Ep. 21: Kyle Pederson, Part 1: How to Write What You Know...And What You Don't

Episode Description:

Award winning choral composer Kyle Pederson is on the podcast this week in the first of a two-part interview! This week’s episode focuses on the compositional process, how to get started, and the most challenging part of being a composer: writing authentically outside your own experiences.

Featured On This Episode:
Kyle Pederson

Kyle Pederson (b. 1971) is a Minneapolis-based composer, lyricist, pianist, and educator. Kyle was awarded the ACDA Genesis Prize in 2020 and the American Prize in Choral Composition in 2019. His work is published by Walton, Santa Barbara, Galaxy, Beckenhorst, Morningstar, Alfred, Hal Leonard, and Carl Fischer music publishers. Additional information and links to Kyle’s music can be found at kylepederson.com.

Episode Transcript:

*Episode transcripts are automatically generated and have NOT been proofread.*

On the podcast today is Minneapolis-based composer Kyle Peterson.


He’s one of the most prominent names in the world of choral music today, having won the American Prize for Choral Composition in 2019 and the ACDA Genesis Prize in 2020. He currently has works in print with eight different publishers, making him an ideal person to talk about the state of the industry and the traditional publication process. He has a unique origin story as somebody who became a composer later in life after successful careers in education and the private sector.


Our conversation covered so much ground that I had to split it up into two episodes to fit it all in. So, please enjoy part one of my interview with Kyle Peterson. Kyle Peterson, welcome to the podcast.


How are you doing? Hey, thanks, Garrett. I’m doing well. Thanks for having me.


So I was reading your bio online last night to prep, and you’ve had quite the life journey to get to this point, as I understand it. Let’s see if I missed anything. Degrees in philosophy, political science, secondary ed, you were a geography teacher, then an entrepreneur, then you went back to school for composition and decided to do music full-time, which is fascinating to me because that’s kind of backwards from how most people tend to do it, right? The sort of cliche is to give music a go, and then if that doesn’t work, you know, go into something else.


So do you want to elaborate on what that journey was like and finding your place within music specifically? Like, how did you come to realize, A, composition, but B, like what kind of music you wanted to write? Yeah. Well, you boiled three or so paragraphs of my bio down really succinctly. That’s impressive in just two sentences.


Nice job. Yeah, I mean, where to go with a big, hairy question like that? So I’ve always loved music. You know, I thought I would be a composer when I was really, really young.


From the first piano that came in my parents’ living room, hopped up and started banging away and would have neighbors come in and affirm me. And so I thought, this is what I want to do. I want to be a composer.


And I would tell my piano teachers, this is what I want to do as well. But growing up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it’s not necessarily a hotbed of compositional activity. And so though I had incredible piano teachers, they weren’t necessarily able to stoke the compositional flame.


And it didn’t really seem like a legitimate career path at that time for me. So I did a lot of things with playing piano and choirs and all sorts of musical things, but didn’t actually go into music. I kept it as a hobby.


And it came from a family of teachers. And so I wanted to love the idea of teaching. And so I taught geography for many years.


And then I created a company with a good friend of mine, who was a colleague at the school. And we had collaborated on lots of geographic things with our students. And all this time, I was playing piano for a church choir here in Minnesota, and loved that as well.


Keeping music a hobby. And then also, I had a couple of piano albums here or there, where I was arranging hymns and arranging some Christmas carols. But at some point, I approached my choir director at church, and I said, Bruce, I would love to write a choral piece.


Would you mind if I arrange a choral piece? And he said, sure, give it a shot. That would be awesome. And so I arranged a choral piece.


He was gracious enough to allow us to do it. It was not very good. Really, I sent the sopranos up too high, sent the basses down too low.


Even my normally gracious sopranos in that choir got a little snarky. And we’re telling them, never. Not the sopranos.


Interesting piece, Peterson, they would say. Interesting piece. And I realized that interesting is awesome when it’s used in conjunction with things like beautiful or evocative or clever or, you know, engaging.


But if it’s just interesting, if that’s the only thing that they can say about a piece, you’re in trouble. So I revised the piece. It never really got awesome, but I loved it.


I loved everything about getting my software hooked up, learning about MIDI and this notational program and hearing your own music come to life. And so that’s what I, it was sort of this immediate thing where even though the piece wasn’t very successful, and that particular piece has never been published, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So I approached my business partner and I said, Joe, I want to sell my half of the company.


