Arturo Riera

Arturo Riera

Classical music education is the most traditional form of musical education, however these days there are two ways to go with that kind of knowledge, the first is to stay true to its roots and perform as they would a few decades ago, the second way to go is to take all of that knowledge and bring it to 2019, where electronic music, computers, remixes and samples are a thing, and mixing rock, pop, and rap with orchestras is not a weird thing. These days, as a musician, you need to learn all you can, that way, creativity will blossom in a way it has not before, therefore bringing innovation.

Classical in Modern Rock

While there are many examples to choose from, Radiohead, David Bowie and Muse are some of the names that should be mentioned whenever of talking about classical influences in Rock these days. Whether it’s the influence of Chopin and grandiose feeling that draws Muse, the dissonance and beautiful blending sounds of Radiohead, or the electronic dark new sounds that we hear in David Bowie’s Blackstar, it’s clear that the classical sound is here to stay.

While in not the traditional way, all of these artists have used orchestras and classical inspired melodies to fuel new sounds and ideas which cannot be ignored when studying music as it shows the potential of strong traditional influences.

Gabriel Prokofiev: Remix The Classical

classical

Gabriel Prokofiev is the grandson of Sergei Prokofiev, the famous Russian composer, and he has been making classical music with a twist, as if the organic was imitating the artificial. On his electronic music influences he said in an interview:

GP: That came first, actually. When I was eleven or twelve years old, it was the 1980s, when you had the birth of electronic music. I liked synth-pop and electronic dance music when I was a teenager. I bought a synthesizer and was very interested in using a computer for music. So, it was something I was always interested in. When it came to studying classical music, I had a real passion for composition and I went to university to study music. In Birmingham University, where I first studied, they had a very good department for electroacoustic music, the classical electronic music, and I studied it further there. This was a very good way for me to discover my voice as a composer, with some disconnection from my classical roots. There was no connection with the symphonic work of my grandfather, when I was using electronics to make a big piece of music, therefore, I could develop as an artist.

However, ultimately, I got frustrated with the electronic music, mainly because the live performance of electronic music is often unsatisfying, because a lot of it is prepared beforehand, there is less of communication between the performer and public. When you see an orchestral performance, you can feel the incredible sense of community, energy. Also, as a composer, I felt even more exhausted, because you have to finish the whole electronic piece in the studio. You become the composer, the performer, and the producer, and you have to include a nuance of a live performance in the studio recording. It is great, but I think there are some brilliant musicians out there – why not to write a score and give it to them, so they could bring a new life into it. I am a sociable and communicative person, and I love the interaction between the composer and a performer. I would like a performer to give their contribution to the work; it should be a conversation.

While these are just a few examples, they are departures of the traditional way of making classical music, in the sense that in order to make something new, classical influences can help achieve that.

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A huge part of music today is the story you tell, not only with the sounds and harmonies played, but the actual words that are sung. This aspect of music has been a part of its structure in many compositions since opera or minstrels, where words mattered.

In a way, lyrics and poetry are sometimes intertwined with differences such as melodies and musical context, because rhythm is already a part of what makes poetry so compelling. However there is another dimension of the rhythm aspect which is being in sync with the tone of the music.

Is Poetry the Same as Lyrics

 

According to Matthew Zapruder from bostonreview.net:

To say that this means song lyrics are less literary than poems, or require less skill or intelligence or training or work to create, is patently absurd (and, in the case of rap music, patronizing). But that does not mean that song lyrics are poems. They might sometimes accidentally function like poems when taken out of a musical context, but abstracting lyrics from musical information is misleading and beside the point.

While there are many similarities and artists sometimes present their lyrics as poetry there are some differences that make them both shine in their own way. Now, if you were to take poetry and turn it into lyrics for a song, it may not be that difficult, although some changes may have to be made, it would mostly be taking some words out more than adding words. However if you were to make the lyrics of a song into a poem, most of the times it would not work, because the whole structure of a song gives the words context, this can be from the way a singer sings certain words, the way silence is used to allow the music go through the words as sun light in the woods, and the overall mood and feel that embraces the vocals.

