Arnaldo Freire

Composer, teacher, producer and performer



Arnaldo Freire is a graduate of the Consevatório Musical Guarulhos. He also studied at the Conservatory of Music and the Instituto Souza Lima on Booklyn paulista. He is currently majoring in Composition at the Federal University of Goias - UFG. His composition "Apocalypse," for solo guitar was awarded by the Culture Secretariat of Goiania.

The award-winning short film by Roxanne Torres, “Catadores de Papel, " has an original score by Arnaldo Freire.

He also has pieces in the soundtracks to: “Entre Memórias e Conquistas,” “Umas e Outras,” and “Maria da Gruta,” all directed by Lázaro Ribeiro .

In his compositions, you see a refined Brazilian-ness: modinhas, frevos, sambas, valsas and other colors are mixed with post-tonal techniques, refined counterpoints and unusual instrumentation.

Arnaldo Freire´s compositions are published in the guide, Guia de Música Contemporânea Brasileira, edited by CDMC - Brasil / Unicamp, a subsidiary of Centre de Documentation de la Musique Contemporaine, based in Cité de la Musique, Parc de la Vilette, Paris.




What does music mean to you personally?

Means a lot of different things. In terms of intellect, it means an art that I have to dominate, because I love this, including all this technical and aesthetic mechanisms. In terms of intuition, it means a vital energy that can change lives, change your mood, feed you and show you one more way to understand life and the world. Good music, which means, “the music that YOU like,” can give more good answers than any religion, philosophy or law. Or in the worst case, can propose to you new questions. In terms of experience, music has been my life since I was 14. That year I had two jobs: accounting and store clerk. So, I have almost 40 years in music. Playing in bars, theaters, church, schools, and funerals. Teaching in conservatory, free Schools, orphanages, blind people, elders...all kind of lessons and events.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Not really. To me music is like any other professional work, and like many professions, can have a component of fantasy and this component can vary in size. So when an engineer makes a bridge between two points, you cannot fantasize so much about this..after all..the bridge can fall down… But if you are a musician making a bridge between two songs in a medley...the bridge belongs to you and all your fantasies. Even as a musician your fantasy has to be limited sometimes, like when composing a jingle that has to address specific desires and needs of the boss. I can agree that drama theater or drama TV is all about fantasy.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Astronaut, Race Pilot or Politician.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Not really. I never worry about something that I don´t control.

To me this question sounds a bit European. Here in Latin América the concert music survives because so many young audiences have been added. Same thing with young orchestras and many camps for young musicians. So, at least in Brazil and México, where I have many years of experience, the audience is getting young.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I think the main transformation was when we lost the physical music ??? that was sold. That music that you put in your pocket, in your suitcase, in your bag. You need to realize that I came from the 80s… I started to sell my music on cassettes in 86. I had more than 10 titles in tape in the 80s. Back in the day, I remember that one of the most difficult and expensive things to do was record your music on vinyl. And then came the CD. More music, more quality, more mobility. Great times. I sold a lot of CDs. Often I played for free but made 100 or 1000 dollars by selling CDs at the performance. The biggest was in Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival. I played for free and they sold 98 CDs in one week. Almost 1000 US a dream come true. And the came the most recent we don´t have physical music to sell anymore. Everything is digital now. A lot of people that don´t feel comfortable with technology and nerdy things are loosing work and money now…but you know, this is the Darwinian history of the world, in my point of view.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

Creativity is always welcome in art. An engineer can never be as creative as a musician for obvious reasons. But depending on the type of music you work on, you'll have to be visually creative. Video clips, posters, presentation cards etc. In the musical process the role of creativity is very varied. We are going to divide musical work into two major strands: popular music and classical music. If you are in popular music, welcome to the world of creativity without limits: improvisation, re-reading, freedom and even a not exaggerated dose of drunkenness. If you are in classical music, welcome to the world of controlled creativity: sobriety, little or no improvisation, now you are the bearer of a message, not a re-reading. In popular music the score is almost a suggestion. In classical music the score is almost a must. Both require an interpreter. In popular music, the performer and his "cover" shine more. In classical music the good performer makes the composer shine more than himself.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

To be very honest and direct, if we play well and with heart, the main part of our mission is done. And the old formulas remain current. Mix traditional and ethnic repertoire, movie themes, news. It depends a lot on your goal. On the other hand, when I see the term "attract the younger generation," I also see the need for more musical work. In this sense, it will also always depend on how much you are involved in education and also in marketing and advertising. In my case, playing "Mission Impossible," "Carmina Burana," or “Lord of the Rings” has always gotten the attention of the young.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

My process is kind of cluttered and free. Of course I know all the composition tools learned in academia. Counterpoint, orchestration, musical forms, and so on. But, more than that, for me art has to be driven by intuition. So my process always starts with some inspiration. A photo, a look, a muse, a melody, a memory and of! And I also have my quirks, like for example, I always sweep the floor before composing and generally compose in barefoot. It's a ritual to put my head in the clouds by keeping my feet on the ground, literally. The other night I dreamed that I showed a melody to a special girl and woke up fast and wrote about Sibelius. ??? It was lucky because it came as a romantic spark. And then, like this, I develop first impressions, ideas and melodic motifs that I bring from somewhere. These first impressions I usually come from the street. They never occur at home. So until the 2010s I always carried a music notebook with me wherever I went. I like the musical craft of pencil and paper to record melodies. I have many melody notebooks. At home I work or on the guitar or on the computer. My favorite piece is my "Opus 144 - Concerto Brasileiro," for two guitars and string orchestra. It was commissioned by the duo Marec-Ferraro with the support of the Jan Abrecht Academy, from Slovakia. Adam Marec and Fabrizio Ferraro form an exceptional guitar duo. One interesting thing during this creation was that the third movement of the concert originated entirely within Mexico City's Metrobus line 7. I sat down with my notebook and basically wrote the entire sequence of themes and variations for the third movement. I've always liked urban things contrasting with my green head. The Concerto has been played several times in Europe, but one performance for me was very very special. Slovakia Sinfonietta performed the concert in Zilina and I sat right in front of the soloists as a very honored special guest. The masterly conducting of Simon Chalk, the fantastic duo Marec-Ferraro, the perfect concert hall, the orchestra. It was the happiest 18 minutes of my life so far as a composer, pure sensory pleasure and spiritual happiness. It was as if in those 18 minutes I didn't need to dream anymore...the dream was there in front of me, pulsating.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Surf the internet, go to concerts. Move. Think globally but act locally. Discover the folk music of your country. Also get to know the folk music of the farthest country you can find. Feed your soul with new music whenever possible. And if it's live, the better.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Always... I'm part of the audience too. Of course it depends why I'm composing. In concert music you have to think about the performer, his technique, style, etc. But, again, the performer is also public. If he doesn't like it or at least finds it interesting enough to want to hear it again, I'm on dangerous ground.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I am in a special moment, embedded in passion and inspiration, reorganizing my opus and preparing editions of my works for guitar, piano and other instruments. The pandemic came to change and break all paradigms. I do try experimentation, but would like to try more. I love the combination of arts such as painting and music. Following the example of Mussorgsky and Granados, I want to write works based on paintings. But I still haven't found the painter to inspire this new music in me. Maybe she is hidden.