When I’m composing, no matter the instrument, I’m always thinking about all the instruments together before they’re written. I also like to occasionally throw an unconventional note at it to see what happens. It may not change the structure of a composition, but it can force you to think about things like approach notes. I’ve been studying this with my guitar instructor, Az Samad, in some detail, and it’s remarkable how it can create a subtle effect on an existing melody. Lastly, I recommend plenty of sleep and a strong cup of coffee.
START IN COMPOSING
I became interested in music as a young boy. Some of my family members were playing various instruments and, being the youngest, I started with violin lessons. I grew up listening to 70’s and 80’s rock, taught myself to play guitar, and eventually found myself wanting to create ambient music, bigger sounds, different textures. Eventually, I began thinking about music and sound as something that affects many senses and how it can make you feel, and that it can suggest an emotion. The interpretation of sound and how it leads the imagination.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCES IN THE RECORDING STUDIO
Some of my favorite experiences in my studio are when beautiful things happen by accident. I don’t experiment as much as I used to while recording, but when something unexpected occurs, it can be thrilling and it refuels me with an adrenaline rush. On my last album, I’d recorded some short phrases using a Wurlitzer organ sound that I envisioned alongside a steady drum beat and bass line. By accident, I loaded these phrases into a piano sound and it changed everything. I set the tempo much slower, and the piano oozed with such heartfelt emotion. The entire piece shifted into something completely different and I couldn’t have been happier with the end result. The thing is, I would have never thought to write it this way had I not made that mistake.
I love Logic Pro. It’s a spectacular piece of software; very flexible and satisfying for recording and editing. I have an old (and extremely heavy) 88-key MIDI keyboard, which is a great way for me to get ideas started. I have non-existent piano skills, but the keyboard is the perfect tool for me when I’m thinking of short sections of music before I expand on them with other instruments. Since I’m very comfortable on guitar, I often play piano and orchestra sounds using a Brian Moore guitar with a built-in Roland GK interface. It converts pitch to MIDI data, allowing me to access a variety of software synths and sampled sounds. Lastly, I have a collection of percussion objects that frequently find their way onto my recordings. Singing bowls, frame drums, cymbals, gongs, bells, tabla, bongos, in addition to more unconventional items such as cooking pots, old license plates and childrens toys.
I just released a new album called, “Invisible Films.” It’s a 20-track collection of what I refer to as ‘imagined soundtracks.’ I also recently wrapped up recording with Kamal Sabran on a soundtrack for a film by Malaysian director, Mamat Khalid. Currently, I’m producing a music video for Space Gambus Experiment, collaborating with several artists on a new dub project, and I’m making a record with New York photographer Daniel Murtagh, under the name Backward Son. For several years I’ve been collaborating with Tiffany Lee Brown for the Easter Island Project, been playing guitar with the improv trio Tres Gone, and on rare occasions I gig as drummer for The Dead Air Fresheners. In between, I produce and record other artists in my recording studio, Spilling Audio.
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