I thought I’d write a bit about how I got to where I am, I’m always fascinated by the journey and how it wends its way through life. People get places, often the same places, in many different ways.

I began my instrumental journey in the 8th grade as a drummer; I used to practice and play along with old Grand Funk Railroad records (sometimes in lieu of homework), copying Don Brewer’s drumming note for note. While doing that I became fascinated with how his sound changed from record to record – going from a more acoustic 60’s sound to a drier, dampened 70’s vibe. Could this have been the beginning of my attraction to recording?

I stayed with the drums right through high school, becoming the primary in a two-drummer and percussionist line-up that consisted of my classmates – drummer Chris Travo and percussionist Mike Marble. The three of us drove the rhythm section of the Norwalk High School Jazz ensemble – we won several competitions, two of which were at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass – which is where I would spend my college years and gain the knowledge and tools needed for my career as a multi-instrumentalist and composer.

Once I began to study piano and composition my drumming really waned; I was having trouble maintaining the interest needed to really excel on the instrument. There were many better drummers at Berklee and I was becoming more interested in composition and piano and less in my chosen instrument, drums, but also quickly becoming a pretty decent pianist and writer.

For my senior recital, several of us put together a two horn fusion band for which we wrote and performed – it was a gas and I was hooked on writing/performing. It was a great band and featured Ralph Moore on tenor sax.

I graduated Berklee in 1979 and headed back to CT to teach and begin a career as a pianist and composer in and around NYC.

Berklee taught me all the cool, hip voicings and chords for piano. I also learned quite a bit about piano fugues and Bach counterpoint, but I had little in the way of technique – it just wasn’t the focus of my education there. So I set out to become a good technical player and engaged in a course of action to practice, daily, the Hanon exercises for piano. I got quite good at these 🙂

I also got carpal tunnel 🙁

At that time, I also began playing piano professionally, either lugging around my 140 lb Fender Rhodes electric piano or playing pianos supplied at venues. I began to work in small groups and accompany singers; my technique improved, my carpel tunnel worsened and my repertoire grew. I also began to find work composing jingles for local radio, which led to the score and theme for a syndicated women’s magazine show called “Twice A Woman.”

With the “Twice A Woman” soundtrack, I covered all the drum tracks by recording them first to a metronome – since I’d written all the music, I just imagined the rest of the tracks in my head (this was before the era of midi and computer recording, everything was done the ‘hard way’ ;). I “played along,” then the other musicians would come in and play their parts to the already recorded drum tracks.

I did this for many jingles with my then-production partner Walt Graham for a few years with good results; it allowed me to stay in the control room and conduct and scrutinize what was being laid down.

Once midi arrived (musical instrument digital interface) I realized I could record various keyboard and electronic drum tracks as data into a computer – I wouldn’t need as many other musicians (if any) and could work quickly and efficiently at home with the ability to change and edit things into different forms and lengths with ease.

Around this time (1987), there were major changes in the music industry – no longer was it necessary to have an arranger, songwriter, performer tied to an expensive studio and session musician model. The artist could do it all himself, or with very few people – the art of composing and “making tracks” had become a cottage industry.

This opened the door for people like me to a world of new opportunities, and that world for me was television.

In 1990, my fabulous girlfriend who would later become my fabulous wife, was a scriptwriter at NBC’s daytime soap “Another World.” She introduced me to the music supervisors there and so began a 20 year relationship of composing and producing thousands of tracks for three different soaps, all now defunct (the latest casualty being the long running “As The World Turns”). I garnered several Emmy nominations and 3 Emmy awards – it was a great run and one which established me and changed my life.

Technology advanced at a rate none of us could’ve imagined when midi began and today, most of the music you hear is recorded in a very sophisticated fashion by very few people, in many cases just one person in a solitary environment.

I began to realize if I could cover the main rhythm section parts – keyboards, guitar, drums and bass, I’d have most of it down. If I needed a trumpet, horn section or an unusual part, I could hire out.

So, in 1995, I asked my fabulous sister in-law if I could borrow her classical guitar and immediately got down to work learning to play it.

I will post separately about the difference between practicing and learning piano vs guitar – let’s just say, for me, guitar took longer than piano, but today it’s a regular fixture of my recordings and daily practice routine.

So here I am many years later, I’ve done thousands of episodes of soaps, one feature film and several small independents, some television commercials, lots of library music for popular cable shows on Discovery, TLC, etc., original songs for children’s books and a bunch of other stuff I’m probably forgetting.

I also take pictures and volunteer with animal rescue, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.

It’s about to be 2011 and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.

Ed Dzubak