Premiering from West Scotland, Blair Coron’s debut EP ‘DO/RE‘ is a contemporary classical collection with nods to the avant-garde. Compositions of piano are arranged alongside motoric electronics to produce pieces of forward motion while scatterings of poetry, reduced from their original form, give the listener physicality to grasp. DO/RE is refreshing for those who seek technicality yet desire a greater emotional depth in their musical listenings.
Merigold Independent: How did this EP come about? Is there a story behind it’s inception?
Blair Coron: Essentially, through fear. On a regular basis, my mind becomes manifested with mortality in various forms. Not particularly in any ‘why am I here?’ way, but rather what will be remembered of me when I am no more. I try to document my endeavors in life as often as I can and felt I was at a time where I was comfortable enough to put forward my own musical mind into the world. This may also seem strange as I have been performing music since I was 7 years old, first on the violin, then through studying guitar at university, but, I could finally take pride in calling the music I played my own once I picked up the piano…metaphorically speaking. I used my musical knowledge attained over the years and applied it to experimentations and improvisations to explore my way around the instrument until I was most confident that I could perform it in live situations. I combined this with my deep love within the other arts, becoming involved with as many different projects as I could to aid in discovering my creative potential and sculpt a sound that would satisfy myself. This EP is a result of that, in the form of unused or expanded compositions.
Being classically trained, how much of a role do you feel this played in the writing process? Or do you take a more avant/experimental approach when it comes to albums?
Well, firstly, I must admit that I’m not classically trained at all and don’t consider myself a classical musician under any accounts, I fear that would be an insult to those who have spent the countless hours aspiring to be such. I’m riddled with so many flaws that if I were examined by the higher powers I would be subject to mass mockery. I find classically persuaded suits better. However, in terms of it being part of the writing process I have to confess, in this case, musical influences played very little part. Like I said, the pieces came into being out of unused collaborative ideas with those in the other arts, largely through the conversation of improvisation and the wonder of it being portrayed through these other mediums. In essence, they are examinations on how to express as a creative and look wherever I can to understand this. I spend much of my time examining the translation between the arts, you can even see this in the titles I choose for my pieces, they are all direct and literal references in praise, be it through: meter, visible shape, dynamic variations, theme or creative methods. Confining yourself to purely musical influences limits musical originality. It is, I hesitate to say as it is a rather closed belief, something that is becoming increasingly precious these days but that’s a whole other point of topic. Perhaps, I feel, there is also the arrogant ambition that these pieces can be capitalised on in finding a place towards future endeavors with others. I am always hunting!
Do you feel living in west Scotland has influenced your music?
Geographically, I haven’t let it be a direct influence as of yet. I know when and where it will take hold of me but I’m not ready to develop these ambitions. I’m originally from the countryside in the east of Scotland so Glasgow does still seem slightly foreign to me after only being here a year and a half, however it has been highly gratuitous with its acceptance and provided with a great deal opportunity and insight. Although it does seem to lack a community of similar musicians, which proves difficult when organising shows. The lack of these bands did aid in shaping my sound. Largely due to the fact I couldn’t find them anywhere, so I felt the need to fill the gap and create a music I just wanted to listen to. It is something I find astonishing as Glasgow has the world famous classical music and art universities here. Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, this void should not exist. These people must be found somewhere, lurking in their own abstract shadows. I hope they make themselves known to me soon.
Is there a specific emotion you hope to convey to the listeners through this collection of songs?
I try not to force particular emotions amongst my listeners, it is for them to react in their own way and experience it in whatever way they deem fit. I am no sort of authority figure in this regard. I think that is the beauty that instrumental music can endow upon people, it doesn’t particularly guide you towards what reaction you should inhabit but rather gently wash through each individual, leaving with their own experiences in mind. I see the works more as a documentation of myself, for myself, and then something to showcase second, so reception is not of primary importance to me. If it has the ability to gather others to share and accept my work then that is a wonderful thing.
