Friday, March 16, 2018

Artist Spotlight #2: Nahre Sol

I am excited to share this second installment of the Artist Spotlight series, featuring the fantastic pianist/composer/Youtuber, Nahre Sol!

From the first time I heard her music, I was hooked. On top of her technical prowess on the piano, she has a unique talent for presenting complex musical ideas in a profoundly engaging way. From Bach analysis to practice exercises to original compositions, her Youtube channel covers a great range of content. If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing her music, I encourage you to remedy that!

Without further ado, enjoy this Artist Spotlight #2!...

[Background / Influences]

1. Is there some moment you can pinpoint growing up where the 'lightbulb switched on' and you set your sights on becoming a musician?

I remember being very inspired by two professional musicians I played a trio with at the age of 9.  It was such a new and exciting experience to play with others, that I remember feeling very drawn to music as a whole. 

2. Favorite pianist?

Martha Argerich and Glenn Gould

3A. Favorite classical composer?

J.S. Bach

3B. Favorite contemporary composer?

Arvo Pรคrt currently, but it changes every...month or so.

[Your Work]

1. You do a lot of different things: perform in solo and chamber recitals worldwide, record and edit videos for your YouTube channel, improvise and compose your own music, teach lessons, etc. Out of all of these, is one aspect your favorite?

I enjoy the process of writing my own music or my own arrangement of something.  It gives me a chance to be very original and the possibilities are endless.

2. Your channel not only features beautiful, innovative music, but also superb videography and slick editing. Can you identify any personally influential films/videos which feature music & video so thoughtfully intertwined, as in your work?

I can’t really think of an example similar to the type of editing I do, because it wasn’t modeled off of anything specific.  I am, however, very much influenced by the raw and imaginative characteristics of great street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson -- but I’m not sure how my videography reflects that at all.

3. What does a typical day look like for you? Do you follow a routine or workflow that allows you to do so many things and lead a creative life?

I am either practicing, teaching, or running errands during the day, and I do my video editing and other work or studies very very late into the night (I am the most active around 12-3am).  I don’t have a formal schedule because every day changes quite a bit.

[Using technology/internet as a musician]

1. Software: Sibelius or Finale or something else?

Sibelius and sometimes Notion on the iPad.

2. I’ve been happy to see your YouTube channel continue to steadily grow and gain attention from more folks (including the likes of Rick Beato, for example).

A. What hopes do you have for your ever-growing channel?

I’d like to get to know the music community more and I would like to collaborate with other musicians online to further explore concepts in both composition and performance practice, etc.

B. Who are your favorite YouTubers these days?

Rick Beato, Jeff Schneider, Andrew Huang, Adam Neely, Veritasium.

3. Preferred compositional workflow: Paper & pencil? iPad and stylus? Straight into notation software?

Paper and pencil.

[Now & Near-Future]

1A. What current projects are you working on?

I co-direct a concert series in Toronto called Happenstance, with Brad Cherwin and Adanya Dunn.  I am also working on a few different compositions, writing a book of exercises based on Chopin’s Etudes Op. 10, and of course, continuing to make videos.

B. I’ve seen you mention that you will be making some of your compositions available soon. What platform will you use, or where can we keep an eye out for those? 

They will be available on my website,

2. What inspires you today?

Other musicians! And other creators online that produce memorable content.

3. For someone just discovering your work, what composition or video of yours would you suggest they check out first? (OR: Which creation are you most proud of?)

Perhaps my Etude for Right Hand Alone.  I wrote it while dealing with an injury affecting my left arm, so I am proud that I made use of that frustrating period by creating a piece of music.

[Music-theory-nerdy stuff / other]

1A. Do you have a favorite [key / particular chord / voicing / anything like that]? (I think you answered ‘no’ to this in Rick Beato’s live stream… but I’m going to re-ask in case an answer happens to pop up!)

Still no :)

1B. Least favorite of any of the above?

A fast line that is doubled with an octave -- maybe.

2. Non-musical hobbies?


3. Are you familiar with Dan Tepfer’s “Goldberg Variations / Variations”? With your classical background and inclination towards improvisation, I think you would enjoy it! 

Yes, I have heard some of his performances online, and I was very impressed!

4. Any other final thoughts you’d like to share (about anything)?

Thanks for being in touch with me!  It’s always really cool to interact with musicians from all over.  I think the tighter our community is both locally and online, the better chance we have to stand up for the art we believe in.

My thanks to Nahre Sol for the thoughtful answers, and for being the second participant in this 'Artist Spotlight' interview series! Be sure to check out Nahre's work, and subscribe to her channel. I strongly agree with that final sentiment; it is so important to engage with others in our creative community! To that end, I hope this Q&A served to bring our community just a bit closer together. :)

P.S. All links were added by me, Luke, with the aim of leading the reader to all relevant listening materials & works referenced in Nahre's responses. I hope you can find the time to click some of them! Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Latin Jazz 'Cheat Sheet'

In the jazz world, the term "Latin jazz" gets thrown around a lot, as a sort of catch-all umbrella term, effectively lumping a slew of different styles into one category. As someone who started learning about Latin styles later in my musical development, the vague and messy categorization of these styles has always been a point of confusion.

So, one day I decided to hit the books and try to sort through the terminology. In so doing, I came up with this sort of 'cheat sheet,' mostly for my own personal study purposes. (Link at the bottom.)

Of course, as you've probably heard from your music teachers your whole life, the best way to learn about new styles is to listen, listen, listen. And that's true.

However, for me, reading about these styles (as a supplement to listening) is what has helped sort out much of the confusion with terminology and the subtle differences between styles.

Though I'm a huge proponent of just 'playing what you hear,' that's not always the most authentic/appropriate manner of playing, depending on the musical style at hand. In any genre of music there are certain conventions (rhythms, standard comping patterns, and voicings) that ought to be studied and absorbed in order to play authentically.

This is true for the Afro-Cuban and Brazilian styles I tried to cover in this 2-page sheet. It is absolutely not a comprehensive study on these styles (it is, after all, only 2 pages), but it is a starting place.

The sheet has been helpful for me in trying to wrap my head around these different styles of music, and perhaps it will be helpful for you, too. It contains mostly rhythm-focused information, but also includes some in-context examples which are geared towards piano players.

>Free access to the document: HERE
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