What is your personal WHY?

In this article, I’d like to get a little emotional as it’s the beginning of the new year 2019. I won’t get into any new year’s resolutions, though, but instead answer a question publicly that I got asked quite often over the last few weeks.

Without dancing around, here’s that question right away: “Why do you spend that much time and effort to build M.I.T.A.? And what keeps you going?

If you look from the outside, our Academy is an educational institution that shares knowledge about interval theory and focuses on the application. Yes, it’s a business and we take part in the market by offering services and products to the market. Very simple, but that’s a very boring and dry statement and actually not the answer to the question.

Let me go back in time a little bit. I was always amazed by some well-known composers (for the film but also classical music) and how they would be able to create amazing musical ideas. It almost looked like magic to me as I wasn’t able to figure out their process (most of them could not have helped me anyway as they have left this planet many years ago already). Obviously, up to this point, I still don’t know their process but I’ve found ONE way to let me get close to their musical sophistication.
15 years ago, I believed it simply was my lack of knowledge about music theory so I started to study the Diatonic System for the next 5 years. Although this gave me some good and solid ideas to start with, my efforts didn’t really teach me how to compose the kind of music I was interested in. So, I decided to continue my journey and kept looking around for other musical input. I took various courses and studied various methods/systems. After another 6 years of writing 4-bar-assignments and practicing theories, I graduated from a system about horizontal writing and discovered that actually, I still wasn’t able to create that musical magic that originally had led me to look for other solutions in the first place …

I started to realize that taking more courses and getting more information probably won’t lead me to my goal as I already had spent 11 (!!) years so far without seeing significant improvements in my writing. And that was frustrating. Well, not just frustrating, but REALLY FRUSTRATING … I started to question everything, every theory, every concept, everybody who came my way and claimed to have understood how to compose any type of music (and there are a lot of these guys out there, you probably know a few of them as well). So, over time, I collected some small but very practical snippets of advice and techniques that have proven to be valuable. I’ve tried to generalize them into concepts and theories that I could apply in different ways. After some more years of organizing and working with these little fragments, I started to see results and this gave me hope again …

It was in July 2015 when I met Thomas Chase Jones for the first time. I attended a seminar TC was giving about composition for animation. It turned out that this meeting changed my whole life significantly. We’ve gotten into many conversations about composition/music theory and spent many hours in which we’ve exchanged and evaluated musical ideas/concepts. As we both have been very serious about that subject, we wrote down everything on paper. The idea was not to create a course, though. We simply wanted to become better and more accomplished composers.

We wanted to put these musical ideas to a test and see how practical they were. This was the beginning of my personal ‘WHY’. Using intervals in conjunction with conventional theory led to surprisingly fresh and interesting musical results! The music that came out of that was more fluent, emotional and also easier to follow. TC and I agreed to go on a mission together! The mission was to go back into that mine and dig for more musical gold nuggets, all under the premise to use this knowledge for our own musical improvement.
In the meantime, TC’s class has ended and almost the whole group wanted to continue their studies about intervals … Music Interval Theory Academy was born!

And this really brought a new layer to my personal WHY because the focus expanded from my own improvement to also helping others grow and sharing this new approach to music composition. Believe it or not but I can see the frustration in the eyes of other composers who are stuck in their musical world but want to break free. As I went through this process as well, our Academy is designed to offer help and show new opportunities in order to help composers to become free!

It’s truly amazing to listen to these wonderful compositions from our members and CITs (those pieces are available in the membership) who start to unfold their real potential! I’m so thankful for the great opportunity to use something I truly love, which is music, to connect to so many great people from all over the world and see them writing these amazing pieces!

This all has become part of my personal WHY and probably over time, there will be even more layers as people and the world evolve. So, what keeps you motivated and what is your personal WHY that lets you continue what you do?

Best always and have a wonderful New Year 2019,


About the Author

Frank Herrlinger

Frank Herrlinger

Frank is the co-founder of Music Interval Theory Academy (M.I.T.A.) and a professional composer working in the industry for over 10 years. He wrote music for numerous video games published for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. His music is also constantly heard on German television (RTL, Pro7, VOX, etc.), in commercials, and trailers.

Furthermore, he gives live training sessions in composition and how to use interval theory inside the membership every month.

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