The sunlit music of Andrus Rannaääre
3.11.2011 Maria Palts
The timid and genial Andrus is a happy man, because his work and hobby are one and the same. He has dedicated his life to creating and performing music. “I have never had to work nine to five as many people do who work at the office,” confesses Andrus. “I am probably even not capable of that. I enjoy the life of a musician, full of surprises and the unexpected, and without any set temporal boundaries.” Andrus says that he can be invited to perform at any place in Estonia and sometimes it is only at the destination that he finds out which songs to perform. The pianist is luckily able to play by ear and from memory, and he can also improvise if necessary, which has happened on numerous occasions when he had forgotten to take sheet music or been asked to play a song he had never even heard of before. “There was an open air concert at the Old Town Days together with Tanel Padar and Koit Toome. The songs were new and gusts of wind blew the sheet music into the crowd. The rest of the concert had to be played from memory. I was still able to pull it off,” recalls Andrus one of many extreme situations.
In music circles, Andrus is known primarily as a pianist and an arranger. He has performed with Estonian singers like Gerli Padar, Ivo Linna, Marvi Vallaste, Tõnis Mägi, and many others, accompanying them on piano and keyboards. Andrus does project-based work at the Vanemuine theatre, playing with the orchestra in various musicals. “Even though I sit in the orchestra and therefore cannot see what happens on stage during those musicals, I do know what happens backstage and what the spectators never see. While playing with the orchestra, the most important thing is co-operation and breathing as one. On the other hand, it is also an exercise in awareness. One must simultaneously observe the conductor and also listen to the singers and other instruments playing so that harmony and wholeness can arise,” explains Andrus.
Andrus also writes arrangements for choirs and orchestras. Few people know that he is also a composer.
The musician has already released four albums of his own music. The songs on the first three albums were recorded with synthesisers only and the music is meditative and calming. Andrus says that his music has been suitable for masseurs who have provided feedback that compositions like that have a relaxing and healing effect on their customers. Laughing, Andres adds that one of his good friends suffered from insomnia and listening to his album made it a lot easier to fall asleep. A couple of people have used his music as a backdrop for childbirth, which helped the participants relax and feel safe.
He emphasises that the existence of a preceding desire or ambition to make music is also crucial, and notes that if one tunes themselves through the heart, then music is born that also touches the listeners’ hearts. In that respect, Andrus has received positive feedback from many people. In addition to the calmness and well-being they experienced, people have also called the music therapeutic. Andrus himself does not yet have any such ambitions, but he believes that calmness and lightness may have a way of helping people get better.
As for how his creation is born, Andrus says, “I like freedom – music is not forced into some pre-set framework, I have an opportunity to create it on the spot.” The pianist recalls, “My erstwhile teacher Raimo Kangro conveyed very well how a composer should regard their oeuvre. Drop everything superfluous if at all possible, it is better to do less and well.”
In addition to his musical endeavours, Andrus is also interested in a healthy lifestyle and yoga. “Everything began in fact with practical necessity,” he asserts. Playing the piano is a demanding profession – practice sessions take many hours, and one needs to be focused and alert. Should one be overly tense while doing that, several problems arise – one of them is a forced position that forces the player to hump their back and there will be issues with hands. Particularly problematic is stage fright, which even the most skilful musician can experience the moment they walk onto the stage. Sensing the severity of such problematic issues, the young man began looking for solutions and turned to yoga and other spiritual practices for assistance. The Lilleoru courses known as “The art of changing oneself” have also been of great assistance, for they help notice emotions that hinder living, and to rid oneself of those emotions.
“I used to be easily irritable and sometimes said things in the heat of the moment that I would later come to regret,” admits Andrus. “It is different now. I am better at maintaining a calm and level head even in difficult situations. I no longer get upset so easily,” the young man says cheerfully.
Andrus also pays attention to eating right. “I prefer vegetarian food, because it is easier to digest and it does not make you feel heavy in the stomach. Having said that, I think the middle of the road is the right way to go. When I visit somebody, I’ll devour a piece of meat and not make a fuss out of it,” admits the musician. He thinks that one should listen to their body in order to understand what it needs at the moment instead of subscribing to the latest diet trends that are being advertised.
Andrus is able to see the bright side in any situation. “Everybody is the creator of their own life. What people focus on, they draw into their lives. That is why I prefer to turn my attention to the things that bring joy and content.” His recent album “Hommikupäike” (“Morning Sun”) exudes that optimism.
The young man celebrates the start of every day. “Imagine the sun rising above the horizon and gilding the entire world with its rays. Nature is awakening. One can sense the morning freshness in the air. A new day is dawning. Anything is possible.” It is nature which is the source of the pianist’s inspiration. In Andrus’s opinion, it is important to be active and spend time outdoors. “I often take a walk in the park and I try to spend as much time in nature as possible.” The pianist has learnt such an outlook on life from his grandfather, who lived in the village of Treiman and taught him to respect country life and self-made things. Grandfather took Andrus to the sea and in forest and taught him that nature is alive and it is possible to speak with it. Thus it is important for the young man to spend time in the forest and on the seaside in order to relieve stress and recharge his batteries.
One of Andrus’ dreams is to use his creation to heal people. Every sound carries a vibration, and vibrations can influence the listener’s state of mind and health, and relieve stress. Frequencies of various sounds influence the body’s energy centres. Andrus wishes to create a particular kind of music that balances them.
Another of his dreams is to write film scores. “I have in fact already done it once,” he says. “Margus Aru commissioned me to write music for his film. The film “Vastus” (“Answer”) tells the story about how the director lost both himself and the world around him, and then found his way again.” Andrus thinks that his music is well suited to films and it would be one opportunity for his creation to reach the wider world.
To Andrus, music is the universal language – people can understand it even without words. The pianist considers it important that people feel joy when listening to his music. Andrus says, “Music flows through me, I share it with other people and sharing is what happiness is all about.”