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View Full Version : Composers to study with in L.A./Hollywood


Sean R. Beeson
05-01-2005, 11:36 AM
Hi, my name is Sean Beeson. I am a student composer from Capital University in Columbus Ohio. (James Swearingen's University).

This summer I have the grand opportunity to have an internship at a prominent company in West Hollywood, whereas I will be working extensively with music technology.

I would though, like to study composition this summer, relating to film, or even other kinds of mediums with media. I am looking forward to working hard and learning at my intern job, and am hoping to complement it. (Especially since it is not cheap to live in that area, and I live in Ohio, so being in L.A. is a great opportunity for me to have.)

You can visit my website at: www.seanbeeson.com

And if anyone can help me, e-mail me at sbeeson@capital.edu
---Even if you can't help me, if you know someone who can, even another e-mail, it puts me one step closer.

I can also e-mail a list of my credentials(7 films, 1 CD, 2 games) and resume' to any who are interested.

Thanks,
Sean R. Beeson

lux
05-01-2005, 11:47 AM
you should take a look to EIS composition method. Many EIS teachers are LA-based and they are very good as Craig Sharmat (sharmy) , David Blumberg (awarded arranger) and many others.

http://www.equalinterval.com/

Its quite innovative and interesting, and it candidates as a great tool for learning composition.

Luca

Sean R. Beeson
05-01-2005, 12:02 PM
Could you recommend any of composer from the EIS? How much does this cost? I was trying to find quotes.

Thanks,
Sean

lux
05-01-2005, 12:06 PM
well, I'm studying with Craig Sharmat, and he's a very good teacher and musician other than a very nice person. I can surely suggest him, if he has the place. I know others are very good too.

Luca

Peter269
05-01-2005, 12:50 PM
In Los Angeles, via Film Music Institute, you can start with the Scott Smalley Orchestration seminar. Privately, the next best person to study with for orchestration and composition is Scott's dad, Jack Smalley.

Sean R. Beeson
05-01-2005, 01:57 PM
Unfortunately, it probably costs an arm AND both legs :) Perhaps I will contact this Jack Smalley you speak of.

Thanks,
Beeson

Any others?

Composer
05-01-2005, 09:37 PM
EIS sounds very interesting! Its a shame the site isn't finished and isn't terribly clear about the method of teaching EIS. Do you have to have private lessons or can one teach himself out of the book? If the order page worked, I'd order the first two books for 30.00, why not? And why is there no "contact" email?

Lux, tell us all more about EIS! I found a post on Sanctus Angelis (by someone who's name escapes me and I'm too lazy to go there to remember) who posted a few examples of work he'd done using EIS and they were very nice

Anyone who knows anything about EIS, please share.

Journeyman
05-01-2005, 10:01 PM
Greetings,

I'm just starting EIS this week. Whomever thinks that it is financially prohibitive is mistaken. Thus far, I find the prices reasonable. (Why someone would just assume anything about the costs involved without any facts to base it on, is beyond me.)

Secondly, study is done with an instructor whether it's done via telephone or email, in conjunction with the books. (Unless of course, you just happen to live near one of the instructors.) I suppose that you could attempt to get through it on your own, but I don't think that it's recommended.

Like you, I was introduced to EIS by listening to student's works at V.I. Control, (or as you call it, Sanctus Angelis). Since I'm just approaching the end of the first lesson, I'm not qualified to speak on it's merits yet. But if other's results are indicative, I'm very optimistic.

Lastly, for the moment, the EIS Forum at V.I Control seems to be the best place to ask your questions, as they'll be answered by actual EIS students and instructors. I think reading the past exchanges in that forum would help you as well.

Composer
05-01-2005, 10:13 PM
Oh. :o There's an entire forum on EIS over there! I never noticed! Apparently the first step is to email a teacher.

Thanks!

Peter269
05-01-2005, 10:41 PM
Unfortunately, it probably costs an arm AND both legs :) Perhaps I will contact this Jack Smalley you speak of.

Thanks,
Beeson

Any others?

Don't make any assumptions until you check and find out. The Scott Smalley Seminar is a few hundred dollars, but you get two solid days of instruction, two 11x17 books (over 1" thick" of UNPUBLISHED film scores), and CDs with the complete audio tracks for all the scores. As a Berklee grad, I never got anything like this in school, especially at the price of the seminar. Whatever it costs, it's worth saving to take. Your career will thank you.

Journeyman
05-02-2005, 05:15 AM
Agreed. I think the closest thing that Berklee had to EIS was one advanced Big Band arranging class taught by Herb Pomeroy, that had something to do with the concept of composing in a horizontal fashion. (I forget what the name of the class was.) But bottom line: Berklee was never a place where one could seriously pursue composition and orchestration in anything but a big band context.

Craig Sharmat
05-02-2005, 06:28 AM
Don't make any assumptions until you check and find out. The Scott Smalley Seminar is a few hundred dollars, but you get two solid days of instruction, two 11x17 books (over 1" thick" of UNPUBLISHED film scores), and CDs with the complete audio tracks for all the scores. As a Berklee grad, I never got anything like this in school, especially at the price of the seminar. Whatever it costs, it's worth saving to take. Your career will thank you.

The Scott Smalley seminar is very useful and am glad I attended. It helps with hollywood style orchestration techniques, but it is not really focused on composition or harmony.

Composer
05-02-2005, 07:27 AM
I don't quite understand what is so unique about composing in a horizontal fashion. I'm teaching myself species counterpoint out of Fux's counterpoint book right now, and the emphasis is on the melodic (or horizontal you could say) line. I've also studied a bit of the traditional four part Bach style counterpoint where the emphasis is supposed to be on each line having its own distinct melody and not on the chords.

I am intriqued but don't understand what is so unique about the EIS approach?

Frederick
05-02-2005, 08:01 AM
Horizontal writing is a different approach than creating vertical structures (chords). We can arrive at the chords naturally by writing lines across the page rather than vertically, although knowing this we can elect to do either method.

There doesn't seem to be an easy way to explain EIS unless you are in the course because without some key basics it seems mysterious. EIS is Equal Interval System, developed by Lyle "Spud" Murphy, which is a simple yet very accurate system of counting and spacing the horizontal and vertical intervals used in modern music, yet remaining architectually correct compositionally when examined using more traditional forms. It doesn't teach style but a method to arrive at virtually all styles of music.

The course begins with a series of Horizontal Root Lines which are based on Equal Intervals where every Root Tone is a Tonic. As students go through the course they embark upon Advanced Theory in a complete Equal Interval System which involves all intervals, vertical as well as horizontal, in all possible combinations. It goes without saying that this allows an unprecedented freedom in the compositional process while still remaining architectually correct. Later lessons involve advanced orchestration and arrangement techniques in the EIS system.

EIS graduates have a complete grounding in the Equal Interval System - many of them are working professionals from virtually all genres of music applying EIS to their music on a daily basis.

Here is a helpful thread that might answer some of the questions:

A Little About EIS (http://www.vi-control.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=452)

I hope this helps. :)

Best,

Frederick

Peter269
05-02-2005, 08:12 AM
The Scott Smalley seminar is very useful and am glad I attended. It helps with hollywood style orchestration techniques, but it is not really focused on composition or harmony.

Agreed, but in the other post I also recommended that he study privately with Jack Smalley. I understand that EIS is the system you studied under Spud Murphy, but I don't know it, and other than you and Danny Pelfrey, I don't know who else has studied it. So, it's hard for me to recommend what I haven't studied. No criticism implied.

If learning harmony is part of the issue, then Harmony by Schoenberg (NOT the Structural Functions of Harmony from Norton, but the other edition from UC Press) is ideal for self study, has LOTS of examples, and is easily adapted to any style.

For form in pop music, I think the Craft of Lyric Writing by SHeila Davis is quite good. For more serious form and composition beyond that, the Percy Goetschius Series at Alexander Publishing is top notch.

Craig Sharmat
05-02-2005, 09:50 AM
Hi Peter,

no offense taken


I don't quite understand what is so unique about composing in a horizontal fashion. I'm teaching myself species counterpoint out of Fux's counterpoint book right now, and the emphasis is on the melodic (or horizontal you could say) line. I've also studied a bit of the traditional four part Bach style counterpoint where the emphasis is supposed to be on each line having its own distinct melody and not on the chords.

I am intriqued but don't understand what is so unique about the EIS approach?

Well horizontal approach means one line going across the page. Most instruments just play one line going across the page, so the goal here is to write lines that will be played by instruments. If we just write vertically we may not get lines that would be as comfortable or musical when extracted from the vertical structures, as ones that are already written as lines, the way an instrument should play them..

clear as mud?

Doug Rogers
05-02-2005, 11:02 AM
It's so nice to see an intelligent exchange of ideas again, reminds me of the old days at another forum.

Welcome Peter, Craig, and our other new members.

- Doug

Journeyman
05-02-2005, 11:44 AM
I'd like get your views on a question I just posted in a different, but related thread. At this point my question is about 9/10th's of the way down....:

http://www.soundsonline-forums.com/showthread.php?p=2064#post2064

Thanks!

Stefan Podell
05-02-2005, 12:18 PM
It's so nice to see an intelligent exchange of ideas again, reminds me of the old days at another forum.

