I am Jon Brantingham, and I am composer, performer, and teacher. I’ve been pursuing the art of musical composition my entire life.
Listen to this while you read…
I started artofcomposing.com in 2011 after spending 7 years in the Army.
Originally, it was a place for me to collect everything I was learning and blog about it, which was all the rage back in 2011.
I was particularly excited about musical form, and harmony in the early days of the site.
Pursuing Composition as a Career
Since 2014, I’ve pursued composition as a career and have now scored multiple soap opera seasons, short films, commercials, arranging and other composing work. I’ve even consulted for a novel about Napoleon’s niece as a composer and the accuracy of the musical references.
Composing and teaching composition are now my full time job. I am a testament to the fact that you can completely switch careers after almost a decade, and still make progress.
Before we get into that, let’s go back… way back.
Born in Southern California
I was born in Southern California and lived there till I was 11. My musical career also started there, when I joined my school band and started playing trumpet, after being inspired by the Theme to Jurassic Park. I never did get to play the theme in the school band.
Trained in Music in South Africa
In 1996, my family moved to Durban, South Africa. It was a great experience. I joined an excellent Youth Concert Wind Band and finally got a trumpet teacher (who was appalled that I couldn’t read music yet).
I got better and better, and started branching out a little more on my own. This is when I wrote my first few compositions around the age of 12. They’re not great (I don’t think Mozart would be jealous), but at least it got me started. My Dad also taught me to play classical guitar.
At the bottom of the page, you can hear the first complete piece I ever wrote, using a DOS program called IT Tracker. Be gentle, I was 12.
Finished High School in England
In 2000, we moved to Guildford, England, where I continued to compose and play. I taught myself piano, which really helped, and really got into jazz music. This was a major help for understanding harmony. My composing was getting better, but still needed a lot of work.
College in South Carolina
After high school in England, I was accepted into Furman University as a music major as well as ROTC cadet. I loved music. In particular, I loved theory and composition. But an issue arose between music and ROTC. At the time, ROTC was paying the bill for college, and was going to be my job after college, so to make a long story short, I switched to history as a major.
Different Career for 10 Years
The following 10 years after I started college, I learned to fly helicopters, went to Iraq for 15 months, got shot at, lived in 3 other states, learned to play the drums and saxophone, got married, had a kid, bought a house, got two dogs and a cat… but I hadn’t composed.
The Realization – “I Need to Compose Again”
Early in 2011, I had an urge to write a jazz tune, but instead of making an excuse, I just sat down and did it. And it was great. I loved the process and I loved the song. I posted it online, and others liked it as well. So I began thinking, “Maybe I need to do this more.”
Art of Composing and Working as a Composer
In August of 2011, I started artofcomposing.com in an attempt to push myself to compose more, and share what I was learning. It started humbly, a simple blog. But from there it grew, and more importantly, I composed… a lot. Since then, I’ve pushed myself far outside my comfort zone – leaving my job, moving to Los Angeles, and beginning my film scoring career. I’ve started getting some short films and making connections.
Here is one of the first short films I scored: