Its always a bit of a mystery where someone’s music actually comes from, but I’d have to say my most formative musical experiences till now would be growing up on the grounds of our family’s theater in Topanga Canyon, and my intense 8 year study of the cello in Germany.
Growing up at a theater, drama literally surrounded me. Being on stage before memory, memorizing Shakespeare, watching my parents act. The rhythms and emotions of theater are somewhere deep in there.
And music was just another expected skill of the actor. Everybody played guitar, folk music mostly, but it was such a normal thing, singing on my uncle’s albums, and the piano lessons started at 4.
At home, between shows, there was always a Mozart sonata or a Beethoven symphony playing in the background. We were to follow in our great grandma’s footsteps. I was bored at the classical concerts at first but it eventually started to grow on me, the skill of the players, and towering above, the god-like status of the great composers, possessing unspeakable technical and emotional knowledge.
As I started to learn more about them, most of them were masters of at least one instrument, and this, to the best of my abilities, has been my goal. It became obvious to me early on that there was no understanding great music until one could at least play it, know what it feels like, not just sounds like.
So it was off to Germany, I figured I might as well go to the source of all that European music I’d been playing. Most every great composer mastered at least one instrument. Seemed like the logical thing to do. Many many concerts, orchestras, master classes, competitions, schools, cities, and apartments later, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it. The great thing about music though, is that is endless, there’s always farther to go.
But as I was playing all that cello, I was always trying to take apart the compositions, analyze, see how the piece was made, see what I could steal and use for my own. In the orchestra is the best spot to hear the orchestration anyways. Playing in different ensembles gives you a musical understanding I think would be hard to replicate otherwise, and I try to bring that understanding to everything I write.