Review Fix chats with MIDI Guitar Legend Les Fradkin, who discusses his new single, “Under The Covers,” and so much more.
Review Fix: How do you go from MIDI Guitar pioneer to where you are now?
Les Fradkin: I identify opportunities where that technology can bring something new to the world. My original MIDI Guitar experience dates back to the early 80s with Roland guitar synthesizers and the Synth Axe. I used these early instruments for the commercials and recordings
I was doing in the 80s in tandem with my Synclavier system in New York City. That work of composing and programming earned me one of the first 25 inductions as a Charter Inductee in the Television Music Production Hall of Fame.
It has taken me over a decade to get to a point on the Ztar where I can express things in a completely comfortable manner. In particular, I have developed brand new scale tunings which allow me to compose music, heretofore, impossible on conventional guitar.
Review Fix: What was the hardest part of this transition?
A: The persistence and Discipline necessary to move towards that goal.
Review Fix: What’s your process like? How does Les Fradkin build a song?
Fradkin:I record each line of the score, one overdub at a time. Generally, a chordal sketch or top line melody, followed by accompaniment. For example, when I’m recreating a Bach score, I record that first to a click track, and then, I layer on the Rock accompaniment. This is the reverse of how rock bands generally handle Classical influence or Orchestral arrangements. It is probably the main reason that my musical approach shows a strong Classical influence. I like to work in small sections, sometimes, a couple of bars at a time, the way a painter brush strokes a canvas, one segment at a time or the way a Classical Composer writes a score, one section at a time.
When all the segments are done, I assemble the sections linearly for final mix down. This approach gives me the opportunity to assemble intros and outros which only become apparent as variation ideas, after the initial work is done. Each composition has to be programmed for tuning, synth setup, sonic choices, response curves and where on there fretboard it can/might be played. This requires in depth knowledge of the MIDI spec and takes great patience. It is not for the faint of heart. As far as regular songwriting goes, I work with various ideas on Piano, or guitar until something appears that sounds promising. I prefer to write the lyrics first so that I can fashion a direction for the music.
Review Fix: How has God guided you the past few years?
Fradkin:He guilds everything I do. Sometimes, his message allows me to predict future events. That assertion was proven with songs like “System Crash.”
That was a song that was written in 2003 predicting the pandemic and the events surrounding it in 2020. As a matter of fact, that’s one of several songs that I have written that have successfully predicted future events. My 2020 album “The Les Fradkin News” is an entire Concept album which predicted future events as originally composed in 2003.
Review Fix: How important is your spirituality now in your music?
A: All my music is guided from a spiritual perspective.
Review Fix: Have you completely let go of your past? Or does your influences and styling of your previous work find it’s way into “ Under The Covers?”
Fradkin: My past and those influences will always be a part of me. However, I always make a practice of innovation with new ideas and new sounds.
Review Fix: How do you want this song to stand in terms of your legacy and how you’re ultimately remembered?
Fradkin: “Under The Covers” is already a Top 5 Indie single in a number of Countries around the World. The results speak for themselves. Yes, it does put a smile on my face. I’d like to be remembered as a composer of importance and someone who tried to bring an important message to the world in both music and lyrics.
Review Fix: What do you think you have to do to make that a reality?
Fradkin:It’s well on its way to becoming a reality. I hope for more Spotify and radioplay in the United States so that the US can hear what Europeans and Australians are hearing today.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Fradkin: I am waiting for the future to present itself.