My Musical Influences

The earliest influence on my songwriting comes from the singer-songwriters I grew up on — people like Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jon Pousette-Dart, and so on. These artists define the main stream in which I work: acoustic folk-rock. At the same time, I listened to a lot of progressive rock early on, especially Yes, which helped shape my early practice of writing suites of songs.

Since then I have expanded my musical horizons considerably, both within the singer-songwriter tradition and into blues, bluegrass, reggae, jazz, and classical music. In my later songs you can hear echoes of artists I didn't listen to in my teenage years, such as Bob Dylan, Lennon & McCartney (and George Harrison, whose songs I like a lot), Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Michael Hedges, Professor Longhair, Bob Marley, Duke Ellington, the medieval troubadours, and so on.

When it comes to lyrics I'm an intellectualist and a formalist — probably a result of my study of classical literature in college and my overall intellectual tendencies (evident also in my poems). I've never been able to write lyrics that are more moody, free-flowing, and spontaneous. I don't know whether that's good or bad, it's just the way I am. :)

In addition to something like 30 songs (not all of them included in Hagiography), I've written four extended pieces for solo guitar, which I've collected together under the title Aubade. Because I am self-taught and not especially strict about technique, these works are not really classical works. Instead, they are something of a cross between classical, folk, and "new age" stylings. My influences here include classical composers like Bach, Albeniz, Granados, Satie, and Villa-Lobos, the self-described "rural folk pianist" George Winston, and the late guitar god Michael Hedges.

More recently, I've started to once again explore my first instrument: the electric bass. The first bass project I'm working on is a set of arrangements for solo bass of songs by the progressive rock band Yes, entitled Fundamental Affirmation. The obvious inspiration here is Chris Squire, co-founder of Yes and my favorite bassist. Once I complete this Yes project, I plan to work on solo bass arrangements of music by Duke Ellington (thus paying homage to jazz bassists who played with Ellington over the years, especially Jimmy Blanton, Charles Mingus, and Ray Brown) and, I hope, a bass version of the Bach Cello Suites (although I doubt I would be able to render them as masterfully as Edgar Meyer).

Peter Saint-Andre > Music