much New Age and electronic instrumental music relies heavily on atmosphere
and not so much on sheer melodic romanticism. Favoring melodic content
rather than daring atmospherics might not be true for every artist,
but it is in the case of Bernward Koch. Bernwards 2015
album on Real Music is called Remembering and you really
get that feeling of neoclassical remembrances on his most recent CD.
The thirteen track, 63 minute Remembering CD is kind of in
the spirit of Bernwards 2013 album on Real Music, Day of
Life, but if anything Remembering is even more wistful
and nostalgic. Speaking to mwe3.com about his 2015 CD masterpiece,
Bernward adds, "I
started composing directly after the Day of Life album in 2013. Yes,
I always have some kind of déjà vu feeling in my music,
but its not always the same. On
Remembering for example, the track "First Flowers" is a
memory back in time to when I started playing piano at age fifteen.
I was living in a small village in the countryside. It was sunny and
quiet days indeed."
Remembering it almost sounds like Bernward is pining for a
younger and more innocent time in life. The melodies are clearly sentimental
and nostalgic and, while cloaked in the mystery of New Age sonics,
this is clearly an album made by a composer who isnt ashamed
to show his appreciation and craft when it comes to drafting a melody
that will last through time. Its interesting to note that while
Bernward uses the state of the art in audio gear, the musical notes
and content itself sounds relatively timeless in scope and origin.
So, while its easy to get nostalgic or full of reverie for Remembering,
its worth noting one of Bernwards quotes: Strength
lies in calmness. That sense of aural calmness and sonic strength
is at the very core of Remembering. www.BernwardKoch.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
It sounds like your new CD Remembering is a logical extension
of your 2013 CD Day of Life. How would you say Remembering
is a kind of musical evolution from the Day of Life CD and
how does Remembering compare sound wise with your earlier albums?
Bernward Koch: Actually, Remembering is a completely
new album, but it is the record after the Day of Life. This
time I arranged, for example, more rhythmical tracks and new musical
colors as in the song "Through the Universe", and I'm happy
mwe3: When was the music for Remembering composed and
recorded? It seems like youre still focusing on a kind of scenic
musical memory, putting sound and music into emotional form. You mentioned
that Day of Life had an inner, déjà vu kind of
feel in that a lot of music evoked childhood memories, so does Remembering
still follow on that path and bring up happier times?
Bernward Koch: I started composing directly after the Day
of Life album in 2013. Yes, I always have some kind of déjà
vu feeling in my music, but its not always the same. In Remembering
for example, the track "First Flowers" is a memory back
in time to when I started playing piano at age 15. I was living in
a small village in the countryside. It was sunny with quiet days indeed.
mwe3: You had mentioned for Day of Life you were very
keen on the Yamaha keyboards and you were looking forward to using
even newer gear from Yamaha. Were there any new instruments to create
Remembering and being that you say you follow all the advances in
gear, what interests you these days mostly about new equipment and
Bernward Koch: On Remembering I mainly used the new
Yamaha CP4 stage piano, along with the old Korg SG1D and a D50 Piano
from Omnisphere. I have an old piano and a grand piano in my house.
Its very interesting that the digital pianos work better for
me and my sound. I always need a very special reverb, Lexicon, TC
of course, together with many VST plugins.
I work with Steinberg Cubase Pro 8 and some old synthesizers, Yamaha
DX7, Roland Alpha Juno2, D50, Korg Trinity and many real instruments
like Sonor drums and percussion. So it's important that it all fits
to the music and the compositions to get the right mood. The plugins
are getting better and better, but I prefer to mix them with real
instruments to get more depth and heart.
mwe3: When you write music, do the melodic ideas come first
or do you have the idea for the arrangement or some kind of emotion
or feeling first? How hard is it to come up with original melodic
Koch: I almost always have a melody in my head, mostly without
an instrument, together with the harmonies that come automatically.
I don't know why, but normally it comes easily to me. It has to do
with emotions, yes, but I don't have a formula! After collecting the
tunes, it's important to filter out only the very best compositions
for an album, and only then the real work starts with the arrangements,
mwe3: Theres so many memorable melodies on Remembering.
On the track Carefree Sunday it sounds like youre
channeling a kind of Bach feeling, and I think Procol Harum also had
that same kind of effect on Whiter Shade of Pale. How
important were the great classical composers on your music?
