Hopkinton High School senior Ryan Hwang does not remember a time when music was not part of his life. As a toddler, he used wooden spoons to drum on a trash can, he was told. A fan of the Beatles and particularly Ringo Starr’s drumming, he focused primarily on that instrument during his youth.
About two years ago, Hwang branched out to incorporate song writing and music production into his repertoire of skills.
He has three original songs available on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music: “Longer,” “The Necklace” and “That Song,” and plans to release an album this summer.
He also will be performing one of his songs at the HHS Pops Concert this month.
Hwang explained that his pieces are based on real life experiences, “just to kind of process all the things going on … the highs and lows of life and where I’m at,” he said. “I talk to myself and it’s a [form] of therapy, I guess.”
Elaborating, he noted the theme of his upcoming album centers around high school relationships — “breakup issues, so it’s heartbreak driven.” Hwang hopes to collaborate with others and, in the future, use different topics as themes.
A turning point came during freshman year when Hwang participated in a five-week camp at Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he learned music production techniques, which he involves using technology to build a song from scratch.
“Music production is playing, recording, mixing and arranging a piece and making musical decisions about what melodies and chords to have, what instruments to use,” he said. “You have to make choices on the direction you want to take the sound … whether it is fast, slow, happy or sad sounding. You start with nothing and take writing into what you hear on the radio.”
Hwang said he uses the technology he has at home — a computer and keyboard. He began teaching himself the app GarageBand, combining pre-made loops and audio files to compose music.
From there, he taught himself how to create original music — “building a song from the ground up without the use of pre-made files composed by other people.”
The entire process for one composition takes about a month, he said, with the song writing spanning a week or two and then zeroing in on “how to use the production to tell the story of the song” and mixing and recording it.
Hwang performs as a drummer with the school concert band and jazz ensemble. For his senior project, he is making three videos showing the production process of how he created three songs — breaking down the various components.
“I hope to encourage people to make their own songs and to tell their own stories,” he noted.
“I feel very fortunate to bring people into this language of music through the songs I enjoy creating,” Hwang added.
In the fall, he will attend the University of Southern California and major in music production.
He’s not sure exactly what his ultimate career path will be — whether it’s becoming an artist, songwriter, producer, manager or a combination, but feels California is the place to make that happen.
“I love Massachusetts and it’s tempting to go to Berklee in Boston, but I know the industry is in Los Angeles and the best way to prepare for the future is to be where it all happens and learn from the professionals there,” he said.
Hwang noted his parents encouraged him to also study film and business to broaden his possibilities, and that is exactly what he intends to do.
“I’m going to surround myself in other worlds that might cross with each other and learn other tools to equip my career outside of music,” he said.
When asked where he would like to be in five years, Hwang replied, “Hopefully with a job. … Ideally, I’ll be doing a job I enjoy and having a positive impact using music.”
Ryan Hang…..great job!
So proud of you Ryan!! Fight On!!✌️