Ryan David Dwyer is an instrumental pianist and lyrical song writer crossing many genres. He goes by the moniker of Harpazio from a Greek word that means, “Rapture”. His desire is to elevate people through the music/lyrics. Recently, I had an interview with this interesting artist who has also invented an original music learning curriculum. Learn everything below!!!
1 – Did your parents or the city you were raised in, heavily influence your decision to write music?
My parents never chose to learn an instrument. I grew up in a small suburb of Portland, Oregon and although Portland has an amazing music scene, I was more influenced by specific people in my religious network, than from a city. I’d say that my grandparents played a huge indirect role because one set on my dad’s set providing us with an organ, then my grandparents on my mother’s side provided us with an old saloon piano. Getting that 1890 saloon piano really inspired me to want to make music!
2 – Upon listening to your songs on SoundCloud, I noticed you are an artist with different skills. How did you develop your talents as a pianist, singer, and lyricist?
When I was 8 my family inherited an organ. A family friend of ours who plays by ear mesmerized me with his impressive abilities to play any song. I didn’t desire to play by ear as much as I desired to play really impressively. But the first approach I learned from him was through a number system, and eventually recognizing Chords written upon musical Staff. Note reading had zero appeal. Growing up in a religious environment, I’d get inspired to play songs I really liked. I’d practice the chords. Eventually, at the age of 12 I decided to write my own lyrics based on spiritual ideas and enjoyed trying to create fresh ways to play chords. At the age of 14 my parents signed me up for piano lessons with a teacher who plays multiple instruments. I brought in a song I wrote and it impressed him greatly. As the weeks progressed he noticed that I would not work on the note reading lessons. So he focused on Chord patterns and encouraged me to write more songs. Surprisingly though, I ended up practicing scales a lot. What I noticed is that putting forth the effort to learn scales opened up a huge door of possibilities for me that allowed me to “flow” between chord changes. Regarding my current lyrics vs those of my teenage years, I do my best to invest a lot of thought into deep meanings that can be said as simple as possible. Matching the feel of lyrics to the way the music is played has always been a priority for my compositions. A year ago I decided it’d be ok for me to develop my voice better. It has been challenging for me to compete against myself since my piano playing musicianship is much better than my singing. So I will be trying my best to improve my voice over time to be more prepared for singing my own songs publically.
3 – What’s the music style of your latest song? What is it about?
My latest lyrical song is about 2 months fresh. It was inspired through an album concept and a book I began writing called, “Romance Myths” which will go into great detail about all the various different definitions and expectations of relationships in society. The style is ironic because it is a rare song (for me to write) through which I use the same chord pattern throughout. Often I advise people to never use the same chord pattern repeated. What I do is repeat D Minor, B Flat, F Major, and C Major over and over again. I wanted to write the song to demonstrate that through creativity you can take something which is common and make it sound uncommon. I add color throughout by playing variations of the chords with very contrasting melodies. I also use octave playing a lot, for the intro and final scene of the song. Octaves give a unique power to a melody line. Also, I sneak a lot of 6th chords, suspended chords, and chords over chords – such as C Major over E in the bass line. The actual title is called, “Missing You Now”. It describes many various feelings of missing someone and the longing to resolve the feelings by moving on.
4 – In your book, ‘You’ve Had The Keys All Along’ you write that people learn to play piano and write their own songs. How does this book differ from others?
I’ve never seen a music curriculum designed with songwriting as the main emphasis. There are hundreds of courses that teach how to write songs but they are normally tailored and based from the assumption that the student already knows how to play an instrument. Yet learning to play an instrument does not guarantee that the learner is prepared to write their own music. Being trained to read notes means that one is trained to regurgitate knowledge, not innovate. In the book, I point out the irony that all Classical Era musicians were songwriters. But if you were to interview piano teachers who are members of official music teacher associations and inquire if they write their own songs, you’d likely be surprised out how few actually do. And then you could ask them how many students they teach to write, and you may end up with a similar small statistic. So there is a great question to ask, “When in history did the excitement to teach songwriting die?” But with my music curriculum Key Identity AccessTM, we approach learning piano from an entirely different viewpoint than even that of historical note reading. We assert that the best way to learn to play music is naturally, that is, similar to how we all learned a language. First, we learned to speak, then we embraced reading and writing. Therefore, we encourage non-judgmental “speaking” of music, which leads to natural song composition. Babies experiment with words; therefore, why not encourage experimenting with sounds while learning all the necessary basics of music?
5 – What inspired you to write this book?