You feature some electronic instrumentation, most audible in Kandinsky and Arabesque. You incorporate it as a nice juxtaposition to the classical style piano work. Did this take some working through or did it come naturally?
It was an avenue that I happened upon by chance and unintentionally continued down. I was discovering the different modes on my keyboard and how each reacted to delay and reverb pedals, which I decided to test during a show two days later. After my first drone reverberated through me via a professional sound system I experienced the utmost joy. I just had to study it in greater depth and incorporate it into my work.
The electronic drums appeared after a friend of mine brought an old Korg MS-20 to an improvisation and collaboration monthly event I co-hosted and I was fascinated with its patching system, which I had never seen before. The next day I did some research and came across software for the Nintendo 3DS that was a digital replica of the Korg that also allowed to program drum sounds. My intention was to use this until I could afford the MS-20 but I relish in the looks I get when people see me bringing out a 3DS at the same time as a piano, so at the moment, I would like it to stay.
What were some of your biggest inspirations when composing DO/RE? Did you feel they carried through into your music?
This I find difficult to really identify as they are so vast. I try to be taken hold of by as much and as often as I can. For example, this could be through accepting the wonder in personal solitude of walking, admiring what sounds are available in my surroundings no matter how common, imagining the unknown of my future, the excitement of new knowledge or the fascination of simply existing and our fragility it. So mostly it comes from several avenues of curiosities that I purely do not know the answer to. When I do lack the motivation needed to write however, I do follow a number of my own personalised procedures to gives me that creative euphoria but I will not say what they are. They are my own! In terms of them carrying through into my music I can say they undoubtedly have. It is the purpose of improvisation, it is a stream of consciousness. If I unload my mind without a filter through creative means then I wouldn’t be surprised if a movie theme I enjoyed or my thoughts on the unimaginable universe falls out.
Can you speak for a moment on the poetry featured within?
What people may not realise is that there is hidden poetry throughout the album as well as ‘Abstract’. At a first glance, the necessity of my piece ‘Haiku’ might be questioned, however out of all my musical creations it is the only piece that has not been improvised into existence. Throughout my quest, I came across a French musician called François Sudre and the development of his compositional system called ‘SolReSol’. Through the utilisation of the solfege scale and placing each tone in different orders he assigned different combinations to language, thus creating a system that allows for words to literally be translated into musical notes. For example: MiSiSol is Happy, FaDo is What and DoLaReSi is Wine. Now, I don’t speak French so I had to do some extra translating to make full sense of it, but ultimately, I created my own translation based on one of my own haikus that is written within the physical copies of my album. It is a grand generalisation of my work and reads as such:
Nocturnes and landscapes
Between smoke rings of incense
The sounds of colour
I then furthered this system to the EP title itself. While Do Re is the start of the solfege scale and in this sense the beginning of my music, when translated using Sudre’s system it is the word ‘I’. I felt it was the most perfect and simple, yet complex, introduction of myself to the world.
Moving on to Abstract #32, this took every ounce of effort to portray it in such a way that I deemed perfect. Upon its inception I had been taking interest largely in ‘stream of consciousness’ types of work: beat poetry, jazz, abstract expressionism and then decided to have a minor existential crisis as is the case with many new artistic graduates. I had no idea what I was purposed to achieve so I travelled to France for a couple of days in an effort to isolate myself completely and figure it out. It was then on my second morning that upon waking I went to my notebook and the first phrase ‘the dissonant forms of monotone drones with a brilliant explosion of architectural abstraction and a symphonic poem of artistic proportions was the religious body stroke I required to compose myself a love song that praised everything that I hate’ fell out of me. I thought to myself upon that moment that somehow the improvised stream of writing had taken hold of me, will continue and my journey had provided me with a wonderful meaning and a new outlook, however that never happened. It took a little over a year of perfecting, one line at a time, to achieve the ‘improvised’ style that I hoped it originally would be. It is a completed construct of my mind up until this point in my life and there are far too many references of influence for me to detail. There is not supposed to be any continuous meaning or deeper theme here, it is me.