How important is being a multi-instrumentalist to your process?
“Let me start by saying that there is NOTHING like being in a room full of the right people who excel at what they do and who bounce ideas off each other. This is how I learned my trade, by playing in studios and on stages with the world’s best and it’s still my ideal method of working. Unfortunately, recording budgets don’t always allow for such a luxury these days, which is why more and more people are coming to me!”
“But to answer the question, I find it absolutely indispensable for the immense variety of work I do. Being able to come from many different perspectives gives me a HUGE advantage in terms of putting arrangements together. Creatively it’s a awesome too, because different personalities come out depending on what instrument I’m playing (quick, get the straight-jacket LOL!). Lastly, it gives me a vast palette of styles to draw from, which is being explored more deeply the further I get into music for TV and films. Making music for pictures is one of the rare opportunities a composer might get to move seamlessly between the styles of Deadmau5 and Arvo Pärt, for example, if he or she has the necessary chops!”
“And there’s a more practical side. There comes a stage in most sessions where brain-drain can set in and even the best instrumentalists can get physical or mental fatigue (or both) on any one instrument. When this happens, the ideas become weak, which can mean death to a writing or recording session where maximum creativity and peak performance are needed. Switching instruments at times like these can be a life-saver and keep me excited about the music, as well as help to get the performances I need. Of course it’s also essential to know when to take a break!”
“For orchestral writing in the project studio, when programmed parts are a dominant feature, I find that playing in some live violin and viola gives a certain authenticity to the parts. But most often ONLY a real string section can give the performances I’m hearing and however good a sample library is, good performances can only be expressed by real human beings. It’s also one of life’s greatest thrills to hear your music played by a real live orchestra!”