Since note reading teaches you to play other people’s creativity then it is automatically not favorable toward helping someone express their own originality. Writing the book is a wake-up call to shed unnecessary obstacles that prevent being oneself. This approach is radical and the book was written in order to make an impact on society by encouraging people to use their musical learning as a tool to be and become who they are, instead of the opposite. About a year before writing the book I had signed up for email lists online to be trained on how to write a book fast and also identifying one’s motive for writing one. I’ve always enjoyed writing since elementary school but I was always under the impression that a book takes a very long time to finish. What I learned recently was that if you have a topic you know you’re an expert on, then you already have all the necessary content to write a book. The next step is to organize how you want the content to be explained and revealed. I wanted to clearly set my company apart by giving the background behind the meaning of our name, “Key Identity Access”. We are access to all the keys of the piano. With a note reading approach all the keys of the piano are not accessible equally. What this means is that you have to learn the differences between sharps and flats by recognizing those symbols on a page. We get rid of all abstract symbols and form a bridge between abstract and concrete learning. Our bridge is the use of the 12 colors in the color wheel, consistently associated with the same keys. Also, the diagrams are very vivid and often show the recommended fingers to play. I have been told by many adults that they quit piano but wish they had not. In the book I pointed out that you don’t easily quit something that represents yourself.
6 – How useful is this book for electronic music producers? Does it contain the key to create a number one hit?
I know there are various approaches that determine a hit song. Sometimes I think hit songs don’t deserve to be at the top of the charts. Every company has different criteria to decide popularity. Nevertheless I often hear electronic music sound exactly like other songs. Miles Davis, the famous Jazz Trumpeter, said that, “First you imitate, then you innovate”. There is nothing wrong with imitating in order to gain fresh ideas and to become a better musician by practicing other people’s expression. Yet imitation does not belong in the final production of a song. If you are really wanting to set yourself distinguished from every other musician out there, then you should make it a priority to shed yourself of all regurgitation, and try to hone in on your original melodies, harmonies, and chord patterns. In this regard, my book delves into my philosophy of music making. I make distinction between Music Theory, Musicality, and Musicianship. I define Musicianship as the ability to express the same sounds that you imagine in your mind. Playing by ear is not the same thing as Musicianship. Playing by ear can be another form of regurgitation. Being able to expand yourself to imagine totally unique ways of making sound and rhythm collaborate, is what truly makes a person a musician. Therefore, since my book provides ideas to be able to philosophically acknowledge the differences between Music Theory, Musicality, and Musicianship, then it truly possesses the foundational Key to create a number 1 hit. In order to make a hit one has also to consider how they will transform their song in a way that the masses will appreciate, so that it is not just pleasing to yourself to listen to. Yet the problem I witness often is what I call, “songwriting laziness”. Basically, if you make an electronic song that sounds like every other out there then you are a lazy songwriter. You probably thought it would become a hit because it has scientifically been proven that certain “hooks” are popular. While that is true, why not come up with a hook that is even better? Use popular hooks as a source of inspiration to innovate, but don’t blatantly copy someone else’s hook.
7 – Have you ever written songs for other artists? Do you sell your lyrics online?
As of yet I haven’t written for any other artists and I don’t sell lyrics either. I’d be willing to do both under the right set of contracts and compensation.
8 – Would you like to collaborate with mainstream or underground singers? Why?
This would depend on how personable the individual is. If they are open to constructive feedback, that is the most important thing. But I also am open to constructive criticism, so it is a fair situation. On first thought though, underground singer collaboration is a more favorable idea because my feeling is that they are more open to creative expression, rather than a “popular package” that might stifle innovation.
9 – In your opinion, are music schools admitting too many students for the number of employment opportunities available?
If I am to understand your question correct, you are asking me if there are too many graduates with degrees that never end up teaching? If that is the case, I’d say, “Yes”. There are plenty of music teachers available therefore it is very tough to compete for obtaining students. What there are not plenty of are music teachers who invent their own methods.
10 – What are your future plans for the rest of the year?
It is hard to believe it is May already. My plans are to do my best to get their word out regarding the Key Identity AccessTM music curriculum and also do a lot of advertising experiments for my music career through Facebook. I’m just beginning to learn how to test Facebook ads. I’m amazed at their targeting features but there is so much to understand, and so many ways to formulate an ad. Some people claim that building an email list is vitally important, and then offering sales promotions after delivering a lot of valuable content. Other people claim that you can formulate an ad to do direct sales. I’ll be discovering what works best for me. I’m putting together some strategies for targeting high end clients that will pay thousands for a very valuable offering. Ben Sword with Music Marketing Classroom (London) says that the most important thing to do first is to build trust, then sell. I’m making that a priority.