Thursday, February 10, 2011

Big Time "Big Top" Music, Part 2

Since my last post, many readers have expressed interest in listening to John Foti's other audition tracks. Unfortunately, friends, those remain locked up in the archives to be revealed when Big Top strikes Smithsonian fame. Sorry.


I'm so excited to feature an interview with our brilliant composer. Meet John...

Born and raised in West Caldwell, New Jersey, John started playing piano at the age of 5 and went on to study saxophone, voice, and accordion as well. He graduated from Fordham University in 2000 and has been playing and touring with Grammy Award-winning children's artist Dan Zanes and Friends since 2007. John released his first studio album, "Everybody's Coming To Town" earlier this year. He also recently composed music for the debut puppet-adaptation of "City of Hamburgers," a book by Mike Reiss. Hobbies include: traveling, making cd mixes, worrying about what the Yankees score is, not taking NJ Transit, and watching Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas too many times.

Christina: You pitched us a bunch of these great 30 second songs with lyrics and music. How was it hearing that we'd be chopping one down to 3 seconds?

John: Ha! As much as I quickly grew attached to a few of the theme songs, I completely understood that it might not be in the best interest of a 3-4 minute show to have a 30-second theme song. Especially if there's music throughout the show. Also, since it's not my creation, my project...well it's my job to respect the decisions of the creators and follow-through with my responsibilities the best that I can.

C: What was it like writing music for a television show as opposed to writing music for music's sake?

J: Well, it's the same thing really. It's all just ideas and instincts. In some ways, it's easier, because there's a built-in restriction and the overall idea is already there.
A music theory teacher once told me this about writing music. And I think this applies to many things. "You can carve a clay elephant two ways. You can start with a block of clay and carve away to the shape of an elephant or you can build the elephant from scratch." Why an elephant, I dunno. But I think it makes sense. In this case, I'd say the way I recorded was by making a huge block of sound first, then I carved away to make each song appropriate to the individual episode.

C: Was there a difference in writing music for a children's show rather than writing music for an older audience?

J: I'd like to hope not. I'm a big believer that all music is children's music. Or vice versa. Again, the writing process is just a creative outpouring of ideas and melodies and sounds. There's no need to start from a point where you're automatically dumbing-down the integrity of the song just because it's for a younger audience. Children aren't stupid. They like good music. Adults on the other hand...

C: What was it like communicating via email and file sharing rather than meeting and decision-making face-to-face?

J: Well, it was necessary, really. It's the way we operate these days. It's good and bad though. Good, because you can quickly exchange ideas, from your home, and get feedback right away. I've recently been recording a lot from my house for other projects...where those people will just throw my files into their and go from there. It's great. That said, sometimes a face-to-face meeting and rrreaally talking things through could probably eliminate a lot of the back-and-forth emails and potential mis-communication that occurs because of that.

Thanks, John!

To learn more about John, you can visit his website or Facebook page. Don't forget to friend Big Top Fitness!

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