• Jonathan Lakeland


Run, don't walk, to watch this amazing documentary about the life of Quincy Jones. If you don't know him by name, or by face, then you'll know him once you find out the huge range of amazing music, tv, and film that he has produced and created across his still very active career. Not only is Quincy an absurdly talented musician (producer, composer, arranger, etc), he has also worked closely with some of the greatest musicians of all time including Sinatra, Basie, Ray Charles, and Michael Jackson.

You might ask yourself, "Why are we talking about a non-classical musician on PitchSHIFT?"

Quincy's seminal training as a composer came from his lessons with famed classical music composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.

Boulanger lived in Paris, and taught some of the most famous classical musicians of the 20th & 21st centuries including: Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, and Phillip Glass. She's a legendary influence on the classical music world, and because of the huge achievement of many of her outstanding students, her teachings have permeated the global music education scene.

In this BBC article written about Nadia Boulanger, the author cites Quincy as having, "...told me in all earnestness that he owed everything he was as a musician to his early instruction, in 1950s Paris, under Nadia Boulanger."

Those are pretty strong words for a man more well-known for his jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and pop musical creations than classical ones. But the nature of music education knows no bounds, and Boulanger knew this. She is known more conventionally as a classical music composition teacher not because she forced her students to compose in that style, but because she used the musical ideas and innovations of classical musicians to teach harmony, composition, and fundamentals about music which could be applied to all aspects of music. Anyone who wants to work in music (whether classical, pop, or some other genre), should become as well-versed in as many kinds of music as possible.

After all, on Quincy's social media pages he quotes Nadia Boulanger as having said:

"Quincy, there are only 12 notes. And until God gives us 13,

I want you to know what everybody did with those 12."