Asheville, North Carolina-based Joshua Messick is a hammered dulcimer artist whose sound is influenced by Celtic, World, Renaissance, Folk, and Classical music.
Joshua has released six studio albums and was the featured instrumentalist on the Japanese animated film “Mary and the Witch’s Flower”. We recently caught up with him to learn more about the hammered dulcimer instrument, his favorite memories, and his latest projects.
Tell us a little bit about the hammered dulcimer and what type of sound it produces.
The hammered dulcimer is an ancient stringed percussion instrument. Wire strings are stretched across a trapezoidal soundboard with bridges and played with small wooden mallets called hammers. It creates a rich sound with harp-like peace and a piano-like pallet. It is a wonderful solo or lead instrument. Dampers help accent the percussive nature, also making it appropriate as a pitched rhythm instrument.
Do you have a favorite song or piece of music that you have composed?
The First Snowfall. It originally appeared on my album “Hammered Dulcimer Christmas” as a hammered dulcimer & cello duet. In 2017, it was orchestrated by Dale Burket and I performed it with a full symphony.
How would you describe your style as a composer?
I approach instrumental music as the soundtrack of the human imagination. I see myself as a genre-blurring instrumental music composer, fusing folk, classical, and world music. I explore atmospheric textures with strong melodies and themes. I appreciate music with simplicity that is understated, yet powerful. In this sense, I have some aspects of minimalism reflected in my style.
Who or what has been your biggest influence as a musician?
Folk, Renaissance, World, & Baroque. If I had to pick just one genre, I’d say I’m heavily influenced by Celtic music.
What feelings do you hope to evoke in someone when they listen to your music?
Music embraces us with love hope and healing. When I play, I want to share that with my audience.
What is your favorite musical memory?
In 2017, I traveled to Tokyo to be the featured instrumentalist on the soundtrack for the animated film “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” by Studio Ponoc, the continuation of the legendary Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, etc.) I recorded on 20 of the 26 tracks, and play for about 25 minutes of the soundtrack.
The film was directed by Academy Award-nominated Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There & The Secret World of Arriety) and the soundtrack was composed by Takatsugu Muramatsu. The English dub includes the voices talents of Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent, and Ruby Barnhill. The film will release in 155 countries and territories.
I was honored to perform at the film premiere in Hollywood at the TCL Chinese Theater.
What new projects do you have going on at the moment?
For 2018, I’m hopeful to record two new albums in addition to creating many YouTube videos. And, I just never know when my phone will ring for the big project — so who knows? That’s what makes it exciting!
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Music is meant to be shared with people. Music is not just about me, it is about the story shared between the artist and the audience. In the future, I want to improve this relationship.
What’s your favorite thing about your AudioTheme Merchato website?
It is clean, polished, and intuitive. It is built on a framework that is very impressive. I admire the hard work it took to distill and simplify the code, user interface, and content layout. It does everything with style.
AudioTheme has provided me with a presentation that has been recognized and complimented by top-level professionals in the creative industry. Also, I haven’t had any problems with it — it just works.
It does everything I need it to do with creative freedom. I can customize how I want to sell & preview my music, featured content, videos, and photos. And it does it far better than any framework I’ve used in 17+ years of webmaster experience.
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You can find Joshua Messick across the web: