Story by Wesley Orser, one of Barry’s former Hofstra University Electronic Music students
The work of Andres Virola, a recent high school graduate who has taken composition lessons with Barry for over three years, is finally paying off with the recent release of his first EP, Sound Captivation, and single, “RIP Summer.” In the last year since composing “Doomed Paladin,” a piece for his school orchestra, he has started using the FL Studio DAW to create electronic music under the artist name Baravin.
What started out as just playing around with the FL app on his phone led Barry to recommend Andres get the computer version, which he ultimately did. His creative approach is somewhat unconventional in that he doesn’t use a MIDI controller and manually enters all of the notes, similar to when he used Finale to compose his orchestral work. The Beethoven-esque approach “gets a sort of precision you can’t get any other way.”
Andres has transferred much of what he learned from composing chamber and orchestral music to the electronic genre. Take the longest song in the EP collection, “Galinimne (Something Is Upon Us),” as an example of a piece that follows a similar structure to “Doomed Paladin.” Gently opening to a wistful glockenspiel-type track with MIDI strings in the foreground, a rising crescendo fades into the long buildup as the drum machine doesn’t even kick in until about two minutes in. Like “Doomed Paladin,” the ascending motifs in the string parts are crucial in creating the mood of the track’s impending climax. A sense of foreboding dread is further heightened by the recurring pattern of the lead synth melody.
Ambitious as his sound may be, Andres attributes Barry’s lessons over the years as being important in reminding him to let go of perfectionism. It can be a major creative block if an artist doesn’t accept that there are imperfections in everything. Though he was able to intuitively compose music without knowing anything about theory when they first started, the lessons have taught him how to clean up his rhythms and present notated music in a readable format. The editing software and electronic genre have since opened new possibilities for learning about automation, filters, synthesizers and effects.
Many of these production tricks are evident in “RIP Summer,” the recent single that Andres himself admitted took on a whole new meaning after the pandemic hit. It is also his first attempt at adding vocals to a final mix, the result of an AP Music Composition course that required all projects to feature singing. It goes to show how the combination of theory classes and Barry’s lessons have helped Andres to take creative risks that can further develop his potential.
Also important for Andres has been addressing Barry’s concept of the common musician’s “pile” of unfinished ideas. Andres has been prolific over the years in starting musical concepts and projects (his “pile” is easily over one hundred pieces!), but he has been able to officially release a collection of songs thanks to Barry’s insistence that he go the extra mile of completing and mixing a number of the pieces.
Heading to Manhattanville College in Fall of 2021 on a music scholarship and planning on furthering his knowledge of the electronic genre by concentrating on music technology, he’s just getting started.