A future in film scoring
When Alex Rodriguez watches a TV show or film, chances are his focus isn’t on
the plot. Instead, he is listening to the music.
Alex, a junior Music Composition and Technologies major, started writing hip-hop
music at 14 with “some really bad music software.” By 18, he moved to film scoring.
“I listened to a lot of Hans Zimmer, John Williams and Michael Giacchino, and
when I heard that, I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,”
he says. “I then started composing different kinds of sound bytes for different
movies and started trying out various orchestral instruments. I actually had never
touched them before, so I had to learn to orchestrate and arrange music for strings,
brass and woodwinds.”
In high school, Alex had gone to a magnet school with a music technology emphasis,
where one of his teachers recommended LaGrange College because of its music composition
and technologies program.
“When I first got to LaGrange, I worked with music professor Lee Johnson and learned
to write harmonies and how to orchestrate,” Alex says. “I also learned how classical
music moved into where we are now with film scoring.”
He says he enjoys working with Professor Johnson because he is unbiased.
“I can go in there with any type of music, which I do a lot because I want to
expand my genres by trying jazz, dubstep, hip-hop or orchestral,” he says. “He
never criticizes it or says this genre of music really isn’t good for you. He just
says, ‘We’ll work at it and see how we can get better at it.’”
Another professor, Dr. Mitch Turner, has been Alex’s “guardian angel” at LaGrange.
“When I got here, I had zero classical training and zero theory,” he says. “I
didn’t know the notes on a scale; I didn’t know anything about the staff. I came
into theory like a deer in headlights. He completely showed me how to do music.
I had to work really hard at it. Ear training and Theory I and II were very difficult
classes for me, but he helped me stick it out.”
Alex sees film scoring in movies and TV as a long-term career.
His favorite film score is Zimmer’s “Inception.” Howard Shore is another of his
“Shore did the scores for ‘Lord of the Rings,’ which are almost on a whole new
level,” he says. “They reflect the characters so well. When I studied Howard Shore,
I really wanted to understand how he used music to reflect the character and the
themes and the emotions. When I listen to his music, that’s what I get out of it:
how to create a melody that will help the audience connect with the characters.”
Alex has composed several original works at the college and recorded an album
last semester with fellow music student Angela Hutchins. “All Things Anew” will
be released this fall.
“We recorded 10 songs in a semester, which is not an easy feat by any means,”
Alex says. “It took a lot of time management and dedication because most of the
songs have full instrumentation—guitars, bass, drums, piano and vocals.”
Alex says LaGrange College‘s music composition and technologies program gave him
the equipment and access needed for hands-on experience.
“There aren’t many schools, especially in the state of Georgia, where you have
access to the software, gear and instruments that we have,” he says. “We have practice
rooms that are open all the time. If you need to work somewhere, you can find somewhere
to work; you don’t have to sign in or wait.
“I’ve been to school where they had a MIDI lab, but the lab was always full. But
here you have access to everything all the professionals have at your disposal
whenever you want it.”
His advice for high-schoolers or anyone going into the business?
“The only way to get better is to do it,” Alex says. “The more practice you do
here, once you graduate, you’ll be more ready than someone who is just getting
started. If you’ve already done this at LaGrange College, you’ve done numerous
pieces and film scores and sound-alikes.
“You’re ready for the real world once you graduate.”