There’s something simply classic and elegant about a piano. However, classical doesn’t mean traditional or boring, as classical or orchestral music is perceived. It’s energetic. It’s subtle. It’s powerful. It’s elegant.
As an instrument, the piano brings an emphasizing power and subtle gentleness to each and every note. That’s exactly what the pianist, Alvaro Arizcun, is known for. Online he’s known as Rhaeide. In his arrangements, Rhaeide shows everything that the piano is and more; energetic, subtle, powerful, elegant, classical, graceful and even rocking.
Barcelona is where he got his start. Ever since the young age of 5 years old, Rhaeide played the piano loving every minute of it. A friend of the family owned a musical school by the name of La Antártida. This is where he began his piano lessons and music theory classes.
From a very young age, music was always a strong presence within his home.
“I remember music was always playing loud at home when I was a kid. My mom used to have plenty of old cassettes and vinyls full of a multitude of different styles that let her sing and dance along,” He said.
But it wasn’t just his mother that had a passion for music, his step-father did as well. His step-father, Xavier Manau, is the trombonist for the band, ‘La Vella Dixieland‘. He travelled all around the world performing in a classic old school jazz band.
Music wasn’t only a love and a passion but a way of life within his home. This shaped Rhaeide not only with the mere presence of music and the passion for it.
“I guess travelling to many of their gigs around the region shaped me somehow too, ” He was immersed in a musicians’ lifestyle while he was growing up, “although up to this point I’ve never had the drive to learn to play jazz music.”
As he grew as both a person and a musician, his family let him develop his talents on his own with his own initiative – pushing only to stop him from quitting. To this day, his family supports him even though they aren’t expressive about it. There is one person that is extremely supportive, and he’s vocal about it.
“My dad, on the other hand, has always embraced it with endless devotion, pushing me into making more videos, reacting to them passionately, promoting me and being my number one fan.”
With the encouragement to continue playing but by his own ambition, he was able to flourish. By the age of 14 years old, he was beginning to compose and arrange for both the piano and the orchestra.
“As a musician, I would say my creativity started developing at the age of 14,” he reminisces. He bought his first Yamaha keyboard for €300 ($438.19 Can) and spent hours playing music. With the over 250 voices and 6-track song recorder, he started to create his own original works of music.
In 2008, he started uploading his talent on to YouTube, showing off his talent on his Channel under the pseudonym Rhaeide.
Rhaeide is not his name nor is it derived from this world. Fantasy stories were a favourite and still are of this musician. Creativity wasn’t limited to music but also in creating fictional stories within his head. At the time, he did consider publishing them but never did.
One of these stories lasted for several months. Rhaeide was one of the main characters, a kind but powerful conjurer on a quest to save a small child who’s destiny was swathed in prophecies. Taking inspiration from Tolkien and Dragonlance for the story’s arc, he took inspiration for the names from Game of Thrones, specifically ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. He chose a name to be similar but unique. Rhaeide just came to mind. The pronunciation was originally only in a Spanish context not in any other context. Many English speakers asked how to pronounce it.
“I found I didn’t have any idea of how to pronounce it in English. If it ever reached the point of having to be pronounced somewhere, I would say something similar to ‘Raid’ or ‘Raidy’, ” he explains, “but for me, the Spanish pronunciation is the one I’m familiar with. Any other just sounds ‘weird’.”
Starting the YouTube channel, however, didn’t have such a clear line of inspiration. There wasn’t a specific trigger for the first uploaded video instead he admits that it’s more of following what was popular at the time.
“I started only 3 years after YouTube’s release, it was the novelty,” He said, “I wanted to see how would it be to share my recordings with people from around the world like other artists were doing at the moment in a very fast-growing platform that YouTube was”.
Regardless of the reasoning behind it, it paid off. His YouTube channel has nearly 50K subscribers. His videos have over 16 million views. The very first video he posted was a Prime Suspect Piano Solo, reaching nearly 7K views at the start of 2020.
The internet had a major part to play in promoting and publishing his music but also in making it possible as a career. This is a channel that’s been around nearly as long as YouTube itself. Rhaeide likes YouTube as a platform without getting bored with it.
One of his concerns, as it is with many cover artists, is copyright. The issue that Rhaeide has is that he can’t monetize his covers and when he does, it’s only a tiny percentage of the profits. Although there are better opportunities than ever to develop and grow successfully as a cover artist, and solutions, improvements can still be made. Specifically, the copyright system on YouTube could be improved to add in fairness to creators while limiting the number of people abusing the system.
“It’s true there are things that I don’t like or haven’t liked in the past, but I’m a person that always chooses to focus on the positive aspects of things when the negative aren’t in my hands to solve, ” He explains, “So in the case of YouTube I’ve enjoyed it a lot, both as a consumer and artist”.
The videos he uploads are covers with compositions arranged by himself. All of them, he has written by himself. Using a Canon Powershot G7X Mark II camera to shoot his performances, he gives his audience a ‘hands-on’ show.
Under the genre of epic piano arrangements, he doesn’t have a specific sound for his music. They’re flexible and faithful, he says, “I would describe it ever-changing, but mainly uplifting, since the way I do create is by following my emotions, and I can only play and find inspiration if I’m in an uplifting mood”.
Cover songs in their essence change the song in one way or another, whether that’s in the style, or genre or anything the musical desires. In Rhaeide’s case, he does his best to keep the music intact merely written for the piano.
“Basically I try to respect the original version as much as possible, and since most of the orchestral soundtracks offer more than a single piano can perform, the challenge lies in finding ways to fit the most of it in an adequate manner. For that, I never change the bass nor the main melody. And for the rest, I tend to fill the right hand with chords or secondary lines, and the left hand with rhythmical pulses and occasionally chords support or even parts of a melody when is inevitable.”
His covers are a way to give people an opportunity to revive the good memories associated with a particular song while enjoying the now. When asked about his favourite cover, it was hard for him to choose, since he has multiple favourites for different reasons. Here are a few of them inserted here.
“My favourite arrangement to listen myself is the ‘Dead Silence Theme’ because I believe I was able to transfer the soul of the movie into my recording and I really feel the chills every time.”
“The arrangement I’m most proud of is ‘The Avengers theme’; I still remember the amount of blood I sweated to solve the puzzle with that one.”
“On the other hand, I consider the ‘Baldur’s Gate 2 Theme’ to be the most beautiful I’ve played for the memories it personally brings. Also because it was my first ‘viral’ video and because I was able to perform it in a wonderful Steinway & Sons piano.”
“Finally, the one that has brought more satisfaction in terms of public response is undoubtedly the ‘Beauty and the Beast Prologue’. It’s the fan-favorite.”
“Some other special mentions: ‘The Goonies Theme’ for its difficulty and energy, ‘The ‘Christmas Piano Medley‘ because it always brings my mood up, ‘Les Miserables’ for being the most emotional one, and of course, ‘The Horror Medley Part 1′ since it’s the one that put me on the map of Horror music on YouTube.””
But that’s not all Rhaeide does, he also has original compositions. There are some featured below.
There are several projects that he’s currently working on. As Halloween is coming up, there are ideas for the upcoming season of spookiness. Tutorials and a few collaborations are also in store for Rhaeide’s audience.
In terms of the distant future, it’s up in the air.
“I don’t really like to foresee the distant future, and I don’t have a specific goal that I want to achieve. Could it be composing? Or joining a band? Or performing around the world? Time will tell.”
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