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Composer/Pianist in Iraq: An Introduction

AAJ Staff By

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An introduction...

There is a war in Iraq. What you see on you television is one thing. I imagine that the news available to anyone interested is at best, stranger than fiction. War is reality here. However, I'll be the first to say that art can exist, even in such a place as this. In this column, I plan to cover many subjects from the perspective of a musician and a soldier. To start, here is a brief introduction as to my personal situation.

My name is William A. Thompson IV. I am a jazz pianist and composer from New Orleans, La. But much has changed for me. I have generated a project that will be of interest. In April of 2004, I was activated in the La National Guard to serve one Year in Iraq as a Counter Intelligence Agent. I've been in Baghdad since October of 2004.

I was at first horrified by the notion of this deployment and the seemingly, end of my music career. However, I have come to view this deployment as a unique musical odyssey. Since my deployment I have put together a sizable portfolio of compositions, which I've recorded with various software and my fully weighted, 88 keys, keyboard. I mainly use Logic 7, Reason, and an I pod for sampling. The music is unique considering that I have included samples, which I have recorded here in Baghdad. These samples include Iraqi dialogue concerning political issues and all else. I have transcribed the pitches of such samples and composed music based on their contents. There are many other "war samples to be found in my music. To find an audience from this combat theater, I have created an online musical journal at my web site.

The overall goal of this project has been to document the perspective of one soldier's experience, through music. It just so happens that this soldier is a professional musician and composer.

As far as I know, what I am doing has never happened before. What other composer can say that he or she is producing music about the war in Iraq while in that very environment? My site allows listeners to view and hear what I've created here. One article has already been published on me in a local New Orleans newspaper called The Gambit Weekly. It can be found in the archives section of their web site if you'd like to check it out. Other publications have taken interest. I plan to keep those interested informed, as more press develops.

Yes, I am a jazz musician. However, the music I'm producing now is in no way bop. With the incorporation of my interest in classical music, "war samples , and the electronic element; this music is indeed hard to classify. To get the full experience, visit my web site to hear my music and read about it in greater detail. In a couple of months this music will be released by High Mayhem. Until our next encounter, keep your ears open.

Peace from Baghdad, Will.


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