Fireside Chat

It's a snow covered Saturday morning and the sun is shining making everything sparkle outside the window where I am writing.  To all who are returning, thank you and I want you to know that The Living Pen is happy that you have stopped by.  We absolutely love guests. 

To those of you joining us for the first time, welcome.  I hope you will stay awhile and perhaps share a thought, a message or a question.  Our website is still developing and we hope you will visit often to see what's new.  Presently, we are in the midst of the first series, titled "Method to the Madness" with the topic of "Creating Music" with guitarist/composer Peter Xifaras, as our interviewee. 

Besty, thank you so much for the beautiful compliment you left me.  I am so glad you are looking forward to learning more about the way Peter creates music. 

Nicole, thank you for joining us and I hope this collaboration can truly be beautiful and unique.  Perhaps, you can share with us what you see when you look out your window in Puerto Rico. 

Jennifer, I am excited that you want to be a part of The Living Pen and look forward to corresponding.  I whole heartily agree with you, words have a strong significance.  They have been influential throughout history.  They have given us hope, changed our minds, made us interested, taken us away and taught us.  Whether written, spoken or read, words connect us to the past, give thought to the present and I believe influence the future.  Thank you. 

Jackie, I am so glad you are interested in this series and the topic.  Thank you so for commenting and asking a question.  I did pose your question and you can read Peter's answer below.  I look forward to any further questions you may have.

Joe, welcome to The Living Pen, I am happy that you found us.  Thank you for such an interesting comment.  I wonder; is it that no one has an original method any more or is it the obsession with instant gratification that makes us less apt to develop a method and more in a rush to be part of the results?  To develop a method of one's own, do we not first have to learn the method?  Artistic, hobbies, career paths, even athletics require one to learn the method to achieve the desired end result.  Without that knowledge, can anyone develop a method that they can call their own?  I guess my question is Joe, does originality happen when we push ourselves to improve our craft or the way we personally do our craft, or is it only the view of those looking at our results? 

Jay "BlueJay" Jourdan, it pleases me that you found the interview candid.  Thank you for letting me know.  I am going to pass along your most wonderful compliment to Peter.  Hope you can find time to join us again.

Thank you all for your correspondence.  I look forward to our next chat.  If you wish to be notified when a new blog entry is posted, please signup by clicking on the register link in the comment section below and supply your email address.  When a new post goes live you will receive an email.

Method to the Madness of Creating Music

When I called Peter he was stoking the fire in his fireplace, something, he said, that was his weekend part-time job but has since become a full-time job! 

and this is the conversation that followed.

Blu: 
I wanted to let you know that we have received comments and questions from readers. I am  hoping to ask you some of their questions in addition to mine. 

Peter: Cool.

Blu:
So Peter, are you ready for my second round of questions? 

Peter:
I am.  Bring it on Wordsmith!

Blu: 
Jackie is interested in knowing how you got started with your craft and her question made me realize that I didn’t know you were a guitarist because your previous work was more cinematic and orchestral in nature.  So while I know that there are many different types of guitarists, let’s start off with the question; how did you get started, what kind of guitar do you play and why did you chose it?

Peter:
I started taking lessons on electric guitar at age nine. Within a few years I was proficient enough where I could fill in for my brother playing rock gigs in clubs. He was attending Berklee College of Music and would sometimes need to stay in Boston so I would go do the gig. It was an eye opening experience at age thirteen!

Blu:
Thirteen!

Peter:
Yup, Thirteen!  In high school I decided I was going to pursue music after graduation and needed to audition to get into the University’s music curriculum.
So it’s audition time and in I walk, hair down to my shoulders, my Gibson Les Paul guitar & amplifier in hand and some very bewildered looking members of the jury panel looking back at me.  
I plug my guitar in, got some noisy feedback, and now it looked as though the jury members were starting to panic!
So I’m thinking, what would be appropriate to play? Knowing something was amiss; I figured ‘Communication Breakdown’ by Led Zeppelin may be fitting.  But based on the jury’s facial expressions, I started thinking maybe Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed & Confused’?
Somehow, I came to my senses and ended up playing the jazz standard, ‘Misty’. It was one of the few jazz chord solo’s I memorized as I was mainly a rocker at the time.

Blu:
(I was pretty much silent at this point because I was unable to talk and laugh at the same time as my vivid imagination played out the scene of the college entry audition! Peter being a gentleman, continued on.)

Peter:
It wasn’t until later on that I found out I was supposed to be auditioning on classical guitar.  Needless to say, I was accepted into the music program contingent upon me studying classical guitar prior to starting my freshman year. So, a year before I attended, I switched over from electric to classical and have played both styles throughout the years.

