Ricardo Esteban

Composer

Chile

Author

About

I am Ricardo Esteban, 40 years old (10-09-80) and I am from Santiago, Chile, in Southamerica. I always liked music, since I was really young, but I wasn't able to receive music lessons before, because of different reasons. I always had this need to express music or art, I remember I used to invent melodies in my head. Then I got my first decent keyboard in year 2000 (before that I had a small toy keyboard I used to play melodies). I used to do 80% intuitively and 20% technical knowledge, but in 2017 I decided to focus my efforts seriously in improving, as I received several positive comments regarding my works, people seemed to like my music, so I decided to give it a try. I started reading books, listening a lot of music, checking videos, composition tutorials, etc., and I improved my know how. Today I am focused on creating a kind of classical music which brings images to the listener, influenced mainly by Beethoven, Chopin and film music. My goal is keeping improving as much I can, investigating in different places in order to get the more quantity of good information in order to apply it to my music. I consider the information I can get as tools to be used and analyzed with my music. The more I can learn, the better in order to improve my craft as much as possible."

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

Music is a way to express myself and communicate with others. Since I was a child, I had this need, I tried painting, hand writing, etc. But music always meant something special to me. Later, I always had these ideas in my mind when I was teenager while listening bands, so as soon I received a decent keyboard as a gift from my parents, I started composing music without thinking on it too much. Music is basically a way to express deep emotions I have, the way I see and perceive situations, images, how I feel them, etc. In any case, I don’t think it can be explained with words, as there are instinctive and primitive impulses taking place too. I think there is no perfect communication for any human, because we always miss part of our subjectivity in all its dimension, even with music, but with music I can make a better approximation to deeper feelings I have.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

In part yes, as it represents images, non existing situations, abstract ideas, etc. I think our emotions are shaped per our biology. You can see that the more complex a mammal is, the more complex the sounds they generate are and their communicative abilities are more elaborated (chimps, dolphins, whales, etc.), and this is not coincidence in my opinion, so humans carried it to the next level, it is as complex as our consciousness. I think music has some mystery on it, because it is related with our consciousness, and our consciousness is a current mystery, the expansion of our biology to something else. Music is an emergent phenomenon from all our complex biology. For example: sadness, happiness, fear, etc., all of them are emotions that we find in the animal kingdom, so music is using primitive emotions to be perceived, with the consideration that our consciousness is more complex, so do our ways to express.

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

I am not a professional musician, as I don’t live from this (it is only my hobby). But I guess I would be painter maybe, keeping my current profession and job because it is risky to be an professional artist in my country.

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

I think there are several young people which are listening classical music. I don’t think this is going to change as quality music and its spirit will live as long the human spirit is on this planet. What maybe needs to be changed is the consideration of new tonal composers in the repertories, because what I see (I could be wrong) is that there is certain preference to modern experimental music when performers play new music (that’s why people like you Anna are important), and when it is about good tonal classical music, they play the old masters instead, which is ok, their tradition should never die, but I think there are several good artists who have something important to say. Of course, there are exceptions, but I can see a trend after discussing this with several mate musicians.

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 currently there is a wrong perception about music. Several people see music as something which is linked with the society, which is in part true, so an ugly, chaotic, and dark society should have music representing these complexities. Nevertheless, I think music is something different than that, it is subjective, and subjectivity is linked with honesty. Artists should never lose their honesty, because of course these individuals are part of the society, but maybe they see the world differently according with their lives, and I think music is not the expression of a society, it is the expression of an specific person/artist, and the sum up of visions makes a society, it is the other way around.

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

I think there is creativity in musicians. I have the idea that if all of us are different persons, and if we keep ourselves as honest as possible, then our music could result on something different. In my opinion, it is not about creating a new genre, it is about styles, and I think here honesty is very important, because then you understand that you don’t need to copy the style of an old master, you need to use their music as a reference to create your art, picking what you like the most from them and not trying to force yourself for the sake of being similar to them. I see a lot of classical musicians criticizing Hans Zimmer, for example, because his music is not as complex as the old masters, but nevertheless, he has his own style, and that’s what makes him to be so successful and attractive for several musicians and listeners (also, his talent resides on musicalizing images and complexity is not everything here). If you analyze history, you realize that Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, etc., all of them had their own style which is distinguishable and that’s very important in art in my opinion. Of course, it is not only having a style, it is also about having good and attractive ideas, creating something distinguishable which could be even a good unique melody, but saying something from your subjectivity is something very relevant to consider in my opinion. Creativity, on the other hand, is very important to say something in art, otherwise music is only a technical exercise with no soul. Without creativity, I get the “writer’s block” and there is no way I can start new music without inspiration and inspiration is intrinsically linked to creativity.

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

Saying something different is always important. For example, you took this concept of performing current artists, which is something different as a concept. This makes you interesting for an audience. The best performers have had their own style to perform music and this is something different too. In composition it is not that different I would say. As you can see, it is all about delivering something different. Maybe musicians should stop trying to be like the references, but trying to add something from their perspective. I think the conservative approach is not the best if you want to expand music. In my opinion, the separation between what is popular and what is Academic should start to decline, because in the past the old masters always took influence from popular music, and I think this could be changed, there was feedback in both ways. I see nothing wrong with updating instruments and structures in Academic music: historically popular music always got influence from classical music, and classical music always got influence from popular music. Maybe this is a bit lost, and maybe there is a lot we can learn from modern popular music.

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

My creative process is hard to explain, when I get inspired I feel like “possessed” somehow, and when the result is done, sometimes I don’t explain to myself “how I achieved that idea”. Of course there is an analytic process too regarding cohesion and regarding the structure of the piece, but the most important things, the ideas, come without calling them, it is not something I can predict. My favorite piece is the Piece for Piano C. I put letters instead of numbers to name my pieces, I thought it was a funny way to list them instead of using 1, 2, 3… etc.

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

I would tell them that despite of the fact that preparation is needed to appreciate classical music in all its dimension, they should always keep honesty. If you don’t like certain composer, don’t force yourself to like him/her because all people like him/her. Ask yourself: “what do you like from the piece you like exactly and why?”, and this will help you to know yourself better and to know what to search for in music. Music needs to be felt, that’s the most important thing. It is not a sin liking popular music like metal, rock, jazz, film music, nor it is not a sin to say you don’t like a famous classical composer.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Not when I am composing exactly, but I do when I upload a new piece. I always think that I should never decrease the quality of what I have previously delivered, otherwise people may not be interested in my new compositions. That’s why before publishing something, I always ask for advices from different people: friends which are musicians and non musicians. I need to trust in my criteria of course, otherwise, what would be the point?, but when I am composing the repetition of listening could decrease my criticism. It has happened that when I listen to something the next day I say “how did I find this crap to be good?”.

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

I dont have a plan more than composing more music. I only have one goal, and my goal is delivering at least one piece at the level of Beethoven before leaving this world, maybe in 10 or 15 years more. It doesn’t need to have his style, but it is about the quality of his music, which I found it to be some of the best available (Beethoven is my favorite composer). Of course I need to work very hard to achieve that.