Wednesday, October 7, 2009

3 x 5 Interview with John C. Griffin

In Fives:

1) In exactly five sentences, give us what you feel is important biographical information about your musical/sonic background.

I grew up exposed to a wide variety of music. My parents listened to everything from Hank Williams to George Gershwin to Richard Wagner and everything in between. In junior high, I became obsessed with film and television music, which I believe convinced me to be a composer more than anything else. It was only later that I discovered rock and pop music. When I got to college, I became more familiar with twentieth-century avant-garde music.

2) Please state, in exactly five words, your interest in music/sound.

Music is my life, man!

3) Now please state, in exactly five syllables, how you might describe your process of work.

One note at a time.

In Fours:

1) Using the rhythm of the famous four-note opening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (i.e. short, short, short, looong), please tell us a fact about you that we may not know.

I like hard roooock!

2) Who are four people that have influenced your musical tastes?

Mom, Dad, my friend Matt Priest, my composition instructor David Gompper

3) Name your preference: The Fab Four, The Four Tops or good ol' Four-on-the-floor music?

The Fab Four, baby!

In Threes:

1) Name three artists (composers, popular music, etc.) that make you feel all warm and squishy inside.

The Beatles, Jerry Goldsmith, Bela Bartók

2) Name three artists that make you want to wretch.

Michael Bolton, Creed, Jim Brickman

3) Address either three of your listed artists (in either category) with one question each or three questions to one artist. For example: "Dear Mr. Bach, how do you have such magnificent counterpoint?"

“Dear Creed: Why is your vocal style so irritating and yet so similar to other bands?”

“Dear Beatles: How were you able to write such complex songs without being able to read or notate music?”

“Dear Bela: Did you intend the third movement of “Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste” to be creepy, or do I just think that because it was used in The Shining?”

In Twos:

1) List and describe two projects on which you're currently working.

An arrangement of Frank Zappa’s “Get Whitey” for the Opus 21 Ensemble, and a flute and tape piece for Martha Councell-Vargas.

2) And how are they both going?

I have just started the Zappa project, and it is going okay. The flute and tape piece is still at the conceptual stage.

3) How do you feel they are challenging your current skill set?

Reducing a piece composed for 24 instruments down to 6 or 7 instruments has been the biggest challenge with the Zappa, for obvious reasons. I have never written an instrument and tape piece before that did not utilize a click track, so that will definitely be a challenge.

In Ones:

1) Name one environmental element of the creative process that you find essential (e.g. coffee, a certain chair, etc.)

Peace and quiet. (I guess that’s two elements, but…)

2) What is one area in which you hope to improve your work?


3) What is one thing you would like people to know when listening to your work?

As you may have surmised from above, I am inspired by an enormous range of influences, all of which creep into all of my music, I’m sure.


  1. Hey, cool to read this. Love that John is writing for Martha -- she is such a FABULOUS artist to work with!