This past summer when I was having dinner at my friends – The Bax Family – they introduced me to a wonderful young pianist and composer Fraser Jones.
As a pianist, I don’t always like to listen to piano music (I know odd) but I was immediately drawn into Fraser’s playing and composition style. It created a wonderful backdrop to our wine and cheese and reminded me of what Chopin said: “The line between composition and improvisation is very thin” I knew I had to find out more about this young composer so dropped him an email and we had a wonderful conversation about his music.
How old were you when you started piano?
I began playing the piano when I was 7 (almost exactly 13 years ago). Before that, I enjoyed tinkering with the piano in our living room and pretended I could read the music from my Mum’s old music books.
I was reading about how you were inspired to write your music – could you share some of it with our readers?
Now for the inspiration behind my music! As a Bible-believing Christian, I hope that the joy and peace of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Romans 15:13) permeates everything I do – including composing music. I’d love to have the same motivation as J.S. Bach, who said that he wrote all of his music for the glory of God. This is the very purpose of life itself! My oldest brother, Austin, has had the most powerful musical influence on me. A talented violinist, he composed beautiful, reflective music. I learned some of the songs he composed and included them on my CD (Daybreak, Only Yesterday, and Assurance). When he started teaching music, he enjoyed teaching so much that he regularly went overtime with his students. We loved to jam, compose, and play duets together. I learned from Austin that composition was a great way to express yourself creatively without the limitations of notation. Because I find music very moving and a great way to reflect on memories, there’s typically a bit of nostalgia in my songs. Some of my pieces (Pictures on the Wall, for example) have been written in memory of my brother, who is now with his Saviour in heaven, having passed away from a heart condition in 2013. I began to dabble with composition myself around the age of 12, as one of my teachers introduced me to hymns and improvisation. This opened the door to “thinking outside the box” and chording, which hugely facilitated me in creating my own music.
So when you are write music? The inspiration comes from your story but how to do you approach the music? Is it improvisational? Is it theory based?
My compositions are 100% improvised. None of them are written down. In a sense, there is some musical theory mixed in because use a lot of basic chord progressions as a framework for my melodies. I like to “shoot the breeze” from the heart, especially when I’m winding down for the day, and that’s usually when the compositions come. In fact, my songs are often amalgamations of smaller melodies that I’ve fused into one song.
When is your next performance?
I don’t actually know when my next performance will be, but it will likely be spur of the moment. I love playing in a relaxed atmosphere, and sometimes will be a bit spontaneous (e.g. I played one of my songs at my sister’s piano recital, even though I wasn’t scheduled to play). Public pianos (e.g. in lobbies) are a favourite. I also regularly play hymns for the singing at my church (Surrey Reformed Baptist).
Where can folks find you and your music?
My main avenue for promotion is neighbourhood canvassing. So you might see me at your door! However, you can also reach me on my website (fraserowenjones.com) and are able to purchase a CD or download there (I sell MP3 downloads independently and so you’ll need to contact me for a specific code)
Keep playing Fraser — I see good things in your future and thanks for sharing your story and music with us!