Interview 11: Marianne Vedral
Marianne Vedral is a guitar composer and guitar teacher living in Vienna. She works in a music school. She studied classical guitar at the Vienna Music Conservatory and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. In March 2022 she started a YouTube channel to publish her original compositions. Her compositions have been published by Bergmann Edition since June 2022.
Marianne’s husband Wolfgang Vedral also composes guitar music.
You can find Marianne’s YouTube channel here, or follow this link to Marianne’s composer page at Bergmann Edition.
1. Tell us a little about the pieces you have published with Bergmann Edition, and about any new work which will be published imminently.
My first piece edited was "Raus". I wrote it after a very long Lockdown. It stands for the feeling of being free and being back in life again. Soon after that came "Two Lyrical Pieces" and "Two Melancholic Waltzes".
Then it was summer break, and during that time I wrote the three pieces for the next book "Summer Memories", which came out at the end of September 2022. I intended to write something for guitar lovers, "nice" pieces, not too difficult to play.
"Himmelsreise" ("Journey to Heaven"), a piece dedicated to those who are not longer with us, will be published soon.
- If you had to describe your own style of composition to someone, what would you say?
I´d say that I don´t have an own style. I feel a bit like a chameleon: I write in different genres like Waltz, Romance, Bossa, Lullaby..but maybe that will change one day..I don´t know.
- Approximately how many pieces have you completed so far?
- Your videos contain excellent performances/recordings of your pieces. Is the video and imagery part of the process for you? Do you "see" images when you write?
Very often I connect the pieces with something, a certain feeling, or there´s a ´story behind´ them. And yes, sometimes I ´see´ images when I write. Then I look for photos or videos that come close and use them in the YT videos.
- Have you performed them in concert or for an audience? And have other players done so?
No, I don´t play them in concerts. I´m not someone who loves the stage, I´m too nervous for that.
"Raus!" has already been performed in concert by Scott Ouellette; and some other pieces have been performed on YT, for example "Longing", by Eduardo Diaz.
- When you write a piece, do you have a typical listener or player in mind? A "target audience"? If so, who are they?
- Do you write pieces primarily for yourself to perform, or for other guitarists?
Primarly for other guitarists. When I make the recordings for YT, I try my best to play beautifully and emotionally. Sometimes I succeed and other times it´s more like I´m introducing the piece. Then I hope, someone else will play it better than I do. Luckily this has already happened several times (on YT)
- Do you listen to a lot of music? What was the last piece of music you bought (CD, download etc?)
Yes, of course. Guitarists and composers I love a lot are Augustin Barrios, Astor Piazzolla, Antonio Lauro, Egberto Gismonti, Ralph Towner, Dominic Miller...
- And I imagine with your work you must play music by the recognised guitar composers, but do you also play new music? What was the last piece of sheet music you bought?
The last piece of sheet music I bought was `Elegy` by Per-Olov Kindgren.
- Playing and teaching guitar, do you have particular favourites among the repertoire, a period of music you most identify with, or a composer whose style you would say has influenced you significantly?
I especially love Renaissance and Baroque Music and Latin Music.
- Can you improvise?
Yes, but not in all scales. I think more in chords. If you give me a simple melody, I can make an easy arrangement immediately, with a single try.
- I know you play guitar and baritone guitar. Do you compose or intend to compose for baritone guitar?
I would like to. But almost nobody owns a baritone guitar, so it makes no sense to publish anything for it.
- Do you play in any ensemble? And have you thought about writing for ensembles?
I play in a duo with my husband, and I’ve written one composition for us.
But I´d also already written some pieces for my student ensembles.
- Do you sing?
Only for me and in the music school.
- Do you actively promote your own work? If so, tell us a little bit about your method/stragedy.
Well, my pieces are on YouTube and I love to communicate with other guitarists and to write comments. And I´m also on Facebook.
- Do you usually have some musical ideas in your head? Do you hear musical phrases in your mind, before including them in a piece? Or do they emerge in practice, through playing?
Most of the time it starts in my head. It happens that I pick up a little melodic fragment from somewhere, which then changes and develops, and then crystallizes into a melody.Then I take the guitar, find chords and bass lines to the melody and so on..Sometimes interesting passages arise when I "make mistakes" while playing.
- Why do you write music? What is it that motivates you?
