I invite you to read Anthony Ocaña´s most recent interview at the wonderful site Guitar Theory in Depth http://www.guitar-theory-in-depth.com
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We are very pleased to introduce to you Anthony Ocana, and also very pleased to present the very first interview in this brand new section.
Anthony Ocana is a young guitarist and composer, originally from the Dominican Republic, with a promising career ahead of him. In spite of his youth, he has evidently found a voice of his own, both as composer and instrumentalist. His music bursts with vitality; a very pure impulse that one finds only in popular music. Yet his compositions "betray" the fact that he's a schooled musician.
In a world where much music making has become either too superficial, or too intellectual and stuffy, or too tradition-bound (and stuffy), the very original music of Anthony Ocana is a breath of fresh air.
Guitar-Theory-in-Depth (GTID): Anthony, I don't want to classify you music into a rigid category. But I'd like you to tell us about your style as a composer and guitarist: Your music has a clearly defined Latinamerican element to it; a certain lyrical-folkloric quality. Yet it's complexity reveals very eclectic influences...
Anthony Ocana (AO): As a composer and performer I am very clear that my main goal is to communicate and share what I have inside of me, and also all that surrounds me. I consider myself to be a classical composer and a classical guitarist, and from this basis I add to my music whatever elements I wish to, such as Latinamerican folk, jazz, etc.
GTID: How do you approach composition for/from the guitar? Do you have any specific methods?
Since I am a big music listener, I have no problems allowing myself to be influenced by the music that strikes me.
AO: I always try different approaches, when writing music. Sometimes I improvise and I develop the ideas I like, shaping them till I get a satisfying result. At a point in my life I used different guitar tunings that would provide me with different colors and possibilities.
GTID: Since you have such a strong influence from popular music, it should be safe to assume that improvisation is one of your main interests. Is this so?
Nowadays, I normally use a capo to give the guitar in a higher register, and I also use my 10 string guitar to add low bass notes: this guitar almost reaches the register of a double bass. When I compose without improvising, I get away from the guitar, and use my head as an instrument: therefore I don't limit myself to typical tendencies of the instrument.
Since I perform many solo guitar concerts, throughout the concert I try to use every resource the guitar has to offer. This is actually appreciated by both the audience and myself.
AO: It is a big interest of mine, and I have developed improvisation in a very personal way. Most of the time I use it as a method to get new ideas for compositions, and as personal therapy. Nevertheless, most of the music I perform is throughly composed.
I wrote a piece called "Improviso 2 (a Anouar Brahem)" which originated from improvisation, and I improvise every time I perform it live. It is like an eternally unfinished piece that bursts to life with a different personality at every concert. It is alive! lol.
To watch Anthony Ocana play this piece, click here
GTID: What advice would you give to budding guitarists who want to learn how to improvise?
AO: You have to look at improvisation as composing on the spot: approach your ideas from your head and toward the instrument, not from the instrument to the instrument. If you are improvising it is good to practice giving shape to the improvisation, reaching climaxes and so on. Nevertheless I also encourage everyone to experiment every possible improvisational solution, and figure out the most soothing method for them.
GTID: What advice would you give to young -or not so young- guitarists who want to make a living from their music?
AO: Believe in the music you do: love it and respect it. Once you have accomplished this, I advice you to go out there and share it with the world and be very patient. It takes time to reach a big audience. Do not ever get discouraged by tiny audiences at shows: respect and value their presence, and share with them the very best inside of you.
GTID: You have spoken of composing as a "physiological necessity". Tell us some more about your relationship to life as a composer/performer.
AO: I am constantly absorbing everything I see, listen to, and feel: I then turn these experiences into sound. I believe music is a powerful tool to move the human soul, to make people connect with different experiences. As a composer and performer I provide the medium for the listener to be touched by sound, and to travel to their inner world and build their own experiences from it, also.
GTID: Having emigrated from your birth place in the Dominican Republic, first to New York, and later to Madrid, can you tell us what effect this has had on your development as a guitarist and musician?
Composing is a physiological necessity since it is my most important means of communication.
AO: Having lived in several countries gives you a wider perspective of music and a wider look at life, naturally. You get different points of view of everything, and many different influences.
GTID: Tell us about your trio project with double-bass and clarinet. What is your approach to composing chamber music with guitar? How do you integrate the guitar into the overall texture?
The Dominican Republic gave me the basics of music and the latinamerican roots; New York gave me the knowledge needed to play with sounds -it showed me how to become a composer; Spain gave me the space to share my music with the world and also a huge openness in culture. Spain has made me a man, a man of music.
AO: I am in the process of writing this trio. I'm looking at it as a big instrument that needs three players to make it work. I'm going to approach the guitar in the overall texture in different ways, but I will certainly exploit the rhythmic and harmonic possibilities. Naturally the more you vary the textures the more interesting will the final result of the trio be. Therefore, it is good to have solos, duos, trios, counterpoint, and so on.
GTID: Can you please tell our readers about upcoming concerts/tours, and album releases?
I'm also borrowing many rhythmic elements from african/dominican/haitian drumming music as rhythmic cells for these compositions.
This is going to be a wonderful project and a big surprise for both my listeners and for me.
June 21st in Washington DC at the Iberoamerican Guitar Festival"
July 3rd II Chamber Music Festival of Villaviciosa de Odon (Madrid)
For more information on these and other upcoming dates please visit Anthony Ocana's website or Anthony Ocana at MySpace
For more information on Anthony Ocana's present and upcoming releases please click here.
At the moment, I'm working on writing new music for two upcoming albums and as well as for my upcoming concerts.
Stay tuned and don't forget to visit my website!
GTID: Anthony, thank you very much for the interview, and we look forward to hearing from you again soon at GTID!
Anthony Ocana:Thank you :-)