Composing with Knobs and Patch Cables, Featuring Mike Olson

October 29th, 2014 • Composer Quest


Mike Olson schooled me in the ways of old-fashioned analog electronic composing, where you only have dials and cords to create music with. In this episode of Composer Quest, Mike shares how his creative process works when he's at his Moog modular synthesizer. We also talk about how to sound-treat your home studio, and what makes music go from merely "perfect" to "hair-raisingly transcendent." Continue reading...

Quest 12: Suzuki Flute Choir

October 24th, 2014 • Composer Quest


For the 12th Composer Quest quest, I challenge you to write a piece of music for flute choir, with parts that can be performed by beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. We'll be collaborating with the Minnesota Suzuki Flute Teachers Association, who have some fun concerts lined up to premiere these Composer Quest submissions. For the inside scoop on this challenge, take a listen to my talk with two of our collaborating teachers (and exceptional flutists), Bethany Gonella and Andrea Myers. Continue reading...

Composer Quest Episode 100: Mitchell Johnson Returns

October 22nd, 2014 • Composer Quest


For this special 100th episode of Composer Quest, I thought I'd invite back my songwriter guest from the very first episode: Mitchell Adam Johnson. If you heard that episode, you know Mitchell has a knack for bringing music theory into his pop songwriting. We talk about chord progressions, "bizarro" tritones, Motown bass lines, and deep questions like "What's the purpose of music?" Mitchell is releasing his first ever solo EP, Half Moon Lane, in just a few weeks, and this is a sneak preview of his beautiful new songs. Also, stick around until the end of the episode, and you'll get to hear a new song collaboration between Mitchell and me. Continue reading...

4 Ideas That Changed How I Compose

October 8th, 2014 • Composer Quest, Composing Tips


My latest Composer Quest episode features superfan Dan Wheeler's Top 10 moments from the podcast. As episode 100 approaches, I thought I would also reflect on the podcast and post my own list of podcast moments that have most influenced my composing. Continue reading...

Superfan Dan Wheeler’s Top 10 Composer Quest Memories

October 8th, 2014 • Composer Quest


I've been putting out more Composer Quest episodes over the past year and a half than most people can keep up with. So I was taken aback when I heard that Dan Wheeler had listened to all 90+ episodes TWICE (and some three times)! In this 99th Composer Quest episode, Dan shares his top ten moments from the podcast and talks about how they influenced his composing style. Continue reading...

Melody and Modulation with Composer Coach Jon Brantingham

October 1st, 2014 • Composer Quest


After his time as a helicopter pilot in the army, Jon Brantingham returned to his love of music theory and composing. He’s been inspiring people with his practical approach to learning composition, which he’s been sharing in his blog and podcast, Art of Composing. In this episode of Composer Quest, Jon and I talk about what makes a good melody, how to modulate using “pivot chords,” and how to channel Beethoven without outright copying him. We also chat about what he’s been learning in his UCLA film scoring program. It’s a longer and more theory-heavy talk than usual, but it got my composer gears going, so I hope you enjoy it too! Continue reading...

Quest 11: Halloween Reeds

October 1st, 2014 • Composer Quest


I'm excited to announce our 11th Composer Quest Quest, brought to you by our woodwind friends, the Twin Cities Trio! You may remember them from such quests as Quest #1, in which my podcast listeners and I arranged some fun music for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. Now, the trio is back to inspire you to write and/or arrange music for them on the theme of Halloween. You can either find an existing spooky song (Thriller, the Addams Family theme, etc.) or write one yourself. Send your oboe, clarinet, and bassoon music (PDFs and mp3 or MIDI) to twin.cities.trio@gmail.com on or before Friday, October 17th. Continue reading...