I want to go back to school, get a degree in music composition and then write music. Which was an interesting reaction. Like you want to do what? This is what? This is not the average career path.


And I was like, yeah, that’s exactly right. But a guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do. So sold the company, went back and got a degree in music and have been doing this essentially full-time for the last five, six years.


Though I do work part-time also in the worship arts team at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville. In terms of the style of music that I love, I mean, I grew up listening to a ton like pop, blues, jazz, hymns, choral as a kid and then all throughout. And then I was, as a classically trained piano player, I played all sorts of music, played lots of classical, but then also loved to play blues and jazz and pop music and you name it.


So when it came time to start writing choral music, there’s just all sorts of styles and genres that feel comfortable for me and that I love to listen to and that I naturally gravitate to. So stylistically, it really wasn’t intentional that I would write any particular style. I would just sort of, just kind of experiment at the piano and see what comes up.


And sometimes they’re hymn arrangements, sometimes they’re new sort of more traditional choral pieces. Sometimes they’re arrangements of gospel tunes or spirituals. Sometimes it’s adaptations of pop music because I just love it all and love listening to it and love hearing what other people are doing out in the field in those genres as well.


So when you studied composition, was that with an emphasis on choral music or did you cover everything? I mean, at what point did you decide choral is the way to go? Yeah, that’s an interesting sort of journey as well. When I went into the program, they had, so Vermont College of Fine Arts has a very interesting approach and you can sort of, at the time at least, this was maybe five years ago, you sort of self-selected one of three or four different concentrations. And so there was a concert music field, which was the one that I selected.


There was also singer-songwriter field, film music, electronic music, and there were students all across the country that would converge for these intense residencies. You got to hear a whole variety. And I went in knowing that I wanted to write concert music and assuming that I would eventually gravitate to choral music because that’s what I grew up singing and that’s what seemed most comfortable to me.


Aside from the piano, I don’t really play an instrument very well. I have a little bit of background in the bass and a little bit in guitar, but that was about it. So it wasn’t like I was thinking I’m going to be an amazing orchestrator or write a I knew eventually I would gravitate towards choral music.


I thought this is my chance to get better at my orchestrating chops and writing instrumental music. And so the whole time I was there, I would noodle in choral music and write sort of little mini assignments in choral music. But my big projects, my end of semester activities were always sort of these bigger instrumental compositions.


And so I wrote a couple of string quartets. I wrote a couple of quintets. I wrote for like an eclectic eight to ten sort of chamber ensemble, which really helped because now when I’m writing instrumental parts, I’ve just got a lot more background and a lot sort of more skills to draw on, though I knew eventually that I would hone in on choral.


At some point, I’d love to write more string quartets and quintets and ensembles and brass and eventually maybe a full orchestra. But I’m just having such a good time right now digging into choral that I haven’t had a chance yet. That’s so smart to focus on the part that you’re not as comfortable with.


I think so many people are just like, I like this thing, so I’m going to go study more of this thing. And not that you can’t make it that way, but I just feel like when you’re so familiar with a particular genre, you get there either way, I guess. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was.


There were some awkward moments. My first brass quintet, I treated it like a string quartet where I had them playing throughout. I figured they can, essentially, they don’t need to breathe.


I forgot that a brass player needs to breathe. And I had these really long phrases and some high phrases, and I just thought, well, brass players will figure it out. And my mentor just sort of scratched his head and said, Kyle, a brass player needs to breathe.


And so then I would add up one rest, like a quarter rest here and an eighth rest here, and like, no, no, Kyle, a brass player needs to breathe for several measures at a time. You need to have them lay out. So it was the first, I mean, I think I had some nice melodic and harmonic ideas, so it wasn’t a complete disaster.


But my second brass quintet got a lot better. I gave them, and in fact, a couple of them played on both of them, and they approached me later, they said, thank you for growing as a brass writer. This is actually much more playable and enjoyable for us.


We’re not dying up there on the vine. If you thought sopranos were mean, just wait till you meet the trumpets. Oh, man, man, they laid into me.


So you’ve written about writing in the intersection of faith and music, as you call it, and sort of the blurring of sacred and secular. And I find that very interesting because I feel like the conventional wisdom, anyway, is that the world is getting more secular. And I wonder, what’s your take on that? And what’s your take on, I mean, obviously, you work as a church musician, so that influences your writing.


