This is a one year blog, starting on my 40th birthday and ending on my 41st birthday. I quit my job of 10 years and will go back to becoming a fulltime student & musician. I also moved out of the USA and will be living in Taiwan and France for the next year. I honestly don't know where or what I'll be doing a year from now...but life's about the journey and not the destination...so ready or not, here we go.
We'll, I've been studying harmony and composition for two weeks with my friend and musical mentor, Romanian composer Mihnea Brumariu. My latest lesson was to write the missing melody and add two addional harmonies to a musical idea that Mihnea gave me. Yes only 30 seconds of music, but I spent five days, countless hours, and some brutal "constructive criticism" to get the end result...which thankfully both Mihnea and I were pretty happy with:
At an open studio two months ago Charlene had met a composer from Romania, Mihnea Brumariu that is here at Cite Des Arts writing an opera. I didn't get a chance to meet him that evening, but we did see him a few days later in building at we talked for a few minutes. I was interested in meeting any musicians here in Paris, but to meet a classical composer writing an opera was quite overwhelming an intimidating. I asked a few questions and he said he composed using microtonal music. I was interested in hearing his music and learning about microtones so I got his phone number to meet in the future and speak about music in general.
Microtones could be considered additional notes "in between" the frets of a guitar, like bending a note slightly sharp, but not all the way to the next fret. You hear soul/blues/pop singers doing these "blue" notes (that's where the term "Blues" came from) to add some "soul" to the notes, also you'll hear them in the bent notes of blues guitar players. You can't play them on a piano, but you can play them on other instruments and with the voice.
Almost six weeks passed before we were able to meet, but we finally hooked up a week ago. He has perfect pitch, and is composing and writing the opera in his room with no musical instrument or computer, just a pen and paper! We listened to some of his music and he showed me some of his music scores. Some of the music was interesting to me because of the odd meter rhythmic groupings and polymeters so I got the nerve to play a few of the songs I had recorded that used odd meter and polyrhythms.
He said he liked it (that was surprising) so I asked him what was missing and he said harmonic structure. So to my great, great surprise he said that he would teach me harmony and composition every day. To say I was floored is an understatement. Unfortunately he is going back to Romania in two weeks so we will only have a short time together, but I'm trying to be a sponge and soak up whatever I can from his unbelievably kind generosity.
A funny story is that I couldn't think of any way to "pay him back" for his kindness so I got the only gift I knew he would accept, a few packs of Marlboro Red cigarettes (he smokes like a chimney). He laughed and accepted them, but said "no more gifts". The next day he gave me a piece of music he wrote for me as a "thank you".
We only have two more weeks, but he wants Charlene and me to come visit and stay with him in Romania. Opportunity came knocking, and I'm just really glad I was lucky enough to be there to open the door.