Musician, neuroscientist, and author Daniel Levitin has brought music psychology to the masses with This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs. For today's episode of Composer Quest, I got to interview Dan about why humans evolved to be musical. Dan also shares songwriting tips he's learned in talking with Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Stephen Stills, and Victor Wooten. In the second half of the episode, you'll hear Dan perform a couple of his own songs, including an exclusive debut of his new song "The Hole Inside My Head."
Crystal Grooms Mangano recently scored the documentary Asperger's Are Us, which follows a comedy troupe of four autistic guys. In this episode of Composer Quest, Crystal shares her process in deciding how to score this comedic documentary. I also ask Crystal about scoring the trailer for the Patrick Steward film Match, and we talk about the merits of flute in film scores.
When I called up Sage Lewis on Skype, I didn't realize he was a fellow Minnesotan. He's now out in LA, composing for films like Operator, starring Mae Whitman and Martin Starr, and a VR film called The Surrogate. In this episode of Composer Quest, we talk about what it takes to move to and find connections in LA. I also ask Sage about his score for the short film Caterwaul, about an old man and his mutant lobster wife.
Are you a "gardener" composer or an "architect" composer? My new (almost) neighbors Michael Maiorana and Mandy Fassett came over to talk about their different composing styles for today's episode of Composer Quest. They decided that Mandy is usually the "gardener" and Mikey is usually the "architect." In other words, Mandy uses her jazz improv background to grow a musical "seed," not knowing where her composition will end up, and Mikey approaches many of his compositions with a clear structure in mind. But they've come together to create improv looped music with violin, bass, and rubber bands in the project Snak Atak. Also, I got to learn about Faygo, the soda from Mikey's home state and the Insane Clown Posse's drink of choice.
I'm happy to announce that we're bringing back MNKINO Film Score Fest this year! If you haven't heard of it, it's an awesome challenge where filmmakers and composers are paired up to create short films, and the Composer Quest Orchestra plays the scores live at the screening.
For the Season 6 Premiere of Composer Quest, I asked aspiring podcast producer Jenny Handke to guest produce the episode. Jenny was interested in gaining some podcasting knowledge, so I thought we could record our conversation and post it as kind of a Composer Quest behind-the-scenes. We talk about everything from interviewing techniques to the ethical question of editing conversations to make people sound smart. I also ask Jenny about her own upcoming podcast, which will either be infinitely fascinating or intensely cringeworthy.
I have to share some potentially heartbreaking news with you: 2016 will be the final year of Composer Quest (see below for an explanation). But I want the podcast to go out with a bang, which is why I'm planning a Composer Quest WORLD TOUR in the fall. The plan is to travel for three months, visit fans, conduct interviews, and produce epic weekly episodes based on my travels.
Ethnomusicologist Colleen Bertsch is in Romania right now through a Fulbright grant to study Transylvanian violinists. I got to Skype with Colleen for this episode of Composer Quest, and we talk about her faithful recreation of Romanian folk music with her band Szászka, and the crazy time signatures (22/16!) she's played with her Balkan band Orkestar Bez Ime.
Tommy Kraft has been "living under a bridge" in order to finish his passion project, the feature-length Star Trek film Horizon. He's doing almost everything himself: directing, writing, editing, composing, visual effects, and even making the costumes. The film is Tommy's ode to the Enterprise TV series, which played an important role in his life by helping him sort through his struggle with depression. In this episode of Composer Quest, I talk with Tommy about his approach to scoring Horizon, and he shares words of wisdom on running a Kickstarter and producing a large creative project.
Garrett Hope has drawn composing inspiration from spider mating calls, Joan of Arc's trial transcript, oil spills, and rape survivor stories. In this episode of Composer Quest, I ask Garrett about these composing projects, and I ask what he's learned from his podcast Composer on Fire. He shares some words of wisdom from his interviewees, and things he's learned through his own composing journey.