Do you have a process?
In the beginning, I would sit at the piano and hunt for an inspiration that would unfold into a musical gem … sometimes it would happen; but most of the time, with a deadline looming, I continued to hunt at the piano searching and searching for hours. Around 12 a.m. I would say, “I’ll go to bed and let my subconscious handle it”. Truthfully, that did work some of the time. However, those days and times were never fun. Why? Because a deadline is a drag when you have little control over your creative process.
Then one day I became blessed when I became friends with a guitar player named Ted Greene. We became very close. Ted was a wonderful educator and gave me some truly amazing guidance. Ted’s process came from extracting scores from movies like “Gone with the Wind (1939)”. The Max Steiner score was a magnificent and thematic effort that was written the same year Max did a dozen other scores. Within these great scores were classical and 20th-century musical devices that were all part of the Steiner process of composing. I was a young composer/guitar player and wanted to be successful. I realized that there were methods of composition out there and that I needed to find my process and method so I could avoid the stress of hunting. I began the search for my process. I started my search with George Van Eps (7 Guitar), then on to Albert Harris (Composer/Orchestrator/music theory), followed by Jack Feirman (Conducting), Ted Greene (Music Theory), Howard Heitmeyer (Classical Guitar), Lyle Murphy (EIS music theory). USC, UCLA (Scoring for T.V. extension). Wow, I was learning so much but there was no process!! Basically, I just learned what other composers did, and tried to emulate them … not really a process. I finally decided I would create my own process and develop it. That was almost 40 years ago. The result? – M.I.T.A.: Music Interval Theory Academy, a composition course designed to give the composer a process that does not confine the artist spirit but frees it. A way to think musically that makes hunting fun.
P.S. My incredible luck continued when I met Frank Herrlinger in Baden (near Vienna), Austria. Now I add him to my list of great composers/musicians I have in my life. We have been working together for many years now on M.I.T.A.!
About the Author
Thomas Chase Jones
TC has been composing, producing and teaching music for more than 30 years. He scored internationally-aired animated series which include The Batman, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Gummi Bears, Ducktales and many more.
He regularly gives live training sessions on composition and interval theory for Academy members inside the membership.