Close Encounters of a Musical Kind!

Welcome back!  I’m so happy you could join me.  I put together a list of questions and gave Peter Xifaras a ring so that we might chat and begin this “Method to the Madness' series on 'Creating Music'.  He was heading out for a run and although I offered to call him back at a more convenient time, he said now was perfect..   So off he went running and I began with the questioning.  This is the result of our chat as it happened.

Blu:
First Peter, let me thank you for agreeing to be my first victim in the “Method to the Madness” series.  As you are aware this series takes a look at the creative process and in your case, it’s the process of making music, so my first question is…. What comes first?”   The chicken or the egg!  (Lol, sorry, couldn’t resist).

Peter:
Neither”  he chuckled.

Going for a run comes first, although it is a bit chilly this time of year !

Running gets the ideas flowing and gives me a chance to focus on concepts for what I would like to develop.  It also gives me a chance to say hello to a lot of my 4-legged friends. I can introduce you as I encounter them on the journey each week. This week’s greeting is from my neighbor.   I refer to him as Wilbur ;>)

Blu:​​​​​​
Are you sure it’s Wilbur and not Willamina?!

Peter:
To tell you the truth,  I’ve never looked under the hood!

Blu:​​​​​​
(ok, is anyone else picturing him trying to do that, cause I know I did!)
Peter, I wouldn’t try that if I were you.. 
So running gives you ideas, what kind of ideas?  

Peter:
I start to get musical ideas. Sometimes it’s a concept for the next album.

Blu:
When you say concept, what are you referring to?

Peter:
A concept is basically the genre of music that I would be thinking of recording for the next album. You would see concept type albums back in the days of vinyl.  Like the MoodyBlues’ Days Of Future Passed’, Jethro Tull’s ‘Thick as a Brick’.  Do you remember “Tommy’ by the Who or ‘Topographic Oceans’ by Yes.  How about Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of The Moon’. 

Blu:
I’m somewhat familiar with them but I’ve never heard of the term concept album.  Can you try to explain that a bit? 

Peter:
A concept album is when you write a series of songs that connect to each other.  The connection could be in the tonal similarities of each song, the lyric messaging, rhythm, or any other number of elements.  Back in the days of early music, you would see this similar concept applied to musical forms such as Bach’s cello or lute suites, the Goldberg Variations, and who can forget Beethoven’s infamous riff in Symphony #5 that unifies all 4 movement (ta da da daaaaaaaa). Click to hear Beethoven Riff

That is the starting point for me…defining a concept that unifies the songs on the album. To date, the best example of this concept in my
catalogue is the Spoken Word album you authored, ‘Pacific Dreams’, where the 9 tracks with cinematic score interwove the story of love, loss, fate and destiny. 

Blu:
So you have picked out a concept, is it then that you sit down to create the music or do you have music that you already created? 

Peter:
It can be something I have already created or something new I am working on or a combination of both. For example, on the ‘Music That Tells a Story’ album, the 6 instrumental songs that make up the ‘Dreams In Bloom’  collection were newly composed.  However, on the 3 tracks that make up Variations on a Theme of Tromboncino’, the vocal parts were recorded many years ago by recording artist Felicia Farerre and the music was newly composed to fit those tracks. Likewise, the same holds true for many of the drum tracks. 

Blu:
So where does the music come from Peter?  Are you in your studio, are you sitting on a couch playing with your guitar?   Are you listening to a particular style or genre of music and get an idea? 

Peter:
One or all of the above!  I’m affected by elements of the present,  memories of my past and new musical discoveries.  And yes, I do play in my studio, it’s an awesome place.  I play my guitar, a lot.  On my couch, on my deck, in a beach chair.  My guitar is part of me, an extension of my being. 

Blu:
Like a best friend you never had a fight with? 

Peter:
Well we’ve never had a fight, but it does talk back. 

Blu:
So I have many more questions but I think I tortured you enough for now.  However, I would like to ask one more question, if I may.  How many guitars do you have? 

Peter:
I have seven, three classicals, two electrics, a bass, and a nylon string harp  guitar that is over one hundred years old. 

Blu:
You have a guitar that is over a hundred years old!

Peter:
Yes, I do!

Blu:
Thanks Peter, talk to you next week. 

Peter:
Looking forward to it. 

And that is how it ended. I hope you found this an interesting start and I hope you join us for the next set of questions which will post on 2/13.  Please free feel to leave a comment and if you have any questions you would like me to ask, put them in the comment section and I will see if Peter will answer your question.  I will try to add three of your questions at every post starting with the next post, so send me a your questions before  2/10.  

To those who have left a comment, and/or, have joined me for the, “Method to Madness” series.  Thank you!  I believe we could say we are a new version of Pen Pals…  Who Knew!!!  What do you think?  I’m looking forward to your correspondence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Blu

5 comments

  • Besty
    Besty Rhode Island
    Great interview! I am looking forward to learning more !

    Great interview! I am looking forward to learning more !

  • Jackie
    Jackie Rhode Island
    Blu, can’t wait for the next session with Peter. Wondering how he got started with his craft & how he got that 100 year old guitar. Also love the quote at the end of your blogs.

    Blu, can’t wait for the next session with Peter. Wondering how he got started with his craft & how he got that 100 year old guitar.

    Also love the quote at the end of your blogs.

  • Jennifer Lucia Moulton
    Jennifer Lucia Moulton
    I felt like I was right in the room with you! I’m so excited to be on this ride with y’all! Creative ideas are flowing! Great job!

    I felt like I was right in the room with you! I’m so excited to be on this ride with y’all! Creative ideas are flowing! Great job!

  • Jay "Blue Jay" Jourden
    Jay "Blue Jay" Jourden USA
    A great article giving some candid insight to a genius! #Excellent ..!!.. Jay "Blue Jay" Jourden Global Film Studio https://globalfilmstudio.com/management

    A great article giving some candid insight to a genius! #Excellent ..!!..
    Jay "Blue Jay" Jourden
    Global Film Studio https://globalfilmstudio.com/management

  • joe
    joe lost
    great first interview. look forward to the next one.

    great first interview. look forward to the next one.

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