Sep 222019

… in music. I’ve been making music since I was 6 years old. First by taking piano lessons, then later on switching to organ (home organs are cheaper than pianos, don’t ya know). It was not so convincing – I enjoyed playing, but I’ve always hated practicing. Over time, I realized that I also never liked playing other people’s music. It was like: “well, this has been done, so why the hell do I have to redo it?” (this stance applied to school as well, and it didn’t exactly help me get good grades).

My organ teacher at the time also had a band, and listening to his very much improvised music gave me a push. I “wrote” my very first song at 13, and played it to him. He was very very gracious – it was just some random noodling over C major, G7 and F, those enduring staples of pop music. Still, it was a beginning, and he encouraged me and even gave me some pointers.

We moved to another town, and I continued my organ lessons. Still hated practicing. My new teacher, who was very active in music as a conductor, composer and band leader, told me straight up that he didn’t want me to continue in this way. We made a deal to abandon the typical exercises and the typical songs that made up the typical organ schooling, and I began to play tunes by Genesis and Elton John. At that point, I was totally into Genesis, especially the 70s Genesis, and I played some of Tony Banks’ songs, which are quite complex harmonically and structurally. The chords used in these songs were true eye-openers, light years away from pop but still good songs that you could hum.

At that point we were preparing to move to the USA, and my teacher did a great thing. He had previously gotten me together with a guitarist, who was about my age, and we had formed a “band”, doing a few instrumental covers of current tunes (like Take on Me, heh). Very amateurish, but we got to open for my teacher’s band at a charity event. Our first and only concert! Anyhoo, said teacher asked me if I would like to record a song of mine in his studio in the attic, as a going away present. He had a very expensive setup, with a handful of keyboards (like the Korg M1, it had just come out, the DX7, and others). He had a 12-track tape recorder, and he even had a computer with the very first version of Cubase! It was a great and humbling experience; I had written my first song, and of course it wasn’t a normal pop tune, it had 4 sections, instrumental parts, key changes, time signature changes, what have you. Prog! It took a while to record. I don’t know if he regretted the offer at some point, but he was very gracious about it. Just recording the vocals took 4 hours, because I was so intimidated by that bloody microphone he stuck in my face! I squeaked more than I sang, I believe. But we got it done! I still have it on cassette somewhere… no cassette player, alas.

To be continued.

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