as a journey through the night, Nocturnes is
a sublime sounding solo piano album from Oregon-bred, Washington,
D.C. based Dan Chadburn. Commenting on his album, Dan adds,
Night has always been a special time for me. Much of my piano
playing is done late at night and most of these pieces were composed
at night. There is a somber eloquence in Chadburns music,
almost as if these pieces were meant to be listened to at night as
well. Nocturnes is Chadburns fourth solo album and overall
its a fine introduction to his masterful piano work. Although
Chadburns grand piano is front and center here, there is some
light accompaniment from several other musicians on strings and English
horn, while Chadburn also adds in several other keyboard like sounds.
Commenting on his latest solo album, Dan further explains, 'For quite
some time, several close friends had been encouraging me to create
an album of music to "inspire, soothe, and heal." After
the deaths of several good friends in a span of less than six months,
I turned to the recording studio as a means of dealing with the loss.
In its own way, spending time at the keyboard was very healing for
me. Over a period of about a month, I recorded the piano improvisations
which ultimately became the foundation for Nocturnes.' Fans
of esteemed New Age keyboard icons like Suzanne Ciani and Spencer
Brewer are advised to track down and enjoy the blissful piano sounds
on Dan Chadburns Nocturnes. www.DanChadburn.com
mwe3.com presents an
Where are you from originally and where do you live now and what do
you like best about it? What other parts of the world do you enjoy
visiting and do you consider yourself a citizen of the world?
Dan Chadburn: First, let me just say thanks to you and the
folks at mwe3.com for the opportunity to share with you through this
interview. I appreciate it very much. I was born and raised in Oregonon
the West Coast of the U.S. After I graduated from college, I toured
the U.S. for a bit, eventually settling in Southern California, where
I lived for several years. In the 1990s, I moved to England for two
years to go to grad school. After that, I moved back to the Statesthe
Washington, DC area, where I've lived for almost twenty years now.
I've always loved to travel; to experience other cultures and customs.
While I haven't traveled the entire globe, I'm grateful to have visited
five of its continents... and although different languages may be
spoken and different laws may be in force, there are positive commonalities
among each. My travels have reinforced my hope that one day, among
all of us as citizens of this world, there will be a greater understanding
and acceptance of diversity among cultures and faiths.
mwe3: What were your early musical studies like? I understand
that you came from a classical background? Who are some of your most
important musical influences? Were you influenced by pop and jazz
or mostly classical music and how about avant garde and electronic
music influences too?
Dan Chadburn: I began piano lessons in grade school and continued
through college as a piano performance major. While my studies focused
primarily on traditional classical repertoire, I discovered early
on that I also enjoyed improvisation. Not so much traditional jazz
improvisationwith its general adherence to structures and patternsbut
rather freeform, extemporaneous improvisation, "expressing whatever
comes in the moment." As a kid growing up in the late '60s and
early '70s, I certainly listened to a fair amount of popular music
on the radio...my favorite artists or bands at the time included Chicago,
Simon & Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Dan Fogelberg, and Elton John.
To my young ear, there was a sophistication and relative complexity
to each of these bands/artists' music which inspired my own creativity.
The most important musical influences in my life, however, were my
two piano teachers, Maxine Martin and Dr. Calvin Knapp. Each of them
helped me discover the extraordinary beauty that is music and encouraged
me to pursue music, in its various forms, as my lifetime vocation.
mwe3: Tell us how your Nocturnes album took shape and
how do you feel it compares to your other CD releases? Where and when
was the music on Nocturnes written and recorded?
For quite some time, several close friends had been encouraging
me to create an album of music to "inspire, soothe, and heal."
After the deaths of several good friends in a span of less than six
months, I turned to the recording studio as a means of dealing with
the loss. In its own way, spending time at the keyboard was very healing
for me. Over a period of about a month, I recorded the piano improvisations
which ultimately became the foundation for Nocturnes. I then
scored the solo instruments (french horn, english horn, viola and
violin) to add texture, color and melody to those piano tracks. Most
of the album, as with much of my music, was composed and recorded
late at nightthere's a certain serenity that only the night
hours can bring. Compared to my earlier albums, I would say Nocturnes
is less complex. And, because its primary intent is to calm the
spirit, rather than stir it up, per se, its dynamic range isn't nearly
as broad as my other albums.
mwe3: What instruments do you play on the Nocturnes
CD and in addition to grand piano, what other keyboard instruments
do you play? I had heard you also play electric organ? Do you have
a preference when it comes to pianos and, from your experience, what
separates different brands of pianos, such as comparing Steinways
with say Yamaha and other grand pianos?
