Hey gang, taking a break from writing Deep Field, my new work for chorus, orchestra and electronics. Happy to have your company.

EDIT: OK gang, been going for three and a half hours. Going to take a break and go back to composing for a bit. I'll answer more questions tonight and tomorrow. Man I love Reddit. THANK YOU.

EDIT 2: All right, answered another 100 questions. I'll keep going tomorrow. I'm humbled by your questions, even the ones about my hair.

BTW, for those of you genuinely interested in how I style my hair, here's the secret.

Comments: 1622 • Responses: 73  • Date: 

GingerMarimbist1224 karma

Is Lux Aurumque about your hair?

ericwhitacre572 karma

a) That made me laugh, and b) love that username.

Jedijunky406 karma

Has anyone ever told you that you are, by far, the most attractive composer of all time?

ericwhitacre529 karma

Ha! I have the distinct advantage of living in the era of photoshop.

darphdigger404 karma

Hi Eric,

As a trombone professor, I think your music would work extremely well for brass instruments, especially one as vocal in nature as the trombone. Have you written anything for trombone choir, and if not, would you ever consider it? I know a whole lot of trombone players that would be very interested in this possibility.

P.S. I've loved your music since playing October in High School band :)

ericwhitacre488 karma

I adore trombones - not just the instrument but the whole trombone lifestyle. Would love to write some things for trombone choir.

brassman246854 karma

To tag along on this question, maybe something for brass quintet or brass choir as well? :)

ericwhitacre85 karma


Aperture-Employee326 karma

Have you considered a collaboration with Frank Ticheli?

ericwhitacre342 karma

He's a very close friend. Would be fun to write something with him.

GrooveJourney291 karma

You seem to be one of the only modern composers outside of film scoring that has achieved actual fame outside of the niche music community. Aside from writing powerful and expressive music, do you focus on PR or did it just happen?

ericwhitacre304 karma

It was less about a PR effort and more of a boots-on-the-ground effort. For years I thought of myself like an indie band, traveling to every little town in America, building a fan base one person at a time. I loved meeting all the people and I learned a lot about the business.

It was also great for me because I learned how to conduct every level of ensemble, and I learned to speak comfortably to any size crowd. Those were skills that really came in handy later on.

liamazing261 karma

Why do people hate parallel fifths when they sound so cool?

ericwhitacre511 karma

Silly, isn't it? I think it is because when they teach basic harmony they begin with Bach, who rarely used parallel 5ths. The problem is it becomes a 'rule' in the class, and I am always amazed how few theory teachers say, no parallel 5ths if you want to sound like you are writing in 1750.

ztargazer243 karma

Eric. I grew up in the city. I was lucky enough to live close to a grass area which offered a dark patch at winter evenings. Here I wrapped myself in the winter darkness and looked up on the stars. The dreams and possibilities they offered were magnificent and never failed to lift me from the machinery of the everyday life in the city. Nothing was impossible out there. For instance; one evening when I was gazing up to the stars after a day of silent snowfall it hit me. The crystal cold snowflakes that glittered around me, they were stars fallen from the frozen black skies above. How wonderful to be surrounded by stars and planets; every snowflake a world of unexplored dreams and possibilities. As I grew up the stargazing went into slumber, as did the magical feeling.

Our daughter is three months old and The Seal Lullaby is the soundtrack of her life. I wanted to choose one song that I play for her through her lifes amazing moments; from the womb 'til the first snow or first shooting star. As I look into my childs eyes of wonder, with The Seal Lullaby in the background, I get that feeling from my childhood in my heart again. It reaches deep down and massages parts of my heart that needed resuscitation.

My question is: do you have a favourite song that touches you deeper than most and never seem to loose its potency?

Thank you for everything.

ericwhitacre262 karma

My god you write beautifully.

There are so many songs that hit me like that, but the one that always make me reflective is this one. The lyrics, the way he sings it, the way he loathes and loves being an outsider - hits me in the heart every time.

slyscribe401212 karma

First, I must thank you for some of your second alto parts. It's pretty rare that we get to use our actual range, but your music lets us altos create some actual music beyond the same note over and over again.

Since you are one of my favorite composers, I have to know: who are your favorite composers?

ericwhitacre281 karma


guyfawkesphoenix205 karma

Hello! I just had a couple of pretty random questions

1) Are there any real plans yet for your rumored collaboration with Pentatonix?

