Career Gameplan: The Rockband Approach

-Earn a degree in Music Composition from SMU as well as a Tonmeister Degree from Germany. The Tonmeister degree is a two year sound engineering program, which will allow me to record, produce and master state-of-the-art quality orchestral audio recordings, with the philosophy of using smaller orchestras where each individual player has a microphone and where the recording is mastered to be better than the original. A year and a half’s worth of the classes are offered at SMU, and so since I was planning on taking a semester in Germany, I will use that semester to fulfill my Tonmeister program.

-Compose, record and produce commercial acoustic classical music with electronic bass, timpani and synthetic coloring. Production quality intended for car.

-Distribute through YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, vimeo, Spotify, radio, etc. Even try WRR type-channels. Might need to get recording label to help distribute or hire marketer advice.

-Build fan base and Facebook following. This might take a few years, so consider it as time to build portfolio and invest.

-Once fan base has been made, then have concerts and bring music to fans. Market it such that Mozart-on-electric is the main entrée, in order to supplement and attract more concertgoers.

-Hire a full or part-time chamber orchestra from scratch and make it a business. If very costly, find investors, preferably fans with whom I share same dreams.

Skills Needed

During my time at SMU, aside from learning the general knowledge implied in the music composition degree (which is primarily acoustic), I want to learn additionally how to be fluent in electronic music, because that is how one becomes popularly recognized and distributed. I want to know how to create sounds from scratch and alter previous sound banks, and how to produce music on Logic Pro so that I can produce music that can be distributed well in an electronic format. I also want to teach myself the best ways to combine live electronic music with acoustic, especially between electric bass and subwoofer. Having noted the strong similarities between Baroque music and dubstep (both have two or more rhythmic & bass patterns), I want to develop a style that packages Classical/Baroque music in a semi-electronic format that is accessible to the mainstream. Dubstep is that stepping stone.
Financially speaking, I want to learn how to trade options, manage my portfolio and invest my own money. Realistically speaking, since I don’t expect composing to be my primary source of income,  I want to learn the skills to make successful investing the source of an extremely strong plan B. I follow politics and legislation often, am good at analyzing big pictures, seeing profitable trends, and defining complex systems that can lead to the best outcomes and so I think I’d be well-suited for that method of getting income. Hopefully I will be able to take the specific classes I have in mind at the Cox School of Business, but if not, I will pay someone with experience to tutor me on the subject, which shouldn’t be too difficult: Option trading is mainstream enough to not have to devote to an entire financing major to learn the information I want. The information is out there.

My Motivation

I think my “Habits as a Creator” post really touched deeply on this topic, in that as a hedonistic person, my hedonism is my greatest motivator. It’s this indulgence that gives me my drive.  Another thing that I noticed is that I get better and more enthusiastically motivated when I impress myself.  Other people’s compliments are great, sure, and if anything it might be a great confidence boost as opposed to their being critical of my work. However, if I think poorly of my work but receive compliments, I couldn’t care less. Conversely, if I receive criticism, even if I am very confident in my own music, it obviously makes me doubt myself, in the same way that I become self-doubtful if I underachieve too much from what I know I am capable of.  Putting aside external motivators which really aren’t nearly as relevant, the reason I think I want to impress myself is because a move towards mastery and progress is very satisfying.

Another important factor for me is that I must feel that I’m making a difference.  The idea that I’m being the first to blend classical and baroque music the way I do is incredibly motivating and confidence building for that exact reason – I feel like I’m making a difference, I feel like I have purpose, and ultimately even if nearly no one listens to my music, I feel valued because I value myself.

My Values

I would have to say that by far, my number one value and standard as an artist is producing something that can stand alone as a proud representation of my overall work. I remember years before when I was taking art in high school as part of my general curriculum that we would create a new project every two to three weeks. Although most classmates would spend very little time working on the project, getting regularly distracted and handing in a semi-acceptable piece, I would always work hours and hours after class just to put in the extra time. Because if I was going to do it at all, I might as well put in my effort all the way, otherwise I felt like I was wasting my time.
As you can tell, I’m not a composer of modern, atonal or contemporary music; I intentionally choose a style that stemmed from hundreds of years ago. For someone to do that in an economy dominated by “new” and “pop” takes yes, courage, and resolve, but most importantly it shows how  I don’t write and innovate for the sake of being able to ‘compete’ in a newer and easier market.  For me, music on its own is the “number one” element.
The best composers and songwriters are good not because they decided to innovate for the sake of being different, but because they followed what  they felt  in their hearts was the most tasteful and powerful music.  Since that music  spoke to them, they were able to invest something new of themselves and then innovate in a way that was genuine. Additionally, their success had much to do with the fact that they stood on and relied on the shoulders of some giant of history – as inaccessible in today’s terms as the giant may be. Mendelssohn made a name for himself when he studied, revived and forged the works of Bach into his music at a time when Europe had completely forgotten who Bach was. Alan Menken became successful as the Disney Renaissance composer by reviving a form of music – the musical – that had otherwise essentially died since the 1920s. Even the reason Avenged Sevenfold is so awesome is because they stepped back from pentatonic chords and revived classical modalities. The Piano Guys made their name by building on the same classical music that I do and giving their new pop flair to it. And so, as a composer, I’d rather face the masters directly, compete with and for them, and ultimately write music that I, myself, know is absolutely breathtaking, beautiful, emotional, fresh, and stimulating. Besides, this is the music that will most touch the listener’s heart. If you’ve ever gone to a Messiah concert by Handel, most often played during Christmas time, you know what I mean – good music  is good music, plain and simple and glorious, and music that was written for the sake of being good rather for the sake of being new is the music that remains forever eternal.

Habits as a Creator

As an extremely creative,  reflective and philosophically/purposefully oriented person, I  find it interesting how I work and function as an artist and individual – more specifically “how do I possibly survive the way I am?” Because some of the errors in my work habits can be just so pitiful, yet in the end they just fit together in the most perfect of successes. To put it concisely, I’m a hedonist, a daydreamer, and a very passionate one with a drive for perfection  that motivates me for hours and hours without end.

I’m one of the impetuous hedonists who – when composing, is constantly hitting the “playback” button to make sure that the harmony and counterpoint sounds really nice for the instant gratification. It can even be so extreme that I simply cannot motivate myself for the task at hand – such as practicing a violin etude for more than ten minutes at a time before I revert to composing alternatives. But the thing is that just because I am a hedonist doesn’t make it a bad thing that shouldn’t be embraced to the fullest. On the contrary, it’s because of this  hedonistic compulsion that I indulge myself to compose hours and hours a day, and because of it, I value my hedonism as my greatest asset. It’s this hedonistic unsatisfaction with my lack of harmony/theory skills that forced me to make it up developing years of contrapuntal mind training. It’s this greedy hedonism that motivates me to push my mind to include more and more and more layers of counterpoint in my music, to the point that I can include 3-4 parts on the spot with ease, not to mention 7 or so on score. It’s my hedonism that makes me throw out bad themes immediately and search so constantly for the great ones I can revel in. It’s the hedonism that makes me savor every second of the music I’m writing, and that really makes every second of the music count and worth listening to. Now of course, what I’m describing isn’t just hedonism, it’s also a drive for perfection that turns me into a workaholic. To give an example, on at least three different occasions this summer, I woke up at 11 am, started composing, and before I knew it I was lightheaded and drowsy and couldn’t realize why. The reason was because it had already become 8:30 pm and I hadn’t even gotten up to eat breakfast yet.