Dan Chadburn: On Nocturnes specifically, I played a
Yamaha 7' acoustic grand and a Kurzweil PC3x synthesizerutilizing
piano, harpsichord, electric bass, and assorted string samples. And
yes, I do play a little bit of organbut I've never quite
gotten the whole pedal thing down. If you know of a good organ teacher
who takes students with clumsy feet, let me know. (laughter) You asked
if I have a preference when it comes to pianos. I've played many different
makes, including Steinway, Baldwin, Yamaha, Bosendorfer, Schimmel,
Kawai, and others. It really depends on the specific piano itself,
but generally speaking, I prefer Yamaha pianos. For my own style of
writing/playing, Yamaha pianos generally have the most ideal action/touchand
resulting toneto suit my music best.
mwe3: Can you tell us about the other musicians who worked
with you on the Nocturnes CD and who were some of the other
key people involved in the making of the CD, such as engineers as
well as those involved in the mixing, mastering and artwork design?
Chadburn: I'm grateful to have worked with some wonderful and
talented people on Nocturnes. The instrumentalists included
Helen Hausmann (viola and violin), Carole Libelo (english horn), and
Marty Hackleman (french horn). The piano tracks for the albumwith
the exception of the first track, "Twilight"were recorded
in our home studio here in Virginia, while the rest of the CD, including
"Twilight", was recorded at AirShow, Inc. in Takoma Park,
Recording and mixing engineers included Tom Nichols, Charlie Pilzer
and me. Charlie was also the mastering engineer. Martine Stein did
the album design/artwork while Dave Heneberry provided the photographs.
I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the group of close friends
who initially suggested and urged me to record Nocturnes...these
include Anne Madison, Dave Heneberry, Rainey Foster, Holly Montgomery,
and my husband, Tom Nichols.
mwe3: How has your background in scoring film and television
music influenced your concepts and styles of writing and recording
instrumental piano music? Where did you study scoring for films and
do you still write music for soundtracks and other video music?
Dan Chadburn: I enrolled in the film scoring program at U.C.L.A.
shortly after moving to Los Angeles in 1987. It was a marvelous opportunity
to learn the craft of writing and orchestrating for the screen from
well-established composers working in film and television at that
time. I eventually came to the realization, however, that I prefer
writing without the innate limitations that composing to picture presents.
I suppose if it was all about writing "Main Title" themes
I might feel differently, but so much of scoring involves writing
short cues, 30 seconds or less, which must, if done correctly, be
perfectly timed and synced to picture in order to properly support,
but never intrude upon, the dialogue/action on screen. Not so easy
to do day in and day out for one whose writing style favors freeform
improvisation. That said, there are principles of scoring which can
be applied to composing, whether for film or noti.e. the use
of different harmonic textures and instrumental timbres to convey
specific imagery in music, recognizing and placing importance on empty
space and/or rests in music, etc..
mwe3: Also what was it like receiving a masters of music degree
in Electro-Acoustic composition from London's City University and
how did that influence your writing and recording sound? Was that
like an exercise into the avant garde of sorts? Your music sounds
much more easy on the ears and cinematic as opposed to intense avant
garde or even electronic sounds... Is that another side of your multidimensional
Chadburn: Compared to the classical piano concentration of my
undergraduate studies, Electro-Acoustic Composition at London's City
University was, as one friend aptly stated, like "musical whiplash."
Two VERY diverse genres of music. And yet, there ARE common elements
in each. I had the honor of studying at City when Simon Emmerson and
Denis Smalley were both on faculty. Both are exceptional composers
and pioneers in the field of Electro-Acoustic music. Smalley's composition,
Pentes, is touted as one of the premiere classics of Electro-Acoustic
music. It was exciting to broaden my scope as a musician and composer,
learning and applying new techniques to record and physically alter
sound, and then using those sound samples as elements in my own compositions.