2) I loved your work on the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie and your music feels cinematic already so I was wondering if you had any interest in scoring any movie on your own? If so what sort of film would it have to be?

Thank you and I can't wait to listen what you release next.

ericwhitacre198 karma

1) We desperately want to do something together, it's just finding time in the schedules.

2) I would love to do more film writing! Had a blast working on Pirates. Again, it's a scheduling thing, but I hope something will come together soon.

CarboniteClarinet181 karma

Good day, Mr Whitacre! Huge fan of you and your music, especially "Ghost Train" and "Alleluia." :)

Two quick things if you don't mind. XD

  1. I'm working on composing, and I was wondering: if you could tell the younger version of yourself anything about composing music, what would it be?

  2. How likely is it that you could come and do something in the Atlanta area?

ericwhitacre255 karma

1) Use the smallest amount of musical material possible. I wish I could tell myself that now. Make every single note be a reflection of a few simple ideas and throw everything else away. And don't overthink it - if the piece wants to be simple and elegant then let it be.

2) We are working on an Atlanta thing for October. Woo hoo!

ummsure147 karma

I teach middle school choir in Texas, so I spend a lot of time with 6th grade boys. We spend a portion of every Friday rehearsal watching a video of something choral-music-related, and they're big fans of your virtual choirs ("Can we watch the guy floating around and conducting the videos again?!?!!")

Anyway, I would be remiss if I didn't ask these questions: What's your favorite super hero, and can we challenge you to a game of lines-and-spaces trashketball the next time you're in Dallas?

ericwhitacre205 karma

Deadpool is my current favorite. (I have a nine year-old son who is a Deadpool fanatic). Will absolutely play trashketball with y'all if I come to Dallas.

HalfSoprano125 karma

Hi, huge fan of your work. I remember first being introduced to your work by working "Sleep" sophomore year of high school for TMEA All-State auditions. In two weeks I have my university audition for Stephen F Austin as a transfer student. Any Advice?

ericwhitacre104 karma

Just be yourself. Don't worry about impressing them - just be authentic. THAT is what shines through. Good luck!

techno_telemann123 karma

Eric, you are the man. If I start a techno-pop band will you play the synth and wear funky glasses?

ericwhitacre159 karma

I've got a case of Aqua-net waiting in the wings.

rumilb94 karma

Would you rather have fingers as long as your legs, or legs as long as your fingers?

ericwhitacre170 karma

Oh man, can you imagine what you could do with leg-long fingers? (Sounds like an e.e. cummings poem, actually).

engachou94 karma

Not sure if you've answered this elsewhere: are you a synesthete? If yes, do you call upon it when composing?

(My synesthesia associates music with texture, and your pieces are BEAUTIFUL to listen to/visualise. Not that they wouldn't be without it, but it gives it another dimension.)

ericwhitacre161 karma

Texture would be cool.

It's only recently that I've begun to suspect I might be a synesthete, but mine has to do with taste and light. It's hard to describe but when I eat spicy foods, or look at bright lights (especially, god knows why, stained glass windows) I can hear the shimmer of overtones. I can hear them very clearly and a lot of the time they match the shimmer in my own music. I think I've always done this but have only recently noticed how odd it is.

yogibear255269 karma

Hello! I am currently part of a senior wind ensemble near Toronto, and last year we played October. We completely BUTCHERED it. So this year we're playing Lux. Any tips to you know... Not butcher this one?

ericwhitacre285 karma

LOL! In a lot of ways Lux is more difficult than October so if I were you I would just stand up in the middle of it and start screaming and throwing shoes. If you are going down you might as well go down IN FLAMES.

chillychili65 karma

Compared to other progressions, where do power chords progressions rank?

ericwhitacre204 karma

I-V-vi-IV is the sound of my soul.

foreverfoiled61 karma

Do you remember conducting your three biggest fans? I'm the gal. Was after the amazing show with Laura Mvula. I'm such a huge fan of both you & Laura.

And a question - what inspires you the most when writing music?

ericwhitacre95 karma

The deadline. Nothing inspires like a deadline.

And yes, of course I remember you three!

RevolutionDude60 karma

Mr Whitacre! Huge fan!

My question is, in your opinion, how do you think choral music and orchestral music will evolve in the future? Do you think more and more new genres will combine with “classical” sounding music? or what new genres do you think will exist?

Also, how do you keep your hair looking so awesome?

ericwhitacre110 karma

If I had to guess I would say we will continue to see a disintegration of 'genre' - classical music, film scores, electronica, rock/pop/hip hop, it will all keep blending together. Feels like a golden age of composition in many ways.

sugatooth57 karma

What are your thoughts on how people reacted to your obviously facetious tweet regarding Paul McCartney in that Kanye song? The media latched onto it and all of the retweets as a bunch of ignorant nonsense when in reality they were the ones not getting the joke!

ericwhitacre85 karma

One of the best laughs I've had in a long time.

Mathayus52 karma

Do you think you'll ever compose any big works for solo piano? I get chills just thinking of a piano sonata by you.

ericwhitacre91 karma

I've got some sketches for a piano concerto - I want to write a companion piece to Mozart 23 using the exact same instrumentation.

albinobluesheep48 karma

Have you ever accidentally dropped something on you key board and used the resulting chord in a song?

ericwhitacre127 karma

Chuckling intensifies.

I never dropped something, but several times I have played the wrong chord and had a EUREKA moment. (Happened with the first chord in Cloudburst and the last chord in i thank You God, for example.

sanfran3344 karma

When's the next virtual chorus coming out?

ericwhitacre67 karma

Not sure yet - exploring lots of ideas to make the next one special and different.

Muulka41 karma

What tips do you have for someone trying to write their own music? I'm thinking in terms of your techniques for ideation. How do you keep your music consistent in its outlook- that's my real problem...!

ericwhitacre228 karma

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I would advise you to stop thinking in terms of "techniques for ideation." Try to write down the music that, if stranded on a desert island, you would listen to, music that you fall in love with. If you adore it it means it is coming from an authentic place in you, and that will in turn connect with your audience. My two pence...

DevilsWish38 karma

Hey Eric! Can you help me convince my symphonic band director to let us play Godzilla Eats Las Vegas for my final concert next year?

ericwhitacre74 karma

Absolutely. Tell him that if he agrees to do it I'll Skype with your band.

zaxtrap36 karma

What piece of music are you most proud of?

ericwhitacre160 karma

I am fond of all of them in a way, like children. That being said, every time I conduct Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine I feel a small sense of pride at the craftsmanship - I worked my butt off on that piece.

eclear2336 karma

Mr. Whitacre,

I am a student majoring in Vocal Performance and I also have a passion for conducting in a choral setting. What strategies would you recommend to a slightly newer conductor that would put them into a higher tier?

ericwhitacre81 karma

Hmm... I believe 95% of conducting is experience - you learn so much by simply standing in front of a group. Also, I often watch videos of other conductors and steal gestures I like...

NLevine9434 karma

Hi Mr. Whitacre!

Everything about your life/job seems absolutely perfect, so the question I have is what do you like LEAST about your job? Is there anything that doesn't set your soul on fire? Thanks for this awesome opportunity by the way, you really are one of a kind in your fan interaction :D

ericwhitacre88 karma

That's a great question.

I really struggle with how fragmented my life has become: composing, conducting, traveling, speaking, social media, being a father, being a husband... I love all of those things but I am finding it so hard to do all of them well at the same time.

Aperture-Employee34 karma

Who are some of your favorite composers who are still working today?

ericwhitacre100 karma

Three of my friends from Juilliard: Jonathan Newman, Steven Bryant and John Mackey. All of them writing killer music.

iCeleste27 karma

Hiya! Caitlin here. From FB. Cause that totally matters. BUT! How do you go about auditioning members for the Eric Whitacre singers? And when do you audition more, if you do? :)

ericwhitacre83 karma

Hey Caitlin. So far I've never had open auditions. Each of the singers is handpicked from other London-based choirs I love (The Sixteen, Tenebrae, Tallis Scholars). I'm thinking of starting a US choir, though, and that would definitely be auditioned...

kilgorej27 karma

What's your favorite place/setting to sit down and compose?

ericwhitacre96 karma

These days, anywhere that is quiet. I used to be so picky about my workspace, but then I had a kid...

