Here’s the answers from today’s Q & A. I may do a Reddit AMA next time because that would’ve been much easier :P This was fun to do.


4hourfearlessleader asked: The problem with music genera is that until the 90's pop wasn't self-aware so a lot of what we retroactively call pop was billed at the time as rock, and "pop" actually stood for "popular", based on data which was only available later. With the manufacturing of pop in the 90's, it was possible to collect data and literally bill a band as pop as a separate genera. Once you get past the synth/organic categorization it gets really complicated, though some genere are almost exclusive to one.

Wow that’s an incredible analysis. I never thought of that - the idea that predetermined names for genres actually “build on top” of each other, which causes future generations to spin off subgenres of the original, therefore complicating and crowding the former genre names.

Imagine what everything will be in 200 more years as things continue to compound. Crazy.

I love what you’re doing.

I’m a guitarist and tromboner. I saw one of your posts about making an online orchestra. I beg of you to do something of the sort. or have a meet and greet (and jam, sightreading, etc) in major cities. Because the thing that lacks in my life as a teenage musician is knowing other dedicated musicians. 

Here’s a list of other like-minded people/tumblrs like you. You can also search tons of in-person gatherings around your town.

If you have a problem you can reach out to any of us because we’re in this together. I agree - it feels good to know you’re not alone :)

You are LOVED here. Art is beautiful, and never ever stop creating it.


Anonymous asked: Would you ever do a detailed post explaining your philosophical reasons for technical choices in one of your works? Why you chose this particular instrument for this part, why these are staccato and those are legato.

The day before I publish any pieces I have a 1 page explanation called “Thoughts On Tomorrow’s…”

They can all be found at the Thoughts tag or at the sidebar artist links to the left of my website.

I suppose my explanations could be more detailed, but where do I draw the line? Should I have a “layman’s explanation” and an “expert explanation”?

That seems condescending to most people, and incredibly time consuming. Unless I’m wrong (?)


Anonymous asked: I must confess, I'm a choral singer. I can't help but hear your arrangements and feel a vital part is missing: the lyrics. That is probably the reason I prefer your arrangements of songs I don't know over those I do. Have you considered writing in a place for a singer in your work? ~Derek

One of the reasons I don’t have lyrics is because of the licensing - there are 2 parts to a song: the music and the lyrics. And most times they’re separate writers (and therefore publishers).

Some people want me to “sample” the original vocal track over my arrangements, which 1.) would sound horrible 2.) be illegal without the licenses.

Also, I would never be able to afford a vocalist/choir to sing over my pieces every week.

I’ve written tons of original SATB, and Orchestra & Choir pieces. Choral writing, when done well, is the most beautiful thing in the world. I just can’t master it for some reason. It’s incredibly difficult.

I’m just more passionate about writing for only orchestra - maybe that will change over time, but right now I just really gravitate towards it.


Anonymous asked: Do you have a compilation where I can buy an album with everything for a discount?

Not yet. Although I understand what you mean about discounts and buying compilations.

As it stands right now - if you enjoy 10 of my songs then you have to make 10 separate orders for those 10 singles.

It’s a pain. I get that.

But when this idea first started I had no catalogue, no community, and no money for publishing physical CD’s or compilation discs.

But I now have well over 100 songs in my catalogue, and a small group of people who support me on this purpose for new orchestra music on this corner of the internet. We’re like a secret club that no one know’s about except us, and I think that’s so cool.

So in a few weeks we’re going to have a group poll to determine the CD track list of the compilations. It’s going to rock, and we’re going to have tons of fun in the coming months.


lobo47 asked: On the "Hard musical training vs. nurturing a love of it" argument: I personally know a lot of people that quit at all levels of music because of a lack of fun. Sometimes the best thing for a musician is to play a fun pop song instead of that super challenging piece they've been working on for weeks.

I totally agree. Its like videogames - when things are fun or you’re passionate about the topic, then you don’t realize you’re learning and excelling at an instrument, or a language, or exercising, etc.

It takes years, but learning music (or anything) has to be hard enough to be challenging, but easy enough that you don’t give up as you excel at each level.

But the challenge of something is part of its fun - it just can’t be too challenging too fast.


zouksthereitis asked: So which is it? One second you say it is the music, the lack of an innovative program, and the "dead composers", but then you say it's not the music. Music education isn't the problem, but it won't help bring the orchestra back, yet that is the first place most people get any kind of exposure to classical music, and any desire to attend a concert. Then it's the orchestras problem for spending too much money?

I had your response in a queue but I’ll answer this because it’s the most recent.

1.) If a major orchestra today can get by on a budget of $7 million, then why couldn’t they do it in 2007 when they had a budget of $12 million. They would have had a $5 million surplus. So why do they have to wait until they’re going bankrupt in order to become efficient?

2.) It’s not just the music, it’s everything. It’s broken.

3.) You’re correct: “[Music education] is the first place most people get any kind of exposure to classical music”. And that’s part of the problem. Exposure to classical music should be everywhere.


barbellsandbeethoven asked: I've had many remarkable experiences at an orchestra concert when the repertoire was limited to music from a hundred+ years ago. It's phenomenal music, and that's why it's still around. I'm not against new music, but I don't think the orchestra should sell out and perform a bunch of poorly constructed, simple pop songs. I think it's kind of preposterous for you to say that you're the spokesperson of "the new generation." I appreciate music BECAUSE of my training. No "forcing" should take place.

Hey Mike - I was simply answering your question by saying music education isn’t the answer, and neither are pop orchestra covers. Trust me, I’ve been to a ton of orchestra concerts, and yes - it’s phenomenal.

But the model is broken, and I’ve been screaming about this for years. It’s not one thing - its a bunch of things that’s killing the orchestra. And I never said I’m the spokesperson for the new generation. I said I’m a product of it - my influences, etc. And I don’t think today’s music is poorly constructed. I actually love it.

I’m sure you’re a killer musician, awesome person, and awesome music teacher. But I don’t think hard music training creates music appreciation. With all things in life, I’m saying it’s the other way around: The love comes first, the desire comes second.

You can’t make someone love something, it has to happen naturally.


michaelbhatia-deactivated201208 asked: You've probably written about this, but I can't find the post. What would you do to revamp interest in classical music / orchestras?

The orchestra isn’t dead - the composers are.