Rogan Halter (born July 17, 1987) is an Armenian jazz pianist.

Rogan enjoys playing original compositions strongly influenced by the Armenian folk tradition, often using its scales and modalities.

In this way, Rogan embraces Armenian culture in music (i.e. Saya-Nova, the choral works and Armenian mass arrangements of Komitas Vardapet), but he is also much influenced by American jazz traditions and to a degree, classic rock (i.e. Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin).

His debut album Nostromos was reviewed by critics as being an unique fusion between sounds of Armenian cultural heritage and modern American jazz.

You will notice his Jazz plays sounding similar to that of Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington.

Rogan is distinctively known for being an expert generalist in a wide spectrum of music, from Armenian folk music to classic rock of the 60’s till the 80’s.

Even on his most critically acclaimed jazz compositions and renditions of well-known contemporary pieces (like Coupe De Ville by Brian Bromberg), his improvisations contain embellishments based on scales from East European and Asian traditions.

Rogan is an exceptional musician, a man of his craft and undying passion, and he is also a cannabis enthusiast and frequent user of vaporizers.

He composes music outside on his backyard piano, vaping e-liquids (his favorite flavor is pineapple punch & apple cranberry mix).

 

My Early Life

Rogan was born in Gyumri, Armenia.

His ancestors were from the Northern Ireland region.

His father was a forensic accountant and his mother designed luxury dresses for a small fashion brand in Europe.

At the age of 3, he began playing melodies on his parents’ piano, and he went on to attending a prestigious music school from the age of 6.

As a young child, he dreamt of being a classical pianist (this would later change).

He studied jazz music from the age of 9, then tried to incorporate traditional Armenian folk melodies into classic-form improvisations in his teens.

At this stage, Rogan was influenced by Canadian composers Arno Babajanian.

Rogan, together with his parents and sister, moved to Paris during his teenage years, but moved to California to study art for his undergraduate.

He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York City.

 

Playing Music While Vaping

My Personal Testimony from New York City

vaping

I first got my impression of cannabis in Armenia.

It wasn’t talked about much – besides the rumors among kids that it was better than cigarettes.

As a child, I knew it smelled potent, much like the fart of a skunk.

I knew it was classified as a drug, but a bunch of kids smoked it without a big deal.

But, I was too afraid to make contact.

Then I moved to Paris during my teens

It was still illegal nationwide in France, but I saw cannabis culture on a different scale among the French

The French embraced cannabis.

So did the Germans, the Brits and especially the Dutch.

I traveled to Amsterdam to experiment with cannabis with some of friends that I met a Jazz bar.

They’ve done it before.

We entered a “coffee shop” and I immediately recognized the potent smell.

vaping

It was the same “skunk” smell that breezed under my nose back in Armenia.

I bought two nuggets of cannabis.

It weighed around a gram and cost me 10 euros per gram.

My friend rolled a joint for me and I lit it up.

Unfortunately, it didn’t do much – at all.

But, the second joint I smoked the day after was glorious.

Our friends and I got high beyond high and we just started writing music.

Music flowed through my body and I was able to manifest in compositions.

It felt natural. Writing music was never easier.

Folks, consuming cannabis can be a cure for boredom.

Among those who genuinely enjoy cannabis, they enter into a routine of smoking cannabis everyday.

This is because weed simulates us beyond our imagination.

Why stay bored when you can have fun out of the simplest things in life?

I was trapped.

If you decide to stop and if ever, you’ll see life is fine without it.

Consume everything in moderation.

You can’t stop smoking cannabis forever – just do it in moderation, little by little.

Don’t upset the tolerance. You’re going to end up spending a lot more in the future.

It started with 1/2 ounce a month, now it’s more than an ounce per month.

It’s not a big jump in terms of costs, but it can be concerning!

I learned this through traveling overseas, when I had a tolerance break from consuming cannabis.

This was the case when I traveled to Shanghai, China.

vaping

I traveled to Shanghai for a series of piano performances scheduled at Jazz clubs & restaurants.

It was a great opportunity for few bucks and to see China for myself.

