For Emmy and BMI Award-winning composer and pianist Peter Manning Robinson, playing music was intuitive: he sat down in front of a piano at age 3, ran his hands over the keys, and thought, “I’ve done this before.” Cliché as it may sound, he knew from that moment that music was his mission in life, he says. His circumstances were unusual––he was living on the streets of San Francisco at the age of 12––but it led to music gigs, including one that led him to Los Angeles.
“I was very fortunate to be heard by some very influential jazz and blues musicians at an early age: Freddie Hubbard, Phil Woods, B.B. King, Ernie Watts, and was gigging by the age of 12. I got my first major film gig when a director came to one of my concerts,” Robinson says.
Perhaps one of Robinson’s greatest achievements was not a particular composition or score, but a remarkable instrument he invented, with his friend and collaborator Klaus Hoch, known as The Refractor piano. Similar to how a prism refracts light, the instrument refracts the sound waves of an acoustic piano to create a unique sound without pre-recorded tracks, synthesizers, samples or virtual elements.
“I have always built and modified instruments, both acoustic and electronic. As technology developed and more musicians and composers implemented synths, samplers, VIs and others to create their music, I decided to, once again, go another direction and create not only an instrument, but a type of music that was completely my own,” Robinson says. “The first incarnation was called the Piano Mod or P-Mod. It was very interesting, but I wanted something that could create music with no editing, pre-recorded tracks, or any sounds other than what I could draw from the acoustic piano.”
The results are an ethereal, unprecedented style of music with classical and jazz components.
“You will have many detractors who will tell you that it’s a waste of time and energy. Thank them for their advice and ignore them!” Robinson says. “One has an internal spiritual voice that will guide you if you only listen.”
Peter Manning Robinson
Contact: Lynn Tejada, Lynn@GreenGa lactic.com