Friday, February 26, 2010

The Blank Page


Is it selfish, self-serving? I'm not sure (probably is). With that thought firmly in mind, I'll TRY to be brief in these missives.

I really prefer to speak in musical expression. The only problem, is that it's so open to interpretation…

Let's be hypothetical (OK everyone ready? got your lycra suits and Matrix style sunglasses on? Good, begin.)

I might write a piece of music (hypothetically) displaying my gooey, inner-soul for all to peruse and mock. Invariably, you present this highly intimate and personal expression to an early listener. You wait for it… the part about your childhood goes by… the chord that represents your long, lost love rings out… Your most embarrassing adult moment calcified in three part harmony… finally, mercifully it's done. The person says, "Wow man, nice piece. I particularly like the squiggly thing that came in after the weird sound in the beginning." and I think, Holy S**t! I just poured my heart out there, the musical equivalent of pulling my pants down and he said, "Wow man, nice piece".

You know what? That's perfect. All as it should be. The music hit that listener in just the way that he or she was ready to hear it. No explanation, no set-up. The music did its job and went home to it's family. The 'Trans-Lingual' (I've never heard that word before) quality of music, is what is so exciting to me. You (the listener) and I, don't have to speak the same language. I don't speak Czech or French or Klingon. (You might…) You don't speak English (you know who you are…apparently you can read it). BUT, we both speak 'Emotion'. Cheesy, I know. But true. You either like what a piece of music has to say, or you don't. Regardless, it spoke.

I think part of the craft of being a composer is finding ways to say something musically, that will speak to different people in a similar way. What makes something feel heroic, or scary or romantic? I have some ideas about that. (It's my job, I'd be remiss if I didn't…) But, let's discuss it. Is something that's scary to a 6th grader in New Guinea, scary to a 'large for his age' Swiss fifth grader? I don't have the foggiest. I bet someone knows, and I intend to check it out.

I am interested in how humans respond emotionally to moving images on a screen. How does the sound and musical information that goes with it, change a person's perception of the experience? All good questions. For later.

To the sole sentient being reading this blog, the artificial intelligence computer at Google, (who has to! it's his job.) I apologize for the random acts of violent punctuation and the out-right making up of words like 'Trans-Lingual'.


  1. Can't argue with any of that, Mr. Jones. I try to use words effectively when I blog, but the music is almost a straight line between me and the heart of the person I'm reaching. The evocative powers of music get stronger with age, I've noticed.

    You and the crew that chooses music for Chuck have rabid fans. Not to toot our horn too much; it's only coincidental that this particular post appeared today. I thought you'd appreciate it.

    We certainly appreciate your work. Perhaps you can tell that the music is part of our emotional language.


  2. Joe, Thanks for the response. I'm intrigued by your idea of the re-imagining of Chuck with personally significant songs from the 60's and 70's. Kind of like one of my favorite films 'High Fidelity' where John Cusack organizes his record collection auto-biographically. As a child of the 80's I feel I have so much catching up to do with the great music of the 60's and 70's ;-) ie First music experiences were from my Dad's record collection. He had passed away and wasn't there to guide me. First Beatle album was 'Help'. Ironically (for Chuck) I was blown away by George Martin's James Bond interludes between the songs (these were only on the vinyl). I liked the Beatles too of course. Then there was the strange LP with an Old Man with a bunch of sticks on his back. 'Hey Hey Mama, Said the Way you Move..." Can't tell you how that one rocked my world in 1983 ;-)

  3. Led Zeplin! Rocked my world too.

    Mistake! I could chat for hours about my early musical memories. I'll spare you. Suffice it to say they go back to Alvin & The Chipmunks doing The Witchdoctor Song. The first album I purchased was the Ventures Telstar. You'd appreciate it, I think.

    And thanks to you, I'll have George Martin's interludes on the Help album going through my head all day. Have them memorized, you know. ;)

    People have already noted the presence of Leaving On a Jet Plane in your music section (for episode 3.14, we assume). It is, in a word, exciting. No 'Boomer' will have to re-image anything with that one.


  4. This occurred to me last night watching the Winter Olympics. My first thought was how can they make the anthem translate as they did? Well actually my first thought was do the words fit lol, but that's not really the point. The point is, music translates just like you said. This singular hymn can convey the emotion without the hindrance of language, culture, beliefs. Music transcends; the children of Africa might not be able to identify with the lyrics of Alicia Keys (new york?) but the music coming from her piano resonates. And they will tap and they will sway to the hymn of the keys of her piano.

    I want to thank you for your dedication to what some consider a dying art: score. Movies, TV nowadays are filled with lyrical music and although great, it doesn't paint as clear a picture as a score-lyrical type of experience. Some of my most favorite shows contain in it a specified score and it's a different and more resonating experience. I may not understand exactly what the moment conveys in a lyrical: "in your eyes, I am complete" but I know that the moment is both more and less than that. It's love.

  5. By the by, the chuck score is one of the best TV scores i've heard.

  6. I just wanted to say thanks - to me the score of a show will make or break it. Your original compositions in this series fit great and keep me coming back every week! I was looking through the soundtracks wishing I could find copies of the ost soundtrack lol. Thanks for your hard work!


  7. I am a better person for having read the comments and replies on your blog. I don't have much to contribute as I have no formal background/training in music. I have experienced the connection between music and emotion first hand, as a musician only for my own ears.

    The combination of music and an artfully told story is powerful indeed. The soundtrack of Chuck has made an incredibly strong impression on my life and I thank you for your time and efforts.