William Joseph is a pianist, composer and performer who is currently touring internationally. He was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about composing music, working with an orchestra and his new album, Beyond.
After you read his interview, if you’d like to find out more about William Joseph, listen to his music or see where he’s touring, we encourage you to visit his website located at: www.william-joseph.com or friend William Joseph on MySpace. If you enjoy William’s songs, we invite you to visit his selection of William Joseph sheet music on Musicnotes.com.
All of us here at Musicnotes.com are really grateful we had the chance to ask him these questions, and we hope you enjoy this first edition of our Songwriter Spotlight.
What inspires you to write music?
There are so many things that inspire me to write music… The one thing I can say that inspires me is, “Life”. Whether it is happiness or heartache, love or loneliness… The music that I write is a direct reflection of what I am going through or feeling at the time. Emotion is the driving creative force of my music… I am also heavily influenced by the music that I am listening to at the time.
Do you “see” the music in your mind, “hear” it or both?
I constantly have music going through my mind… I can remember going to school and while we were suppose to be paying attention to the teacher… I would accidentally tune the teacher out because I was writing music in my head. This usually didn’t help my test scores.
Can you talk about how the song-writing process is different for piano versus a full orchestra?
I have been writing music for solo piano since I was 5 years old… It is definitely an art which I have been working on my entire life… Within the last few years I have had the opportunity to write music for piano and orchestra… This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember… Writing for an entire orchestra is absolutely thrilling for me… It is definitely different then writing piano solo pieces… In writing music you have a few different elements to keep in mind… Melody, Harmony, and the rest of the accompaniment… When you are dealing with the piano only, then there are only so many ways to play the melody, harmony, and accompaniment… After all… We have 2 hands and 10 fingers to work with… Writing for an entire orchestra opens a whole new world… You can still use the same melodies and harmony’s however you now have to decide which instruments will play the melody, which instruments will play the harmony’s and how you will create the bed of accompaniment… There are so many options… It becomes a task of assignment… Who will play what? Not only do you have many different instruments to choose from, but you can also assign different instruments to share the melodies or harmonies with other instruments… By doing this, the music begins to take on a whole different dimension… Along with the many creative decisions there are also technical decisions… You must know the musical range of each instrument along with what a persons physical limitations might be… In summary, writing for an orchestra is very different then writing for just a piano… I love writing for piano and feel privileged to have the opportunity to write for an orchestra as well.
From start to finish, how long does it take you to write a song?
I have written an entire song in 5 minutes on more than one occasion… I have also spent a couple years trying to complete a single melody… It varies with every musical idea.
Of all the songs from your new album, “Beyond,” which one do you feel has the biggest story to tell and why?
I was recently asked to submit music for the 2008 Olympics… This music would be used for the “Lighting of the Torch Ceremony”… I wrote a song called, “Heroes”. This song in my mind is the perfect for the Olympics! Up until about 2 weeks before the games started, Heroes was one of the top 3 songs to be used as “The Olympic Song”… Well, it wasn’t chosen… but there is always 2010.
Do you have any music idols that have influenced your work?
To name a few… Rachmaninoff, John Williams, David Foster, Journey, John Barry, James Horner, etc…
What message do you have for musicians interested in song-writing?
Listen to and learn from as many different styles of music as you can… Learn from the masters. You will have a greater musical palette to pull from if you do this. The more you write the better you will become.
Which do you prefer – songwriting or performing – and why?
I am often asked this question and I always say, “I love them both”. Writing music is such a great creative outlet for me… I just love the creative process… I also love performing… This works out great because after writing a piece of music, my first desire is to share it with other people… I get the best of both worlds… I get to perform my original music!!