Music that quickens the plus, tingles the spine and enlivens the soul
Compelling ---- Dramatic ---- Edgy
Everybody loves a good story - and I’ve had the good fortune to work on many good stories and even some great ones. For me there is nothing like the feeling I get when I score a scene and the music helps to bring all the elements together. I sometimes think of the music as a sort of emotion landscaping tool, helping to sharpen the emotional focus of the picture and helping a scene to breath. And that’s why I write music to picture - the inexplicable art of collaboration with like minded professionals, and because when it all comes together, it’s magical.
I can remember hearing the Twilight Zone theme emanating from the TV in the other room. It was so perfect for that show: angular, haunting and bizarre...it really got you into the unique feeling of that show. Those were the days of some iconic TV themes that really stuck with you. Whenever you heard them, you knew exactly what was coming next. I was also struck by 2001: A Space Odyssey. I must have seen that movie at least ten times. I remember lying on the floor at the front of the Cinerama theater in Detroit for the visual sequence near the end of the film. The way they used the music was incredible. The musical palette from Johann Strauss to Gyorgy Ligeti not only supported the visuals, but greatly enhanced them. It’s amazing to think that those early experiences would actually change the direction of my life.
I started my eclectic musical passion at an early age. My parents would play a wide range of recordings including everything from folk music to Stravinsky. There was ethnic slavic music, opera, calypso and bossa nova, and then there was rock and jazz. That’s one reason I feel so comfortable in so many different idioms now - I grew up with them. At some point I just started to experiment on the piano - I’m not sure where it came from, it just emerged. In some ways it’s not that different from what I do today, except now I have an arsenal of sounds to go with the stories and visuals.
I got my first guitar while in third grade, followed by clarinet in fifth grade, followed by the classical guitar I still have, in seventh grade. My first “band” was a folk group in 7th grade followed by the first rock band in 8th grade. I was also quite an accomplished singer back then - a soloist in a very large high school choir and the lead singer in the bands I was in. Whenever I wasn’t in school I was doing some kind of music project or band. During high school I also began playing bass guitar, which was the beginning of my jazz period. After graduating, I was off to the Berklee College of Music.
Boston was an extraordinary place to study. Berklee College of Music was down the street from New England Conservatory in one direction and MIT and Harvard in the other. It was a challenging, thriving artistic and educational community. Every night there was something great to see and listen to. I really loved living there engrossed in the music. I just wanted to know what music was all about, how it all went together. I studied acoustic bass with William Rhein, the principal bassist from the Boston Symphony and Bill Curtis, the top bass teacher at Berklee. I played with the M.I.T, Harvard-Radcliffe and Boston Civic Symphonies as well as many different and experimental jazz groups. Boston was a training ground for some of the best musicians in the world. I got to play with Yo Yo Ma, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton and met many other great musicians who I would later see in the studios in Los Angeles.
After graduation with a Bachelor of Music in Composition, I moved to Los Angeles. I worked for the first eight years as a musician doing session work, club gigs and touring the U.S., Europe and Mexico with a number of acts. The biggest tour was with the Sweet Inspirations, Elvis’ backup singers, who had a new record deal and were the opening act for the 1979 Bee Gees Tour, at the height of Saturday Night Fever. We played sixty different cities with five nights at Madison Square Garden and in front of 55,000 fans at Dodger Stadium. It was amazing to walk onstage with that many people out there. To hold that kind of audience was unbelievably powerful. But life on the road was loosing it’s magic and the next adventure was near.
A record producer I had worked for as a musician asked me if he knew of a composer for his new business as an animation music producer. I said “that’s me!” and my life took a new direction. I worked for a little over a year as a staff composer learning as much as I could about the craft of scoring cartoons. It was very exciting to put my musical ideas to the test and to finally use some of the knowledge I had gotten while at Berklee. It was amazing how the music just flowed out of me when given the opportunity.
I have now worked on over 50 animated series, over a dozen indie films and MOWs and many reality and documentary series including The Amazing Race, Duck Dynasty and Futurescape with James Woods, to just mention a few. In 2006 I received a Daytime Emmy for my work on the wonderful PBS show Jakers: The Adventures of Piggley Winks. Starting in 2011, I‘ve been presented with four ASCAP Film and Television Awards for my work on Spongebob Squarepants.
I continue to love my job and look forward to many more years of creating great music for TV and film. And I look forward to all the new technology that continues to change music scoring: the new sounds and textures that can be added to my already outrageous pallet of sounds. My commitment is to create great music for great art and media.