It also trained my ear to hear more spatially than ever before.
Do you consider your instrumental piano music to be part of the
New Age music world or is it more into the 21st century classical
domain? Do you differentiate between musical genres? It often seems
that New Age and classical music, at least when it comes to instrumental
piano music, are sometimes closer than we think.
Dan Chadburn: Indeed, I think the two genres overlap in many
ways, and may in fact, ultimately become one in the same... if not
already. Certainly, "classical music", in the traditions
of Western music, has evolved through the ages; its periods now are
manyMedieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical era, Romanticism,
Impressionism, 20th century, etc... I think it's reasonable to consider
the idea that the New Age music of today may indeed be the latest
period of "classical music" in this, the 21st century.
mwe3: You expound on your music by incorporating elements of
improvisation into your sound. Would you say that implementing improvisational
techniques is common in solo piano music and classical music and do
you borrow from certain aspects of jazz when you improvise?
Dan Chadburn: I honestly can't speak for others' solo piano
music, but in my own, improvisation is a common practice. I don't
consider myself a jazz pianist in the leastin fact, I'm ignorant
to all but the basic elements of jazz. So again, it's hard for me
to know if my own improvisational style incorporates aspects of jazz.
I suppose it may. It may not. Because of my classical training, I
think I more closely identify with composers of classical music who
often would include cadenzas in their orchestral works, cadenzas which
typically would be improvised by the soloist... without a written
score. In a very basic sense, what I can say is that when I improvise,
I'm usually most content with the result when I simply clear my
mind"get into the zone"and allow my hands
to move freely on the keys as they will without my consciousness getting
in the way. As soon as I begin to think or become aware of specific
chord progressions or meters or melodic lines, any magic in the improvisation
What are your concert performances like and how do you set the
sonic tone in a live setting? What was the most memorable show or
favorite concerts that you ever performed?
Dan Chadburn: Simply said, I'm grateful for any opportunity
I have to play for others. Over the years, I've played anywhere from
small intimate venues to large concert halls. Most memorable in recent
months, I've played for several hospice care memorial services. In
that I believe my music can and does provide comfort and peace, I'm
especially thankful to have been able to offer music at these memorials.
mwe3: What other contemporary artists and composers do you
feel a kindred spirit with these days? I know you have appeared on
several CD compilations alongside Suzanne Ciani and other gifted musicians.
What contemporary artists that you listen to, do you feel are breaking
new musical ground these days?
Dan Chadburn: There are many, many wonderful composers and
artists today. I could name several, but then, no doubt, I'd fail
to name others I equally respect. I'm certainly thankful to have been
included on the 9/11 recording with Suzanne Ciani and other composer/pianistseach
of them are artists I highly admire.
mwe3: Music seems to be the clearest link that truly connects
us throughout our lives. In what ways do you find music to be the
most healing? I think of music enhancing memory by creating a natural
sound, scoring the soundtrack to our lives. Actual mental / physical
calming aspects also seem to come to mind. Is there a soundtrack to
our lives? What is the soundtrack to your life?
Dan Chadburn: In a single word, "YES!" While I can't
even begin to fathom the full powers of music, I know the profound
impact music has had on my own life. I've seen evidence of its impact
on those around me. My hope and desire is that my own soundtrack is
one of sharing, understanding, acceptance and peace.
What have you planned for 2014 as far as writing, recording and
performing new music? What directions are you moving into and heading
for in the new year?
Dan Chadburn: One of my resolutions for the new year is to
video record at least one piano improvisation every day of 2014. It's
still too early to call, but so far so good. (laughter) While many
of these pieces will likely not deserve a second listen, occasionally
there will be one that gives me encouragement to keep writing, to
keep doing what I'm meant to do in life: create and share music with
those who wish to hear it. Thank you again for allowing me to share
a bit about myself, and thank you for all that you and mwe3.com
does to improve this world by promoting so many wonderful artists
and their music!
to Dan Chadburn @ www.DanChadburn.com