Imagine doing your first professional tour as a musician with one of the most influential pop icons of our time. That’s the incredible story of music composer and violinist extraordinaire Jason Yang.
At only 23 years-old, Jason was hired to play violin on a world tour with none other than Madonna. With 29 countries, 65 cities, and 88 shows in 10 months, the MDNA tour is now known as one of the top-grossing tours of all time.
And that was just the beginning.
Since then, he made appearances in acclaimed TV series and shows such as The Colbert Report, Glee, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and collaborated with international brands like Panasonic, Adidas, Hilton, and Ford.
But now, in these COVID times, live performances are at a halt. And like so many other musicians, Jason is now focusing on composing while he is social distancing at home in Los Angeles, California. And can you guess what’s his latest passion these days? Playing with Audio Modeling’s very own SWAM instruments!
In an interview for the ILIO Artist Spotlight, Jason talks about how he grew up to become a violinist, his experience playing on stage with Madonna, and gives us unique insights on how he uses SWAM instruments and why he fell in love with them.
Taking All Your Experience of an Instrument and Placing It Into the Computer
When asked how he encountered Audio Modeling and SWAM instruments, Jason explains that like pretty much everyone else, he first started by exploring traditional sample libraries.
“It was really hard to find good-sounding sample libraries for instruments like the violin. It’s because of all the tiny details… That’s what makes the difference in the sound. With sample libraries, I couldn’t get anywhere similar to how I express myself on my instrument. That’s when I heard about Audio Modeling… because that’s pretty much exactly what their mission is.”
“So I tried out SWAM instruments and got them to be more expressive by thinking inwardly about all the little nuances I do in my violin playing to be expressive. The main parameters I control are expression, vibrato, and a bit of pitch bend.”
Jason goes on demonstrating this by using the SWAM Clarinets to play the famous opening solo of Rapsody In Blue on his Nord Stage 2.
“Transitioning notes are crazy in SWAM! That last line with the glissando at the end is extremely important. The glissando sounds great just by playing with the velocity, even before adding any pitch bend or expression. The softer I play the subsequent note, the more drawn out the glissando will be. It’s not just a slow or fast glissando, it’s a bunch of values in between depending on all those MIDI values for velocity.”
If you’re wondering how technically difficult it is to reach this level of quality with SWAM, Jason offers great insight.
“In a way, it’s kind of technical, but in another way, it really clicked intuitively because it feels like what I’ve been doing on my own instrument this entire time. For example, with the SWAM violin, you can hear the placement of the bow, whether it’s close or far from the bridge. That’s just crazy! So if I can control these things with ease, I can just take all my experience with the instrument and put it into the computer, just like that.”
Admittedly, Jason is baffled by SWAM’s technology.
“When I’m playing each note, it’s creating it live as opposed to drawing on a sample and manipulating it that way. I mean… I don’t understand it, but I love it!”
And we love you too, Jason! Thank you for giving us such a great inside look into your past and present reality as a musician, and for showing us how you like to configure and play with our SWAM instruments. And thank you to Michael and all the team from ILIO for sharing this with us!
Click below to watch the full interview if you’d like to see (and hear) firsthand all of Jason’s stories, tips, and advice on music and SWAM.