Writing a Song

 

Knowing these differences, it should also be noted that working through lyrics is sometimes a very similar process as writing poetry, but there are many ways in which we can approach writing them.

First of all is the order, when you think about making a musical composition with lyrics, you think about two dimensions: music and lyrics, but which one comes first when going through the process of composing. It can go both ways or at the same time, but the truth is, that the final product will be different depending on the focus, because if the idea is to write something and then add some sort of soundtrack to what’s been written, the focus is clearly on the vocals, however if you have a full instrumental song, and then add the lyrics, it’s most likely the voice will follow a pattern outside of its own.

It can also be made simultaneously, as if the voice and the lyrics were just another instrument, and go as far as to come up with words while playing the music. This does not necessarily means that the order will determine if vocals are more or less important, however it can be a factor in that outcome.

A good tip for a beginner songwriter is just to not be afraid to try things, to make mistakes, and always remember: it’s a work in progress, everything is malleable until you feel there’s nothing else that can be done.

Creative writing is never easy, specially when it has to fit a musical context, but with enough practice, translating words into another instrument, will become easier and will show a whole other part of music that can be very interesting and fun to play with; trying different orders, and rearranging sounds and words in order to make the puzzle work and feel natural.

 

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These days, a lot of the entertainment industry is all about movies, TV shows, video games and in between, commercials, ads and much more. The truth is that while the visual side of all these forms of art is essential, what would it all be without music? There is a different approach to music when the final product has to be in sync with the story or message that is being told visually, in this regard, music accentuates, adds or even complicates things to the overall experience.

It’s not hard to think about iconic soundtracks, with some very known and loved in cinema such as Star Wars, 007, Kill Bill, series such as Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and many more. There are also many iconic soundtracks that most people are able to recognize such as Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter.

Of course, the approach is different depending on which type or art or entertainment the music is for, let’s dive into some aspects of each one of them.

Movies

The first movie ever to have a musical score was “Don Juan” which was released  in 1926, a year later with “The Jazz Singer” sound and music became part of what made these films so amazing. From that moment on, films were usually accompanied by music, even before actors spoke lines of dialogues. It was clear that music helped represent the story and deliver a more compelling experience to the viewer and now listener.

These days it’s such an integral part of the industry that awards are given to the best musical score every year and many talented musicians work most of their time giving life to the sound of the stories that movies tell, and sometimes being the story itself, as it is with musicals.

TV

While it’s very similar,TV shows work a little different, and a lot of this has to do with show’s intros and credits scene, because not only does it needs to represent the show and display a very defined identity, but it will also sound every single time the show is on air. This makes music divert a little from the art and more into the business side of things, since it has to be catchy and promote the show itself every time it’s music comes on air and through commercials.

This of course extends to cartoons such as Looney Tunes,and Hanna-Barbera productions, which have very memorable melodies.

Commercials

Commercials’ music or jingles, were all about being catchy and short, while giving a sense of happiness and drawing the viewer in through emotion, while the eyes see the real product.

Video Game Soundtrack

At first, video games featured very simple tunes, as the technology did not allowed a great quality to be included in the game, however as time went by, music in video games began to take a place similar to movies, with the difference of being more dynamic. What this means is that music didn’t just play at certain moments, it played when you made the moments happen. A good early example of this is with Sonic the Hedgehog, a game in which you had the general soundtrack of a level, but if you picked up a speed power up, the music changed to the tone of going faster, or if you started to drown, the music change to a more stress like, soundtrack, as well as more dramatic music when encountering more powerful enemies.

Being a musician actually has many branches,and there is no doubt that working on musical scores and soundtracks has a lot to cover nowadays, you just have to let yourself explore.

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