But I’m very curious to hear more about this. Well, yes. Einstein is sometimes attributed as saying, though I think there’s some questions to whether he actually said it or somebody else, but it’s this idea that there are two types of people, one who thinks that nothing is a miracle, and then one who thinks that all is a miracle, that everything out there is a miracle.


And I tend to fall in that camp, though I tend not to like dualities and binary kinds of things. But this idea that everything around us, so my own personal sort of theology is that God is the one in whom we live, move, and have our being, that everything around us is filled with this sort of sacred presence of spirit, and that that spirit is living and moving and working in all things at all times. So for me, there really isn’t a purely secular realm because all things are filled with this presence.


So that’s sort of my overall philosophy. But in particular, I find that there’s lots of research now on this idea of the nuns, people who don’t identify with any particular denomination or specific religious tradition, but still have this idea of something that transcends the everyday, that transcends the physical, that essentially is spiritual. They’re spiritual, but not religious, as some people might phrase it.


And so I love working at that sort of level, thinking about how we can invite the audiences and singers to live into this idea that that we are spiritual beings, and that we are in community together, and that there are our ways of living in community well, which to me, again, is a spiritual sort of sacred thing. Yeah, and I feel like your music is super personal. When I look at the texts that you’re writing, and the topics that you’re choosing to write about, it all seems very personal.


And I’m wondering how you do that as a composer when you’re not the one writing the text? How are you able to connect so deeply and express these personal things, but it’s not your words? Yeah, so it’s an interesting journey there too. I’d say maybe 30% of my pieces use other people’s words. So texts that I find, or that I commission for a particular project, or that I adapt, and maybe 70% of the texts I actually do write myself.


In some respects, I considered myself a writer, even before I considered myself a composer. Back when I was first working for church, maybe 15 years ago, I would be the one that would be tapped to, if we wanted to sort of, I hate to use the term, update or modernize a particular hymn text. But writing prayers, adapting hymn texts, and those kinds of things.


And I’ve always loved writing. And for a while, I envisioned myself as a singer-songwriter. This was maybe a couple of decades ago.


So I’ve got all sorts of drafts, early drafts of pretty bad lyrics that I was noodling in. So I thought of myself as a writer, and I’m always sort of looking for ideas to capture and maybe put into a song, to sort of fashion into a text that would work chorally. So it’s easier then, because I take personal experiences.


I’m always open to these ideas of like, what are my kids saying and doing? Did I hear something on a podcast? Certainly inspiration from nature. Might hear my pastor at church say a couple of phrases and think, oh, there’s something really, really incredibly poignant about those three words. That three-word phrase has got to find its way into a choral text.


I’ve got a file where I keep track of all of these things and maybe fashion them into lyrics down the road. And then when I’m taking somebody else’s work and their words, that’s very personal to them, and setting it, yeah, it’s probably a little bit of an art more than it is a science, trying to sort of inhabit those words, that text as much as possible, and to see what emerges from there, what music suggests itself, which is sometimes very challenging, but a joy when it comes out well. Well, and you have done something successfully, I might add, that a lot of composers are afraid to do, and that is write about other people’s experiences and write from the perspectives of other people.


Specifically, we can jump into Call Across, the piece for which you won the Genesis Prize, and you’re tackling different cultures and, you know, Norway and Zimbabwe, and you’re kind of all over the place. How do you write about what you don’t know? Yeah, that… And I ask because a lot of times commissioners will request something specifically, and it might not be a different culture, but it might be something that just you’re not familiar with, and that’s part of the job, right, is meeting people where they are and giving them what they want. Yeah, for that particular piece, I actually hired two ethno-musicologists who had experience and background and expertise in the Kulak call from, sort of the shepherding call from Norway and other Scandinavian countries, and another ethno-musicologist who was deeply familiar with parts of African culture and Shona.


So, because I knew, especially working outside my comfort zone with cultures that I don’t know a whole lot about, wanted to be sure that I was honoring them, which is always the intent, but sometimes that intent can get lost, and sometimes even with intent to honor, you trip on yourself and make some bad decisions. So, when I’m working way outside, like with other languages, other cultures, I make sure that I’m working with and collaborating with people who have a real good sort of embedded perspective. So, that was very important along the way for that.


There is something, I think, to be said for this idea that all experience, all human experience, is human experience and that at some level we can identify and at some level things transcend culture. So, I do like to advocate for that idea as well, that just because something is native to a particular culture that might not be mine, this idea that I too can participate in it, that I can appreciate it, that I can work with it in a respectful way with integrity. I can collaborate with people who are embedded in that culture and then hopefully make something that will resonate broadly across a variety of cultures.


