1:00pm Thursday 24th January 2013
By Adam Binnie
A Watford musician has released a charity song featuring his unique style of "percussive guitar".
Declan Zapala, 27, was inspired to raise money for Crisis after seeing the problem of homelessness first hand while busking in London.
The song is available on iTunes and an accompanying video has been watched more than 5,500 times on YouTube.
The classically-trained guitarist combines traditional playing techniques with "percussive" elements - tapping or drumming on the different surfaces of the instrument to produce sounds.
The video for "Broken Rhapsody" lasts just over five minutes and was filmed in Mr Zapala’s living room on an iPhone.
He said: "When I first uploaded it, I shared it with 50 people on my Facebook page and then I could see them sharing it too, and before I knew it I had 2,000 hits.
"When Jon Gomm and Newton Faulkner tweeted the link, it increased again, and it’s now at about 5,000 views. It’s overwhelming, it feels like it’s happening to someone else.
"I’m going to take time out in January, February and March to really promote the video, but I won’t hear how it’s done on iTunes until the end of April."
Mr Zapala started playing guitar when he was ten-years-old, and practices for three or four hours a day. He has studied sound engineering at the University of Surrey.
He said: "There was always a guitar lying around at home and my mum was a singer. I played in punk bands when I was growing up and I learned drums too but I was always learning classical guitar.
"I was introduced to percussive guitar while in Surrey. There was a man there who taught at the Academy of Contemporary Music there called Eric Roche who is the godfather of the style.
"I saw him playing and it was amazing, I’d been playing for ten years and I never knew I was holding a percussive instrument.
"The percussive guitar really wears your hands out and the classic side makes my muscles tired, so it’s nice to be able to do both so I can take a break."
After University Mr Zapala broke his finger, so decided to spend two years teaching guitar to more than 80 children a week.
After this brief hiatus from playing, Mr Zapala auditioned for the Royal College of Music and got in, but found he was struggling to pay his fees.
He said: "I got involved with a competition and won a license to busk on the London Underground.
"There are 50 or 60 pitches and 250 musicians who play in them, but the waiting list is more than 2,000 people long.
"I got to skip the entire queue and played regularly at Waterloo Station, which paid for my second year at the Royal College of Music. I also made a lot of fans who have stuck with me."
It was during this time Mr Zapala decided to use his music to raise money for homeless people.
He said: "I saw first-hand the burgeoning homeless problem that plagues London.
"I made the song so that all money from single sales goes to the homeless charity Crisis in an attempt to contribute something in what little way I can."
Mr Zapala has performed on several cruise ships and has been contacted by two promoters since the video was released online.
To buy the single visit: www.declanzapala.com.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group