Blind Film Composer Stephen Letnes

Stephen Letnes - Composer Quest

What is life like as a blind composer? It's a question I've wondered about, but haven't been able to ask until this interview with Stephen Letnes. In this Season 5 premiere episode of Composer Quest, Stephen shares his adventure into the unlikely field of film composing. We talk about Stephen's love/hate relationship with epic music, his advice for working with directors, and the piano performance that changed his life forever.

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Music Gear Master List

Nick Syman and Charlie McCarron in a Cagetones recording ession

I had a request from a commenter to list the stuff I use to make music. I'm not a gear junkie by any means; in general I try to get by with spending the least amount of money I can for decent sound quality. Besides, limitations can help you be more creative! Any famous producer would tell you that quality mixes have more to do with a good ear than the gear itself. That said, there is a certain point you want to hit where your gear and software isn't holding you back from producing good mixes, at least to your ear.

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Watch the 2015 MNKINO Film Score Fest


We had our second annual MNKINO Film Score Fest this summer, and it was a big success! Back in the spring, we paired up filmmakers and composers to create new short films. The Composer Quest Orchestra played the film scores live at our screening on August 13th. Thanks to Emma Andelson at SPNN, we have a video of the entire event!

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Patron Jingles, Vol. 1


I've been writing jingles for my Composer Quest patrons who are donating $3 or more per episode (thank you all!). It's been really fun writing in a different style each week. Some of these jingles are very jingle-y, others are weird, others are sweet. Enjoy!

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Transforming a Soap Opera Theme into a Chiptune Track

Plogue Chipsounds Soap Opera Theme

Challenging yourself to rearrange a piece of music is a good way to practice your composing skills without having to start from scratch. This week, I made it my goal to transform a cheesy soap opera theme into something that I'd actually want to listen to. In the end, it turned into an old-school video game track.

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African Guitar Legend Siama Matuzungidi

Siama Matuzungidi and Charlie McCarron

Siama Matuzungidi played guitar on and wrote some of the biggest pop hits of the 70s in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Kenya. In today's episode of Composer Quest, I talk with him about the soukous style of creating interesting rhythm guitar parts and lead parts to complement them. We also talk about Tim, his talented cockatiel who can improvise in the right key over Siama's guitar playing. As a bonus, Siama writes a song on the spot in honor of the thief who stole his shoes in Uganda.

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TV Composer Double Feature: Fil Eisler and Mac Quayle

Mac Quayle and Fil Eisler - Composer Quest

I'm excited to announce this Composer Quest double episode with TV composers Fil Eisler (Revenge, Empire, UnREAL) and Mac Quayle (American Horror Story, Drive, Mr. Robot). First, we hear from Fil about what he learned while composing for an orchestra during four seasons of Revenge. He shares his tips on getting hired for composing gigs and his tips on scoring the entire arc of a show without getting musically stale.

Next, I interview Mac Quayle about how his dance music background (41 #1 Billboard Dance Hits!) influences his film and TV scoring. He gives some music mixing pointers and explains how to build momentum in a song or soundtrack.

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