That’s the hope, at least. Yeah, well, and I think there’s a lot to be said from what you can learn from other cultures and other musical traditions, and I don’t think we want to lose that as a profession, as composers. Yeah, there’s Kurt Knecht.


I don’t know if you have interviewed him for this podcast, but he’s the founder of Music Spoke, for example, and a brilliant thinker and organist and composer. He has just a recent series on cultural appropriation, like a three-part series that he wrote that’s getting a lot of traction that I actually think should eventually be required reading in the field. It’s just a beautiful historical walk with some very profound thoughts and evocative thoughts on what cultural appropriation is, isn’t, how to approach it, how to approach working with integrity and respect within other cultures.


Is that available online, that anyone can access? Yeah, I found it on his Facebook feed. I imagine, and I’m not sure what other platforms he might be on and put that out there, but it’s getting some good traction. I can link it to you.


If we can find it, I’ll link that in the episode notes. Speaking of collaboration, you had a great feature in a recent choral journal about working with lyricists. I wanted to ask, when you’re working with somebody creating an original text, how much does the musical form that you want to write dictate that process, or how much does your roadmap of the piece, or it’s a chicken or the egg thing, I guess, is what I’m asking.


Do you just take the text and build the music around that, or do you have a structure in mind? For a lot of instrumental composition in particular, it’s very rigid to, this is a sonata form, or this is a concerto, or this is a symphony, or what have you. Is there a discussion that happens with the lyricist, like, well, we want this to be song form, or we want this to be blank? It all depends. Right now, I’m working with Brian Newhouse, brilliant lyricist, lives here in the United States.


He’s done a few projects. He actually wrote Call Across as well, and it was sort of different procedures. With this most recent piece, I asked him, we wanted to get something that was very pop.


It would eventually make its way into more of a pop format, so either verse-chorus, or maybe just more strophic, where it’s just sort of straight through, like a verse that repeats, but not a lot of text. Something that would be maybe even easy for the audience to enter into, and to participate and sing also. Something that would be super accessible, sort of instantly memorable.


That was kind of the goal. Very condensed, and so, and I knew that going in, and so I said, Brian, here’s kind of what needs to happen lyrically, and that was resonating with how he probably would have approached the project as well, based on what he heard, sort of as the parameters, and the vision from the commissioner, and so Brian wrote this really, really awesome, elegantly simple, heartfelt, short text, that then allowed me to sort of think about things in more of a pop sort of form, and it ends up sort of taking a verse-chorus, and then a bridge back to a double-chorus kind of form. At least that’s how it’s shaping up now.


In Call Across, Brian, there wasn’t really as much, we knew he wanted to have three different cultures, and we had sort of collaborated on that, like this seems to be a good idea, but we didn’t know exactly what, he didn’t know what he wanted to say, and I didn’t have any predetermined idea of how I wanted the piece to be, or feel, and so he wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote, as Brian loves to do, and pages, and pages, and then eventually kind of condensed, and condensed, and then it ended up with probably more than he thought we’d have, and more than I thought we’d have. I thought it was maybe going to be, originally, like a three-to-five-minute piece, but the text that he provided, at least a certain stage of the creation process, was much longer. There’d be no way that we could do it in just three-to-five minutes.


It became sort of a seven-to-eight-minute piece, because I didn’t want to shrink it down, and condense it, because it was just so powerful what he had written, as he had written it, and so then I just sort of, well, that just becomes, then, my challenge to adapt, and let the text be what it wants, and then let the music sort of evolve from there, which was kind of a new thing for me. That’s not typically how I worked. So when you’re writing, do you end up with the same thing, you know, pages and pages of unused material on the floor? I mean, what is your compositional process like? I know that’s such a boring question, but I have to ask it.


You know, sometimes I think that I should have more unused material within a piece, because I’ve talked to other composers, and you’re exactly right, like, oh, we’ve got, you know, I started off with 10 minutes worth, and then I cut, and I boil it down to three. I’ve got a ton of what I call noodles, like a 30-second noodles, or even like a minute-and-a-half noodle, that never sees the light of day, that never makes it beyond sort of my computer, or my cell phone, my memos, voice memos. But once I’m actually in a piece, then, of course, there’s ideas I come up with that aren’t going to work.