Welcome Peter, Craig, and our other new members.

- Doug

Careful, Doug. You might get banned....

Oh, wait. That's a different forum.... ;)

Craig Sharmat
05-02-2005, 01:49 PM
I'd like get your views on a question I just posted in a different, but related thread. At this point my question is about 9/10th's of the way down....:

http://www.soundsonline-forums.com/showthread.php?p=2064#post2064

Thanks!

Well in EIS, we can write "free" at a certain point, but usually we have to pay attention to the the other horizontal lines to fill in the blanks per say.

Composer
05-02-2005, 02:48 PM
Well horizontal approach means one line going across the page. Most instruments just play one line going across the page, so the goal here is to write lines that will be played by instruments. If we just write vertically we may not get lines that would be as comfortable or musical when extracted from the vertical structures, as ones that are already written as lines, the way an instrument should play them..

clear as mud?

You didn't explain how this is any different from normal counterpoint, though. "Horizontal approach means one line going across the page - if we write vertically we may not get lines as comfortable or musical when extracted from the vertical structures" - right. But how is this any different from traditional counterpoint?

I quote three different counterpoint books that I have:

"The melody must be quiet and sure in its movements, so that it is felt as an individuality and not a victim of mere circumstance" - Jeppesen, Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century

"Each part should exhibit a disctintive melodic pitch motion and contour. Even in the case of imitation, where a later voice may enter with a restatement of the first idea, at any given point the lines should still be melodically independant." - Sixteenth Century Counterpoint, Gauldin

In Kennan's book Counterpoint he states: "Each line must be good in itself. There must be sufficient independence between the voices in terms of direction and rhythmic motion." - he also plainly says, "Counterpoint concerns the character of individual lines as well as the principles involved in combining them."

Fux says the same thing in his Gradus Ad Parnassum - Rimsky famously said that good orchestration is good voice leading.

So what is so revolutionary about Spud's "horizontal" writing? :confused:

Edit: and I do not mean to come across as hostile! I am very interested in EIS, and even emailed Mr. Blumberg. I will probably order the first two books and look them over myself (without lessons), even though he said self teaching oneself is not recommended. I just don't quite understand what it is yet. :p

Craig Sharmat
05-02-2005, 03:08 PM
Ah, who says we are just writing counterpoint or just traditional classical music? The point is we write in many different styles, Jazz - classical- pop string arrangements to serialism, and all get a similar treatment...horizontal writing of lines. Yes we can do counterpoint but there is so much more to music, and here is a way to deal with most of it in a horizontal fashion. from this method also comes ways of total originality based on the system. this is hard to explain with out knowing the course.

Composer
05-02-2005, 04:02 PM
Hmm, so for one who is already fairly competent at counterpoint (though one can always continue to learn), and is strictly interested in orchestral music, this might not be much of a benefit?

Also, Craig, if you do not mind answering a question that I have (I feel bad bugging Mr. Blumberg so much) -

Blumberg wrote in an email to me:
"This is a legitimate book. When you complete all the homework for Book 1&2, lets see where you are at. Yes the books are music and instruction. It is the exact course as Spud taught it to us, lesson by lesson. It is not a text book. It is not for "self study". You will do yourself a disservice if you think and believe that."

What is your take on that? The books include instructions and, apparently, homework assignments - but still should not be used like a text book? Are the recommended lessons simply so that you can be assured you are doing things correctly? Are you as strongly opposed as Blumberg is to one attempting to "self teach" himself this method (although I personally never consider working out of a book self teaching), by devoting, say, two hours every morning to it? (I am a Berklee student, and do not have tons of free time, but will not be taking piano next semester - so I will have a few more free hours every day)

Craig Sharmat
05-02-2005, 04:20 PM
I feel there is a benefit to be gained through this course even though you may be just interested in orchestral music. If we were dealing with 1850 and before i might tend to stay away from the course, as it really deals with a lot of 20th century harmony.

The course has it's own language, so this is where having the teacher becomes important. Is it neccasary to have a teacher for every lesson, well I think it depends on the student, but to start it is i believe mandatory.

As far a allotting time, I believe allowing 4 hrs a week to complete the assignment should work.

hope this helps

Craig

Peter269
05-03-2005, 08:37 PM
It's so nice to see an intelligent exchange of ideas again, reminds me of the old days at another forum.

Welcome Peter, Craig, and our other new members.

- Doug

Thanks, Doug, I really appreciate that.

Craig Sharmat
05-03-2005, 10:29 PM
me too...:)

Sean R. Beeson
05-04-2005, 08:13 AM
Thanks so much for everyones help. I think I have an idea of where to start :). Thanks again, and I might be contacting a few of you.

