In my youth I studied playing the classical guitar for several years at the Porvoo conservatory. Even though there was a lot of great music already composed for the classical guitar I had the desire to add more creativity and interpretation of music to my studies. Later I got interested in composing and finally in the recording, mixing and mastering process. Through my own music I learned to listen to music made by others in a whole new way.
With my composing I want to motivate and encourage everyone studying music to record their own playing and to compose their own music. With modern smartphones or free software for computers and reasonably priced microphones one can record their own playing with good quality. Hearing your own playing painfully reveals parts that still need more practice. On the other hand when you end up with a successful recording it is immensely awarding and you will enjoy listening to it even later. Listening to your own playing helps you to learn to listen to your performance more carefully and also speeds up the process of learning the material in hand. For example after listening to my recording of Feel The Flow I realized I needed a little more tempo but I didn’t feel the need to record a new version. The final recording is made up of several subsequent takes. To learn it well enough for a live performance would take some more practice. I also ended up modifying one of the notes to suit my style better.
The most important moment of my hobby as a composer was hearing a Finnish composer say that you can practice and learn to compose in the same way as you would when learning to play an instrument. Was this true considering after years of playing I could only play music composed by others?
An epiphany I had regarding composing was to start simply from one short musical idea and to continue with another the day after. After a week I had the beginnings of a musical piece. I chose to compose for myself and thought about what kind of music would I like to play. I continued by listing different kinds of techniques that I liked: arpeggios, glissandos, trills and natural harmonics. I then tried each separately and mixed together one pace at a time: could a composition end with natural harmonics? What about a arpeggio section? I learned the basics of composing and instead of always doing things in the same way I added variation to my rehearsal to “evolve” the composition. To counter falling phrase I ended a melody with a rising phrase so I played the fretboard both in the lower and upper part. What about changes in tempo and key? Two different parts? One pace at a time the composition gained form and I played it while watching the news or the newest Schwarzenegger flick and sometimes an idea formed by accident. At some point I realized that the composition was progressing effortlessly and the pieces had come together! Final review: did the composition have enough opposites, piano-forte, slow-fast, aggressiveness-softness? Did I utilize the fretboard enough and was the composition progressing naturally? I got a nice feeling even though it wasn’t a grand immortal piece but it was still my own composition. I also formed the idea of the next piece, The Flow of Life – A Day In Iceland, and things quickly got out of hand (check the video from the page COMPOSER/MUSIC. In it I play the guitars, violins, cello/contrabass in a few “desks”, the flute, clarinet and oboe in addition to programming the virtual instruments;-D.
On this page I have described the process I went through while composing Feel the Flow. It is essential while performing it to make it your own and to find your own “flow” while playing it. Because of this I didn’t make notes on tempo or interpretation to the notes. My recording is just one of the possible ways to perform it and I have sometimes played the latter part with twice the speed while repeating each “musical idea/pace” twice. Doing so will raise the difficulty of the composition quite much.
I will gladly listen to your personal performance if you email the sound file for me. And I would love to hear my composition being played in a student performance at one time. If you decide to perform it, please invite me!