As A Composer
Tim was awarded 100% and 97% for his GCSE and A level Music compositions respectively. Tim has arguably been composing for years- from a young age improvising freely on the piano- a feature of compositional style that hasn’t left him. He deliberately avoids consciously theorising over his composing, at least in the primary stages. “I love to improvise. I could be thinking of something or someone at the time or perhaps nothing at all and I just sit at the piano and play. Every time this happens, it’s a unique and wonderful experience and I like to put it down so I can remember them and if people care to listen to my music, then hopefully they might be moved in some form or another e.g. emotionally.”
Almost unsurprisingly, given his aural development, Tim has synaesthesia, linking colours to musical pitches. “It’s like this,” he explains, “I hear a Bb and I think of pink. I hear an Eb and I think of purple, etc. In a piece of music, I’ll know what key it is in and then I’ll hear individual notes that I decide to focus on and depending on how it’s used, then the colour of that note would be a deeper or lighter shade. For example, if a piece is in G major and I hear a D, then I’d say that the note would have a lighter shade because it’s been used in a sharp key. This may have a link to my perfect pitch, I don’t know. However, certain smells and certain people make me think of certain musical notes too definitely. The way my mind works has had a massive impact on my composing.”
As A Performer
Teaching himself, since the age of five, by listening to whatever he heard around the house and then playing them back, Tim has continued with keyboards until now. ”My parents always had music on, but it was mainly pop music, folk & rock’n’roll. I never heard a whole piece or a song that just featured a piano, so I’d be copying baselines and playing back guitar solos, etc. But quite soon after I was doing just this, I started to improvise around the songs and playing along to them and I’d be able to construct my own versions of a song and be able to play a full song as a keyboard reduction.”
At secondary school Tim deepened his friendship with David Runciman, whose whole family were to be a massive influence on Tim’s life. Dave introduced Tim to the world of Jazz which Tim gradually embraced as a means of allowing him to improvise and to experiment. But because Tim had never been taught music theory or read any music, Dave began to explain the structures of music from a basic level, allowing Tim to understand what he was already doing, what chords he was playing and how he was improvising. Once he’d caught up, he began to experiment with harmony and over time realised that he loved jazz harmony though it was an entirely different world to what he was used to back in the old days. Tim became part of a jazz octet called The Blue Sails along with Dave. The band won awards at the National Music for Youth Jazz Festival in summer 2008, played at the labour party conference in September that year and went on tour to Italy & Monaco in October 2007. Tim was also the pianist for his secondary schools big band, since its formation in September 2005; and sang Bass in his secondary schools senior choir, joining just in time for a concert tour to Latvia. Tim achieved 100% for his A level performing, a tribute to his experience.
As A Producer
Perhaps above all however, Tim has dived into the world of music production. Tim’s father Cliff was the largest and initial influence. ”I remember my dad talking to me one day and when we had finished I heard my voice, but my lips were not moving. It turned out that my dad had slyly recorded me talking to him a few minutes previously and I was like… ‘What Is Recording?’ Dad didn’t answer me, but applied a chipmunk effect and an echo to my voice. When I heard this I was like……….WHAT IS THIS? This IS COOL!!!” Since then, Tim has had an insatiable interest in computers and music technology, going beyond everything his dad had shown him.
Tim began to research: “I was only able to do this via the internet. I find it hard to learn things out of a book because of my eyesight. The internet allows me to make the text bigger, so my eyes don’t strain themselves and I was able to dive into audio-visual material and replay it over and over again if I wanted to.” When Tim had equipped himself with as much as he could, he started to set up a home studio. ”It took me a while to decide on precise hardware and software because I was on a very low budget but I don’t like to make compromises.” He uses. Logic Pro 9, Cubase 6, Native Instruments Komplete 7, Vienna Symphonic Library & East West Quantum Leap sound libraries. In addition to his studio computer, Tim also has a top spec Mac Book Pro with a core i7 CPU & 8GB of RAM. Tim uses his laptop for mobile recording and for playing live, either on his own or with a band. Over the last few years, Tim has been producing his own music, but also other people’s music- for fellow school friends like Arron Cook & his best friend David Runciman. Tim produced Dave’s first album, ‘Prelude to Something.’ ”It was nice to work with someone, who was so musical. Dave has lots of creative ideas and is open to experimenting with recording. It was a great pleasure to work with Dave & I really hope that I can work with him in the future.” Recently, Tim has been working on his first commercial production with a Christian rock band, “Reformation.” “I am really enjoying this and I hope I produce something that the band will like.” Working on his Creative Music Technology degree at the University of Surrey, Tim has continued to pursue and better all of his musical talents and long may it continue.