Interview to Ronald Wiesauer (May 2018)
When did you start playing the guitar and why?
I started playing guitar at an age of 5 years old. My father was a good amateur-guitarist, so music has always been around, though my father never was into classical music. I had the luck to have a very patient classical guitar teacher. Also my elder brother played guitar too – later we played in bands together and finally studied together at Mozarteum in the class of Marco Tamayo – My brother for sure always had a big impact on my approach to music. especially in my youth. Music was all around all the time, but not in a competitive way. We both identified ourselfs a lot with the music we made – you know- playing in bands- write your own material- playing gigs- growing long hair- this kind of stuff.
What did you study and what is your musical background?
My musical background is very widely spread. Of course i always had classical gutiar lessons, and therefore i was in contact with this style of music but when i turned around 12 I started to teach myself electric guitar as well. That was, when everything became really seriously with music. I never asked myself if I should do either one of the things – either classical guitar- either electric. For me it was very clear that i want to do both.
In my teen years i played in different groups, bands. from classical guitar trio to prog-rock bands. I think once you experience this, you always want to feel this again.
After finishing school I started studying classical guitar at Mozarteum in Salzburg, where I had (after some semesters) the chance to be in the class of Marco Tamayo. I think I can say, that most of the stuff I know about classical guitar I know from Marco. He is amazing.
What were and are your main musical influences?
In my teens I listened a lot of Popular music – Dylan, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin…since I was a kid of the 90s of course Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Faith No More – I think this really affected my way I feel for music… when I discovered Jazz music for myself (around 16) , I really liked the ECM-stuff from Ralph Towner, Pat Metheny, Jan Gabarek, Abercrombie.
During my time at Mozarteum I was inhaling the music of Keith Jarrett. Recently thanks to Spotify I discovered Ben Allison and Aaron Parks. Amazing Musicians, amazing compositions. Inspiring jazz music! There is so much material out there now- it’s amazing and frightning at once. No one can listen to all this music!
From a composing background speaking, for sure the baroque Hexachord system plays a keyrole about what I am doing on the guitar,. It’s amazing, but I don’t get into that now, since it would take too much time to explain. It’s a very different way to explain music theory.
How did start the idea to release the cd “Chants To The Sea” with The Corium Project ”?
I had that idea already for a long time in my head – already since I was studying at Moz- , but unfortunatly I never found the right musicians to play this kind of music, since it has a more open approach to sound. Salzburg is small. Years and years passed and then by luck I played a gig with Klaus (drummer) who brought in Heinz, who was always searching for a project like this. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment…
Why did you decide to take inspiration by Brouwer’s “El Decameron Negro”?
It’s very simple: the music affects me, the sounds speaks to me and the way it’s written its perfect to use it as I do. It has many rests, many places where you can “step outside“ the composition.
What does mean improvisation in your music research? Can we go back to talking about improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc.?
As a matter of fact, as soon as you are in composing or improvising, which can be seen as a „real time“-composing act- you challenge music from a complete different angle, then as if you “just“ perform a piece. you focus on different things.. technical execution is not the biggest thought you have. I think everybody should take the challenge to compose.
It’s not about what is better/more difficult/more worthy then the other, it’s just a complete different approach. You have to know the scales, the music theory, you have to have ears and taste. You have to ask yourself, what do I want to write.. which sound… When you look at the great musicians back then, they all composed, all the Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Schumann, Chopin. Also the guitarists… we know Giuliani, Sor, Barrios etc because of their compositions, not because of their concert reviews they got back then. Everybody was composing and expressing their personality through their compositions. And I think, thats something very worth doing.
What’s the role of the “Error” in your musical vision? For “error” I mean an incorrect procedure, an irregularity in the normal operation of a mechanism, a discontinuity on an otherwise uniform surface that can lead to new developments and unexpected surprises…
If we talk about technical errors while playing/practicing – fingering that dont work, finger movements that dont work, then I have to say, errors just consume time, they bring you down – limit you in your potential. A good teacher is a multplication factor for your skills. with the right teacher, who „saves“ you from errors, you gain a lot!
On the other side – when you learn electric guitar by yourself, all you can do is try and error…in my first years of electric guitar there was no internet, no youtube, no books available… I drew all the scales down by hand, no apps to slow down a solo. You had to get it by ear (the tab books were way to expensive for a young teenager). try and error was in daily practice. Its a different kind of learning than learning classical guitar.
And what do you think is the “function” of a moment of crisis?
Guitaristically speaking, I never had a crisis with the guitar – I never wanted to quit, I always loved to practice, never felt I need something else. dont know why. maybe its because if I needed a time out of the classical world I grabbed the electric guitar. these two worlds are so different.
I have seen some collegues in crisis with the instrument. Very often the turn from beeing a guitar student at university to the „real world“ after finishing music university can be very frightening.
There is a very nice interview from Steve Vai with Nik Harcourt (at Guitar center). where Vai talks about these things. About career, love for the instrument, success… very inspiring! Very thoughtful!
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
I have written material for another 2 CDs with the Corium Project, so there is enough to do. we will start recording in spring, hopefully.
Beside that I am composing material for a solo CD, which I hope to record this summer… lets see how fast things are going, but 10 pieces a roughly ready.
I also have recorded a CD with Aguado, Mertz, Sor and Giuliani, which i should release, but I havent decided yet if I really like it.
Last question: a few years ago, during an interview with Bill Milkowski for his book “Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries” Carlos Santana said, “Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important then talent, obviously.” I think all of you have a great talent, but … what is your personal vision?
He for sure is right about that. My vision for me? Hard to describe. For sure becoming better in composing, becoming more free in improvising, hopefully creating good music… to keep on going- to NOT stop developing.