Young Music Composer
By Mary Riherd
The Poly Post – Cal Poly Pomona
November 19, 2002
Some might say music’s greatest symphonies, scores and lyrics have already been written, but for one 24-year-old former commercial music student, he says it’s music or bust when it comes to creating new work.
“I was dissatisfied with the music that was out there,” recent Cal Poly Pomona graduate and classical guitar player Felix Salazar said. “I would listen to music in general and it was not satisfying me.”
“I almost dropped out [of the program], but then I figured out that if no music satisfies me, why don’t I write music that satisfies me?” he said.
Salazar graduated from Cal Poly last June with a degree in music and an emphasis in commercial music. He is currently finishing his creative project, which will culminate in a full recital of original music in March.
Salazar plans to include 15 original compositions in his recital. He and his friends will perform the music.
Cal Poly’s music department provides students with the opportunity to create their own compositions, utilizing new and old techniques.
“The traditional idea of composition has changed,” assistant professor and creative projects adviser Dr. David Kopplin said. “Over the years, people have begun to do new things. People want to write songs. People want to put songs together using digital editing.
Inspiration for Salazar’s music comes from many different places. His first composition came after he dreamt of a ghost fighting a frog. The composition involves two guitars, representing the ghost and the frog. The chords from each guitar evoke struggle and anger, but in the end, the struggle is resolved and the two guitars form a new scale together.
Another inspiration came from a visit to Paris this summer, where he studied language. He feared riding the city’s subway system where armed soldiers patrolled every day. This sparked the inspiration for “Le Reradiation Metropolitain.” The title is “Franglish,” Salazar said, and does not have a literal translation.
He describes his music as emotional, angry, scary, dark, powerful and not bound by industry standards. He also describes it as experimental classical music, an art form that places an original angle on traditional classical music.
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible,” Salazar said. So when it comes to his music, he does not mind if his friends say it is weird. “I am not trying to create my own style. I am just writing what I hear and it happens to be [different].”
The music of Igor Stravinsky and Frank Zappa have greatly influenced Salazar’s twist on musical composition; particularly Zappa because he incorporated classical music into rock ‘n’ roll.
Salazar was exposed to music at a young age, but rather reluctantly. His mother sent him to piano lessons when he was 6 years old. He did not like the piano and dreamed of being a singer. He began playing the guitar at age 15.
His parents did not support it so when college approached he was encouraged to major in engineering, a path that would lead to money and success, his family thought.
“I was here just one quarter and all I could think about was playing my guitar, so [I decided] to switch,” Salazar said.
He has so far composed close to 60 pieces of music. The compostions have been created for saxophones, piano, guitar and voice, and often use synthesized sequences.
“I just have this need to do it, like a poet needs to write poetry for some reason,” Salazar said.
Danny Guzman-Rodas graduated with Salazar in June. He focused on classical music tailored for film and appreciates Salazar’s style.
“People approach anything in life in different ways but just because someone does it different doesn’t mean it’s wrong,” Guzman-Rodas said.
He, Salazar and several friends have formed a rock ‘n’ roll band, The Psychic Hearts, which combines each of their classical influences. Salazar said he hopes the band gains popularity. Although he is not writing music for the money or fame, he would like to make a lasting impression on the music world.
“If I do become famous it will probably be a hundred years after I’m gone,” Salazar said.
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