WITH MARCO DI STEFANO
During this interview, I change seat, place myself in front of another artist and ask him the questions I wish people asked me. Today, I speak to Italian composer Marco Di Stefano. The artist takes some time to tell us about himself, his latest release L’Estate del ’78 as well as his views on composing music!
Marco, you studied both classical and contemporary composing with respectful composers such as Giovanni D’Aquila (in Palermo), Adriano Guarnieri (in Bologna) and Luc Brewaeys (in Bruxelles) for over a decade—tell us how this has shaped you as a composer?
I believe that composition is one of the arts where you necessarily need to learn from other composers. My approach to it has always been instinctive and introspective: I write the music that I hear inside my head. In Palermo, I studied mainly classical composition, which helped me to understand the rules, later in Bologna and Bruxelles I learnt how to break the rules and how to control my freedom in creativity. Today, I can easily switch from classical to contemporary composing. Most of the time I mix the two approaches, going from tonal to atonal, without disturbing too much the ears of the ones that are less accustomed to contemporary music.
L’Estate del ’78 is your latest album and release with Blue Spiral Records. Tell us how this project came to life? What is the story behind it?
Over the years I have developed a narrative composing style, and my final objective is to write music for movies or theatres. Last year, I was contemplating the idea of writing a soundtrack for a book, and during the summer I discovered “L’Estate del 78” by Roberto Alajmo. While reading it, most of the pieces of the album came to my mind. I was still away and wrote them down, until I came back to my studio where it took me about four months to compose the whole album.
I find your music to be influenced by the romantic composers—especially Chopin. Are you consciously trying to reflect the atmosphere and the lyricism of the period?
The romantic composers—especially Chopin!—have strongly influenced my composing style. At the beginning of my career, I enjoyed very much studying his music and emulating his style: this led to the writing of dozens of waltz and nocturnes, which one day I will bring back to life and publish. I keep Chopin in my hearth and his influence is in every composition, especially when it is a solo piano one.
You mention that music is a medium for telling stories. How is that involved in your creative process. Is there a narrative approach to it?
Yes there is; I think of a story and I focus on the emotions that it brings to my mind—then I translate all this into music. It might be the research of the right melody, or instrument, or harmonic movement…
Most of the titles from L’Estate del ’78 are very descriptive and detailed (i.e. L’Ultima volta de ogni cosa or Il talento di Elena)—would you like to elaborate on some of them, as well as tell us how they relate to the music?
Each title corresponds to an excerpt from the book; it refers to the main message of the chapter the music has been composed for. L’Ultima volta di ogni cosa (The Last Time of Each Thing) for example, refers to the moment Alajmo tells his last encounter with his mother. He did not know that this was going to be the last, and therefore he could not enjoy it as much as we would have wanted to. To him, there are many similar moments in life. The music illustrates the feeling of having lived something which will never come back, and the main melody represents Alajmo’s missed hug with his mother.
You split your life between IT freelancer and composer. How does that influence the way you compose music? What about your daily music life?
I would say that the two things have always been complementary. Since I started playing music, I have always used technology, and I still believe that technology brings and will bring a lot to music. Although I prefer to use mostly classical instruments, the programming of my music is done with my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) where I sample orchestral sounds.
So after L’Estate del ’78 what’s next?
I am working on a new project—another soundtrack, but this time it will be an orchestral project for which I hope to find a real orchestra to record it. After that, I will work on some of my legacy compositions to bring them back to life and publish them.
Thanks very much Marco. Last one for the road—one book, one album, one film—tell us about your latest cultural pearls?
It is a classical memory of mine—although many might not know it; the first concert for orchestra of Goffredo Petrassi. It has shaped my style and represents the moment I started to move from classical to contemporary music back in 2004 when I was in Bologna.
Bouncing on Marco’s words; I suggest to reverse the process and discover Alajmo’s book “L’Estate del ’78”. Read my review of L’Estate del ’78.