Dr. Jason Martineau interview – “The Spiritual Dimensions of Music” – #109

This episode is an interview with Dr. Jason Martineau "The Spiritual Dimensions of Music" and is being released on Monday, March 28, 2011. My interview with Jason was recorded on March 24, 2011.

Jason Martineau is an award-winning composer, pianist, arranger, and instructor, and has been active in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1995. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Manhattan School of Music, and has composed numerous works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo piano, and chorus, as well as a full-length musical, multiple film scores, and over 200 songs, both instrumental and vocal. Dr. Martineau has recorded more than ten CDs in various genres, and has also been featured on numerous other artists' recordings, as pianist, music director, and producer. He provides scores, arrangements, original compositions, soundtracks, sound design, accompaniment, private instruction, and musical direction for a diverse and eclectic client base.

Dr. Martineau works in multiple capacities with many different idioms and styles, from world fusion and jazz, to avant-garde, industrial, rock, pop, and classical. Recently he orchestrated string arrangements by Vanessa Carlton for her latest album "Heroes and Thieves". He has also authored a book on music theory released October 2008 entitled "The Elements of Music," published by Wooden Books and Walker Books/Bloomsbury, distributed both nationally and internationally. His film scores have been featured in documentaries broadcast on PBS stations around the US since 1998. He also provides music cues and backgrounds for a large variety of multimedia projects. He has been playing the piano for 36 years, performing since 1989 at numerous venues in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, and more recently, the 10th International Festival of Dance and Music in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2011 he joined the faculty at the Academy of Art University, teaching music notation and theory.


  30 comments for “Dr. Jason Martineau interview – “The Spiritual Dimensions of Music” – #109

  1. temetnosce
    March 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Glad to see another one about music. For another book in a similar vein, check out Daniel Levitin’s This is Your Brain on Music.

  2. Robin
    March 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    What’s the name of the Philip Glass piece you played Jason?

    • Jason Martineau
      March 30, 2011 at 9:33 am

      Hi Robin – The piece goes by two titles, “Opening” and “Closing”, it’s from the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack, a 1982 movie by Godfrey Reggio. I think whenever the piece shows up on later compilations, it most often goes by “Opening”. This movie and this soundtrack were my introduction to his music, I must say they go together remarkably well.

      • Thomas Dean
        July 4, 2013 at 8:23 am

        I love that music from Koyaanisquatsi. I think in the film, it’s done on an organ.

    • James Sutton
      May 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

      The piece is also on the Philip Glass album “Glassworks”.

  3. Eric
    March 30, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Great interview Jan! Thank you for sharing Jason! This interview is a gift to the world. Thank you.

  4. Andy
    April 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Jan and Jason,

    This has to be one of the coolest podcasts I have heard. Very informative, extremely entertaining. Thank you both for sharing this!

  5. Mike
    April 5, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Wow, great show! My music listening will be different after hearing this show. The part about different ethnic styles was very interesting. That short indian part, what was it? Any tips about that kind of fundamental mystical indian music? I have listened most to Shankar’s ragas, but they are quite different from what you played.


    • Jason Martineau
      April 5, 2011 at 8:17 am

      Hi Mike – Thank you for the good words, and I am delighted that you were inspired by the interview. The raga that I simulated goes by two names: Basant Mukhari, and Vakulabharanam. I imagine you can find a Shankar recording with this raga. I did not play a specific version or well-known melody with that excerpt, I just gave a basic idea of the scale and the kinds of elements in Indian music.

      Here is one example:

      • Matt
        August 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

        Thanks to both Jan and Jason on the making of this podcast. I, like the gentleman, found the raga section you played to be something beyond. That might have been one of the smallest yet best parts of the whole interview to me. The raga seems to have a beautiful sort of unfolding nature upon itself that never stops and is very almost four dimensional in a sense. Jason, do you know how I could go about tuning my guitar to generate that sound of the raga?

        • Jason Martineau
          November 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm

          Matt – I am not sure about how to attain the exact srutis involved to emulate the precise tuning of a sitar in this case, but I can give you the same procedure that I used to generate the scale on the piano, which would work on any Western instrument. It is essentially a major scale with the following alterations: b2, b6, b7. The scale is thus: Db, Ebb, F, Gb, Ab, Bbb, Cb, Db… or similarly, C#, D, E#, F#, G#, A, B, C#. You may recognize this also as our harmonic minor scale, starting and ending on the 5th scale degree (so, in this case, Gb/F# harmonic minor). It is also a scale found in Jewish music. Much of the flavor is attained by how you approach and depart from the various tones. If you experiment with this scale you will find what you seek.

