Interview with Antonio Amodeo (March 2019)
Dear Antonio, welcome to neuguitars.com blog. When did you start playing the guitar and why?
I started playing guitar as a self-taught when I was about eleven; I used to play everything ” by ear ” to try and reproduce some italian pop songs while singing at the same time. Three years later I started composing some instrumental piece by myself and then I realised that playing guitar might have not just be a hobby to have fun, but it could have been really become a part of myself that would give sense to my life and personality. At that time I got in touch with the music of AC/DC, Metallica, Blak Sabbath and I started playing electric guitar as well; it was crucial for me to become the musician I’m now.
What did you study and what is your musical background?
Up to the age of 18, my musical background was mostly hard rock, heavy metal and some solo classic guitar repertoire piece. I was taking private classic guitar tuitions just because I was fascinated by ist “solo” dimension and by the dreamy and contemplative atmosphere that it could create with its sound ; although the elecrtic guitar couldn’t create this kind of sound I didn’t want to become a classical guitarsit.
Then I found out that playing and listening to the music of Bach and Villa-Lobos was such a cool experience, that I decided, at the age of 19 to start studying more seriously at the Conservatory of my town, Piacenza. So I graduated there in music performance and, at the same time, I took a Science of education degree at University. After my degree I continued studying in Germany at the Music Hochschule of Mainz and, after that, I graduated in Music pedagogy at the Conservatory of Modena.
What were and are your main musical influences?
Besides heavy metal and italian pop songs, I was much influenced by progressive and psichedelic rock of the ’70 (King Crimson,ELP, Area and many others). Practicing and listening to Joao Pernambuco and Piazzolla gave me the opportunity to embrace the world of latin american repertoire that, from that point on, has been influencing deeply my musical research. Furthermore, since then, I started to be interested in many other sorts of folk/ethic/traditional music: I’ve played irish folk, klezmer, contry-blues using also other instruments such ad mandolin,mandola and bozooky.
The contact with contemporary music for the first time in the Conservatory has been also important for me; Its thimbric resarch, an innovative intrumental concept, the importance of the performer’s instict, the unpredictabale character of every interpretation and the role of improvisation, affected my sensibility, so I increasingly started to include this music in my concerts.
I listened to and reviewed your record “Continuidad y deformacion”, I found it very interesting. It seems you have a deep interest into contemporary Latin America guitar music…how did you get this?
This recording can be considered a sort of meeting – point between two musical styles that are extremly important for my research and for the development of my musical personality. On one hand it’s not possible to imagine modern guitar literature without the masterpieces created by Latin American composers. On the other hand we must admint that, with the exception of most famous artists like Ginastera, Villa-lobos, Brouwer, the Latin American composers of contemporary music are very little known in Europe. Since I strongly believe in the importance of the repertorie renovation and also because I have been motivated by some Latin American artists I personally collaborated with, I tried to give my contribution in that direction putting new works coming from that world area. Latin America attracts me not only for historical and cultural reasons, but also because I observed that the profound attachment that those people have to their roots is well reflected even in the composers who don’t try to write folk music and want to explore new musical orizons. This kind of attitude, in my opinion, is much less present in European composers and gives something special to the pieces. As a matter of fact, many works in this CD are influenced by elements belonging to the folk music of each composers motherland. Moreover, I think this caractheristics might be considered a possible way of development in the contemporary music for the future
I have seen you have recorded it with TXYart. How did you meet this record label?
Once having compleately prepeared the master copy of the CD, I started looking for a record label that could publish, distribuite and promote it. I decided to search directly in Germany because I lived there for some years and realised that I might have had more opportunities there to find a record label interested in this kind of project.
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.?
In my experience, improvising has always meant first o all, to take moments to “gamble” freely on the instrument in order to create a personal and deep relationship with it. Now I’m convinced that improvisation is basically a pedagogical matter. Improvising means to develop an attitude in researching, discovering, manipolating music in a creative way, so it should be taught from the very beginnig of the musical educational path regardless the instrument and the music style because it is an essential part of a musician’s training. It should be necessary not just to increase the global level of a musician but also, and more important, to give musicians that mental flexibility which enables them to open their mind, to understand how restrictive some patterns imposed by the academical education are and to overcome them with new fresh and innovative ideas. Unfortunately, in our scolar system, the musical instrument is mostly still taught in a “specialistic” form even from the very beginning; it means that the instrumental and musical skills to learn are immeadetely pointed to play a particular single music style. This system is wrong and reductive (especially for the guitar whitch is a border-line instrument)because it pushes pupils to believe that improvisation and creation is something belonging exclusively to a not-cultivate musician or just to a jazz, blues, or pop music player….
While we all know that art and its public can renew itself remainig lively and interestingby encouraging the reciprocal contamination of experiences, languages, styles, cultures, Not by encoding them in abstracts and not comunicative closets.
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…
This matter is strictly connected to the one of improvisation. Sometimes while you are practicing, it happens to play some passages not the way you had programmed; sometimes these discontinuities can suggest new and surprising interpretative ways or give some hints that open a creative perspective about the musical material you are playing. In contemporary music moreover, the error can really become part of the performance, but also durig a classical music performance, a good musician might menage to turn an error in something that makes sense. The problem is, as usual, to be open minded; if the musician’s training is wide and flexible, these errors can become suggestions, otherwise they remain just errors and nothing else.
And what do you think is the “function” of a moment of crisis?
Artists, and not only artists, have moments of crises, periods of frustration, resignation, lacks of ideas, inactivity and so on , that train our attitude in order to find solutions to solve situations that make us unhappy. Finding solutions means to open ourself to everything that lives around us, becoming more aware of who we are. Of course it tests the strenght of our motivation, intelligence, ability in improving from eventual mistakes and find resources, ideas to continue on our way with new positive energies and ideas. It’s moreover a human rather than a musical attitude, therefore, it is an essencial part of our personal and musical growth.
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
I’m promoting my CD in Italy and abroad, and parallely I keep working on other projects; I’ve been directing a performance with music and reading about Fabrizio de Andrè for a couple of years now. With my wife, folk singer and songwriter,we interprete and write both italian traditional songs and country blues. I’m alsoworking in a musical/acting performance about the dictatorship time in Argentina. I also love working a lot in transcribing and re-elaborate music for and with guitar, especially for my guitar-flute duo where we experiment contaminations between rock and classical/barok music over south american music. Next recording may be dedicated to this project.