just part of the family
June 20 – MOSES LAKE – Eli Legault says music is part of the family.
Legault, a freshman in the music program at Moses Lake High School, won first place in his division in the guitar category at the State Solo and Ensemble Competition in Ellensburg earlier this spring. Legault said his interest in music and the guitar started at home.
“I was around 7 or 8 when I started,” he said. “My parents put me in it, really. They were always playing music, and they kind of put the guitar in my hands. I just started playing with it, and it kind of took off, I Assumed.”
He had lessons for a while, he said, but then he started experimenting on his own.
“Then I started finding songs that I liked and learning to play them,” he said.
The guitar offers endless possibilities, he says, and it’s one of the reasons he loves to play.
“I like the guitar a lot. I don’t know – it’s just such a versatile instrument. You can really do anything with it. It’s the diversity that I love,” he said.
The guitar is the star of rock music, of course, and it’s predominant in jazz. Country music includes guitar and there is a whole classical repertoire. Legault says he is interested in all of these genres.
“I’m everywhere, really. It depends on the day,” he said. “When I started I was really into the 90s grunge style. And it sort of evolved from there. Nothing too specific. Whatever sounds good, that’s what I’ll pick, I suppose.”
Each genre is unique and each imposes its own demands on the player, he said. Playing rock guitar, for example, is not the same as playing classical guitar.
“They’re just sort of two completely different things. Playing classical is really specific. It’s a completely different set of techniques. In competitions, you’ll get grounded points if you don’t use the right fingering than the music said to use,” he said.
Jazz is different from both. Legault plays trombone in the jazz band MLHS, and jazz has unique requirements too.
“You get a bit of context on the song and then you can do whatever you want with it, pretty much,” he said.
The 2022 solo and ensemble competition was his introduction to classical repertoire, he said.
“I had never done classical guitar before this contest,” he said. “So I started with a relatively simple piece, and once I got the hang of it I moved on to a more difficult piece.”
The competitors had the opportunity to prepare a little beforehand.
“I was actually given a book with a bunch of different songs, and my teacher said I could choose whatever I wanted in it.”
Winning the state pageant didn’t really come as a surprise, he said, because it was his first pageant and he didn’t know what to expect.
Playing music isn’t his only interest – he composed the music for a project that won seventh place in video game design at the FBLA state competition. It was his first real attempt at composition, he says.
“I had messed around a bit (with the composition) before, just to see what it was like. But this is my first project,” he said.
The game invited players into what looked like a really interesting old house, but turned out to be a haunted and murderous house. Legault said the music should reflect what’s happening in the game and give hints of what’s to come.
“We had already started the general idea of our game after thinking a bit and coming up with the concept for the first level,” he said.
“When you start the game, you start at the title screen, and our game is set in a haunted mansion. So I took the idea of a haunted mansion and created some weird music for the screen title,” Legault said. “It doesn’t really sound good to the ear, but that was the point, because it’s a haunted mansion.
“Then when you start the game, the player starts outside in the neighborhood. So nothing weird is happening yet, so I came up with the idea to make the music softer. I made the music smoother with a few notes and chords that don’t have it doesn’t fit into the context, it made it a bit unsettling. Just to make it look like it’s not a completely normal neighborhood,” he said. he declared.
Legault said he plans to explore the potential of other musical instruments, but he’s not giving up on the guitar.
“I’m definitely going to stick with the guitar,” he said.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached by email at [email protected]