A Musician from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, with a deep passion for music and a strong desire to continue exploring and mastering the art of composition and harmony. Igor Dinotte is this month's ToneGym Hero!
Who am I? It is possible to approach this question as a cliché or a provocation. I don't want to sound pretentious, so here, I will refrain from indulging in meditations that might provide a slightly more original yet potentially dull answer. Instead, I will allow myself to reflect on the following questions: their answers will provide more clues about who I am, or, better said, offer more elements with which each person can form their idea of me.
My name is Igor, and I was born in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where I grew up and still reside today.
The first memories I have of my relationship with music converge with my earliest memories in general. As a child, I recall playing my father's LPs and CDs, using them as soundtracks for the imaginative plots I created in my mind while playing with action figures. Music has always been a loyal companion.
At the age of 12, I began informal guitar lessons, primarily focusing on striking chords and coordinating rhythms. However, when I turned 16, I embarked on more formal music lessons, delving into the realms of reading sheet music and playing the piano. This phase lasted approximately two years.
Since then, I have been self-taught, honing both my instrumental technique and theoretical knowledge. It was only about a year ago that I started dedicating a significant portion of my daily time to the serious study of music, pursuing more defined goals with a heightened sense of purpose.
After spending a few days or weeks requiring a lot of my focus, I intuitively feel the need to relax a little. At such times, I enjoy going to a bar, asking the waiter for a beer, and engaging in casual conversation or, sometimes, watching a football match.
This is sufficient for the information to reorganize in my head, and the next day, everything becomes clearer. I think, "Okay, I have things to do, and I need to make my time worthwhile."
If I had any useless skill or talent, it would certainly be my ability to render my skills and talents useless!
I don't believe I possess any particularly special talent or skill, and I'm foolish enough not to leverage them to my advantage!
Music is inspiration itself. It is a privilege to have something that spontaneously arouses curiosity and passion in me. I've come to know myself well enough to understand that this is the only subject for which I have spontaneous curiosity to master more and more.
I get excited about the challenges of learning and utilizing all its resources in creative work.
It is also a calling. When I attempted to erase music from my life because it seemed that I could never earn a living from it, I painfully discovered that I was erasing a part of myself. The idea of making music never fades away. It is a force of nature that propels me, makes me feel alive, provides an axis, something on which I can focus, and brings me constant enthusiasm as I evolve to understand it.
Ultimately, it makes me want to live even more to continue exploring this universe.
However, a thought that I sometimes revisit to honor my time on this path is to imagine how many people in the world live clinging only to the survival instinct. How many individuals out there must have dreams and talents but will never be able to put them into practice due to being oppressed by the basic needs they lack? Or they may not even have the room to breathe and discover their vocations and skills within themselves.
So, I like to keep in mind how many would love to have the opportunity I have. I am inspired by these people, too. I must pursue this for all of us. I cannot afford to waste my life and the opportunities presented to me.
Certainly, Johann Sebastian Bach.
It is common for human beings to hold ideals of "perfection." Upon careful observation, it seems that nature still carries inherent imperfections. It can be said that it is through humanity and its potential that nature has developed to the point where something can be identified as "perfect." In my life, the work of Bach, in its entirety and solely in it, is the only model of perfection I've found.
His counterpoint is unsurpassed, his fugues have no parallel— not even close! His mastery over harmony is terrifying, and beauty gushes from his music like an inexhaustible source of elegant creativity.
Even if Johann's entire life were dedicated to composing, it would have been a miracle considering the quantity he created, but that was not the case. He was a multi-instrumentalist, a music teacher, including for several of his numerous children, and a conductor. It is virtually impossible to imagine that, with a lifestyle as busy as his, he achieved so much.
May a million poets and more be born to honor Bach's deeds.
None specifically. I simply attempt to schedule a proper time for my ear training and strive to do it patiently and with complete focus. However, it's not always possible. Like with everything, there are highs and lows.
I am focused on mastering the harmony of common practice, delving into readings and exercises with the aim of establishing a solid foundation for composition, which has always been my primary interest in music.
At times, the impulse to compose, as something that urges and forces its way out, leads me to create drafts: motives, themes, chord progressions, and even write lyrics.
However, whenever I start composing, I encounter situations where I would like to incorporate an additional element that I haven't mastered yet. In the creative process, I do not feel comfortable relying on chance or making weak choices solely based on taste, without considering the origin of every detail and its potential direction.
In addition to my ear training at ToneGym, I have taken steps in learning counterpoint, jazz harmony, instrumentation, and have been adjusting my piano technique to alleviate pain during play.
After contemplating for a while, I settled on Beethoven's Bagatelle No. 25, the famous Für Elise. To arrive at this choice, I couldn't focus solely on music, as it is not the only thing in life.
My deceased beloved grandmother, who was my epitome of love, care, and affection, held this song in particular regard. She would ask me to play it while she was falling asleep. To have shared this affection with my grandmother, making her life a little better through the beauty of this small musical piece, is something that will stay with me forever. It serves as a reminder of someone so special and the privilege it was for me to have her in my life.
The piano is the instrument through which I have experienced music most intensely, savoring moments when body and sound harmonize into a single experience—ecstatic and meditative moments where I lose and find myself while playing. Moreover, it is a perfect instrument for the study of music, especially harmony.
What I have most appreciated are the people who make up the community. In the social media environment, we encounter toxic elements at every turn, and, in contrast, in Tonegym, people support each other's development, and there is always someone ready to help with any doubts regarding ear training or music as a whole.
I also greatly appreciate the scoring system, leveling up, and all feedback on our performance and progress. Transforming the training into a game, complete with a reward system, serves as a stimulus for consistency.
It's a lot of work, for sure. Just a year ago,, I conquered enough space to breathe and dedicate my life primarily to music. I still have a considerable way to go before mastering harmony and the counterpoint technique. Eventually, I will dive into sound design, orchestration, mixing, mastering, the harmonies of twentieth-century classical music and jazz, the exploration of other tuning systems, microtonalism, improvisation at the piano, etc.
In the short term, I hope to have the tonalism of common practice at my fingertips, know how to manipulate modes and modulations according to how much my creativity wants, and be able to write in counterpoint until I can compose fugues, a form that I find so elegantly alluring.
From there I will allow myself to let the creativity flow through me with an active focus on planning and completing compositions, so I can share it with everyone.
In the medium term, with the former stage completed, I will devote most of my studies to orchestration, sound design, and production in DAWs, as well as mixing and mastering. This is a development that, for me, will be side by side with the process of composing music. For some time I have been acquiring the equipment for my future studio (monitors, headphones, MIDI controllers, etc.). At this point, I will probably be a member of SoundGym as well.
I hope that during this time, I start to get the total of my income from music. The challenge here will be to find a balance between composing for myself and at the same time, composing for audiences, without any conflict that can block the creative process. For me, it is important to have the living sensation that I am always exploring, learning new things, and opening new possibilities.
In the long run, pretentious as it may sound, I want to hear what I haven't heard yet. For creators and art lovers, novelty is an essential asset, and for me, who am both, it is no different.
New technologies in the entertainment industry may be an important factor in the coming decades so composers can create things that would once be impossible. The digital age has just begun, and perhaps the new possibilities will allow not only new things but will arouse potencies still little explored, or even dormant, in the way we perceive the world through the sense of hearing.
So, objectively speaking, what I look for and hope is to have all my income from music, enough to ensure comfortable and gentle aging, and, subjectively, to be always manipulating and exploring the universe of sound. Thus, the future is exciting, challenging, and meaningful.