In the late ’70s and all through the mid-to-late ’80s, AOR was at the apex of its popularity. Bands and artists like Peter Cetera, Journey, Foreigner, Toto and many more broke through to the mainstream tier and conquered not only the airwaves but also the movies. Much attributing to this fact were their ballads – big, layered and with a slick, often meticulously produced, rock and instrument-driven foundation somewhat new to the format.
The piano-based songs of this era are what laid the foundation and served as the main catalyst for this collection of MIDI for EZkeys. Expect big choruses, creative chord-runs, twists, turns and a world-class player behind the wheel – basically all the signifying traits of AOR as we know it. Start writing!
When and how did you realize your passion for music?
There was music in every corner of our house when we were young. Thank you very much, mom and dad! Some music teachers were very inspiring too, most notably Carl-Axel Otterhall, Rolf Skärfstad and especially Göran Teljebäck who brought all of his cool keyboards to school one day for us to try out. That was a turning point for me!
How come you ended up playing the piano/keyboard?
I started out on guitar but quickly realized my lack of talent. When reading through a book of guitar chords, I stumbled upon a system of learning chords on the piano – and off I went!
What is AOR/west coast to you and how would you define this genre’s characteristics?
AOR/west coast (or more recently “yacht rock”, as dubbed by the popular YouTube series of the same name) is a type of soft rock originating from California in the late ‘70s and early ’80s. It has a smooth, “breezy” sound and in addition to the standard rock setup often features horn sections, percussion, synthesizers and the ever-present Fender Rhodes. There is a focus on great performances and slick productions.
What is your personal connection to the genre?
It was part of my musical upbringing as my parents were huge fans of AOR.
Even though AOR was always a quite popular genre on a grassroots level, what made it break through to the mainstream tier was the ballads that steamrolled through the charts of the ‘80s. To a genuine AOR fan like yourself, are these commercial ballads a “no no” or do you love them just as much as everything else the genre has to offer?
I enjoy a good ballad once in a while. Cleverly arranged ballads manage to keep a high energy despite a lower tempo. A lot of it has to do with dynamics and melodic/harmonic variation.
Seeing as this collection is made up of only ballads, was it challenging finding inspiration to make it as diverse as it ended up being?
It was somewhat more difficult to find a broader range of music simply because there seems to be fewer AOR ballads in existence than AOR uptempo tunes. But there was by far enough music to inspire the completion of this pack.
What musicians from this era inspired you growing up – and maybe still to this day?
Jay Graydon and David Foster are the godfathers of the genre. Steely Dan, Toto and The Doobie Brothers, though not strictly AOR/west coast throughout their careers, are great bands I still listen to.
It seems like AOR has had a resurgence in the past few years, without any ballad hits or mainstream airplay – like a new generation is discovering old and new bands, reinventing the genre all over again. Why, do you think?
With today’s streaming technology, it is easy to access any kind of music on any device regardless of when it was recorded which seems to have blurred the lines. And anyone can create their own playlists and be their own DJ. Also, it seems that “narrow music” has wormed its way onto other platforms such as computer games, which is cool.
Name: Stefan Olofsson
Location: Chania, Greece
Need some grooves to go with your EZkeys MIDI or vice versa? AOR Ballad Grooves and AOR Ballads EZkeys MIDI work just as well alone as they do in tandem. Instant inspiration!AOR BALLAD GROOVES
Listen to a selection of songs written by you, the EZkeys family!EZKEYS CUSTOMER JUKEBOX
This video series demonstrates the workflow of writing music with EZkeys. Learn how to add a piano to match your guitar track, how to find new song parts how to work with several instances of EZkeys.