I love the process of creating something. When I compose, I find myself in my own world. I feel connected to something, a kind of "source". Something comes from somewhere. From me, but at the same time not from me.
And it makes me happy, when someone plays my pieces. Hearing other guitarists performing my compositions (on YT) is something very special, just a great feeling.
19.Your published pieces are quite song-like - do you ever think of lyrics?
Not up to now.
- What does writing music feel like, for you? For example, if you are working on a piece does it give you pleasure? Frustration? Anguish? Does it preoccupy you? Keep you awake at night? Does it feel like an obsession? Or can you pick it up and put it down at will?
There are phases in which it is like an addiction and then I can´t stop playing the guitar. Sometimes I have to hide the guitar from me in order to get through the day. When I take the train to work, the melodies continue to develop in my mind. Then I have to be careful that I get off at the right stop.
- Do you have a depth of knowledge about musical theory? Do you apply theory, or are you conscious of theory, when you write? How much of your writing is cerebral - thinking, logic etc - and how much is emotional? In other words, what is the balance of intellect and feeling in your writing?
Not that much, just what you learn when you study guitar. But I also took some courses in Jazz - Arrangement.
Either ideas come or they don´t. It doesn´t really work to´make´ music. But ther is always an inner observer who analyses. I´m very well aware of the chords, keys and forms I use.
- When you write a piece, do you ever start out with a ´model´- not neccessarily a template, but an idea such as ´I want to write something in the general style of Lauro´?
No, but when my two waltzes were finished I thought to myself: "I really have played and listened to a lot of music by Lauro in my life."
- What is your approach to a new work? Where do you start? For example, with a melodic fragment, an idea, a feeling, a principle?
Yes, most of the time with a melodic fragment.
- Do you keep any sort of musical notebook with ideas and sketches to develop later?
Yes, I always record ideas right away on my phone.
- Do you write with the guitar in hand, or do you compose the music in your head, or using another instrument such as keyboards?
Perhaps half in my head, half on the guitar.
- Are you in complete control of what you write? Can you hear the whole thing in your head? Do you know exactly where it is going from the start?
Yes, quite. But I must say that my pieces are not that long and complex.
- Could you produce pieces to order or to a particular specification?
No, I don´t think so.
- Is it easy for you? Does the music tend to come quickly?
Very different. The three pieces of ´Summer Memories´came quite quickly, all three composed in July, within two or three weeks. But very often the main part comes easily and then it´s difficult to find a development, some more parts...Then it can take weeks or months until the piece is complete.
- Do you change much of it as you progress? Or edit much after you have finished a piece?
Yes, I make some changes, but not so many.
- When do you start actually writing the notation? Are you creating a score as you create the piece, or does notation come later?
The first pieces I had published (in June 2022) were composed years ago.
When I started with my YT channel in March 2022, I hadn´t written down anything.
Then one day Per-Olov Kindgren asked me for the score of the ´Vals Melancholico`, because he wanted to buy it. So I wrote down first this Vals and then all other pieces. It was he who gave me the idea of publishing my pieces with Bergmann Edition.
I try to write down my current compositions earlier, but only when they are finished.
- Do you use technology, or is it pen/pencil and manuscript paper?
First pencil and manuscript paper then technology.
- Does anyone else hear or comment on your work in progress?
Yes, my husband, he is also a guitar composer.
- Do you work on one piece at the time, or can you work on multiple projects?
I work on several pieces at the same time.
- Are you working on anything now?
Yes, on a ´lullaby´ and two other pieces in dropped d tuning.
- Do you feel any pressure to keep writing? If a significant time passes without anything new coming to you, does it worry you?
I feel so new in so many things. Half a year ago, I couldn´t imagine that other people would like to play my music.
Until now there have been, and still are, some pieces waiting to be published. So I haven´t encountered this situation yet.
- How important for you is feedback and the reactions of others to your music?
Without the positive feedback I got in the beginning, when I uploaded my first pieces on YT, I would never have published anything.
- Do you think of yourself as a composer? That is, is it your main identity?
No, not at all. When I think of a composer, I imagine something different. So it´s very strange for me, when other people treat me like a composer.
If you had told me one year ago that I would publish my pieces, and other people would play them on YT, I would never have believed you.
Thank you Marianne for your honest and charming answers to my questions. I am sure you will continue to write very successfully for the guitar!