeggios and practicing, using the chords that i know, so that i can actually play the things i write. Coincidently this period clashes with the fact that, i want to sing as well. Even do i had started to sing since the start of last november, i wanted to learn how to reasnably and acceptably sing. So i started taking singing lessons 2 months ago (did 8 of them so far). Let me tell you, singing is the most difficult instrument of all that i have undertaken until now. Its hard beacuse, you cannot cheat. While with instruments outside your body you can find a way around something, "you can' t run away from yourself" . In order to sing you have to be in close contact with yourself, other than the fact of properly using your instrument (body diafram stomac breath mouth) . But i have patience and no hurry, the important thing in the end is getting it right. Smoking cigarettes doesn' t help either. Playing the recorder (or in italian known as sweet or straight Flute) helps on the other hand.
In the month of August (schools are open in the summer here thanks to the economical state of things) while browsing my works, i encounter a piece in G minor which i forgot that i wrote. Opening it and re-hearing it, i get a sudden Flash, a stroke of inspiration. I start working on this piece. Days and nights go by, i hardly remember to eat and sleep, so deep into this i am; I just have to work on this right now; Stopped going to school as well for 2 weeks. Upon completion, my life turns back to normal. A 22 minute work, called "burning Blue Suns" . Everything wrote in G minor, G major (natural) and A minor. I am very satisfied with this work. Funny how this came more or less casually and in the beginning i had actually forgot i ever wrote that 2 minute piece, and that it turned into something much bigger.
And this brings me to September, where i have taken a break, resting if you will, from creative work, while keeping going to lessons, Theory and singing; i have dropped guitar lessons cause my music teacher was not available during the summer and i didn' t like the substitute they proposed.
also if you want to listen to stuff i made, go here
From here, i am not exactly sure how to go on. I know my objective, but am in doubt of the path to take. I mean i know i want to become a composer, but not sure how to get there.
There is the possibility of signing up for a conservatoire. Requirements are to be able to read music sheets of a medium difficulty properly, known basic music theory, and have some knowledge of composers history. If i devolved myself this year, next year i could sign up. But i' m not sure i want to take this path.
The Italian education system has dissapointed me so many times before, i have lost faith. Italy has the least % of people graduating from a uni or art school in relation to the # of people that sign up. The worst in all of Europe (eastern and western). That is a fact, and in my experience is true. Then again, this is the first thing in my life, that i am sure and clear i know i want to do.
I am trying also, to get into a group of musicians, or form a group. I play and jam with people, I know many people who do music, but 90% of them are interested in it as a hobby, where i want this to become my work and eventually have an economical income from it. Granted, thats not an easy task for people who have been playing for 20 years, and apart from all the famous people its not that easy to make a living off it. but as in anything, even economically, there is way to make it happen. I quote the film "pirates of silicon valley" for that reason: You know how you survive? You make people need you. You survive because you make them need what you have. And then they have no where else to go. Right now nobody needs us.
Back to the point of the group. What i really am seeking for is players that want to do this full time.
To create something together. Insieme.
Also there' s the problem of getting out of the confort zone. The actual fact of putting yourself out there. I have seen a lot of videos this month on motivation and how to get your music out there.
I am not a solo player. Except for with friends, i don' t want to go out and do performances on my own. I want to be making music and performing with other people. At this point, after realizing that not many people in my area are interested in making a reggae group, i must accept and get into some kind of whatever group. Classical, rock 60/70, thats all fine.
So yeah i guess if you have any pointers or observations, post them. For now i will keep studying and practicing, and jamming, seeing what comes my way
Also, sorry for broken English