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5 questions with Chuck Biel: 'It's like I was reborn'

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Charleston musician and instructor Chuck Biel will teach a workshop this weekend on composing music for films and new media. He says the two-day event isn't just for musicians; it's also for developers in those genres.

WANT TO GO?

Music for New Media: Composing for Film, Web & Game Design

WHERE: Economic Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd,. W.

WHEN: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $40

INFO: 304-720-1401

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capital city music scene mainstay and noted local music instructor Chuck Biel is kind of on the comeback trail. After suffering a serious health setback earlier in the year that took him out of play for a while, Biel is pushing forward with new music and a new project -- teaching music composition for film, Web and game design.

Biel will oversee a two-day workshop this weekend at West Virginia State University's Economic Development Center. The class is offered through the Creators Program, a collaboration between the Arts Council of Kanawha Valley and the West Virginia Film Office.

The gazz spoke with him about the workshop, getting back on his feet and branching out with a different kind of music.

 

Q: You had something of a health scare, didn't you?

A: "I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve and wasn't really diagnosed correctly until about two years ago. Everything was fine, but then I had an aneurysm near it. The doctors went in to work on the aneurysm, but I had some microsuture bleeding issues.

"I was supposed to be up and walking by that evening, but they had me opened up in the cardiac care unit from 8:30 on a Monday morning until 1:30 in the afternoon on Thursday."

 

Q: Didn't that kind of scare make you want to pull back from music some, maybe at least turn the volume down?

A: (Laughs) "No. It's like I was reborn. I was working with four bands before I went in and, if anything, I'm more driven now. I've been systematically approaching getting them all back up and running, and I'm playing a new instrument now.

"I'm playing a harpejji, which has 24 strings. With one of them, you can make sounds like the really esoteric stuff by Pink Floyd, but also sound like Chick Corea and Patrick O'Hearn.

"I've been playing it in a band called Falling Through the Cracks. The sound is kind of indefinable. We're like Weather Report meets Pink Floyd meets David Helpling meets Umphrey's McGee."

 

Q: About the Music for New Media Seminar, who is this for?

A: "It's for people interested in working on projects in film and new media. If you're a musician, you can learn how to deliver music to a film guy or Web designer. If you're a web designer, you can learn how to interact with a musician.

"The main thing is using music effectively in your project."

 

Q: Is there much need for something like that here?

A: "Danny Boyd is really the lead on this; I'm way down the totem pole. It's about looking into the [digital and film] landscape and trying to add something to it [for West Virginia].

"The thing is there isn't really much film infrastructure here, as far as I can tell. Somebody somewhere has to start presenting instruction, information to help create the resources for it. It's a step in that direction.

"We're really in uncharted territory, I think."

 

Q: How is it you can do this?

A: "About 1991, I started working with Charleston Stage Company. I was commissioned to write music for their Shakespeare plays from 1991 to 2003 and any kind of play they had that needed music. Through the Stage Company, I met a lot of guys doing instructional videos and started working for Cambridge Educational in South Charleston.

"They did videos like 'Ten Ways to Get a Great Job' and 'Understanding the Disabled.' I did 20 or 30 videos with that company and worked with Danny on some things. I did music for his 'Paradise Park.' I worked with Bill Richardson on five or six videos. I've been doing this for a while.

"I'm also a sequencing artist. I've worked with computer equipment and programs like Pro-Tools. I bring a lot of skills to the seminar."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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