Bernward Koch: Thank you! Well, I love music from JS Bach,
Teleman, and also there are many tracks in rock music history like
"A Whiter Shade of Pale", the Procol Harum song, which is
influenced by Bach. Besides, my wife is a classically trained flutist
and she plays mostly baroque music and so I hear and know that sound.
mwe3: Its amazing you perform on the Remembering CD with
your family. Tell us about working with your family members and what
they play on Remembering. How long have you been recording with your
family and how does that inspire your music?
Koch: I have worked with my wife Christiane (flute) and my brother
Christoph (percussion, guitar) since my first record, Flowing, was
recorded in 1989 in Hamburg. Although the phrasing of my music is
rather unusual, from the beginning, it was very suitable, especially
for the sound of the flute during important melodies. So that's a
little coincidental, too.
mwe3: Through the Universe is very stately. It
has a kind of cosmic effect. You did mention the Pink Floyd influence
in your music. Its nice to bring some of the rock influences
out while keeping it cosmic and unique, too. Just on that note, I
found my favorite Pink Floyd music was their instrumentals like Atom
Heart Mother, so in my opinion your music carries on that spirit
in a new century and with a new dimension.
Bernward Koch: Well, the music of Pink Floyd is a big influence
for me, and there are a lot of really great albums from that band.
Today it's easy for me to analyze and transcribe theirs, and other
music, but you can always find new surprises like with the Beatles.
I very much like it when the music floats and breathes, and that is
a big element of Pink Floyd, too, especially the earlier records of
the 1970s when that band was a real band. Anyway, I need that floating
feeling for my own music, too. I don't know why, but it helps me,
so my music is true and I think the audience feels that.
The lead off track on Remembering is the title track. Its
very lush and very original sounding. Tell us something about the
Remembering track and how does it set the tone for the
album? How important are first tracks in setting the tone of your
Bernward Koch: The first track "Remembering" is for
me, certainly the best track to step into the whole album. It's a
combination of a melancholic and emotional piano with a very strong
and hopeful melody. I overdubbed that with my concert guitar to amplify
it. So that track works as a "single, too, but makes a
good intro to the next tracks. And the main thing again is telling
mwe3: One of my favorite tracks on Remembering is called
The Sunlit Hill which is just great. What approach did
you take on The Sunlit Hill and what kind of feel you
were going for? The chorus melody is quite catchy and the track is
Bernward Koch: Thank you very much! "The Sunlit Hill"
is actually a real song, without words, but imagine that track with
lyrics and you will have a country-like song! The message is simple:
Come with me to the sunlit hill, stare into the distance, take
a deep breath and feel free, powerful and good
one of several possibilities, as an instrumental track.
mwe3: Another great song on Remembering is entitled
Threads of Mystery. I was going to say theres a
little kind of John Lennon pop influence in the haunting descending
melodic lines. What brought on Threads of Mystery?
Bernward Koch: I don't know exactly
there are probably
various influences. To me it sounds like an old folk song or a film
score theme, and in the middle I have a mind to fly away into a mysterious
land. The strong melody is provided by a Wurlitzer NE4 piano to support
mwe3: How has social media and the internet overall, impacted
your music? Do you think its a help or is so much free music
hurting sales of indie artists? I almost remember the days when going
to the record store was a big deal!
Koch: Yes indeed! It's a two-edged sword and it's very hard to
survive in these times, especially for an independent artist. Last
fall Pink Floyd released "Endless River" and I was in a
record shop on the street to buy a CD and at the same time I saw many
fans, most 60 years and older, buying the CD, LP vinyl, DVD package
and so on and they all smiled like school boys buying their first
record! Great what music can do!
mwe3: What are you currently listening to these days and have
you been impressed with any new instrumental or pop artists lately?
Bernward Koch: Among others classical, rock, jazz
songs in the EDM genre, sometimes its very interesting what
DJs are doing. I have my preferences but I'm basically open to many
styles like film scores. I think in terms of quality.
What else is new and interesting in your life? I guess you must be
well into writing music for your next album already. Do you have any
ideas on what youd like to do next musically including fresh
musical directions and possible live concerts?
Bernward Koch: Yes, I'm working on my next record already,
whenever it will be released, but a good tune is a good tune, and
timeless. I have schemes indeed but first we have to promote the new
album Remembering. For example we just released a new video
for the track "Floating
Feather, filmed on a sunlit hill near my home. And I believe
we will produce another video for another track on Remembering.
Thanks to Real Music @ www.RealMusic.com
and to Bernward Koch @ www.BernwardKoch.com