My years of music lessons have failed me. I was chatting on the phone one night with Tyson Leonard, and he brought up the musical term, allegro non troppo. In my head I was thinking, “Huh?”
Allegro non troppo means, “fast, but not too much.” Right. I remember that. Of course I say this after skimming through my not-so-photographic memory of sheet music and musicianship exams. Did I really forget about the variations of tempo? Apparently, I had.
Tyson Leonard is a violinist. And his band, Tropo, has been a project for the last three years. His brother, Grant, steps in with a solid bass line. Their cousin, Ryan Johnson, plays pedal steel guitar. Percussionist Jeff Schneider provides the beats. Initially started with just a few songs, the project has turned into a full-on electronic experience.
This all stemmed from a lifetime of musical influence. Tyson has played the violin since he was six years old. His brother, Grant, has been playing music for just as long. Throw in a couple of years at Berklee College of Music in Boston, complete with dance club nights in New York City, and you have got yourself the necessary background tools to deliver and produce a sound that will make you dance all night.
But listen closely to the messages. Tyson writes about the sign of the times. With lyrics influenced by socioeconomic issues, protests and the like, the idea is to learn from our world’s history. To compare the world as it was and how it is today, Tropo emotionally delivers about a “state of change.”
The “state of change” that is addressed is actually how the band name developed. Putting the musical reference aside, the Greek root, tropo, actually means “change” or “a turning.” Tyson further explained that the word troposphere indicates the bottom or the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere. This is all part of the theme of returning back to one’s origins, truth or reality.
The reality is this: Tropo is dropping beats everywhere. They have jumped on the music festival bandwagon and have played at events such as High Sierra Musical Festival, Lightning in a Bottle and the Joshua Tree Music Festival. They play shows in their home base of San Luis Obispo, CA, and the band is ecstatic about being a part of the live electronic scene.
Influenced by artists such as The Flaming Lips, Bjork, and Maynard Keenan, Tropo’s sound is eclectic and unlimited. A violin has replaced the electronic guitar. They are an electronic rock band that continues to create from the endless possibilities of technology. The live Tropo experience is one that continues into the early hours of the morning and is full of improvisation and pre-recorded loops. Add a few surprise tempo changes and the result is a colorful high-energy show by a group of very seasoned performers.
They have shared the stage with acts such as EOTO (consisting of two former members from The String Cheese Incident). Upcoming gigs include an evening shared with San Francisco group, BLVD, a slot at Movement Play, and a couple of appearances at The River View in Three Rivers, CA. More shows and festival appearances are in the works.
So get ready to break a sweat. And forget about music terminology. You are free to dance as fast as you want.