Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Back in 2011, on my 18th birthday, one of my good friends gave me the present of a lifetime. It just occurred to me to post about it.

Essentially, she sent out letters to ten of my favorite film composers. (I can't remember who they were then... my top ten are always changing.) I'm pretty sure this list included James Newton Howard, John Debney, Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Andrew Lockington, Harry Gregson-Williams, Christophe Beck, etc. She sent them envelopes with two postcard-sized movie posters and a letter saying that (basically) - my friend, Jon, wants to be a film composer too, and it would be awesome if you could sign the pictures to Jon, and send them back to me in the self addressed envelope. Thanks! Two composers replied.

The first was Christophe Beck. I was introduced to his work through The Seeker (2007) way back in the day and RED (2010). Throughout the years, it'd been super cool to watch him score major films, some being Due Date, The Muppets, Pitch Perfect, The Hangover (I, II, and III), Edge of Tomorrow (great score, by the way), and Frozen. So yeah, definitely a big name in Hollywood now. He sent back these two:

Beck even wrote on the letter back saying something along the lines of "sorry you can't really see the signatures, best of luck!"

The other composer was John Powell. Need I introduce him? No. Here's the two he sent back:

So yeah. That's my story. Maybe I'll tell it at parties.

What it makes me think about is this: there is so much emphasis on being a better musician that  being a person can get lost. I really think that life isn't about doing, it's about being. I'm reading a book about the lives of "great composers" right now - some of them were incredible musicians - they did great things! But man - some of them were terrible people. Getting this gift from them really means a lot to me - and the gift says a lot about Beck and Powell as people. Final thought: be a great musician, but be an even better person. (And to the other composers' defense, life is busy - so not replying to fan mail doesn't make you a terrible person. Just felt like I needed to put that, in case Hans Zimmer reads this. Cause that's going to happen.)

For August, I will be posting miscellaneous projects that I have worked on over the course of this year. They are unlike anything else I've done before - so definitely check back for them!

Thanks for listening,

Jonathan Maiocco

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Galaxies - A Visual Listening Guide

Galaxies is officially out. (Funny story, it came out last week, but the price was completely wrong. So I wanted to wait till they got that right). It's on iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby. It's also available to listen to on Spotify and on my website. If you want to buy it, I suggest either CDBaby ($13) or iTunes ($14). On Amazon it is $18 and on Google it is $19. Don't know why.

Quick trivia about the album:

  • two discs, twelve tracks on each disc. The first disc is the twelve major keys, the second disc is the twelve minor keys.
  • each track averages around eleven minutes, which brings the album to 4 hours, 38 minutes, and 34 seconds.
  • each disc is the same length.
  • I started composing is in April, but didn't really get started till May. I finished it late June.
  • the hardest part about the album was having the ability to stay awake while composing. It's like one of those, "I'm sitting here listening to ambient music, and all I want to do is fall asleep." I started taking B12 supplements. No joke.
  • the tracks go around the circle of fifths. (So "AM 0644-741" is in C Major, "M31" is in F Major, "ESO 540-31" is in Bb Major, etc. Same follows for the minor disc.) This is so you can listen to it in the original track order and it have a smooth flow from one track to the next.

Here is a visual listening guide so you can see what inspired me on each of the tracks.


1.) AM 0644-741

2.) M31

3.) ESO 540-31

4.) IC 342

5.) Zw II 28

6.) NGC 2841

7.) NGC 6946

8.) M101

9.) M106

10.) M82

11.) NGC 4911

12.) NGC 1313


1.) M81

2.) M51a

3.) I Zwicky 18

4.) NGC 5128

5.) Arp 244

6.) C3 321

7.) NGC 524

8.) NGC 1309

9.) NGC 1316

10.) UDFj-39546284

11.) NGC 4449

12.) IC 10

Here are samples from the album:

Disc 1:


Disc 2:

Thanks for listening,

Jonathan Maiocco

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

M101 & M81

There have been some "complications" in releasing Galaxies. Hopefully the issues will be resolved soon. But in the mean time...

Here are two more tracks. These are the more lyrical of most of the tracks. Let me know what you think!

A track from Disc #1:

A track from Disc #2:

Thanks for listening,

Jonathan Maiocco

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Process

I used to sit down and try to write music, hoping that some masterpiece would magically flow out of my head and onto paper. But the more I did that, the more frustrated I became. I would sit down and for an hours and hours, I would get literally no where. It was painful.

So I began a new tactic - I started to plan out everything before I ever sat down to write. A small example of this is Epic Music II - all the first letters of each of the tracks line up to say TO THE GREAT I AM. That didn't just "happen" - that was planned about a year and a half before the album was released. I knew what I was going to do before I did it.

Before I even put ink to the page, before I even insert those MIDI notes, I now know what my goal is. No, I don't know what the final product will be exactly - but I have a pretty strong idea. I go in knowing what I want - I go in knowing what I want to achieve. Remember, if you want to build a building, the first thing you have to do is lay a foundation. You have to begin with the end in mind - if you don't, you'll never finish.

This played a huge part in Galaxies - I physically worked on the album for about three and a half months, but before I ever started working, I mentally prepared the album for about six months. While I was commuting to school, while I was out surfing, while I was doing whatever, I would think and plan; and then when I would sit down to write, I would know exactly what I wanted before I even started. I had this chart on my wall to keep me focused and organized:

I knew there would be two discs; I knew each would have twelve tracks (twelve major keys, twelve minor keys); I knew I wanted each track to be named after a galaxy; I knew I wanted each track to have it's own unique sound. It took a couple of months to fully develop the idea, but when it came time to write, it was a lot easier. But here's the catch - the hardest part about composing music (or any art medium, for that matter) is just sitting down and doing it. Whether we will admit it or not, art is work. But it's worth it.

I had an idea for what I wanted for the album artwork. It was a small idea, but I knew it was (very roughly) what I wanted. Here was my first sketch:

After long and detailed talks with my brother, Michael, and some brain storming sessions, we  designed this as the final album cover:

So check that off the list.

The album should either release July 15th or July 22nd. I'll make sure to post when it does.

Here's another track from Disc 1:

Here's another track from Disc 2:

I've already started my next album. Maybe I'll post about it soon.

Thanks for listening,

Jonathan Maiocco