Obviously I had to stay sober for couple months because of this gig.

In Shanghai was when I got introduced to the world of vaping.

Vaping isn’t too common in Europe.

I’ve seen kids vaping e-liquids in New York City and elsewhere in North America (including Canada), but I didn’t get to experience it personally.

Vaping was different.

It didn’t produce a high like cannabis (obviously), but it was relaxing.

I wasn’t fond of smoking cigarettes for health precautions, but I didn’t enjoy the coughs & sore throat that entailed every cigarette I had.

It was very expensive in Paris and New York City too.

Vaping was a more affordable alternative.

People of Shanghai smoked cigarettes a lot. I think that’s the case in general across China.

But, it was very apparent that the Chinese youth embraced vaping over using e-liquids.

Purchasing a vape of my own and as well as bunch of e-liquids was the start of my vaping experience.

When I left Shanghai, I started vaping in New York City and even discovered vaping CBD.

Consuming CBD doesn’t get you high (that’s THC), but it still makes you feel relaxed.

My big tip is, don’t overuse cannabis.

Take it in moderation.

Travel as much as you can, just for the sake of traveling, but also to take a lot of tolerance breaks.

There’s nothing better and more confusing than the first several highs you had.

Take advantage of the different perspective you get from smoking & vaping to do something you enjoy.

For myself, that is composing music (Jazz, Armenian folk & classic rock).

Don’t worry, I try to get a natural dopamine boost by jogging or weight lifting.

Working out before working on big tasks will boost your productivity and optimism!

That’s it for me.

Check out my other posts about composing music while smoking & vaping.

 

 

Testimony from “Pianist 420” from Warsaw

I smoke every day, probably a total of an ounce every two weeks.

I love playing piano when I’m stoned, I’m much more likely to tackle a new technique or jam out to some random song I’ve never played before.

For me, the best benefit is that if slows me down a little; I tend to get a little overzealous once I’ve mastered a part, and my hands get ahead of me so the weed kind of balances that out nicely.

My piano teacher definitely notices a difference when I’m stoned- he says I’m more steady and eager to learn new things.

On the other hand, when doing more complicated pieces, it can make it harder to pay attention to all the little details, and if you’re learning a new part it takes a little more practice to cement the muscle memory into your brain.

To me, the benefits far outweigh the consequences, but smoking weed is a very individual experience and affects everyone differently, especially when it comes to music.

I’d say try recording yourself practicing a few times both high and sober then comparing to see if there’s a positive change or a negative one.

 

Testimony of Pianist “Mrs. Grooves” from Zurich

vaping

This is my experience with it.

The bad thing about it is that I can’t learn things as efficiently as if I’m sober.

It just doesn’t stick as well.

Also… Remembering brand new things is rough when your short term memory is shot.

However, it helps me tremendously to be aware of my body. this becomes beneficial When I want to improve things that are already in muscle memory.

I become super aware of my muscles contracting, tension, and can really focus on the choreography of both my hands.

So, being baked helps me break some plateau at time by being able to come up with more efficient movements.

 

Testimony from “DJ Shake & Bake 2001” from Atlanta

Remembering back close to 40 years now, I remember that it did make me think I was playing better than I was, even though I was enjoying myself and what I was playing.

I still remember some of the really bad musical ideas I had then, because they were so very bad.

Worse, though, as soon as I was away from the stuff for a couple of months, I realized it had been making me about 30% dumber, 100% of the time, and it took literally months for the fog to clear.

For serious projects, 30% dumber is not a positive state to be in.

It’s certainly not a place I’ve wanted to find myself, for decades now.

So though it seemed good at the time, in retrospect, differentiating the enjoyment aspect from accomplishment, it didn’t have a whole lot of positive for anything long run.

I’m not against it with any degree of rabid logic, as some people are, but I do think it’s a distraction rather than an asset if your objective is anything involving developing skills rather than simply killing time.

armenian folk music

 


Rogan Halter (born July 17, 1987) is an Armenian jazz pianist, traditional Armenian folk music expert, and cannabis and vaping enthusiast.