I know this is not about Japanese culture, but there are a few nods to some Japanese composers.

I finished working on the latest cut of the soundtrack for the upcoming film, “Ragman,” based on a short story by Walter Wangerin, Jr. In this soundtrack, I was surprised by how many composers and themes had influenced what I was doing. I found myself echoing themes by Maurice Durufle, Jan Bender, Richard Wienhorst, Ralph Vaughan William, Ryuichi Sakamoto, as well as Yoko Kanno. I hope you enjoy, and please let me know what you think. The film will premiere at Concordia Seminary in a few weeks.

Much of the formation of my musical sensibilities happened while I studied music at Valparaiso University and Juilliard. I fell in love with Franck, Durufle, Dupre, Poulenc, Howells, I learned so much about sacred music and 20th century reinterpretations of plain chant and other Gregorian themes, that these themes became part of my DNA when I write.

In his introduction to BTTB, Sakamoto talked about the importance of melodies and creating memorable melodies. I read this the summer after I had a course in counterpoint; when I realized the importance of just having melodies that speak and tell a story, whether it’s a hymn or a movie soundtrack, or even background music, I had a paradigm shift in my composition style. Rather than focusing on the rigitiy of tonal harmony, I “climbed the steps to Parnassus” and learned to focus on linear, modal phrases much more than the straight tonality of traditional styles. Blending these things together gave me a whole new pallet, for which I became most thankful.