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Laurier Nappert Interview

August 4, 2004


Myriad : Hello, Mr Nappert , thanks for answering some questions. You won the mandatory topic "Harvesters" with your piece "Jour de moisson"  and we wish first to know who you are.
Could you please introduce yourself ?



I live in the beautiful city of Quebec in the province of the same name in Canada. As I'm writing these lines, I'm 58 and retired for more than 4 years after having had 3 different careers: navigation officer on merchant ships for 5 years, police officer for 7 years and firefighter for 23 years.

Before I retired, I had decided that my life would be dedicated to music, something I had always wanted to do since I was a kid. So I went back to school as a full time student in music and I still am there.


Myriad: On what kind of hardware are you working ?

Speaking of computers, I have a G5/1.8mHz. Of course, my favorite program is and by far, Harmony Assistant, but I also sort of have to have others, such as Sibelius which I love to hate and Digital Performer which I have a very hard time to understand well (Help!...). I used to have a MIDI keyboard hooked to my machine but found it to be more of an obstacle than an aid. Right now I enter my music with the mouse only.

Speaking of musical instruments, I have a piano, a classical guitar, a folk guitar and a 12 strings guitar with which I try my tune on before entering them in HA.

Myriad: What has been your music itinerary ?

As a child, I took piano lessons for about 2 years. As a teenager, I switched to a piano-accordion. Much later, I started learning guitar by myself. I very soon reached the limits of what I could do by myself and decided to take private courses, which I did for more than 4 years. But for many reasons such as work and sickness, I had to give up.

It is at the time I started with the guitar that I also started writing songs. At that time, a female singer got interested by what I was doing and used one of my song in her repertoire ("Emmenez-moi" which you can listen to on my site). Unfortunately, she never became famous, but I consider myself lucky for having had this opportunity.

Finally, retirement came! This would allow me to make music the "center" of my life from then on. I went back to the guitar, took private lessons (see my teacher's site: http://www.davidjacques.com/ ) and I gave my teacher the mandate to get me ready to enter music school as a full time student. A year later, I wrote the entrance exams and passed the mandatory audition. I was accepted and I'm still there since then.

At the beginning of 2004, I was enrolled in a composition course, and I had the honor and pleasure of having had one of my tune created at a concert, "Art deco", a piece you can hear on Myriad's site as well as on my own (part of 12th composition contest). You can also hear the recording that was made of it at that time at: http://www.sibeliusmusic.com/mp3/5/2/6/52623.mp3 .

Myriad: Do you play an instrument (or several) ?

I play classical guitar and accompaniment guitar, and a little bit of piano. I also have played many instrument without ever mastering them though: recorder, piano-accordion, saxophone, mandoline, banjo, bass guitar, drums and harmonica. Right now I'm learning to play the xaphoon. This being said, I readily confess that I am a very bad player. Since playing well of an instrument is not really my musical goal but composing is, I don't play with the care one should to play well and my playing leaves much to be desired! What's more, I have a very serious stage fright problem. What I master very well in my home becomes a nightmare in front of a public made up of one or more, if I can play at all that is.

Myriad: What are your tastes in matter of music ? You can quote artists or music genres if you want.

There are so many!... Here is a sample. Opera (Verdi et Puccini, specially if Placido Domingo sings in them), classical (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn), baroque (Bach Haendel, Vivaldi) romantic et post-romantic (Chopin, Liszt, Paganini, Debussy). Let's not forget jazz and blues (Sonny & Terry, Jimmy Smith, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Chalie Byrd, Buddy Rich, Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Bruebeck, etc.). In the more recent music: the must have Beatles, folk singers like Gordon Lightfoot, Peter Paul & Mary, The Seekers and Bob Dylan, the magical voice of Nana Mouskouri, the poets Georges Moustakis, Yves Duteuil, Charles Aznavour, Félix Leclerc, crooner Frank Sinatra, the great Piaf, Claude Léveillé, André Gagnon, etc.

 Myriad: More precisely, what are you currently listening to ?

I go through period of different length. Right now, I'm more or less in the romantic period: Chopin, Debussy, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert. In jazz and more recent music, I listen to Oscar Peterson, Dave Bruebeck, Gordon Lightfoot.

 Myriad: And what kind of music don't you listen to anymore ?

For having listened to this kind of music, I can say without the shade of a doubt that I can't stand this music  any more: country and western that makes the wolves howl, techno, rap, atonal music, serial and dodecaphonic music and other so called modern trends music that have lasted the time that a rose lasts without the worth of the roses (Boulez, Varese, Berio, Messiaen and others). I apologize to those who do like that, good for you, but that is asking me too much. No hard feelings! (;

Myriad: If you had to chose a piece to be put into a capsule to be sent to the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri, what would be your choice ?

If that would be for only one work, I would choose, Beethoven's 9th symphony to show them the best side of human created music.

