Dutch composer Serge Smulders explains why it is very important to enjoy good music (that’s good for you) and enhance your quality of life with that.
Music enhances everything. It’s about emotion and it intensifies experiences. For instance: music in movies defines the impact of scenes, sad, beautiful, thrilling, active, happy, mystic, romantic etc… Without the right music, the movie isn’t successful. With a certain event we expect a certain mood or style in music, if it’s not right we feel unsatisfied. Music can surely change your mood. But more important is to enjoy good music (that’s good for you) and enhance your quality of life with that.
Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?
Sure, at both sides. The composer has an idea when he/she starts and the size of it’s fantasy is a big factor for the final result. Other skills are also important, but if the composer lacks fantasy the composition will not be great. On the other side, the listener can experience the fantasy of the composer and ride on the flow of that and/or can get it’s own fantasy flowing. What does the listener imagine with the music he/she is hearing? The composer can define the fantasy of the listener in a certain way, and express what the composition is about, but more important is that the music also gives space to the listener for it’s own interpretation.
If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?
Well, I’m somewhat in between. I don’t have a degree in music, had classical piano lessons when I was young and am selfthought in composing and producing music. When I studied law, I played the piano in restaurants as a student job. I am a lawyer now for many years with my own office. In the mean time I also studied different instruments. A few years back I started with digital composing and producing royalty free pieces. That’s what i do parttime now.
The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?
Yes and no. I see that the audience for pure classical music is aging and getting smaller. It’s just how it goes. There’s lot’s of other music now and the instant culture is growing. My music however is classical influenced, but by it’s style easy accessible for non classical trained listeners. The angle of royalty free (fast food ) is maybe a cause of that, but it’s also caused by playing the piano in restaurants and my main goal of touching a broader audience with my pieces.
What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?
Classical music won’t disappear, but it’s role will change and has to change. You have to approach it from the side of the audience that want’s to listen to it, not forcing it upon an audience. So it’s important to find ways to make it more accessible. Recently I attended an evening in the Royal concert hall in Amsterdam with “The Night of Film Music”. It was sold out for several days. Also young musicians and living composers can play an important role in attracting a new audience.
When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind?
Like I said above, make it more accessible for a new audience. And applying available new ways of enhancing the experience. Like: on screen videos, maybe apps with explanation during the performances, more cameras to show the musicians upclose (also on phones). Giving the paying audience opportunities to get a royalty free license (for personal use) of the musical performance. To listen back and enhance or prolongue the experience.
Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? Whats the role of creativity in the musical process for you?
I think the composers were very much creative in former times. So being more creative is not the problem. It’s just another area we’re living in and that demands maybe a different approach. Maybe a lot of music becomes simpler and a degree of “fast food” comes in, but if that’s the way to go, it has to be. It has no purpose of making music that nobody wants to listen to.
In making royalty free pieces I often feel limited in the creativity proces, because of the format. Within that format it’s a big challenge to be creative. If you listen to my music pieces you find that it’s not the regular kind, but more melodious of nature.
Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts?
Find ways to reach the audience where it is. On social media, movies, gaming and certainly in schools. It’s about getting them acquainted with classical oriented music.
Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favorite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?
My creative process differs and I’m always most proud of the last piece (for a while). Sometimes I start with a piano melody en build on that. Sometimes I have a fantasy or a certain setting in mind and try to find the just theme, melody and instruments to go with that. Sometimes I want to make something great, but have no idea and just start playing, ending up with a complete different kind of composition. Sometimes I have video footage and have to produce the right music with that. But a lot of times it’s about restraining myself to produce music acccording to my first plan and it’s purpose.
If the main theme and melody is set, the other tracks and instruments follow. The arranging mostly takes place while all the instruments/tracks are filled. When all the instruments are ready, the mixing starts. After that the track has to mastered.
My latest classical oriented pieces are “PerPetuum” and “Classical Fairytale”.
We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?
That’s great! Other art forms als enhance the experience of people. Why shouldn’t they join each other. With a cross media experience the impact can only be bigger. Creative people often practise more disciplines. Me for instance: I wrote two (little) books. My last was with strange short stories. I don’t know yet how to apply this with my music or legal work….
Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?
Yes, certainly. It’s about getting familiar with more complex music instead of the “fast food” music that most young people listen to. After a certain period everyone gets bored with fast food. For instance, at home we listen to classical music every Sunday morning to let our kids experience it. Advice: Start with listening to some popular classical works from different composers. Melodious music that’s easy to follow. If you like a certain style, period or composer, explore that direction more and train your hearing in a way that’s natural for you. Not to fast, but gradually. Maybe you even end up, after a few years, with experimental music…
Do you have expectations what regards your listeners, your audience?
As every composer/musician I want to grow my audience and move them with my music. I’m satisfied when people are interested in listening to my pieces, and want to listen to it again or want to hear different pieces. That’s proof for me that they really like it.
Unfortunately it takes time to grow an audience and I’m always impatient.
What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?
More royalty free pieces and next to that more classical oriented pieces where my creativity is less limited by the format. I’m experimenting in different styles of music, even made some hip hop tracks, halloween and corporate music. For me the challenge lies in creating something I didn’t create before.