about the author
David Fuentes is a composer, professor, and author with diverse experience in each area. He regularly collaborates with visual artists, dancers, poets, and playwrights, here and abroad, composing music for the classical concert stage, theater, musical theater, television, art installations, popular music genres, and the church. Hear examples on his personal website: www.davidfuentesmusic.com
In his teaching at Calvin College, the Berklee College of Music, and Brandeis University, Fuentes has happily covered the courses expected of someone with his training. However, he has rarely used a published textbook. There are two reasons for this. First, he’s found some ways rework music “theory” so that it more closely follows how the ear responds to music rather than how the brain tries to systematize it.
Second, he contextualizes musical behavior within human experience because he believes that music arises from aspects of our humanity. For example, he urges students to consider the “raw” emotional impact of phenomena like “parallel 5ths” rather than memorize the “rules” that say to avoid them. (After all, parallel 5ths are the driving force behind so much rock music that’s become a bedrock of our culture.) There is nothing “bad” about parallel 5ths; they just don’t fit in every musical situation.
Another way Fuentes integrates music and human experience is by considering how music expresses our cultural and spiritual aspirations. For example, his course “Music in Contemporary Culture” asks questions like, “What attracts our culture to distorted sounds over pure sounds?” And “Music, Manipulation, and the Mind of God” challenges students to look at music’s impact on their lives in light of what they believe about human flourishing.
In addition to his book Figuring Out Melody, Fuentes has published materials on music and vocation and ways to help general music enthusiasts get more out of their engagement with music. Examples can be jubilantly discovered on his personal website: www.davidfuentesmusic.com
Fuentes’ current projects include: This is Your Heart on Music, a book which offers a new and unique perspective on the inherent spirituality of music, and an album of solo gospel settings of the writings of Tomas a Kempis. He’s also busy reworking Mezzo, a full-scale musical about an opera singer who must ask, “Is a person who is willing to sacrifice anything for her art also willing to sacrifice her ambition?” Fuentes earned a Ph.D. in music, music composition and theory from Brandeis University in 1988; a master of music in composition from the University of Iowa in 1983; and a bachelor of music from Roosevelt University in 1981.
For more information, and to hear and read some of Fuentes’ work, visit his personal webpage: https://figuringoutmelody.com/