PresJohnnyGentle27 karma

Do you typically throw out and rewrite large sections of a piece before it's complete? If so, how often? Do you ever regret doing so?

While you're here, I just wanted to tell you that “When David Heard” is the most moving and powerful thing I’ve ever heard. Thank you for writing it.

ericwhitacre64 karma

Thank you.

Yes, I endlessly throw out huge sections - just did it today. Sometimes it is really difficult to 'kill your darlings', but after a while you get a sense of what will work and what won't, and the moment you realize you are building a path that won't make it to the end you want to kill it quickly, and with fire.

ThatsNoOrdinaryRabbi26 karma

Eric, just want to say that you are my favorite composer! What is your favorite piece to conduct?

ericwhitacre76 karma

Thank you. I LOVE to conduct A Boy and a Girl, all those delicate turns and twists, and especially the sweet, pregnant silences.

Abhinn_Malhotra25 karma

Mr. Whitacre,

How would you feel about writing more pieces for Wind Ensemble? I am a euphonium player so it's my only option in terms of playing opportunities in large ensembles and I have been looking forward to more works since I have played October and Ghost Train.

Thank you for the AMA!

ericwhitacre27 karma

I just need an idea for a piece. As soon as one hits me I'm all over a new band work.

HarrisonJCollins24 karma

Hey Mr. Whitacre! I have a question about an instrument- how do you feel about the bassoon, and what role do you like to give it in your music? I'm having a lot of fun playing October on bassoon, but I've read the scores for Ghost Train and Equus- both fantastic pieces, but let's just say I'm glad that it's October that we're playing and not one of those two. ;)

ericwhitacre94 karma

I love bassoon... now. Ghost Train was my very first piece for instruments, so I had no idea what they could do. I took friends into a practice room and had them play their instruments just to get a sense of what was possible. The bassoon player in band at that time was awful, just terrible, so I just assumed that bassoons were terrible and should be avoided at all costs. Then later on I discovered Mozart's love for bassoons, and that opened a new world for me.

CaseyRule23 karma

One of the things I've always admired about your music is that it is both very smart and very accessible, particularly for younger singers. Being able to write music that can reach so many people without sacrificing any artistic integrity, to me, seems like a huge feat! Unfortunately, this sort of aesthetic appears to be undervalued in much of modern musical academia.

Did you encounter a lot of resistance in writing music with more broad appeal? And if so, how did you get past that?

CaseyRule12 karma

And follow up question, if you see this: will we be seeing you at the ACDA convention in SLC this year?

ericwhitacre41 karma

Sadly I won't be at ACDA. I've really got to finish this piece I'm working on...

Thank you so much for acknowledging the accessible nature of the music. I work very hard to make sure the music is performable. I do get some pushback from academic institutions but what are you gonna do, you know? Haters gonna hate.

jasonb621423 karma

Who do you hope to collaborate with in the future?

ericwhitacre88 karma

The list is endless: Sarah Jarosz, Radiohead, Bjork, London Grammar, FKA twigs, Thomas Newman, Peter Gabriel, Die Antwoord... I could go on and on.

bleakmidwinter29 karma

Die Antwoord? Really? I just somehow don't see your styles meshing very well.

ericwhitacre126 karma

Just wait...

XenusParadox23 karma

If you couldn't do what you do right now, what would be the thing you would do instead?

ericwhitacre66 karma

I would be a cosmologist, or a physicist, or a biologist, or an architect.

alecerv22 karma

Hey Eric, big choir geek here! I've posted on your FB page a few times and been to one of your concerts, and must say it was even more amazing than when I met the Dalai Lama! :P

I must ask, what is your favorite place in the world for its choral culture? Who does it best?

ericwhitacre77 karma

That's a tough question. For the thing that I do - precise, controlled, straight tone choral music - there is no where on earth like London. There is a pool of 80-100 singers here who are choral mutants, able to sing on a dime and sightread anything. But there are choral hot spots all over the world. One that I've always wanted to visit is South Korea (second-best Korea) - every choir I have heard from there is phenomenal.

almacheckyourbattery21 karma

Without giving out too much personal information, my choral director is Bob from the US Midwest (I can PM you his last name if this doesn't ring any bells). Being the fun-loving, sarcastic guy he is, he loves to rub in the faces of all his students the fact that he knows you well. When you want to take a break from answering legitimate questions about all your great music, would you mind making some sort of funny statement about Bob, such as, "Bob is a big goober."? I'd very much appreciate it, and thanks for doing this AMA!

ericwhitacre41 karma

Ha! I know exactly who you are talking about. Tell Bob I'm still trying to recover from the Butter Burger I had last time I visited...

jpbertus21 karma

When I was in band in High School, we played Lux Aurumque. Absolute favorite song we ever got to play. Just wanted to say you're an awesome composer and I love seeing you Facebook posts!

