Wednesday, August 11, 2010

From Black and White to a Colourful Symphony of Sound

"I'm always looking for the next note I'm gonna hit and right or wrong, I'm heading for the next song - as in life, " tweeted Chris in a DM (direct message).

So sums up Chris' enthusiasm for the grand adventure that is life. His love of  music has provided him with an incredible propensity for resilience, which he uses in his business, emusicmotion.com, providing customized music for whatever your needs may be.

Chris kindly answered some of my questions:

When did you know you were going to be a musician? Who/what inspired you?

"I became musically aware at a young age. I was only five when Peter, my nine-year-old brother, died from hemophilia. My only memory of him was when he played the piano in the dining room. That memory left and indelible musical mark on my childhood. I remember climbing up on that piano bench and rolling my finger joints over the black keys. I always hit the same keys in the same way, with the same rudimentary results. My dad got the idea that I was interested in music at that tender, young age.

My father used to rock out on his accordion every night. I remember him for that - his fire and exhilaration, whenever he was on that thing - he was like the rock star in the family. He was also a stereo enthusiast and I still remember the day we went to the stereo shop and picked up a turntable with speakers. From then on, I was exposed to everything in his record collection: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, The Doors, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles...

I also recall listening to Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence over and over again. Perhaps a metaphysical correlation to the fact that my mother is completely deaf? She knows what silence sounds like, and although she has never heard my music, she feels it with her hands and feet. To this day, she tirelessly supports my musical inclinations."

[Chris' mother also senses the joy that Chris exudes whenever he is playing music.

When you engage in activities you love, your "Internal Pharmacy" releases a very different set of chemicals. Positive thoughts and emotions have an impact on how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically. Learning to implement them is a powerful stress undresser.] 

I began piano lessons when I was eight. As a pre-teen, I was a big fan of Captain and Tennille. Watching Daryl Dragon (The Captain) man the helm of that giant stack of keyboards and synthesizers showed me the possibilities of those black and white keys. I remember being glued to the television, in awe of Dragon's musical abilities and versatility.

In 1976, I used the piano and started to decipher my favorite songs, note for note, beginning with Pablo Cruise's Zero to Sixty in Five. Three years of piano lessons gave me the basic theory. With the power of Album Oriented Rock, I discovered a manic love for music. I found myself immersed in the sounds of the keyboardists of that day, such as Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Kerry Livgren of Kansas, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Billy Joel and Jan Hammer (Miami Vice theme).

Jazz violinist, Jean-Luc Ponty, influenced me, as well. His pioneering of Jazz fusion and sound effects led me to explore other modes of musical expression with keyboards and synthesizer.

In the 80's, I became interested in the modernistic, arpeggiated sounds of Michael W. Smith and the soft, introspective colors of Michael Omartian. Ironically, I was head-over-heels in love with the rock group Rush and attended every concert I could. At that time, I was newly-married and had just joined the Service. I could not afford keyboards, so I just found places to play, such as recreational facilities that had pianos. 

I finally managed to hustle my first keyboard sequencer, the Korg 01-W Pro-X Music Workstation - basically, it was a keyboard that could imitate other instruments and record tracks within the keyboard. My first crude recordings were created."

In the late 80's and early 90's, Chris was residing in Washington State, an "inspiring and romantic place, especially during the winter". He took an interest in the New Age Movement and found himself shifting towards a "deeper and more feeling kind of music".

"Then a nightmarish divorce came about, in which I ended up living a nomadic, surreal life between '93 and '98. I consider this time to be the most crucial aspect of my inspiration - desperation in the midst of nowhere, with nothing to hold onto. I traveled across the mainland via car. I'd been driving from Arizona to New Mexico for fourteen hours at night, with what must have been thirteen cups of coffee. All I could see ahead of me was the roadway, illuminated by my headlights. Around five in the morning, I took a winding road into a desert valley.

The highway stretched thirty miles across a colossal bowl of desert terrain. In the twilight hours I could only see gray-scaled shadows of images of the road ahead. Then, the morning sun appeared, peeking over the valley. As it climbed above the horizon, the sunlight poured into the valley, colorizing everything it illuminated. Like a good omen, this was telling me there was hope ahead, in faith in the unknown. I remember being ecstatic for the rest of the day.

Which leads to the present. Somewhere between then and now, the music came gushing out and it's still a ketchup bottle with lots of ketchup left waiting to be shaken."

When and where do you feel most inspired? 

"A sunrise or a sunset is meditative. To paint a picture of them musically is like spreading jam on toast. Mental imagery leads to inspiration; as long as you listen to it."

Chris' senses are finely-attuned to the world around him. He uses what he loves to create his music, which in turn allows him to create more music. Those black and white keys help to inspire and colour the lives of others, in ways of which he may not even be aware.

Helen Keller once said, "The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

Chris' audiences are fortunate. He takes what he feels in his heart and turns it into a beautiful symphony of sound...something they can feel in their hearts, through their ears.

2 comments:

  1. A remarkable story and very inspiring. If one can live one's dream by making a living out of it, ups and downs of living can be taken in one's stride as it is very clear in this narrative.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ramana,
    From what I understand from Chris, is that music is his restorative elixir.

    ReplyDelete

Welcome! I know your life is busy. That's why I appreciate your stopping by to comment.