Blu:
I would like to take you back to the concept you told us about.  Once you have a concept in mind and some music created, what comes next in the process?  Are you recording at this point or traveling to meet with other artists that you have invited to join you on the album?

Peter:
I’ll put out a message on social media that anyone interested in being a guest artist can sign up for consideration on my record label web site @ MusicWithNoExpiration® . Once I narrow down the submissions that fit the instrumentation I’m looking for, I’ll write out the parts and/or create the audio files for the guest artists to listen to and record against.

Blu:
When you say they are recording, are they at your studio?

Peter:
Parts can be recorded from anywhere in the world. On the last 2 albums, the live string parts were recorded in Belgium, the vocals in Atlanta, GA, drums and spoken-word tracks in Los Angeles. I’ll record virtual instrument parts along with guitar, piano and bass guitar in my studio. So after a guest artist records their parts, they’ll send me the audio files and I’ll import them into my Studio software where I assemble the tracks that make up the song.

Blu:
You did mentioned that your studio was a great place.  What kind of magic happens there and when does in to come play?

Peter:
I think the magic happens once I receive all the audio tracks and start to play with the arrangement and mix. It's a cool space - here are some pics from the studio (left to right): front view from the control center, vocal/instrument recording area, cathedral ceiling (fan) above my sitting position adds nice acoustic ambiance, side view from my recording/mixing area.

Blu:
Peter, as I said earlier, I am getting questions from my guests readers and I am sure I will get questions on your equipment, but for now I’m going to ask something that many who are interested in this path may want to know.  The equipment you have looks very expensive, if someone is just starting out, is it possible to do it on a budget?

Peter:
It depends on where you want to take it. For example, a singer/songwriter who plays guitar or piano that wants to record their tunes with just their instrument can get setup nowadays inexpensively and pretty quick. A laptop, mic and software like Apple’s Logic will do the trick.
If you want to record as a band would do, then you need to invest in mics, mixing boards, tube pre-amps, sound traps, etc., which can amount to quite a considerable investment.

Blu:
So when you started out what did you put your money into?

Peter:
ProTools , Virtual Instrument software, and the computer. I run the studio on a MacPro 8-core system outfitted with Avid HD cards and 4 internal drives along with external Glyph drives. The front end goes thru an Avid HD I/O interface and the DAW uses ProTools HD software with KRK V8 Studio monitors.

 

Blu:
Thank you so much for sharing pictures, Peter, I appreciate it and I am sure those joining to do.  Jackie had one more question for you. I would like to end this chat with it. She was curious about how you came to acquire your hundred year old guitar.

Peter:
A friend of mine (guitar builder Roger Borys) took the guitar into his shop to repair cracks and restore it. He had mentioned the guitar in passing so my curiosity got the best of me and I asked him to ship it to my address. Unbeknownst to me, because of the odd shape of the guitar, it didn't fit a standard guitar case so it was literally shipped in a home made pine box! I had no idea what was in it when it landed on my front porch - I was just hoping the pine box didn't contain a body! I liked the uniqueness of the instrument so I ended up buying it. After all, ask any guitarist and they will tell you, you can never have too many guitars;>)

Blu:
Wow!! Thanks Peter, talk to you soon.


I hope everyone enjoyed today's interview as much as I did.  As always I look forward to your comments and I will be posting the next interview on 2/20 so if you do have a question, please leave it for me in the comment section by 2/17.  If I receive it after that date, I will do my best ask Peter in the following interview.  I hope you have a wonderful week, and I would love to know the view out your window...
                                                           Blu

 

 

 

 

4 comments

  • Peter X
    Peter X Earth
    Jay "Blue Jay" Jourden - thank you for the compliment. Right back at you my friend!

    Jay "Blue Jay" Jourden - thank you for the compliment. Right back at you my friend!

  • Linda  Vincent
    Linda Vincent Rhode Island
    Besides the sound, what is the difference between an electric and classical guitar?

    Besides the sound, what is the difference between an electric and classical guitar?

  • Nicole
    Nicole Puerto Rico
    This is such a brilliant collaboration of arts. Interesting story!!!

    This is such a brilliant collaboration of arts. Interesting story!!!

  • joe
    joe lost
    after reading your comment from my blog...…...my question to you....BLU ???...…..Why can't it be all of the above ????

    after reading your comment from my blog...…...my question to you....BLU ???...…..Why can't it be all of the above ????

Add comment


While every life has a story, every story comes to life at The Living Pen...

© 2021 The Living Pen. All Rights Reserved.