My question is one horse sized duck or one hundred duck sized horses?

ericwhitacre99 karma

I have this argument all the time with my son, who insists on one horse sized duck. But my thing is: that horse sized duck is goin' to chomp your frickin' head off with his huge, grotesque beak. But a bunch of little horses running around? It'll be like penalty kick practice.

advillious20 karma

What is your writing process like? Do you use software or are you still old fashioned with only pencil, paper and a piano? I know you're pretty techy so I'm curious as to how technology plays into the life of a professional composer.

ericwhitacre70 karma

I'm still an old fashioned pencil and paper guy. In Deep Field, the piece I'm writing now, I will sometimes turn on my sequencer and improvise for hours with slow, gooey ambient synth patches, looking for gold.

Lukeds20 karma

Hello Mr. Whitacre I'm a music education student and in my music theory classes we are always learning the rules of music theory and music composition. Our instructor always says "this is the one rule that (insert composer here) would never break" Are there any "rules" taught in a classroom that you just refuse to break?

ericwhitacre55 karma

No, I would eagerly break them all. That being said, I'm a big fan of good voice-leading...

Thedoctor105020 karma

Hello Mr. Whitacre.

Two questions:

1.) How do you think the process of composing has changed over years both in the notation and scoring and the sound of the finished piece?

2.) Do you like Sriracha?

ericwhitacre27 karma

1) Not sure if you mean in general or for my own music. For my own music, it's weird how very little has changed. I still use pencil and paper, still use the same analogue synth sounds or piano to write. I think my technique is a little more polished than when I first began, but only a little.

2) I think you know how I feel about Sriracha.

Alatriyana19 karma

What is your favorite guilty pleasure music?

ericwhitacre47 karma

GaiusAurus17 karma

I noticed that quite a few of your pieces are titled in Latin. Do you know Latin?

ericwhitacre55 karma

I know enough about Latin to be dangerous. Charles Anthony Silvestri, my friend and long time collaborator, is a Latin wizard, and we endlessly argue about what is correct (him) and what sounds best to sing (me). He usually wins.

thrownout_andaway15 karma

Eric - you have a very distinctive tonal palate and harmonic vocabulary, which is, obviously, something a lot of young composers aspire to. How did it develop? Was it more of you experimenting with sounds, or the study of other composers with unique styles, or both, or something else altogether? Do you ever feel limited by your own tendencies?

ericwhitacre42 karma

Let me work backwards.

It's not that I feel limited by my tendencies but I am always amazed at the gravity they have on me. I can try as hard as I can to write something 'not me' and little by little I am pulled back into the orbit of that palate. Ultimately, that sound palate is just a reflection of me, so perhaps I need to grow more as a person.

thrownout_andaway28 karma

Perhaps you need to grow more as a person, or perhaps you're perfect just as you are.

ericwhitacre51 karma

I think my wife might have a few words about that...

LooseSeal5K14 karma

Is there a contemporary or classical composer that you look to for inspiration or ideas?

ericwhitacre24 karma

I can't ever get enough of Thomas Newman and steal from him regularly.

themightykevdog14 karma

What are the smartest and dumbest things that have been said about your work?

ericwhitacre57 karma

That's a great question. Both happened while I as at Juilliard: Smartest: Milton Babbit heard Water Night and said to me, "There's more here than meets the ear." Best compliment I've ever received. Dumbest: David Diamond heard the same piece and told me, "Well, it's effective, but I certainly wouldn't call it music."

2girls2cats13 karma

Hi from VC Friends! My question is what's going on with Paradise Lost? Is there an opening date yet? Any plans to bring it to the US?

ericwhitacre17 karma

VC friends!

