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IMPROVISING IN THE HYBRID LANGUAGE

Updated: Aug 31, 2021


April 16, 2021. Rafael Vargas gives a concert jumping from one piano to another and makes

them sound like three. With one piano tuned to the classical mode and the other to the

accordion mode (at 1,440 Hz), with the “Crazy Piano Timbre”, he improvises a mix of great

jazz classics with classical and contemporary music.

I talked to him a few days later, and he told me how everything went. But it is difficult to

talk about his experience at the concert without talking about life in general. "Music -he says- has to do with personal knowledge, with the spirit."


Rafael Vargas de Prado is a pianist and composer located in the current called Third Stream

Music, and with a master's degree in Piano Performance and History of Contemporary Music in Paris, with Jean Pierre Dupuy. He also has degrees in fields as varied as Neuroscience,

Neuropsychology, Music Therapy and Music History. He has released five CD’s and currently

teaches piano. If I had to write this in a while, I would probably have a lot more to add.

He and Sergey Gogolev (a tuner who has been the soul of the project) have known each

other for a long time. “Sergey was always chasing me,” says Rafael, and in the end, he

convinced him to participate in the project.

"I was very surprised"says Sergey. One day Rafa (he asks me to call him so) went to Sergey’s house to try a piano tuned to Crazy Timbre. “I was testing what worked and what didn't. Very tonal things did not work, like Mozart, but some others did, for example, Bach, because it is counterpoint, with more dissonances. His works for organ contain a large number of dissonances much more modern than those of several musicians of the 21st century…”.


Then the concert took place. Just before starting, the troubles appeared. When Sergey

arrived, Rafa told him that he wanted to play with two pianos. They did, but one was out of

tune, and Sergey had to tune it in less than an hour before starting. They finished tuning the

piano five minutes before the concert began, when the audience was already seated.

“A while ago I would have gotten angry and I would not have known what to do -he

confesses- but I have learned to see difficulties as opportunities. Any difficulty is an

opportunity to learn, and everything we learn enriches us”.


The concert was wonderful. "The pity was not being able to put the keyboards together to

be able to play both at the same time," regretted Rafael Vargas, "maybe next time."

The performance was fun in the most exposed sense of the word. We were able to witness

the pianist jumping from chair to chair, from one piano to another, in the middle of the

pieces, and mixing the two types of sound, enriching the harmonies and resonances of one

piano with the other...


And not only the pianos were mixed. At the beginning Rafael Vargas communicated to the

public his intention to play all the pieces that were in the program but without following the

order. Several smiles were drawn under the masks as they recognized the Goldberg Variations in what had been billed as a jazz concert. And many other works. "I don't know what jazz is, what classical music is... I know what music is," Rafa told me. For him, music has to be fun. Jazz only bores him if he doesn't stop repeating himself. "In music everything is fine, as long as you know what you are doing."

Understanding what you do is, for him, the real learning of music. From here on, each one's

path is personal. As a teacher, he said, “I don't want the students to do what I do: there is already one Rafael Vargas, everyone has to find his way."

Thus, each musical act becomes unique, and music is possible. He says that his style is

neither better nor worse than the rest, but that he likes mixing, picking up what each author

offers him and each possibility. What can you do, for example, with an Acoustic Hybrid

Piano?


The Acoustic Hybrid Piano suggests particular authors for you. For him, “composition is not

so much about diversifying things as limiting them. Making a cocktail with all the flavors has

no merit, and it tastes bad. But if you select the mix, if you measure well… It's exhilarating."

In this way, Rafael Vargas takes from the authors that he mixes not their closed songs, nor

what they did, but what they did not do, the ingredients that they would not have allowed

him to use when improvising in their own “language”. That way he got the “cocktail” that

left the public speechless on April 16.


When I asked him about the experience of playing on an Acoustic Hybrid Piano, he replied

that the tuning we think of as normal (4.40) is only perceived as that since the early 20th

century and it is Western. We like it because of what is called “epigenetics”, that is, not

because genetically it sounds better to us but because culturally it has been incorporated to

our taste for a long time. But in India, in China... there are other types of tuning.

This concert was a creative experiment for him and he is glad with the result. “You have to

know when to use one bell and when to use another; there are different harmonics,

different colors... Hybridization makes the situation more complex."

Finally, the conversation drifts to a more vital reflection. For him, music would have to cover

all areas of life, and life all of music. We should always want to know more, to ask. Living

between the interjection of the world and the perplexity by its wonders, and always keep

asking why we do what we do.

Clumsily, I asked him why he gave his concert. “I gave my vision, my way of doing. You may

like it or not, but it is different, unique. An artist, when he does something, talks about his

vision, his life, his experience... For him it is fun. You need to have fun doing things, or you

can't do them."


“The day I played, I would have liked to claim that music is present in everything. Everything

is made of vibrations, therefore, everything is translatable into music -the atoms vibrate in

the D note, for example. Music directly affects our emotions -it even improves our physical

and mental health!- and our happiness. Music has a voice, something to say and claim,

something deeply human. Music cannot be silenced, or you silence the spirit, people. Music

is what emanates from people's spirits." So let's listen to music and life.





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