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Trips for Piano

by Kay Matthews 2 months ago in interview

Martin Graff delivers "an evocative sound to move your soul and light your imagination...."

composer-pianist Martin Graff

Martin Graff is a composer-pianist in Arlington, Virginia. At four, his family inherited an old, anonymous piano, and Martin surged with an uncontainable energy to climb onto the bench and dig his hands into those eight-eight bits of clay, instinctually molding them into little aural landscapes. Crude and square at first; at last, faceted gems after a lifetime of practice, polish, and love.

Trips for Piano is the resulting musical vision.

How long have you been creating music?

I've been musical my entire life; I composed my first simple composition at age 4.

What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?

Music is my favorite artistic medium because it’s as abstract as it is tangibly powerful: the emotional unfolding of sonic drama in real time; the ability to touch hearts by vibrating eardrums with poetic sound waves… it just blows me away.

Do you have a preferred genre?

I don't have a favorite genre, but I tend to fall in love with melodies lifted by interesting harmony to make them expressively soar. I love Mahler (classical), The Posies (power pop), Porcupine Tree (prog rock), Junior State (chill hop)--all very different styles, but they all have that harmonic-melodic thing going on.

Tell us about your latest song, EP, or album.

Trips for Piano is a collection of eight evocative pieces made to move the soul and light the imagination with soaring melodies, affecting harmonies, and impassioned playing that conjures rainbows from keys of black and white.

Making this music is the opposite of death, like the centrifugal force around the sharpest bend of the greatest roller coaster. A reharmonizing of my most tumultuous internal cacophonies and maybe yours. So, listen up as I bang on this gong from the Gods! As the resonance of these radiant compositions fill your ear and make their way to your heart.

Could you describe your creative process? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?

The first step is to decide what story I want to tell and give it a title. Especially in music without lyrics, the decision-making process can be daunting unless you have a story in mind to guide your choices. For example, there may be any number of chords that sound good at a particular moment, but which one best tells this specific story?

From there, I type up some notes in a Word document about the length, texture, and harmonic profile of the music. Finally, I take the title and my working notes and craft them into sound, usually starting with the main melody and filling out the texture from there.

Are there any challenging aspects to writing and/or recording your music?

As with any of the fine arts, every step of the way in composing music is equal amounts joy and challenge.

How has the reaction to your latest release been?

Public reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been a well-kept secret for a while since I’ve only recently gotten to the point to share what I do with the wider world. So far, though, this music has transcended people's tastes; it isn't just fans of instrumental, classical, or even piano music who dig this album. Its raw expressivity seems to have universal appeal.

What is the best song you ever released and why?

Each piece has its unique and important place in my repertoire, but Sonare is probably my biggest accomplishment thus far because it’s a synthesis of all the different things I do in my music combined into one, sweeping masterpiece.

What song do fans seem to favor?

So far, people's top picks are Sonare, Prism, and Flowers Open.

Has your style evolved since the beginning of you career?

I wouldn't say that my style has evolved so much as the level of refinement I've developed in expressing it.

What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

The best thing about music is its emotional efficiency, the way a few perfect notes can be as moving as an entire novel compressed into mere moments.

Playing live or recording in studio? Do you have a preference?

I enjoy both for different reasons. In the studio it's incredibly satisfying to archive the composition in its very best technical light, but a live audience creates a real-time spiritual connection which feels like its own sort of flying.

Do you have a preference… vinyl records, cassettes, CDs, or downloads?

It depends on the music I'm listening to, as certain older pieces were written and recorded with analog technology in mind (The Beatles, for example, sound best on vinyl). In general, though, I prefer CDs because I love physical media with artwork, but I also like something durable that's not so easily damaged as records and tapes.

Is there an instrument which you would like to learn and why?

Man, I still have half-a-lifetime's worth of passion to get even better at the piano, and that's plenty enough for me.

Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?

I admire any person with a truly original vision and committed, passionate devotion to it.

Would you like to travel to other countries to perform your music? If so, what would be your first stop?

I lived in China during a time of my life when I wasn't playing piano, so it would be great to go back there someday and show them what I can do musically.

Other than fame & fortune, is there something you hope to achieve through music?

My simple mission has always been to vibrate eardrums and touch hearts.

Are you currently working on any projects we should look out for?

My current focus is to promote my Trips for Piano album in order to bring my life's work to the wider world--to affect as many eardrums and hearts as possible. That said, I've already started writing the first composition toward my next album.

Is there something you would like to say, that we didn't cover?

My music is also part of a larger stage show that I do with original spoken word and projected artwork that you can check out at TheFaceZone.com

tripsforpiano.com - youtube.com - facebook.com

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Kay Matthews

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