We are working on it. Big meeting tomorrow. I swear on my right hand that this show is going to one day come to life!

lurkermyass13 karma

What were your first words when you found out that The Seal Lullaby was rejected to make Kung Fu Panda?

ericwhitacre29 karma

I was kind of relieved because I wasn't sure I had written The Seal Lullaby very well. It was only after singing it to my infant son for a year that I started to think, "you know, this might make a nice choral piece."

rdalin8213 karma

How did you come up with your harmonic language? Specifically use of clustered chords.

ericwhitacre43 karma

From my first moments singing in choirs (I began when I was 18) I was blown away by the sound of close harmonies. I couldn't get enough of them. After a while I started to find my own clusters and realized that they seemed to carry within them a very specific emotional language - I could actually hear the emotion inside the shimmer of overtones they produced. So I just kept writing them, looking for emotionally true moments, and one day I woke up and discovered I had become 'the cluster guy.'

jacobf9411 karma

Any updates on Paradise Lost? I've been dying without your demos on SoundCloud. Would love to be a part of seeing a US production.

ericwhitacre22 karma

Ahhh... it's taken a few twists and turns. We are currently trying to lock down a full production, but we might go ahead and make the album first. Music theatre is insane...

atomiccyclone10 karma

Mr. Whitacre, thank you for all you have done for the choral and instrumental world!

Which piece of instrumental music, written by another composer, is your favorite?

ericwhitacre26 karma

Oh god that's hard. The Ravel string quartet. Prokofiev 5. Britten Four Sea Interludes. Soooooo many.

maestra7410 karma

Hello! I meant what I said a while back about that coffee-table book of your photos. There is such clear connectedness between your music and your photo eye. It's like gifting your audience a glimpse of your obvious 'musico-natura-architect' synesthesia. What would it take to get a book started? How do I get on board? 😊 SarahBDutton

ericwhitacre15 karma

That means the world to me, Sarah. Let's look into that...

Huskerstar92210 karma

Great to see you on here! Do any of your pieces come in 3 part? Have you considered writing for SAB more? I am in a small church choir, but would love to do some of your music!

ericwhitacre15 karma

Thank you. I would really like to write something for SAB, just haven't figured out how to make it work yet. Promise I will one day.

wet-paint10 karma

Hi Eric, how's it going?

So, two questions, one short and one not so short.

What's your biggest professional worry these days?

And my real question that I've asked Hans Zimmer and Ramin Djawadi on their AMAs, but to no avail (don't fail me now, internet!) - when you worked on the Pirates film score with Zimmer, did you work with whatever singers you were alloted by the powers that be, or did you have some latitude in selecting the musicians you wanted?

The reason I ask, is that I'm aspiring to be a professional choral musician, with the likes of The Sixteen, Chanticleer, etc, and I also have an enormous love for movies and movie scores; one of the notches on my professional bedpost is to sing on a movie score like yours, or a suitably grand and epic Star Wars score or the like. I've taken part in a live orchestral performance of Lord of The Rings, but to get in on the ground floor, and be a part of the real recording is a dream I'd love to fulfill. With that in mind, I'd love to know if there are go-to session musician ensembles used in the industry, or if ye contact a choir that you've always liked the sound of, or what's the story? I need to know what ensembles I need to join, and what strings I have to pull and composers to shamelessly flatter/bribe/blackmail.

Oh, and also a note - When we used sing When David Heard back in college, we used suffer an unusual problem (the basses at least) with the repeated double forte high c "My Son" from bar 151 onwards, we used pour all of our guts in to it, and it sounded bloody magnificent, but in pulling back suitably for the quieter end, we suffered a rather unique issue - our hearts were beating with such a fervour from the ff section that it caused our voices to jump in time, and we couldn't really control it during the piano original motif from bar 195, to the extent that we'd nearly be singing "Whehehehen Dayayayayvid hererererd."

Anyway, Keep 'er lit. Wet-Paint. I am not a crackpot.

ericwhitacre24 karma

With Pirates they had already contracted it, in London. If you want to break into that business (and it is a good one) I would suggest living in LA, Seattle or London, and doing everything you can to meet and impress the contractors. They are the gate keepers.

