ARTIST NAME: Witold Suryn
SONG TITLE: Dancers in the Village
ALBUM TITLE: Falcimore
GENRE: Symphonic, Orchestral, Contemporary Music.
Witold Suryn is a Canadian composer, pianist, bassist, and music producer.
Formally educated in music (piano) he composes music for over 40 years, first in jazz, then, in contemporary symphonic and movie scores genre.
In addition to his formal musical education and years of composition practice in classical music, he gathered considerable experience in movie scoring for the contemporary film industry.
In his work, he cooperated with several young North American and British directors scoring their short and mid-length productions.
Independently he continuously composes music for cinema or TV productions, releases albums in symphonic, jazz, and recently in electronic genres.
Discuss how you develop your melody.
The melody comes from a story or an image, sometimes real ones like a painting or a movie, or just imagined.
Quite often the story and music begin at the same time and evolve in parallel. It is like painting music. But first and foremost I have to hear this music in my head. If there is nothing, what comes to a partition is just a worthless bunch of notes.
Tell us your source of inspiration.
Tell us the most memorable experience in your music career.
Many years ago I was contacted by a young American director with a proposition to write a score for his short movie I was faced with an interesting challenge: a 21-st century black-and-white, very well-tailored tragedy with no dialogs, sound, or subtitles. Even the actors did not say a word.
On one hand, I had absolute freedom to compose what I felt, on the other, I felt the weight of responsibility knowing that music may uplift as well as destroy the intents of the movie creator.
I watched the film many times searching on the piano what would resonate with it before I put the first note on the partition.
But, once I began I composed the score within days, made a decent mock-up, and sent it to the director. And he liked it as it was. I did not have to change a note. It never happened again.
Discuss how you build your song.
Being a piano player with formal musical education I use it as a tool, not as a set of rigid rules. So the music builds itself as I hear it, no matter whether it builds following the craft rules or against them.
My composition process follows what I hear, sometimes I have a complete vision of what I will write, and sometimes it resembles building the stairs when I figure out what the next step will be just before finishing the actual one. But one thing remains constant, the need for telling the story. Without it, my music would have no soul.
Being of an old school I use notes, partitions, and piano as a basic set of tools, but to create the sound I use notation software, many different instrument libraries, and later in the process the mixing and mastering capabilities of my studio.
Tell us how you ensure your music inspires others.
Ensure? I do not think anything like “ensure” exists, but probably every musician and composer tries to find ways to his/her listeners’ minds and hearts. My way is to transfer an image, a story, an emotion that would make the listener see what the music conveys and reflect on it.
Discuss the relevance of promotion to the music business.
In the actual world of easy access to sound creation tools, almost everybody can be a creator, a composer, a musician. With this observation come the numbers with many zeros before a decimal point.
Hundreds of millions of potential musicians try to get their music to millions of potential listeners. Without promotion they will most probably stay forever in their garage studios, unknown, unheard, overlooked. And the listeners may never have the chance to discover a new Mozart, Borodin, Sting, or Corea.
Tell us what you will do apart from music.
I am a university professor. I teach and research software engineering.
List the names of the instruments you can play.
Piano (classical acoustic instrument), synths, organs, and bass. If needed I can handle guitars, but it is only for recording purposes.
Tell us if you have any music background.
10 years of music-school in piano class.
Tell us the piece of advice you will give to a new artist on entering the music chart.
Actually, three pieces of advice.
Choose carefully your audience. Different people listen to hip-hop and different to symphonic music.
Be sure that you can create something meaningful for the audience you chose.
Make any effort required to find an effective promotion company. They will eventually push your music to the charts.
Elaborate on melody and rhythm.
Interesting pair…melody and rhythm – While rhythm without melody can easily exist (like in drums solos), melody without rhythm would be difficult to follow, both in playing and listening to.
Also, the two have different means of conveying the message. The African tam-tams are able to make people move, no matter their origin or culture, while the melody without this “something” will pass unnoticed or will bore the listener.
So, composing, in fact, is finding a tune, a melody, this Beethovenian “da-da-da-da” that will make people stop and listen.
A melody or a leitmotif is a clue for music, be it rock, jazz, or symphonic. If there are no lyrics to fill up space, the lack of melody kills the sounds.
State your future goals.
Future goals are the same as the present ones: compose music and make it reach people. Make them like it, or hate it, but never bore them. And, if possible, have my music played by others.
Share your recording experience with us.
I record all in my studio. If I write jazz scores all are practically live recorded, my instruments are directly connected to my DAW with no use of microphones, so at least one problem is avoided, the background noises.
I play most of the instruments and eventually add final drums later.
When I have other musicians participating; they either come to my studio and I am a recording engineer or I send the project and they record their parts with their DAWs and send me the material to be used in mixing.
When it comes to cinematic or symphonic scores the process is different – I write notes on staves, sometimes record them live, but still, the process resembles the classical composition with partition and pen, except partition resides in the notation software and mouse is a pen.
Once the composition is finished it goes to DAW where the recording takes place, i.e. MIDI data is sent to libraries and the resulting audio is recorded in situ.
Live recording, when there are no mics used, is relatively straight forward when the studio has a decent audio interface, powerful enough computer and proper DAW software.
Recording in loops, comping and some other smart technical tricks shorten the recording time but may make the mixing time considerably longer.
Tell us the most difficult part of a recording.
As a recording engineer; it is listening to endless attempts to correctly record a phrase.
As a recording musician; it is fighting with my own errors and fatigue when the recorded material is musically and technically complex.
Discuss the greatest mistake you have ever made in your music career.
I made more than a few mistakes in my music career, but none of them qualifies as “greatest.” I might have made one if a few decades ago I had decided to make my living out of music. It would change my love for music and freedom of creation into obligatory sellable good, or I could face starving (joke).
Tell us how you build up your composition.
If by “build the composition” we mean the process from having a musical idea to having it released, it is almost a reflection of working with the real orchestra.
First, the composer works with the partition and a pen (i.e. notation software, mouse, keyboard, and libraries).
When the composition is finished, the MIDI file goes to a DAW where MIDI material is being edited to sound like it is intended, a bit like giving parts to orchestra members and explaining to each of them what and how they are supposed to play.
The next step is “recording”, the MIDI is played by libraries like parts are played by musicians and audio material is created. From there the process of mixing and mastering begins.
On the other hand, if “building the composition” means the creation process, there are probably as many processes as there are composers.
My way of composing has several approaches and none of them actually goes strictly with a category of music I compose.
Sometimes it begins with a very clear idea of a basic leitmotif, which next is being orchestrated, put through variations, enhanced by sub-motifs branched from main ones until everything required is said.
Sometimes I hear harmonies that sound interesting, but no motifs for them yet, so I build harmony foundations and on top of them gradually add cues. And cues suggest new harmonies, and so on, so forth.
Another way of composing is building all at once but bar after bar. This requires, however, hearing this “all” completely in my head, so I know what instruments, when and what should play.
Composing jazz pieces quite often begins with playing “nothing”. No ideas, no cues, just exploring the keyboard, imagining the rhythm, hearing the bass. What is interesting in this approach is the unique concept for jazz, the concept of continuous composition, and if anything interesting happens in this process it transforms into “cue”, gets noted, played, and recorded.
Discuss the relevance of music.
Can we even imagine the world without music? Besides giving unique pleasures, thrills, emotions, healing wounds, and calming tempers, music has what no other medium has, the universal communication language.
I have heard beautiful jam sessions played by musicians who have never met before and who did not speak each other’s common language. But through music, they communicated like best and oldest friends. No other language can do it.
Elaborate on the song.
The song usually has something to say, either through lyrics or through music – In very good songs through both.
As the music in our times has many different faces, a “song” is not necessarily being “sung”, but it is always played.
Famous Dutch groups like Ekseption or Focus had many songs with no lyrics or even a vocal, still making people listen to them again, and again… And there is rap, always having a lot to say but quite often not much to sing. And people listen to these songs with interest.
So, is the “song” a piece of sound that has to be “sung” or the acoustic wave of defined length and energy that has a purpose, the content, and the message? In my opinion, THIS is the song.