Thanks,
Sean R. Beeson

Peter269
05-04-2005, 08:22 AM
UNIQUE LANGUAGE
Whether EIS (which I haven't seen), Berklee, the late Dick Grove, or whomever, whenever you take a specialized course there will always be unique names. Some of this is done for copyright purposes, other times because of someones background. Here's a simple example.

I have DF#A over a CMA7 chord with C in the bass.

At Berklee, this is an upper structure triad using a lydian chord scale.

At Grove, this was called plurality which is a term derived from an early 20th century theorist named Bernard Ziehn who in his language called it harmonipluralsignificance. Plurality was shorter!

In some academic composition courses it's called polytonaity and it's set up like a fraction:

D
_
C

With this view, it might not be lydian. It might a D scale over the C scale.

Similar concepts, different ways of expressing it.

dinosound
05-04-2005, 11:51 AM
Hi guys,

I wonder if EIS is similar to the Pantonal System. I think they may have changed the name but the link is here:

http://www.hyperbase.com/library/hyperlib/musnov/index.html


D.

Craig Sharmat
05-04-2005, 12:19 PM
While EIS will share certain things with other other systems, I can assure you it is unlike any other, as it's founder Spud Murphy comes from a unique place. all his ideas spawn form his unique vantage point.

Composer
05-04-2005, 12:40 PM
The only thing that makes me reluctant to send Blumberg $42 for the first two books is this whole "it uses its own language, so you need a teacher to explain it to you" stuff. I don't mean this to sound in any way rude, but all that tells me is that the book is poorly written. If a teacher can tell me what it means via a few email exchanges, over the phone, or even in a chatroom - why couldn't the author express that in the book?

Also, just to be petty and materialistic for a moment, are the EIS books printed and bound like legitimate books, or are they printed from a home printer, and stapled together? Not that this has any signifigance on the value of the course. Just wondering. I'm an avid reader and always appreciate books that will last for years (like most Dover scores).

I'm a bit nervous that when I receive the books they are going to be typo-ridden and unprofessional, this is probably because they're not traditionally published. I am mistaken, correct?

Journeyman
05-04-2005, 12:50 PM
The only thing that makes me reluctant to send Blumberg $42 for the first two books is this whole "it uses its own language, so you need a teacher to explain it to you" stuff. I don't mean this to sound in any way rude, but all that tells me is that the book is poorly written. If a teacher can tell me what it means via a few email exchanges, over the phone, or even in a chatroom - why couldn't the author express that in the book?Or consider the possibility that the book and the entire course were designed to be learned with an instructor. It may be that the books were just never written to be used autonomously.
Also, just to be petty and materialistic for a moment, are the EIS books printed and bound like legitimate books, or are they printed from a home printer, and stapled together? Not that this has any signifigance on the value of the course. Just wondering. I'm an avid reader and always appreciate books that will last for years (like most Dover scores).I'm a bit nervous that when I receive the books they are going to be typo-ridden and unprofessional, this is probably because they're not traditionally published. I am mistaken, correct?
The first two books I've received are spiral bound in one volume. They are well printed and I don't feel ripped off.

Journeyman
05-04-2005, 12:53 PM
Additionally, I'm happy to know that in David Blumberg, I'm studying with a highly regarded arranger/composer whose talents are being used on a wide variety of respected, professional projects. To me, that says a lot about the caliber of both the teacher and the system.

Composer
05-04-2005, 02:10 PM
Are you studying with him in person, though, or only via the telephone or internet? If the latter, do you feel the lessons are at all limited in a way that in-person lessons wouldn't be?

Journeyman
05-04-2005, 02:30 PM
Telephone and internet. Since I just got started, it's too soon to tell. But thus far I don't feel limited at all....

Craig Sharmat
05-04-2005, 09:17 PM
I think Journeyman is doing a fine job of explaining this but let me try another perspective.

This course was designed by a working composer for other working composers who wanted to know how he did it. When we studied with Spud Murphy, we were given the course only a lesson at a time. There were no books and they were eventually made only so graduates could have a consolidated place for reference. The lessons i received were on one sided paper, extremely thick stock. I even used to ask Spud how many trees did he take down in order to hand out my current lesson. This is not a a college style course but a collection of lessons that move usually in a predetermined order.

Composer
05-04-2005, 09:48 PM
Okay, I didn't mean to be annoying - I just wanted to investigate things clearly before sending off my money! Everyone I've talked to about EIS has had nothing but good things to say about it, and Mr. Blumberg is extremely helpful and nice, and, most importantly, the demos I've heard are very impressive.

I've been convinced! ;)