Almost 10 years out of Berklee, I still spend a fair amount of time studying music. I try to study a wide range of styles and eras, but disproportionately I find myself analyzing music from the Classical period, in particular Beethoven.
Of course no one has ever said my music “sounds” like Beethoven or Mozart. It doesn’t, and I wouldn’t want it to (unless that was the gig I was hired to do!). I don’t study Classical music for the particulars of style or to “sound” like one of those guys. I study it for the universal elements of proportion, balance, tension vs. release, harmonic continuation, melody, etc. etc.
My reasoning is that the underlying principles that worked for Beethoven must certainly work for anyone else. If I’m going to spend the little time I have available to deeply study music, it makes sense that I spend it with the best.
However I hardly ever passively listen to classical music. Occasionally I’ll listen to film scores but more often than not if I have music on in the background it’s current alternative, electronica and pop.
Partly this is because I enjoy it, but also because an essential need of my career is to stay current. By listening to contemporary music I am always aware of what kind of sounds are fresh vs. outdated, what chord progressions are in or out of vogue, and so on. I also am able to hold a conversation with a director who references their new favorite song and actually know what they are talking about!
When it comes time to compose, however, I put all of that aside and just write in my own voice. In the past I have made attempts to sound like some composer or another, but the result is always a pathetic attempt to imitate rather than a genuine expression.
With a well-maintained ear for what music sounds like in 2014 and an embedded sense for what has driven centuries worth of Western music, I can write authentically without worrying about who or what my music might sound like other than my own.
I’ve been writing for Audiotuts for almost six years now! The site has recently undergone a redesign and is now called simply Tuts+ with our division being the Music & Audio section. The new url is http://music.tutsplus.com
I write tutorials and articles on a variety of music related topics including music production, Logic, counterpoint, composition, arranging, orchestration and music theory.
So far this year I have had six tutorials published:
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to work with Scott and Diane Peterson on their feature film “The Current”. The score blends a traditional Hollywood family-drama style with lighter fun moments driven primarily by acoustic guitar. I even did an original hip-hop track for source music in a supermarket scene!
“The Current is the story of Jake who is uprooted from the home he loves in Chicago when he gets a little too close to “big city” violence. Much to his disappointment, his parents buy a campground in rural Minnesota and drag him there kicking and screaming. It is a story about God’s plan for our lives and how sometimes we don’t realize it but God is gently guiding us along throughout our lives. The screenplay was a finalist for the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays.”
More information is available at iifilms.com. Check out the trailer below:
The film is screening at and the first 20 attendees will receive a limited edition XO-7 Arbiter Mask and posters. The filmmakers will be in attendance and I believe a panel will follow the screening.
“Project Arbiter – A WWII sci-fi espionage story about a top secret O.S.S. unit. Captain Joseph Colburn is tasked with using a prototype invisibility suit to infiltrate a mysterious villa on the Polish border. Colburn’s mission abruptly begins when his plane is shot down. What is in the villa? What is Mixture 9? Participating filmmakers include Michael Chance (writer/director), Vicki de Mey (producer), Jason Beckwith (cinematographer), and Jesse Boots (VFX supervisor).”
I’ll be attending the screening, I’ve never been to Comic-Con but being that I’m a super-nerd, I am really looking forward to it! Congrats to Michael Chance and the rest of the cast and crew!
King of Miseries, a short film I scored directed by Tom Woodruff (Academy Award-winning character effects creator of Alien 3, X-Files and The Thing), written/produced by Michael Hayes and Brian Lubocki, and edited by Waldemar Centeno, will be premiering July 3rd on Dread Central.
The trailer for the film was released today on the site, and includes more detailed information about the film.
I recently discovered a fantastic site called Zen Pencils. Melbourne based artist Gavin Aung Than finds inspirational, thoughtful or otherwise motivational quotes from cool people and illustrates them in a comic style. The results are beautiful and effective and I love browsing his illustrations. His most recent work is of a quote by the super kickass John Green (author as well as host of the best Youtube series ever, Crash Course World History). The quote is great and the artwork stunning, but what really hooked my attention came from the comments. Matt Staples left the following 3-step process for earning money while doing what you love:
I’m excited to be a part of the Whatnot Industries music team on “The Hero”, a brand new show for TNT starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The show premieres Thursday June 6th at 8pm on TNT. Many thanks to the show’s composer Russell Spurlock!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson brings to TNT an epic competition testing the strength, courage, and integrity of a diverse group of nine individuals. Each week, the contestants will be tested, physically, mentally, and morally, as they try to prove that they truly deserve the title of “The Hero” and the life-changing grand prize that goes with it. With temptations around every corner, America watches to see what the contestants are willing to overcome, undergo, and sacrifice on behalf of themselves and others. In the end, it’s America’s call on who will be “The Hero.”