But I rarely find myself with, you know, eight to 10 minutes of what I think might be possible material, and then condense it. I either tend to work in more short bursts, where I work on an idea, and then I sort of try to flesh it out and unravel it, and then move on to the next idea. It’s also possible that I settle entirely too soon for an idea, and I don’t pursue, you know, like five or six different ideas, and then have to cut them later.


I suppose that’s possible. But I’ve been told I tend to write more like a singer-songwriter approaches music, where I find chord progressions, I find sort of riffs and motives, and then things just sort of evolve from there. And it’s sort of this organic process.


Sometimes text influences lyric. This is if I’m writing the lyric. Text influences lyric, and then that influences the text, the music, and it just kind of weaves back and forth, this sort of iterative process.


And then a piece sort of feels cohesive. That’s probably the best, well, maybe not the best way I could describe it, but the way that occurs to me to describe it now. Are you doing this in a finale or sibelius? Are you a pencil paper guy? Oh, I wish I could do pencil paper.


I marvel at those people who can, you know, I reposed by the river with my manuscript paper, and the sun was shining, and I created this. I was like, I don’t, that doesn’t work at all for me. Yeah, then we’re over here with our voice memos.


If anyone can see my phone, I mean. So I’ve got, yeah, voice memos, and then I’ll noodle it out on the piano. And sometimes it’s, you know, sometimes the voice memo is at the piano.


And then once I have a good enough idea, like, I think I’m going to run with this, then I’ll go right to finale and everything. And I’ve got all sorts of stops and starts in finale, and even more in voice memos. Well, I have to ask about your setup.


No one else can see this because this is an audio format, but I’m going to do it anyway, because you’ve got, basically, it looks like an electronic organ, you know, with three or four consoles. And then you’ve got the computer monitors on either side. So is that your home base, or is that just for practicing? Well, that’s, it’s for show, Garrett.


It’s just for show. So before I really dove into choral composing, I really had this idea that I was going to be sort of a new, modern style organist, because I played piano for years, and I loved it. And I thought, I would love to play more organ at church.


And this was kind of in the phase when I was really trying to reimagine hymns and think like, how could hymns sound different? How could they be experienced differently? What other sounds can an organ make? And so I started taking organ lessons, bought this practice organ behind me that’s all digital, realized early on that it was way more difficult than I had anticipated. Coordinating the feet with the hands, it was a whole new, frustrating experience. So I did not, I mean, I can kind of play, but not nearly well enough to actually play in church or any other place, but it provides a great compositional tool.


So I moved it up here where it largely sits until I need to create a piece that has some sort of organ accompaniment or something. The possibilities with this digital organ are remarkable with the Hopwork software that you can simulate all sorts of famous organs around the world. But it stays there.


Below me here is my finale work desk keyboard. So this is kind of where the actual inputting happens. And then I’ve got a really nice grand piano downstairs that looks out over sort of a backyard woodsy area, which is more of the inspirational spot where I’m able to noodle and sort of squirrel away when the kids get too loud or noisy or I just need to escape.


Spoken like a true Minnesotan. Oh, yeah. Oh, that’s what I do then, yeah.


What is your most valuable or useful bit of software that is not Finale? Oh, cool question. Well, aside from the iPhone, which of course I use daily for the voice memos, for what was probably Logic. I’m not proficient by any stretch, but there have been a couple projects where I integrated Logic into it.


And I was fascinated with the layering of sounds and providing sort of different loops to choirs who could then practice and improvise over the top with these loops. And so I’ve always loved pop music and just these ideas of how many different layers of sound can we get that kind of just build up into this sort of frenzy of awesomeness. And I haven’t used it now for many, many months.


And each time I go back to it, it’s like, OK, what did I learn about Logic before? I wish I retained more of it. But that definitely is an amazing workhorse of a program. Yeah, good answer.


This is backtracking a little bit, but I wanted to jump back to Call Across for a little bit because I learned today that the submission for the Genesis Prize that you won was not the actual music, but a proposal to write the music. That’s right. And so I wanted to get your take on how do you make your music sound interesting verbally? Because this happened to me so many times that I write what I think is this really cool piece of music, and then I’ll tell my wife or one of my friends about it.


And I realize this sounds exactly the same as every other piece of music I’ve ever written. There’s nothing, you know, there’s nothing verbally that I can do to make it sound cool, you know? And this comes up writing product descriptions, it comes up writing grant proposals. It’s so hard to explain in words what it is that makes a piece of music interesting or unique or special.


