After years in of working in the pop, jazz and theatre branche, composer Hilmar Leujes decided it was time to set his creative output free and begin a podcast where he writes and records a brandnew piece of piano music every day.
Since the first episode in the beginning of april he has already recorded well over one hundred piano instrumentals and episode 100 is scheduled for July 13th. "Yeah, I know it's a friday", Leujes says laughingly, "but quite an inspirational one! Who wouldn't want to make a tune for such a burdoned date!?"
The way the composer goes about recording these episodes is controversial to say the least. "Because I come across so many different piano's when touring and rehearsing, I always take a moment or two to get to know the instrument. Through the years I have come to know that every piano has its own character and therefore inspires different kinds of playing and music," Leujes explains, "at first I started out just pushing the record button on my iPhone and publish whatever came out. After a while I wanted a bit more quality, so I purchased a stereo microphone that I can plug directly into my iPhone and record that way. I also bought an app, which is specifically made for high-end recordings, so now I can create a fade-in and fade-out and make the audio a little bit louder. Other than that there is no editing at all. If there are children playing in the background, or there is a soundcheck going on, you'll hear it on the podcast. Still, I do aim for that moment of piece and quiet. Oh, and you do get the occasional squeeky pedal or noisy piano-bench."
Apart from the podcast, Daily Piano Pieces relies heavily on its blog at dailypianopieces.com and on social media. Every episode is listed in several LinkedIn groups for pianists and composers and goes directly to his twitter followers, aswel as Facebook and several other social bookmarking sites. "It isn't called the music-business for nothing, you know?" Hilmar clarifies, "Years ago, I was at a convention in Los Angeles where a friend of mine mentioned that she was on MySpace about eight hours a day, which I thought incredible, but now I understand you have to win your potential fans over one at a time."
At his website he writes an accompanying article for every piano piece he delivers. Sometimes it's just a few paragraphs on how the music came into existance, sometimes a full songlyric for the tune and sometimes just a thought or insight that sprang to mind during recording. "First and foremost I try to keep things fresh for my audience, so if I do a particularly sad piece of music, I like to write a positive message to keep the balance, although it could just aswell be a few lines of prose or something quite absurd and abstract. It all comes from the same source in the end." So, what's up for episode 100? "Well, I started posing questions on Facebook and Twitter about fifty episodes ago and got a lot of wild ideas in return. anything from flashmobs and lipsyncs all the way to playing 100 pianos whilst riding a donkey... I am not entirely sure yet, but I think it may just involve skydiving with a ten foot grand, playing 100 pieces of music during free-fall whilst doing a selfportrait in oilpaint of me riding a piano-eating donkey." Perhaps he will.
How long will he keep this going? "I've been doing this for about thirty years without recording a single note, which is approximately eleven thousand episodes, so I don't see any reason not to do eleven thousand more. It has been a wild ride so far and it's getting bigger every day!" It seems he has only just begun.
Composer Hilmar of the podcast DailyPianoPieces,com frequently takes inspiration from tweets and trending topics on twitter to compose episodes of his daily podcast."Well, especially during the holidays when the children aren't at school it can be difficult to find the time to even think of creating a piece of music, so when I do get a few moments to do my podcast I have to work as fast as I can" says the composer.
How does Twitter come into play?"I browse tweets and trend scan through the trending topics" Hilmar explains, "and if there is a topic I find interesting, I dig a little deeper. Sometimes the topic itself is the trigger ( a topic is created by putting a hashtag # in front of a word or set of words, i.e. #AmandaBieber) and sometimes it's a tweet or a couple of tweets." "The process that follows is pretty simple," He continues, "as soon as I find some words I like, a melody comes rolling out and I just go where it goes"