  6. Paul
    April 6, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Wow!! That was an amazing show. I’ve never been more interested in music. He created a tangible connection between thought and music. I probably won’t hear music the same again. Makes me really wish i could play!!!

    Great job guys!

    • Jan Irvin
      April 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      But you can, and learning it will be twice as easy now that you have the fundamentals. Thanks for getting the huge font fixed. Now it’s a bit small. 😉

  7. Paul
    April 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Actually as fate would have it. Getting a piano this Friday. I’m going to buy the book for my wife! I’m definitely goin to give it a shot. Jason put music into terms and context that I can relate to and he makes it seem like I could learn. So we’ll see. The show is definitely motivating in that regard!

    (*Roger that on front page)

  8. Melissa
    April 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I really appreciated this interview. Thanks to both Jan and Jason for sharing. Jason, you have a way of presenting the elements of music, and the “feel” of music, in a way that is very inspiring and friendly. The whole family at my home was very entertained and educated by you.

    My daughters (15 and 12) think you are the Bob Ross of music . . . you know, the painting guy on public broadcasting . . . “I think there’s a friendly little critter in a tree back there” and “this sky wants a fluffy cloud right there . . .”

    Thanks for being fun and sharing!

    • Jason
      April 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      Thank you Melissa, that’s a comparison I’d not heard before, please tell your daughters thank you as well. I’m delighted you all enjoyed it so much! A little inspiration goes a long way!

  9. April 18, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Jan and Jason, this was simply the most inspiring thing I have heard in years. I have been a musician for nearly 40 years and although I know some music theory and even instictively feel some of what you were talking about, this podcast went way beyond my expectations. I particularly liked the way Jason describes the evolution of intervals and how music moved from harmonic series through fifth, third …all the way to 9ths and beyond. Such profound thoughts but so well explained!

    I am going to look at how I create music now, maybe shelving chords for a while and getting into a single note dancing about, concentrating on intervals and experimenting with disonnance and resolution more.

    Always enjoyed the podcast but I’ve never listened to one more than twice before, I have listened to this three times, You were right Jan, it’s a mind-blower

  10. serj
    July 27, 2011 at 12:26 am

    yes, mind blowing, indeed. I agree the part about the evolution of intervals was very interesting. Thanks for this wonderful interview.

  11. August 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Hello Jason and Jan,

    My 1st visit to the site. Listened to the Trivium interview on Red Ice today.

    I’ve been studying music and jazz guitar for over 20 years. Software engineer in occupation.

    Jason, this interview help smooth out spots in my perception of what I’ve learned.

    All Blues was my introduction into Mixolydian. Your quick reference thrilled me.

    The explanation of the Circle of Fifths was fascinating. Much blues oriented jazz uses the introverted keys, Blue Monk, Take Five, ect.

    Where mississippi delta blues loves G, D, E? Any comment here?

    I bought your book a couple months ago. It just moved up in my reading queue.

    Just watched “The Art of Improvisation – Keith Jarrett”. Have you seen it? It’s fascinating.

    My guitar teacher just exposed me to Elliott Gould. I’d be interested in your take on the man.

    Love to a take class of yours!


  12. August 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    PS – My guitar instructor is Michael Kovitz. You would find his book a fascinating read.

    From Silence to Sound (Richard Kyle’s Journey to Musical Competency)

  13. August 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    One more comment:

    Howard Goodall’s Big Bang series is a must see for everyone!


  14. Thomas Dean
    July 4, 2013 at 8:25 am

    I love that he mentioned Harold Budd too.

  15. Dan Attrell
    September 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Just a minor note (no pun intended): Around 2:12 there is a mention about Heavy Metal being detrimental to plants and Classical music being good. It’s the other way around.

    “The one that was grown with classical music — a soft, almost a caressing of the plant when it is hit with that sort of soundwave — those grew slightly shorter because of the soundwaves bombarding them and were slightly more floriferous and there was slightly less pest and disease.

    “And the ones with Black Sabbath — great big, thumping noise, rowdy music — they were the shortest, but they had the best flowers and the best resistance to pest and disease.”



    • September 16, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks, Dan. Good grammar catch. It appears that just because it gets shorter, doesn’t necessarily mean weaker.

      Any follow up studies to verify these results?

  16. Jason Martineau
    October 14, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I defer to a research book written in 1973 by Dorothy Retallack on this subject: http://www.dovesong.com/positive_music/plant_experiments.asp

    Other studies suggest similar findings, and some indicate differing results that are species-specific.

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