Commercial music composers working out of an all-service “Music House” are faced with all types and kinds of challenges. Among these are the creation of music for Sales Shows for industry. These shows are highly theatric and built around around a theme and developed for many months by entertainment professionals. They are a hybrid of awards show (big stage glamour), sales presentation (executives, notables), theatre (actors, costumes, sets, plots, singing, decor) and audience participation (dancing, prizes, games) for their sales representatives and distributors. One of Kopperhead’s big clients was Cinecraft, out of Cleveland. It was their job to create these shows annually for General Tire. Both Kopperhead’s owner, Lee Kopp, and I would create music for these shows.

This 1988 show was based upon classic films. To create music for it was much like composing for film, the difference was that the image came from the imagination, based upon the script provided. The Synclavier was an incredible tool for producing the music for these shows.

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My commercial music career began in 1987 while still a Masters of Music Composition student at the University of Akron and quickly grew. After getting started with music for radio ads and industrial in-house video productions, my next step was to affiliate with the bigger-league people and facilities in my region.

That move happened when I was invited to join Kopperhead Studios – an excellent studio in the residential streets of North Canton, Ohio – about a 30 minute drive from my apartment in north Akron. Kopperhead was the child of Lee Kopp, a trumpet player and self taught audio/music professional. Lee is an expert in the New England Digital Synclavier Digital Music System. His was one of the larger systems in the country and he became my Synclavier mentor.

His Synclavier had 32 sampling voices, 32 FM Voices, two racks of MIDI interfaces (8 ports each), 16MB of RAM (quite expensive) and a 40GB Winchester Hard Drive (12″ platter), LTC sync, and a full multi out. Typically, his system consisted of a keyboard controller station and a 6 foot tower located in another room. The sound of the Synclavier is legendary – and even though it’s architecture output with only a 16bit audio resolution – it sounded more open and natural than nearly any product I’ve since heard – even 25 years later. Most of Kopperhead’s library was tweaked for size efficiency by Mr. Kopp to afford large ensembles to be sequenced and play back simultaneously within the 16MB memory limit to facilitate quick production.

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