Caesar, guitar player and music producer from Brazil, talks about his guitar playing, practicing, and music production workflow and how he uses the Tonaly app within this process.
Hi Caesar, thanks for taking the time to give us a glimpse into your guitar playing and life as a professional musician. What have you done so far? How did you get into music?
Hello, friends of the Tonaly App. First of all, it is a pleasure to be here with you at another stage of my career. Let's Rock! I started studying music at school, when I was 6 years old, nothing very deep but I had a lot of musical activities. At the age of 11, influenced by an uncle, I started playing guitar and taking lessons. I had a good base because, in the beginning, I played everything a little about different musical styles, blues, rock, bossa nova, Brazilian music, and jazz. At school, I had a band and was one of the producers of the school festivals. I was always aware of everything that involved music, and that gave me a good basis to start my professional career.
At the age of 17, I was invited by a great star of the Brazilian reggae scene, and I did my first Brazilian tour, already as a professional musician. Since then, it has been more than 20 years of career, consolidated year after year in hundreds of recordings and tours throughout Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Germany, England, Austria, Hungary, Italy, USA, Japan, and Portugal, where I live today. I used to be, and I am a sideman of countless artists. I record and do music production at a distance for them.
Did you study music or teach yourself?
I have always been self-taught to play the guitar, giving up many things to study more than 12 hours a day, many times. As I was never able to find a teacher with a way of playing that I identified with, the solution I found was to learn by listening to my idols like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Pepeu Gomes, Eric Johnson, Philipe Sayce, among others. In parallel to the practice, in the theoretical part, I studied harmony and musical perception at the Willians Pereira Study Centers, arrangement, and orchestration with professor Ian Guest at the SIGAM School. I also studied audio at IATEC - Institute of Arts and Techniques in Communication, electronics for audio, mixing, and mastering at Audio Academy.
Did you practice strictly with a daily routine? Or are you more the "Learning by Doing" type of guy?
Today I occupy several functions in music as a guitarist, music producer, audio operator, digital content creator. The guitar has always been my "backbone". Even doing music production for other artists, the guitar is always in my hands to practice.
Regarding practicing, what would you recommend other guitarists that are just starting? What helped you back then or even today?
There are two paths that must be followed, mechanics and auditory memory. Regarding auditory memory, listening to a lot of music is extremely important for us to have references. These references make us play better because we know where we want to go. Learning, by comparison, made me have my own way. Regarding the mechanics of playing the instrument, practice makes us have fluidity and beauty in the playing of notes. On my YouTube channel, I pass some practice tips. I can leave a quick tip here, choose a phrase with few notes and start playing with a metronome at 70bpm. If your run is clean, increase the bpm. Clean execution, increase the bpm again, and so on. This will help you to have good execution and a good sense of time. Very important!
What is your guitar and music production setup?
I use a Fender Stratocaster with a "push-pull" system to activate the bridge pickup so that it has a Telecaster tone. I have other very interesting guitars as well, like the Citar Box. I have many pedals, and my pedalboard always changes according to the need. I can say that two pedals cannot be missing on my pedalboard – a Tube Screamer (TS-10) and a FuzzFace. My recording setup is a Universal Audio Apollo Twin, LA-610 MKII, Neumann TLM102, Sennheiser e409, Shure SM57, Ableton Push, Komplete keyboard. Fender and Peavey amplifiers. Plugins from Waves, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and Universal Audio. I like to use some arcade loops from Output. They help to complement some tracks with percussion.
How do you use the Tonaly app?
The Tonaly app is a very powerful tool in the whole process of composition and music production. With the app, I'm creating new harmonies, and I also use it to create harmonies for the improvisation bases for my guitar students.
I have been using Tonaly as a starting point and in solving parts of the songs that I am producing for my new album and also in the production of other artists. I produce artists from other countries, and Tonaly has helped in the harmonious structuring of the songs. Wherever I take my iPhone, I start using it and share my ideas with the artists. Fantastic!
How do you continue working on the music you've created with the Tonaly app?
I was very excited when I found out that in addition to creating the harmonies, I can export them in MIDI and import them into Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and Guitar Pro. This makes the creation process much easier. It is very practical, and as we do not separate from the cell phone, I can continue creating anywhere and anytime.
Do you also use the app for practicing or as a reference tool for scales, modes, chords?
My practice is applied both in terms of scales, modes, chords and in assembling harmonies for play-along. I press play on Tonaly and play along to compose melodies with the guitar. It is an app that helps me a lot in my musical productions and in the practice of scales.
I'm continuously working on the app. What kind of feature would you wish for?
The app is fantastic! As a suggestion, I think there could be some random options for building melodies according to modes or scales. The app could suggest melodies. The user could choose the rhythmic figure and the number of measures that the suggested melody would occupy. The other option would be for those who do not have a study discipline, could have a calendar synchronized with Google or the iPhone Calendar advising that it is time to study with Tonaly. "Hi! Tonaly is waiting for you! Time to practice!"
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