Ransom Aaron Walters
It all began in the town of Baldwinsville outside of Syracuse, NY. My parents first noticed my interest for music when they would roll me to their piano in my highchair and I just would plunk out notes. At the age of 5, I started taking private piano lessons from Nancy Caravan. Nancy Caravan and her lessons would later become the pure backbone behind my musical awareness and passion.
My Uncle Mark gave me my first guitar when I was 9 years old. It was a red custom air-brushed Calvin and Hobbes Kramer electric guitar. I finally took that thing out of it's case when I was about 11 years old. When my dad saw me playing that Kramer he decided to go out and buy a Squire acoustic guitar. It was on this guitar that he'd teach me my first song: "Gloria" by Them. From then on, my musical endeavors began to accumulate with more and more frequency.
The house of the Walters Family was, and is, perpetually musical. My dad has been consistently playing drums his entire life; therefore, there have always been opportunities for me to hang out at regular band practices and gigs. When I was about 2 years old I would always hop on the drum set and bang away. This is probably the route of my eventual decision to pursue a degree in percussion performance at Ithaca College. Mom was a violinist and pianist growing up so she would always be the one to help me practice for my piano lessons. Bubbe and Pop were completely responsible for culturing me extremely well. I've seen countless musicals on Broadway, classical and jazz performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, you name it.
When I studied the piano, my curious and acute ears that often distracted me from reading music efficiently allowed me to react intuitively to the music I played and heard. This listen-first mentality has proven to be an extremely useful aspect of becoming a working musician. A lot of the music I started listening to right after I started playing guitar with my close friends inspired me to improvise in that arena because I already had experienced this type of improvisation at the piano. I listened to a ton of Incubus, Led Zeppelin, Yes, John Mayer when I was 14 or 15 and tried to copy everything they did. I also dove into the works of composers such as Robert Vandall, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Chopin, and Beethoven in my piano lessons. My 10th grade music theory class will forever mark the fateful day that my first written-out, composed-entirely-from-scratch piece for solo piano - Dreams: Reality and Euphoria- was heard by anyone. It was a weird merging of the rock 'n' roll I was playing in my basement with my classical piano training. After performing it for the class there was this unexpected reaction of joy from my peers. "Hmm..." I thought. Music was not just an interest anymore... it definitely needed to fill every aspect of my life, forever.
I quickly discovered that "going to college for music" was a thing and went on to receive a Bachelors of Music in Music Composition and Percussion Performance from Ithaca College. Yes percussion, not piano. My technical ability on percussion surpassed my technical ability on piano in relation to those crazy piano performance majors who wanted to be concert pianists. Also, I was definitely not pursuing classical guitar. The decision to study composition was absolutely inspired by my roots of writing in bands as a teenager and improvising at the piano. While at Ithaca, I also attempted to hone my voice. I love mixing my inspiration from electronic music, "studio" or "commercial" music, guitar, percussion, jazz, and such. I started regularly gigging there, playing various theater, recital, jazz and classical gigs. I premiered a bunch of compositions, and gave a handful of recitals solo and with others. I am forever thankful to the faculty there and their impact on my education and career (Gordon Stout, Dana Wilson, Conrad Alexander, Jorge Grossmann, Gregory Evans, Deborah Rifkin, Steve Peterson, Cynthia Johnson Turner)
Those undergrad years were very much a time of discovery for me, as they are for many. Toward the end of my time at Ithaca I began noticing a passion for the much more modern industry of record making, music production, studio playing and such. I was doing random projects recording drum tracks for this, writing film scores for that, and recording the first couple of EPs I had ever made. It was all fascinating. Engineering and producing is such a meticulous process where a perfectionist like me can go crazy (...good crazy). So while all my peers where auditioning for grad programs, I was basically sitting there saying "I want a Masters degree but I don't know in what field." Along came a more romantic infatuation. I started dating my best friend (who is now my wife). In the countless list of things she introduced to me, there was one thing that would stick out and relate to my professional endeavors: the art of modern dance. At the time, I didn't know that I would develop a heated opinion of the misguidance of music education in the higher education world of modern dance. Regardless, after co-choreographing my way into a love for dance (freedom - on my senior recital), Chloe told me there was a spot for a musician at the College at Brockport, SUNY. I snagged that in an instant. This would be where my fascination with technology and production, composition and improvisational skills, and multi-instrumentalist personality would all marry into one job. What perfection. The rest is history.
While working at Brockport I was also working through a studio owned by a friend of my dad named SubCat Music Studios LLC. This is where my other love for engineering, production, and studio musicianship would begin to stretch. I got to record so many great albums there and learn from the best. I am eternally grateful for the plethora of knowledge I soaked up from Jeremy Johnston and Patrick MacDougall.
During that same post-undergrad year, I discovered Belmont University through a family friend and POOF... the answer to the dilemma of "I want a Masters degree but I don't know in what field" was solved. I found out they were one of the only schools in the country to offer a comprehensive Masters of Music in Commercial Composition and Arranging. Since graduating in 2017 (having finished my thesis Creating Salience: Stages of Sonder) I've drummed on gigs from jazz to folk to rock, and I've toured on bass, keys, percussion, drums playing fusion jazz and wacky electronic pop. I played in this awesome scary, heavy, roller coaster, fusion duo Quail Turret. I've been commissioned for evening-length dance works and have played dance conferences and intensives. I've produced, mixed, and arranged for full length records, EPs, and singles and I've played on many recordings. I've premiered many original works and I continue to sell my music around the world. I'm loving it here. Nashville is a wonderfully creative place.
Lastly, I do love other things. Like music, I have a deep obsession with anything that takes time to appreciate, create, talk about, you name it: craft beer, good wine, food, coffee, tea, visual art—the list goes on. I find the depth and breadth of art forms featuring variety to have the ability to enrich society in special ways. They entice me. The sizzle that happens when I put some veggies in a pan with hot oil initiates instantaneous relaxation. "Nerding out" about literally anything is the most fun whether it's a good friend teaching me about his antique sewing machine, an LED screen that tells you when your next two NYC trains are coming completely made from scratch, or my wife telling me all about a detailed lesson plan structure or educational theory. So let's get together and drink some beer, or eat some food, or just have an in-depth chat about cool stuff sometime soon... maybe in public if I don't know you though.