Composer's Musical Inspiration

As a Solo Piano composer, music plays a huge role in my life. I enjoy listening to music so much that you could almost call it an obsession. I am writing this article for two reasons,

  • Because I owe the artists who have inspired me my heartfelt appreciation for their music.

  • To give credit to the influences that have shaped my piano style.

Note to reader – you may be up for a surprise. Please, just read to the end. In some weird way, all these varying influences have common roots and elements that come through in Reminiscent.

Byzantine Roots

Because I began composing piano music at a very early age, the earliest music influences are attributed to my parents’ music preferences. My parents left Greece a few years before I was born but they brought with them the Greek ballads and folk songs they grew up to, and never quite stopped listening to them. I’ve never quite stopped either. Greeks are very passionate people, and that very much shows in their music and their voice. Sfakianakis, for example – his music is the epitome of emotion. Another significant element of Greek music is its Byzantine roots. Byzantine music is not comprised of scales, but of so-called ‘modes’ that are far more complex and rich than the scales we know today in music theory. Byzantine roots are not confined to Greek music. Some of my favorite music in the world is composed by Toygar Ișıklı, a Turkish film score composer. If you enjoy my music, you will definitely enjoy his.

Trance/Vocal Trance

I had a phase where all I would listen to and talk about was Trance music. Not sure if you can even call Trance music?... This phase began in Middle School and lasted well into college. The vast majority of my solo piano pieces were composed during this time frame. I memorized Tiësto’s In Search of Sunrise albums inside out. When Tiësto’s songs moved into a pop direction, I changed course and memorized Armin Van Buuren’s A State of Trance albums inside out. Even to this day, I am a huge fan of Trance. It just sparks something in you that cannot be described. Trance music is powerful, motivating, up-lifting and almost ethereal. These are the same qualities that I strive to portray in my piano solos. And even if these genres have absolutely nothing in common, the powerfully evocative qualities in my music derive their origins from Trance. 

The Miscellaneous Rest

My music influences would be grossly incomplete if I left it at the two genres just described.  A few of my absolute favorite artist growing up, not necessarily associated with the genres just mentioned include:  Xavier Naidoo (a German Soul/R&B singer whose music is truly unparalleled), Pink Floyd, Coldplay, Yanni, Lana del Ray, Lara Fabian and many more. I am listening to Röyksopp Forever, by an incredibly talented Norwegian Electronica Group as I am writing this blog post. The point here is that composers and musicians (I would think and hope I’m not an outlier), draw influences from all types of music, which eventually shapes their own personal style. In my case, the one thing that all artists and genres I’ve mentioned have in common is that the music is deep, powerful, mellow and stirring. These are coincidentally the same qualities that have been used to describe my own compositions. :) 

Nevertheless, with a classical background there is no doubt that my piano style is heavily influenced by Classical music: mainly Chopin, Beethoven and Debussy. I enjoy classical music not because of the music itself but because of the challenge of mastering it. In the end it was contemporary composers like Yann Tiersen and Eugenie R. Rocherolle who brought me to the realization that piano music could be beautiful, even when simple in nature. I was inspired to create music of my own that was so simple, yet beautiful. I never quite got to composing a piece like theirs, because my own musical influences got in the way and led me to develop a different style. This is probably common. Ask any composer how they developed their style. You may be in for a surprise :).