Myriad: If you had to be out of the world during a whole year, what are the two albums you would take away with you ?

You are not talking seriously are you? Only 2? Albums? Not 2... cases? Ok then, for one it would be same as for the inhabitants of Alpha, Beethoven's 9th symphony and the other would be the best of Oscar Peterson Jazz Trio.

Myriad: About the piece which won the contest, what has been the source of your inspiration ?

Being a mandatory topic, the painting itself was the source of inspiration as well as the music from this era.

Myriad : What have been the progress of your composition (technical details will be of interest for the readers) ?

The painting depicts a country scene with farmers harvesting the grain towards the end of the Renaissance era. I wanted to have a music that would stick to this era, to these peoples and to the activities they were engaged in, a kind of pastiche if you want.

The sicilian rhythm pattern I thought would be very convenient to convey a pendulum movement as well as being a popular dance. The compound bar (6/8) was also typical of the era. The swinging pendulum movement would represent the regular swinging pendulum movement the harvester must produce with his scythe to cut the stalks: neither too slow nor too fast, but enough so the reaper could scythe on this beat. Since I grew up on a farm, this is a movement I knew well. It is by imitating this movement in my living room that I finally found the proper tempo for the piece.

The instruments used existed in those days, either in their actual form or very close to it while often being associated with popular music. The French horn was not yet born, but its cousin the hunting horn was there. Moreover, the horn is often used to musically depict pastoral, country side and hunting sceneries.

As for the writing itself, the AAB form, the 1st theme is played by a different orchestration in the repeat. As for the B, the 2nd theme, I wanted it to be in contrast with the A theme both in the melody and the rhythm pattern while keeping a swinging pendulum beat. I created a kind of counter time by making a voluntary mistake, this mistake being beating the second note of each group of 3 notes of the 6/8 as well as the first one. The staccato notes on the bass also contribute to the effect. The final effect is a little "disturbing" and will not please to those who only go by the strict rules of writing, but let's admit it does serves well the purpose I created them for: contrast, surprise and keeping the pendulum swing with a difference.

Polyphony was still fairly new in those days, so my tune was kept very simple in this way as well. The dynamics hadn't been invented yet in those days. In order to have a soft or a loud sound, they would call for less or for more instruments to play at the same time, and my piece does the same. It is for the same reasons that the velocities of a same instrument is the same all along. Finally, as it was also customary in those days, my tune carries 2 distinct melodies, one carried by the soprano instruments and the other one carried by the bass instruments.

So, keep this in mind when you listen to that tune again, and I suggest you do soon. For al these reasons, I tend to somewhat agree with the judge who said that this tune "...is almost more musicology than music...", this judge was able to see beyond the music. And I could tell you a similar story for almost every tune I wrote.

Myriad: Do you have an anecdote to recount ? Not necessarily related to your piece, but related to music in general.

Just a funny situation: the peoples I go to school with are aged around 18-20. In theory at least I could be their grand father. And they really wonder why grandpa is doing all this!... My answer to them doesn't shed any light on their wonder: I'm just having a wonderful and terrific time doing it and that's all that counts for me.

Myriad : What are your goals or your project in relation with music ?

Right now, I want to continue with my studies. In December 2004, I will be done with the college, which is the preparatory school for the university. And if all goes well, I just may go on and attend Laval University in composition at the beginning of 2005. On the other hand,I would very much like to see more of my works being played in public. I also have a composition project I presented to a very important organization. The project has been very well received, but I have no idea yet if it will ever see the light of day. It should come to a conclusion within a year, I still have hopes, and if it doesn't take shape within that period of time, it will never happen. So much the better if it works, it will be a very rich experience for me, if not then I will go on with other projects and simply say "next one!".

Myriad : Do you have a personal Web site ?

Yes. Since I don't submit all my works to the Myriad's contest and since I write more than the contest can take, my web site remains the best place to stay up to date with what I do, for those who are interested of course. You'll find it at http://pages.infinit.net/azza/index.html

Myriad : Do you want to pass an advice or a message to the readers of this interview ?

If you don't try anything, you won't learn much and if you don't learn much, you run the risk of not going very far. This applies to all what we do, composing music included. If writing music is of some interest to you, don't hesitate to try things. What will come out may not be good or as good as you would want it to be, but you will learn something from it, so dare to try. And if you can and if you really want to reach your goals, read all you can on the subject, ask questions, take lessons. Have a dream, but just don't sit there waiting for it to come true. Success is 10% talent and 90% sweat. Good luck!

Myriad : What other questions would you have wanted to be asked ? What would have been your answers then ?

Instead, let me put it the other way around: after having read what I said, is there anything else you would like to know? If so, then you'll have to drop me a line and ask for it. In the meantime, many thank for having invited me to this interview and I thank you for making my favorite music programs. Long live Myriad!



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