BTW, that Pirates session was of the craziest days of my life. I gave my first TED talk (the one about the Virtual Choir) then walked immediately out of the hall and got in a car to the airport. (I met Peter Gabriel on the way out, one of the highlights of my life). 14 hours later I arrive at Abbey Road in London, record Pirates for six hours, then back on a plane to LA. Door to door to door in less than 36 hours. Surreal.

Albus_Harrison9 karma

Hi Eric, I love your work. October is my absolute favorite piece of music for concert band. Do you have any favorite composers? Also, if Beethoven were alive today, what kind of music would he be composing?

ericwhitacre33 karma

So many favorite composers - I listed some in another response, but lately I've been listening to a lot of Ligeti.

Fortunately, we already know what Beethoven would be writing today.

ElGing6 karma

Mr. Whitacre,

What is your favorite type of group to write for, and what is your dream group to write for?

Also, your music is amazing!

ericwhitacre21 karma

These days I LOVE writing for strings. They can do anything. I would one day love to write a proper string quartet...

Sambr3786 karma

Hello, Eric Whitacre! What was one of the most unusual influences you had that inspired one of your pieces?

ericwhitacre12 karma

The three main themes from When David Heard were inspired by 1) The soundtrack to Out of Sight; 2) Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915; and 3) Madonna's Little Star.

bhendel5 karma

Who are some modern composers that you think don't get the respect they deserve?

ericwhitacre9 karma

I'm always amazed that Wojciech Kilar wasn't the biggest thing around. (He just passed away). That guy had some serious game.

neoslink15 karma

Big fan Mr. Whitacre! Played Sleep in my high school symphonic band and fell in love. What would you say is your favorite episode of Doctor Who? And have you ever considered composing music for the show?

ericwhitacre13 karma

Easily "Blink." For me the Weeping Angels are the greatest monsters in the history of television. I would LOVE to write music for the show, but sadly they've never asked. ;-)

lazertagged15994 karma

Hi Mr. Whitacre! My band and I are (York Community High School, IL) currently in Memphis on a trip, and we did a clinic at the University of Memphis What do you use as your inspiration for staying in the music business? A lot of kids leave music without experiencing it, so it would be good to share something with them. What advice could you give them? Thank you so much!

ericwhitacre7 karma

Say hello to everyone in the band! As far as I can tell, the music business is all about persistence. You just keep going and going and going, improvising a career, and one day you wake up and realize you've made it to the other side. (Took me about 10 years to get to 'the other side'). The nice thing about a career in music is you never have to work a day in your life.

advillious3 karma

Ever since I was little I found powerful choral pieces like Verdi's Dies Irae or the ever popular O Fortuna to be massively inspiring and hype-inducing. What choral pieces do this for you now that you've heard it all?

ericwhitacre2 karma

This. One of the greatest pieces I know.

sonalis10923 karma

  1. How was your day?

  2. Do you enjoy wine? What kind?

ericwhitacre7 karma

1) Lovely day today, thank you! Although this afternoon I saw citizenfour and now I'm completely freaked out. 2) I love a good pinot, for these very reasons.

SallySilverShadow3 karma

You used the expression 'Emotional Architecture' recently to describe part of your process for writing.

So you hear the music then draw the emotional 'plan'? Then you write the music? From heart to head to heart? Maybe it is heart to head then head & heart or maybe it happens all at once. I am sure it isn't easy to explain but I am curious.

I haven't got past emotion, improvisation and then........off into the ether it goes, I can't remember what I played, sung or envisaged. I just can't 'ground' it into permanence. I'm happy with that :)

How does the logical intellect work with the emotion - is there a certain head space you get into, a set of rituals?........

Do you have a sequence you go through

ericwhitacre5 karma

It's the opposite, really. I try to build an entire piece made of only what I want to feel, then find the music that fits it. Kind of like scoring a film, but instead of a film am scoring a constructed emotional journey.

localgyro2 karma

The virtual choirs are an amazing way to get people from all over the world singing together -- seamlessly. Have you had any "wow" moments in putting those together, where the reality of what you were able to build exceeded your expectations?

I like listening to "Lux" in the dark. That's ... magic.

ericwhitacre4 karma

Endless wow moments. So many beautiful faces, their eyes, their vulnerabilities, their honesty. One of my favorite things to do is to spend hours watching the individual submissions as they come in.