ACK´s Blog

Happy that you´re here!

My first Blog Post


So this would be my first entry of hopefully numerous upcoming blog posts.
Hey there! I am Aaron, a composer, audio engineer and recently discovered the depths of website development. This is one of many reasons I wanted to start my own blog.

Before I am diving into any subjects of music, mixing or composition, I wanted to give you a recap of what brought me here and why I want to share my story, thoughts and experiences with you. So lets start.
(Grab a cup of coffee or other beverages of choice and sit back because I think this is gonna be a long article)

My Story

I grew up with music, I lived it every day and it was clear from the beginning that I would someday pursue this path professionally. The drums was my first instrument I had contact with and of course I thought of becoming a rock star one day. But that quickly faded away when I was listening to my first movie soundtrack. It was Madagascar from Hans Zimmer (who else of course). I was so fascinated by just listening to the soundtrack and the emotions came flooding in and I was lost forever. I know that this soundtrack was for a kids movie, but that was the special thing about it now when I am thinking of it. Because emotions in a kids movie have to be very clear, honest and not misguiding. This clarity of musical language kept me fascinated till this very day. After that I started focusing on the music of every movie I watched. I got very good at identifying every composers style when I watched a new movie. Then I figured I had to become a film composer. So I started to search how I could achieve this goal. Well, there is never a direct path to any goal and sometimes you just have to take other paths instead and let it guide you free of any attitude that tries to force it. Of course I was blind to that when I just finished school and wanted go to university. I really thought that I was gifted and that there would be no problem getting into university...Two times they refused me. Not even an invitation to the entrance exams (because you had to send in materials before hand). So my little sensitive world of me thinking that I am good enough was destroyed. I bathed in self doubt and was sure that I could never become a film composer.

Just to be clear: I am not writing this blog because I want to share my misfortunes or want to moan about something. What I want to share with you is how I learned accepting my path and be happy with everything I am doing. In the meantime I am writing this with because for the first time in my life I want to share. I was always very closed up to people and I never really presented myself so openly. You could say that it is a therapeutic reason why I am doing this blog. But this is something I have to figure out in the upcoming articles.

Let´s continue: So there I was shredded on the ground (haha not moaning at all), trying to understand what was happening. I then thought maybe it´s the wrong university. So I searched a university nearby Munich.
Vienna it was then. I took the train there and participated in the entrance exams (in Vienna you
have to send your composition before hand but anyone can participate at the entrance exams).
Another time I was crushed by high expectations. It was a massacre. The first exam was listening to melodies, chords, intervals, rhythms or sections of music that we had to analyze and then write write down. I was overwhelmed and it was a disaster. I couldn´t hear anything. I was completely in the dark.
Moving on, there was an exam of how good you were on the piano. I played a classical piano piece from Haydn (Sonata in C#-Major, a lot of sharps) that I was playing for a long time. It went fine I guess. Then there was the last exam but more like an interview. I entered the room and saw almost 30 professors, sitting and looking at you like you don´t really belong there. They were very nice to me but me and my self-confidence at that time didn´t react that well to it. I felt cornered and I was so stressed that I couldn´t think straight. I only remember one professor writing down a melody line on the board and asked me to sing it. I tried but failed. Then it came to me. The professor took the melody from my composition I showed just a few moments earlier. You can imagine how embarrassing it was to not even notice your own melody that you composed your self.
With that I was shown to the exit.

Well that was my first impression I made on this prestigious and historical grounds in Vienna. It was the "University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna" and I tried it two times to get in but failed. When I got the refusal, I had to take a night train from Vienna to Munich. I was of course tired and frustrated. And then I remembered talking to a women after the candidates for the next semester were announced on a car board. She asked me if I would try the entrance exams at the other university in Vienna. I was surprised because I thought there was only one music university in Vienna.

So there I was, sitting on a bench at the train station at ca. 11:00 PM looking up the other university. When I read that the entry exam would be in 3 weeks (I can´t remember exactly how much time was in between) I was thinking that this is some kind of sign. I immediately signed up and began to prepare myself for this second chance (actually third because I was refused two times by the other university). A few weeks later I came back to Vienna and tried my luck at the Conservatory of Vienna (now it´s called MUK Vienna). And I got in!
I moved to Vienna and began a new life chapter. I was studying contemporary composition
(I know you thought that I was studying film composition but this field of study wasn´t offered by this university).
I stepped into an unknown world to me.

My time in Vienna was filled with new friendships and experiences I am holding dear in my heart.
I met my wife, I composed new music, I enjoyed every beer at the Würstelstand with my friends. I had a great time and I have to say that most of the things I learned wasn´t in university, it was from all the conversations I had and all those experiences you couldn´t learn from reading a book or an article, you just have to live it through. I can´t remember what I had to learn in history class about how our notation system evolved or the classes with my professor when we discussed my compositions. What I can remember is the time rehearsing with musicians and the moment when it was performed in front of an audience. It doesn´t matter if it wasn´t good or even embarrassing. It was the experience. Sure I know that in order to compose music you have to learn something, especially if it´s for orchestra. But this is just a technical aspect and I don´t think that it´s an essential part of someone becoming a better composer or musician in general. I only see this now and I didn´t see it then. But that´s all right. I never would be here writing this if I didn´t experience things how I did and I´m thankful for it.

So I was doing my Bachelors Degree of Arts and I continued with my Masters Degree. I thought it only made sense to do so. I was again wrong. I quickly realized then, that I couldn´t learn anything new. I was in a constant loop of not trying to find inspiration and forcing me to be inspired somehow. It was inevitable that I had to stop. From one day to another I quit. I left the university with a lot of regret and bad feelings. But I couldn´t continue forcing myself. Also there was the covid pandemic rising up and that was it.
The following two years I was free of any schedule but also had to find a way to make money. I started teaching German to French people that arrived to Vienna and had to learn the language. That was my job then for the following 2 years and I again learned something new by just doing it and living it through. I then completely forgot my music and I was kind of relieved of it. It felt good doing something different.
And then something wonderful happened. A good friend of mine called me and asked me if I would be interested in working with him at the theatre. He is a sound engineer and we were geek friends and enjoyed having conversations about technical stuff and talking about music. The funny thing is that he already asked me to work for him part time at the theatre but I declined telling him that I wouldn´t survive it because of the stress. Now he offered me a full time job as an audio engineer. He knew that I was not trained in that work field but he made it clear that I would learn everything along the way. And he was right. In the 2 following years I learned mixing live musicals, recording and mixing an orchestra, shoot video trailers, cut them, trouble shoot in stressful situations and making quick decisions.
This was the moment when I realized that I could do anything and learn anything. Before this moment I had little confidence in me and my abilities. I had to be pushed into the cold water because that is what I really needed. For everyone it´s a different story. This is mine. From the beginning I told my friend I was working with, that I am only gonna stay for a maximum of 2 years. The reason why I decided this, was because I knew that this was not my place to be forever. I had to continue my journey and I still wanted to become a film composer.
So after 2 years working at the theatre I learned a lot. I think this was a chapter of my life were I learned the most. I enjoyed being needed and responsible for everything to go smooth. I am again very thankful for that time.

And now here we are. End of August I left everything behind and me and my wife are on our way to an unknown new chapter of our lives. I am starting fresh as a composer and audio engineer and this Blog will be a place to share those experiences. What I learned, what I am learning right now or what I want to learn. I also want to share my workflow and how my projects are set together and what my different approaches are. I am very happy that you arrived to the end of my first blog post.

Thank you again and I am happy to see you soon on this Blog!

Yes! I wrote my first blog post!

Aaron Chauvet-Kümpfel