Ironically, the same hedonism that can’t get me to concentrate on a violin etude for more than ten minutes before starting to compose and improvise is the same motivator that can turn me into a workaholic of the dysfunctional Einsteinian order who’s too busy to even remember to have breakfast. And so, while wielded intelligently, it can become one of my most worthwhile and valued assets. And it really is, because do I really need to become a violinist or must I really do something I’m specifically and blatantly not motivated for?  Not at all. After all, the concept behind capitalism was never that you need to do able to do everything well, or care to do it, just to be interested and very, very good at one thing and mass produce that ability. So, in a sense, it’s a good thing that as a kid, I was curious yet impetuous enough to write off strategy game creating, painting, novel writing, short story writing, filmmaking, inventing, designing, violin performing, playing chess, pretending to be superman and every other childhood whim that I had, because each one led me closer to finding the task I’m completely geared to. And so in that respect, I suppose it makes me a master of Fordism.

My Love for Composing

I have been surrounded by classical music as far as I can remember. My father played his CD collection of operas, Baroque quartets, Mozartian symphonies and Romantic operas in the house since before I was born, and Pavarotti’s voice was always an accompaniment to my young life. With this, I began composing music ever since I was six and first held a violin.  They were short pieces with a cute charm that can only be created by a naïve youth.  They were classical in genre, and though they didn’t begin to approach the genius of Mozart, Haydn, Handel or Tchaikovsky, they contained that special magical feel unique to naïveté. Due to inaccuracies in notation though, just about all the melodies from back then were undecipherable with the exception of one that I thankfully still remember today.

I feel a sense of duty to contribute the best of what I can to the world.  I’d have a much less beautiful life had these composers not written their masterpieces.  I cherish some of these works very dearly and many serve as the sticky notes to specific memories of growing up.  These men are my heroes and their lives and contributions enhanced mine. I want to follow in their footsteps, and in the same manner that they made my world more beautiful, I want to contribute some beauty and worth of my own.

I’ve always had an inventive and creative love for melodies and harmonies. I love the way they meld together to create the perfect idea and embody the most powerful of emotions. My mind is constantly at work, coming up with ideas, exploring them, rearranging them, adding new variations.  At times I would like to figure out how to turn it off, though, honestly; it would allow me more time to sleep rather than to think restlessly. Still, I find the constant pondering extremely useful because not every composition is perfect, or genius, and there is always room for improvement of the melody or development. And in a way it’s magical because I’m creating this music, and it’s fluid and ever moving and ever changing, and it can become whatever I desire it to be. Eventually all these ideas, churning in my head from the last Haydn chorus I heard or the song on the radio or the symphony I imagined the night before, they all intertwine and become so obsessively overwhelming and constant in my mind that I have to write them down. It is only then I can finally hear with my ears what I was thinking and can move on.

Although I have other interests and loves, I can truly say that music is what I breathe and what I am most passionate about. It runs deep through every fiber of my being. It is with me from the moment I awaken till the long hours after midnight when my mind, cushioned on my bedsheet, is pacing in thought for comfort and closure. And so, like a relentless joy and burden that both fuels and consumes an inspired and passionate individual, my music is my raison d’être.

 

About

As a composer, I combine the lyricism, passion, intensity and dynamics of Classical music with the contrapuntal complexity and figured bass of Baroque music.

My music is very distinct from that of mid-century composers, because unlike CPE and Johann Christian Bach who were essentially experimenting with new classical music, I have the hindsight of the best of both worlds, whether it be the influence of Mozart, Haydn, Bach or Handel. I’ve had my music described on many occasions as “if Beethoven and Bach had a baby, that’s what it would sound like.” And I guess it’s true, because I really take emotion, pain, passion and memorability into my otherwise “classical” melodies, making them much more personable than the often “identical sounding” melodies of many classical composers at the time, while at the same time including a lot of the wit and “glory” of Handel.

I take advantage of new sounds while implementing them in a traditional way. For example, I often use an electric bass with a subwoofer, in order to make a physically present bass sound that reverberates throughout the concert hall, or I will steal and incorporate electronic pop sounds that reinforce choral parts in a completely new way, while still remaining faithful to the ancient sounds of the baroque violin.

I am currently an undergraduate studying Music Composition with violin on a full merit scholarship from Southern Methodist University in Texas.