Sounds into Stories: Lawrenceville's Music Production

Many of us watch our peers play concertos or sing Broadway musical numbers at events ranging from Allegro Shows to Midday Music.

Many of us watch our peers play concertos or sing Broadway musical numbers at events ranging from Allegro Shows to Midday Music. Few, however, know about the students who produce music at Lawrenceville who use various software and technology to create fresh sounds that convey emotion and help the students express themselves.

Johann Lee ’20, for instance, has delved into the world of music production, finding what works for him and what doesn’t. Lee’s musical influences mainly stem from classical music, as he was required to take music theory prior to Lawrenceville. Since he did not really enjoy classical music, however, he found it difficult when he had to write classical music. He consequently transitioned into writing different genres of music, experimenting until he found himself comfortable with electronic dance music and trap hip-hop.

Areeq Hasan ’20 is another experienced student music producer, starting with hip-hop and experimenting with classical music later on. “I found that there is an interesting balance between my own creative spirit and the Western way that music is taught,” he said. He is inspired by artists such as Drake and Travis Scott and enjoys melodic hip-hop like the songs of Juice Wrld. He began producing music in the fifth grade after discovering GarageBand on an iPad given to him by his school. After that, he began taking digital music production classes in the sixth grade and learned to make melodies and remix songs. “I thought it was amazing to have this incredible power to influence emotions in people, and I wanted to utilize [this power] to spread positivity,” Hasan said regarding his love of music. He wrote his first original piece the summer before coming to Lawrenceville.

Both artists now use Logic Pro to make remixes and create original songs, using remixes to help them learn production techniques. “I’ve learned more from remixing than creating. It helps you to see what works, and it’s pretty jarring when it doesn’t,” Lee said.

Hasan and Lee both like to begin their production process with the melody and then add the baseline. After that, they add in percussion and play around with a mixture of major and minor chords until something pops into their heads. They build harmonies off of melodies and arrange later. They both find inspiration in particular events but also often find themselves coming up with new music throughout the day. “I just hum my melodies and then record them, sometimes mid tennis match,” Lee said with a laugh, “It’s kind of weird.” Hasan also hums and records himself, finding inspiration in everyday sounds like pattering water and a slammed door. “You get into this inspirational state where if you can use your emotions to produce something that sounds good, nothing can match that feeling,” he said. Hasan has a more abstract view of music and believes that “some people limit music to be something that has to be made with an instrument, but it can really be anything that makes a sound.”

They make music for others rather than themselves. Although it helps them to vent and express themselves, the main purpose of their music production is to share a specific raw emotion or message with others. “To me, music is a form of expression, like speech,” Lee described. Both state that the way they feel when their making music and the therapeutic aspect of it is immensely rewarding.