Transmit feelings without words…?

I’m sorry if this post will be slightly longer than usual, but when I started this website, I decided to create something honest and genuine, without limitations and self-censure. Probably all of you guys are more than fed up with my favorite Oscar Wilde quote (“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”), but the truth still lies somewhere here: artists have a chance to create something meaningful only through genuineness and honesty – even if it results in long and exhausting blogposts, clearly kicking over the alleged “rules” of social media to write concise posts and bold statements.

To start with, let me tell you that recently I got extremely thought-provoking reviews on many of my songs. The feedback basically came from two major sources: (1) I showed a couple of tracks to curators of metal playlists and blogs for consideration to stream/publish on their respective platforms, and (2) being intended to represent the Roman Catholic mass in an expreimental way, my Missa Innominata was presented to a group of musicians involved in religious music. The outcome of these discussions were two-fold. First of all, while almost everyone affirmed that the songs are well-written, well-played and inventive (I was absolutely honored by this incredible feedback btw!), many of my reviewers and listeners claimed that they would perform better, if they contained lyrics and vocals. Besides, Missa Innominata triggered an interesting and inspiring discussion on the abilities of instrumental music to represent and express spirituality. Altogeter, both lines of feedback led in the same direction, raising questions about the legitimacy and viability of instrumental rock/metal music in our contemporary musical culture.

Interestingly, no such questions are posed to – for example – instrumental jazz, which is generally considered a legitime way to express feelings and thoughts. The answer may lay in the alleged (or rather hypothesized) nature of metal music, a genre that has long been marginalized due to its undoubtedly nonconformist character held by many as a rebellious and unpeaceful way of opposing traditional values and lifestyle. Metal, is usually considered to be able to express only negative feelings like rage, hatred or sadness – however, the truth is that it’s not even a single entity, but rather an umbrella term for a variety of different characteristically distinct subgenres. Without the urge to defend something that actually doesn’t need to be defended, let me emphasize that this diversity renders metal music capable to express feelings and emotions on an extremely wide spectrum. Although the “faces” of instrumental rock/metal – guitar virtuosos like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Buckethead or Tony Macalpine – put an enormous emphasis on technical perfection, many metal bands incorporating instrumental tracks in their albums concentrated on inventive songwriting and harmony progression rather than personal shredding abilities (two of my favorites are A Day at Guyana from Agent Steel and It’s a Secret from Metal Church). Instrumental metal, therefore – like every other musical genres – has unlimited (however, still unexploited) abilities in this regard.

This clearly constitutes an unmet need – a niche that must be filled sooner or later. While I’m well aware that most people can “get into a song” primarily through lyrics, I look at instrumental metal music as an endless possibility to be exploited and utilized. I am convinced that music in general may substantially profit from the textualization of thoughts and feelings: lyrics can create an added value that might lead the listener into the deepest layers of the composer’s soul. Still, certain types of music doesn’t need lyrics to transmit these feelings and emotions – it depends on the character of the music. The absence of lyrics may provide an enormous opportunity for the listener to interpret the harmonies and melodies in a completely free way. I must admit that I myself experimented quite a lot with lyrics – still, my current creative process is based on playing the guitar. I, therefore, found my own lyrics artificial and inappropriate.

So, what now? Nothing, I suppose. I will continue making instrumental music until I feel that the presence of words become crucial for me to express something specific in my songs. While I don’t exclude the possibility to write music with lyrics and vocals in the future, my present ideas for my two or three new tracks are centered around my comfort zone by playing the guitar and composing instrumental music. I’m well aware that there’s are faster guitarists, better songwriters and definitely more good-looking guys out there than I am or will ever be – still, those two albums in the Releases section of this website are me: and in this sense of the word they are faithful reflections of their creator’s character. I hope you’ll find the third one an organic continuation of the previous two.

On the first birthday of Hexapla

Sometimes we don’t even realize, how fast time flies: Hexapla, my debut album was already released one year ago. On such remarkable occasions people used to draw meaningful conclusions and make bold statements, but I just want to quickly summarize the milestones of this amazing journey from “Day 0” to today.

I don’t even know when “Day 0” was. Maybe it was back in the 80’s, when I got my first small acoustic guitar from my parents and started to make horrible noises with it (I even tried to invent some home-made distortion equipment for the poor thing, but of course I failed…). Or maybe “Day 0” was sometime around 1990, when I first joined a band. It was a different era at a different place with different people around me, and naturally the music I envisioned then was slightly – but not fundamentally – different from the music I make today. I can’t remember anymore much of the details, but back then my musical creations were rather slow and melancholic. Later these compositions gradually developed into a strange mixture of a Nightwish-type of opera metal combined with Nevermore-like brutality. They didn’t really have a specific, well-defined style, but one thing was certain: the rhythmical foundations of thrash/death metal were already there. I’m also aware of the formative effect of those musicians (mainly – but not exclusively – guitar players) whom I loved and admired already in the 80’s and early 90’s: they are still my greatest favorites even now. While experimenting with various styles and techniques, I quickly realized that playing in a band won’t work for me: first my studies at the university and later my profession made the daily routine quite unpredictable. Still, the desire of creating and playing music was always there.

