Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Using Your Musical Influences to Energize Your Piano Playing!

Your musical role models can inspire and impact how you play, perform, and if you dare...  how you might compose your own music!

Like the effect of our primary relationships with parents and families, our earliest relationships with music runs deep and may leave lasting impressions.

Among my influences in this regard, was the Beatles’ genius song writing team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney and band mate George Harrison.   

Numerous books and articles have been written pointing out the influence of the Beatles on modern day music, and their effect can be heard in the recordings of many contemporary music makers.   

(A case in point are my two latest projects, ‘Here Comes the Sun’, and the 2010 release, ‘Liverpool, Re-Imagining the Beatles’.)

It is very flattering to hear that my own original music and style of playing has been a strong influence on many other pianists. However this is cause for me to point out my own, as well as my role model’s musical roots, so that all these elements may be uncovered, explored, and understood more fully.

Looking closely at the Beatles, you will find they were highly influenced by American Rhythm & Blues Rock and Roll, Big Band, and English Dance Hall music.  

Some of the classical touches in their recordings, like the string quartet used in the songs Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby, were due in large part to their producer, George Martin, who’s own classical training and roots mingled with the Beatles song writing, and studio experimentation, helping to shape their overall sound.

This classical influence I heard in the Beatles, and in other 60¹s rock recordings, later helped re-kindled my love for the real classical masters, which in turn had a definite effect on my approach to composing for the piano.

I guess you could say that the Beatles brought me back to Beethoven :-)

It is an interesting journey tracing back your own musical roots, but very important to also follow and identify your role model’s role models.

As a teenager when I listened to the Beatles, I was not aware of all the different ingredients in their sound...but like a good stew, many ingredients come together to make up the whole. And in turn, if we can trace back our influences, this process will enrich our experience and deepen our appreciation for what has come before.

I point all of this out to encourage you to allow different musical styles and composers, to inspire and shape your own musical pursuits, not only in learning to play their music, but even trying your hand at composing with these different styles and influences in mind.

It may take you years of playing, as it did for me, to discover your own unique musical voice, but by playing music you love, experimenting with writing your own, and challenging yourself by trying different styles of playing, you can keep your enthusiasm and excitement for the piano alive and well!

David Lanz

1 comment:

  1. Very well said David....let the music flow from within :) Barbara Cash