I had the pleasure of sitting down with the composer of The Window Shop Suite, Aaron Vinsky. Aaron and I talked briefly about what made him start writing music and why this piece in particular was so special to him.
Brianna: When did you begin composing music?
Aaron: I have been playing for 14 years, and I started to compose 5 years ago.
Brianna: What made you want to compose music, was there anything specific?
Aaron: Composing was always a way for me to express my frustrations. There would be a high chance I would compose a piece on a day I got a bad grade at school, missed an important event, had an argument with my parents, or felt generally melancholy. One time I missed attendance for a college standardized test because I thought it started at 9 am (when it always starts at 8) as I had attended practice tests at 9 am for the month leading up. I felt so stupid for it, so I wrote something to compensate for my negative emotions.
Brianna: When writing your music are there any elements that are most important, you feel, to include: a particular crescendo, a bridge, or maybe a prelude?
Aaron: For me, composition is a building process. What I mean by that is every new composition is the result of my discovering of a new stylistic element. Writing my first composition—from messing with chords to completion—took roughly 3 years. I needed to build up my knowledge of the necessary elements: the chords, their progressions, and the structuring of those progressions throughout the piece. After I had established my foundation, I was able to write much more quickly, I could now manipulate elements I had built. Many of the elements that went into creating my first piece found their ways into other compositions. To name a few, I traditionally use diminished 7th chords, contrast a minor chord with a major chord, and use bass notes which either dissonance or match the treble notes. I feel that these elements are marks of my history as a composer: small tributes to composers such as Debussy, Chopin and Rachmaninoff who inspire me
Brianna: When you were writing the suite for the window shop what inspired you, was it something about the site—classical music usually has a very profound feeling behind it, do you feel that The Window Shop Suite has a particular feeling, and if so what is it?
Aaron: Immediately, I felt that the vibe of the window shop was looking through a window into other people’s expression of beauty. So, when arranging a sonata for the Window Shop, I felt that my music had to effectively accompany this experience. In each of my movements, I attempted to instill prominent, easy to follow melodies, accompanied by gentle supporting chords, which either echoed or added to the prominent sound. Furthermore, I arranged each movement with a personal experience in mind, rather than just an emotion, in order to fully capture a range of emotional interpretations. For example, the fifth movement of the piece was inspired by the cold yet inviting landscape of the outskirts of Saint Petersburg, Russia, which I was privileged enough to personally experience. I believe that shaping my compositions around real experiences allows for other listeners to attach their own memories to the music, and with each new movement, see what’s in the windows of the window shop in a different light.
Brianna: What are your interests besides writing music?
Aaron: Besides composing music, my other main interest is studying computer science. While I have not had formal training, I often create computer-based projects that described the behavior of music in a way that also allowed me to access a new, more logical mindset about my compositions. For example, I had once hit a point where I was no longer impressed by what I could create. I felt I had explored every noteworthy chord progression, and couldn’t create something new anymore. However, I was still fascinated by the synthesis of complex harmonies and melodies I produced, and so I wrote a piece of code I called “Version 1” that used probability and trends in my composition style to generate chord progressions. The code generated thought-provoking results, leading me to believe that in order to create something new I need to gather inspiration from chord progressions in existing music.
Brianna: Besides working with music and computers, I like to play tennis, go on walks, and the usual social stuff.
Aaron: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Hopefully, by then I will find myself surrounded by a healthy and loving family, just as the one I have now. In the near future, I hope to graduate college and contribute to strides in the field of computer science in whatever way I can. Wherever I find myself in 20 years, I hold no doubt that the piano will forever be a part of my expression, a part that will continue to make me smile and inspire me in my pursuit of understanding the inner workings of my mind.