Yeah. And I worry, I sympathize with you because it was certainly easier the first couple of years I was doing this because I did not have a bunch of repertoire out there. And so every description that I was writing or thinking about was like, oh, I could say this about this piece, and this would be a new way of describing this.


Now that I’ve got dozens of pieces out there, when I’m crafting my own descriptions for my website and suggested descriptions for publishers, I oftentimes think like, Dad, didn’t I say that already? I said, I’m using these same words. And then I find, well, not only am I using those words, but other composers that I really like, they’re using those words as well. And so are we all just sounding the same? So I totally empathize with what you’re saying.


I think that my background, again, I thought of myself as a writer, still sometimes do. And then in my background teaching, there’s just a lot of writing, there’s a lot of description, there’s a lot of, and trying to make things interesting as a teacher trying to. So I’m sort of well versed at this idea of selling an idea, selling a lesson as a business owner, previously selling a product.


And I was oftentimes the one charged with writing the product description for this particular course, or this professional development opportunity that we were offering. But I am really familiar with thesaurus.com. I have that up there. I’m not too proud to admit that I need a different word that means awesome, or incredible, or that sort of thing.


Yeah, well, this is one area that I think AI will save us. Indeed. There’s not many, but coming up with new words for product descriptions, that might be one.


I do think we have a lot of listeners who are coming into composition or self-publishing as maybe a second or third act, or a side hustle, or whatever you want to call it. It usually is that, yeah. And I’m wondering, because you had a couple of different careers first and then came into it, how do you think that has made your music different than if you had just gone straight into composition out of high school and just started writing? Yeah, I think about that a little bit.


Just, and of course, it’s hard to know what I would be writing had I just gone right out of college and started. I think there’s something to be said for, so musically for me, everything was just sort of latent. It just sort of, I had all sorts of ideas.


I remember doing lots of noodling on the piano in my teens, 20s, and 30s on all sorts of things, carols, hymns, other ideas, the singer-songwriter phase that I thought that I was going to maybe dive into. So almost none of those ideas went anywhere. They just were sort of just me noodling around and playing and just sort of, in retrospect, I was working my craft.


I was playing around with harmonies and melodies and structure and proportion and all of that. I wasn’t, but not thinking about it in any sort of formal way. And all the time, listening to a ton of different music, being exposed to different music, both in choirs and just in my own personal listening.


So I think having decades, three or so professional decades of work in other fields where the music thing was just a hobby, it was just sort of simmering around, allowed some things to catch on and to take. Then when I did dive into composing, can then sort of pour out. And it really did feel like this outpouring.


Even when I just had maybe my first piece or two published, I had just sort of this feverish outpouring just comes to mind of pieces that I was like, here’s a blues piece and here’s a gospel piece and a pop piece and a kind of a country piece and then a more typical choral piece. And it just all sort of poured out, which certainly would not have happened had I started writing right away. So I’d like to think that there’s something about that.


And for me, it’s a very much trial and error process. Even now that I’ve got a sort of official degree in music composition, I would, one might assume that that means that I really approach things from a very sophisticated intellectual way, which really isn’t the case. I’m very much, as I mentioned earlier, a sort of a singer, songwriter, composer in the sense that it’s trial and error.


I get with my instrument, the piano, I’ve got maybe a little bit of a text, a little bit of a harmony, maybe a bit of a sort of a rhythm idea. And then it just sort of what happens next? What does this idea want to do next? What does this lyric want to do next? And I’m not sure that I would have approached things like that had I had more official formal training earlier in my life and had I gone into it right away. The other thing is that so many people who start off right after college writing, if that’s their profession, it’s so tough to make it, especially full time.


As you mentioned, most composers have, they’re cobbling together several things. Composition is just one of the things that they do, whether it’s teaching or gigging or something completely out of the industry. But there’s a lot of pressure when you come out to write what you think will sell.


If there’s a lot of pressure to make money right away, like this is what I’m doing, then that can kind of dictate, well, my commissioner wants me to write that, so I better write that. That’s what I need to do in order to make the money, to pay the invoice, to pay rent. Whereas for me, if you’re more established and you’ve got other income sources and you can just say, well, for me it was, what do I want to write? What wants to pour out today? Which is really freeing.


I mean, incredibly fortunate I don’t, just remarkably fortunate that I have the resources and the time in order to dive into different sorts of musical interests that I might have. Well, I think at this point, we’ve scared away the casual listener, so let’s jump into working with publishers. Yes.