How Jon Lee Uses SONAR X1 Expanded to Create Music for Some of America’s Favorite TV Shows

Some artists spend more time trying to catapult their image into the status spotlight than they do actually creating music.  Some artists lay low under the radar diligently doing their thing.  In this day and age, there really is no right or wrong way to be an artist in the music industry, you just have to do what you do best and run with it.  If the content is great, it will find its way.

A great artist example of this notion in my book is SONAR X1 Expanded user Jon Lee.  Working and residing in Santa Monica, Jon Lee lays low under the radar while creating music and sound-scapes for some of today’s most popular “verite” style TV reality shows.  If you have seen the show Cops, than you are probably familiar with one of the most prominent production companies in the biz, “Langley Productions.”

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CW-AR:   What are a few of the main features in SONAR X1 that help you to create such diverse scores?

JL:   The main features of SONAR X1 that I use are the Screensets, the Smart Tools, and the ProChannel. Having all those features at my fingertips is very important. I also like the ability to keybind everything; like export audio, bounce to tracks or clips, and all the editing shortcuts like transpose, quantize, and snap to grid. Those combined with the new navigation features in X1 means less time finding what you need and more time focusing on writing great scores.

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Not too many years ago, Jon was approached by Langley Productions after working on the award winning independent documentary film Unsettled.  The production company invited him to create the main title song for their [then] new show Jail.  In their eyes he nailed it, and since then has created the three main title themes and the background music in SONAR for five Langley shows Street Patrol, JailLas Vegas Jailhouse, Vegas Strip and their newest show airing on Spike TV, Undercover Stings.

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CW-AR:   Can you sum up the procedure and experience on scoring music for Langley Productions?

JL:   Working with Langley productions for the last five years has been great. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work on innovative and unique shows. They give me a lot of freedom to write in many different styles, and it’s fun to try different musical ideas in a variety of “verite” [industry term] settings.

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The diversity of musical styles and genres in Jon’s melodic vocabulary is impressive.  Analyzing the music that goes into to these shows (which I did last night watching Las Vegas Jailhouse,) I found an array of styles ranging from Rock, to Hip-hop to even World beats.  Although diverse, the common thread throughout was great melodic character.  I’ve had the honor to see Jon work in his studio and I can tell you first hand that the drag and drop feature in SONAR X1 is his good friend and has elevated his boundaries from SONAR 8.5.

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CW-AR:   You have been a SONAR user for a long time, what are some of the reasons?

JL:   I have been a user since SONAR 4 because it works, it is stable, and the technology never gets in the way of the creativity. Also, I am always working on extremely tight deadlines, and I cannot afford to have a system that I am constantly troubleshooting. That was the main reason I switched to SONAR from Logic: stable and intuitive.

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Speaking of great content finding its way, most recently as of last week Jon Lee found himself in some pretty spectacular and prestigious company. Entertainment Industry veteran John Pike approached him on writing a song for the “America Wants You” campaign which focuses on the honorable task of placing veterans into the workforce. Pike, who is friends with the legend Mac Davis, played the track for him and within a few weeks Jon Lee found himself in the studio cutting the song with Jackson Browns band at Groove Masters studio in California along side of Mac Davis.

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CW-AR:   Can you elaborate a bit on the caliber of musicianship with the track you just wrote and recorded with Mac Davis?

JL:   Working with Jackson Browne’s band for the song I wrote with Mac Davis was amazing.  When you have studio musicians like, Jeff Young, Mark Goldenburg, James Tennant, Bob Glaub and Fritz Lewak in one room, you really get to see how each person brings their own unique musicianship to a track, without doing too much.  Each personality sparkled and I was really in awe of all the people that worked on the song.  All this amazing talent came together and took a song that I had in my head, and made it significantly better. I’ve listened to the final product quite a bit in the last week, and I get chills every time I hear it.

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So for every song you hear [over and over] on the radio, there are impressive stories behind the scenes with great people like Jon Lee who are quietly finding their way through hard work combined with an earned elite skill-set.  The next time you are flicking through the channels and see an episode of Jail, Vegas Strip or Las Vegas Jailhouse (AND YOU WILL,) stop for a moment to listen to the great sounds of Jon Lee and SONAR X1 Expanded.

Try a FREE version of SONAR X1 today and start creating music!