Although my own “Day 0” seems now to disappear in the gloomy shadows of my past, “Day 0” for Hexapla was probably the day when I first experimented with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW, a software for sound recording, engineering, mixing, and mastering). I quickly realized that my musical concepts can be implemented even without playing in a band, just by recording guitars track by track, then adding bass lines, programmed drums, and orchestration. Some would say it’s a suboptimal way of creating and playing rock/metal music, but I must clearly disagree on that point. The pros for this solitary process are the independence and the compromise-free nature of the whole creative flow, while the cons are the exclusive responsibility for every small details, and the enormous amount of energy that must be sacrificed on the altar of running a one piece band. While it certainly feels somewhat lonely to do everything alone from creating drum tracks to guitar solos, orchestration, mixing, mastering, and promotion, I wouldn’t easily give up this kind of independence and freedom. I don’t even feel sorry that I had to let the vocals go (originally, I wanted to write songs with lyrics and vocals, but soon I realized that my own “natural habitat” is instrumental metal music).

Although Hexapla was born in August 2021, I started to write the backbone of the songs already more than a year before. Several people asked me, what made me to give such a strange title to the album – and to be honest, I never gave a decent answer. But now I will. The truth is that earlier I wrote lots of poems that I initially intended to develop into song lyrics. When I started to think about the concept of my first album, I had six poems in mind enlightening one well-defined topic from six separate viewpoints. And the topic was a long (almost fifteen years ago) lost friendship: the slow but – as it later turned on… – inevitable process of mutual estrangement from someone whom I’d truly admired and taken care of. As I slowly realized that I’m quite uncomfortable with envisioning and writing vocals, I started to experiment with expressing feelings and thoughts exclusively through music, without the help of lyrics – and thus, the original idea of incorporating texts in my musical creations slowly slipped out of focus. I think this was another milestone in the formative process of Hexapla.

I, then, started to experiment with various DAWs and ended up with Steinberg’s excellent software, Cubase – and this was the point when I (sometime in December 2020, during the second COVID lockdown in Hungary) first recorded my fragmented ideas and incorporated them into an increasingly uniform concept. The songs started to show their own individual character – and I wanted them to reflect those feelings that I originally hoped to express in those early poems. Hexapla remained (as it was originally planned) an album of six songs, and the six-fold translation of the Bible by Origen of Alexandria in the third century seemed to a strange but still appropriate parallel to my six-fold musical description of those multitude of feelings.

Well, this is the story of my first album in a nutshell – I hope you guys don’t mind if this post managed to be a little longer than usual. Happy birthday to Hexapla, and many happy returns!

Of song lyrics and instrumental music

Why I ended up playing instrumental music? This is another good question that I used to get quite often from my friends – and at the same time this is a tricky one that’s pretty hard to answer. The music I make is just a snapshot of a quite long “evolutionary process” – so I think it’s better to go into details, if I want to formulate a reasonable response.

In the beginning – similarly to most of the musicians in the rock/metal scene – I wanted to write and play traditional songs with vocals. However, I’ve never been sure about the exact nature of the vocals that I wanted to incorporate. At the beginning I felt like slightly harsh but still melodic (let’s say, “Nevermore-style”) vocals would fit well to my music. Then I started to experiment with classical harmonies and fell in love with polyphonic choirs and female vocals. Still, somehow I always felt that writing melodies for vocals is not my business: it never went so smoothly than working with guitars. I think this kind of hesitation was the first momentum that suggested me to express my thoughts with sounds rather than with words.

I wrote numerous song lyrics, nonetheless. However, neither the rhytmicity nor the topics of my texts fitted well to the medium/fast tempo and the impetus of my thrash metal-based musical creations: they resembled more to poems than to song lyrics and fitted better to the textual world of gothic or doom metal songs. Therefore, as time passed by, I became increasingly uneasy with the idea of incoprorating my texts into songs. It also felt somewhat unnatural for me to synchronize the tight and fast thrash tempos with the unique accentuation of the Hungarian language. When it comes to songwriting, I basically think in guitar harmonics and melodies, rather than the characteristic sound of the human voice – therefore I felt like I can express myself better via the possibilities of instrumental music than through some enforced marriage of poem-like, gloomy Hungarian texts with my thrash metal-based rhytmical constructions.

This is basically the reason, why I ended up writing and playing instrumental music.