May 29, 2024

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Interview with Eduardo Raon: Personally, I enjoy the intellectual, conceptual, compositional side of music very much, but … Video

Jazz interview with harpist, electronics & daxophonist Eduardo Raon. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Eduardo Raon: – I grew up in Lisboa, Portugal and there was always a lot of music listening at home. I remember being sat down by my father and being shown what stereo was. And listening to Tom Waits albums and feeling both drawn and puzzled by them. I had some piano lessons (without much success) and later on I got a guitar and that was when it clicked.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the your musical instrument?

ER: – The Harp was a bit of an accident. A friend I was playing guitar with was studying at the Conservatory and asked if I would enjoy studying and playing there. I said yes but I wanted to start playing a different instrument and it happened to be the Harp. For several reasons: because there was a shortage of students (so I could start from zero); because there is repertoire from all the musical periods; and most importantly because this friend informed me about a harp teacher who was also a composer, very open-minded and forward thinking. This teacher became my first harp teacher. Her name was Clotilde Rosa and she had a pioneer role in contemporary music in post WWII in Portugal. She was a key figure for me also because very often we would discuss music outside of the harp field. From aesthetics, to concept,  links to other art forms, relation to politics, compositional techniques, instrumentation, etc.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

ER: – My background in Rock music and a permanent interest in sound and timbre was a big influence on what is now my approach to the harp and music in general. Even though I started on the harp humbly, in the sense of trying to absorb all it had within it’s context, it was soon obvious that I couldn’t keep out of my relation with the instrument all of my previous experience, as well as the wish to experiment all the new possibilities that I was getting to know via the contemporary repertoire. And so it was only natural that the harp became amplified, processed, “abused”, investigated inside out and used in whichever fashion the situation would request/allow.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

ER: – I am sure it is a different one depending on what you play. What kind of music/sound, whom you are playing with, what about are you playing, etc. Personally, I enjoy the intellectual / conceptual / compositional side of music very much but I know that without the sensorial dimension, it would feel quite pointless. So, that magnetic sensuality of something that immediately and inexplicably draws you into the sound has to be there! There is also a field that interests me greatly which is the psycho acoustics because of being a field that in a way studies the dimension in between the intellect and soul that you mentioned.

JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?

ER: – The most enriching situations for my musical development have been the ones outside of music. Mostly from other art forms such as cinema, visual arts, comedy and literature but also from natural sciences as well as social sciences. From that perspective it is this constant collaboration with my/our context that allows me to experience other points of view that I can somehow then apply to music.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

ER: – Somehow the question encapsulates Jazz music in a standards’ territory. Fortunately I hear and see so, so, so many evidences that it’s geography can be so much more than that. In the way the music is conceived, in the themes it reflects and talks about, in the evergrowing timbric/instrumentation possibilities, for instance. And that, can only be exciting to whoever listens to music with an open attitude.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

ER: – I don’t understand the spirit and the meaning of life. But I remain very curious and I find myself fascinated frequently. And sound/music makes living so much better, doesn’t it?

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

ER: – Regarding the future, I am eager to be surprised, to find new people to connect with, to face new situations, ways of thinking and/or feeling music. And to hear how it all  reflects in my own music.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

ER: – I think that there are more things in common between the genres you pointed than the reverse actually. It is no secret that musicians from whichever genre or spectrum were always incorporating elements from other genres. That they were and are influenced by everything they hear. Or by technological changes they live. And probably there is also a big number of both musicians and audiences for whom the genre is of minor importance when compared to what the music has to tell.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

ER: – On my current playlist I have: The Muppet Show Album (double album), Oba Loba (Shhhpuma Records), Michael Mantler’s “Concertos” (ECM), Egberto Gismonti “Circense” (ECM), The Selva (Clean Feed), Zap Mama “Zap Mama”.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

ER: – I might not have a preferred period to visit but I frequently wonder what kind of contribution could I make if I would be able to go back in time. From the technological knowledge point of view, from a cultural point of view, from the musical point of view, from the language point of view…

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Фото Eduardo Raon.

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