New York City was my birthplace, but I was raised in Montclair, New Jersey. I asked for piano lessons after watching my classmate tear through a Bach Prelude. This was 3rd grade– back row, striped shirt– and I was smitten with the piano. Billy Joel, Beethoven, Pink Floyd and Solid Gold (yes!) were other early sources of inspiration.

With the purchase of a Roland Juno 60 in 7th grade (still have it), my classical piano studies took a back seat and I joined a synthesizer quartet.  All four of us became professional musicians. The value of art and music in public schools was not questioned back then. I played in various rock bands throughout high school. While this was a fantastic way to meet girls, public performance was never my comfort zone.  I graduated from Montclair HS and trekked northward to Cambridge.

At Harvard, I dove into composition. Before my first collegiate winter break, I was creating music for theater, film, and a very eclectic electronic music department. One of my favorite compositions involved a recording I made of the “T” subway and some esoteric electronic manipulations. The creative environment at school was rich and the opportunities for exploration were abundant.

In the 1990s, as a new arrival to Hollywood, I began producing songs for people and playing in a band, Paley Jones, with my girlfriend (now wife). A yearlong stint with the fantastically talented Fred Myrow provided a window into life as a composer. The following year, when a friend suggested I meet Mike Post, I jumped at the opportunity. Mike asked me to produce the music for NYPD Blue and off I went into the world of TV and film music. Mike and I co-wrote the score for numerous series. Silk Stalkings, Martial Law, Feds & Public Morals, were early, great learning opportunities.

Soon it was time to go it alone. “Odd Man Out” at ABC was my first sitcom. The WB’s “Baby Blues” soon followed.  After years of pounding it out in the television trenches, I received an Emmy  for “Operation Homecoming,” the Richard Robbins-directed piece about war and its toll on soldiers. My 1st BMI Award came soon after.

I recently completed season 5 of “Lucifer” (Netflix) and am currently at work on season 6 (our final one!). ABC’s “Bless This Mess” was a joy to work on for the past two seasons. In recent years, I’ve worked on “Shut Eye” (HULU) and “Lethal Weapon” (FOX), created the soundtrack for “Shadowhunters” and co-composed the scores for several other prime time dramas on CBS, including “Extant,” “CSI:Cyber” and “Hostages.” Lots of drama, tons of tension. I also created the score for the Shonda Rhimes series, “Off the Map” (ABC). It was a thrill to work with an orchestra and to record at Warner Brothers’ beautiful Eastwood Scoring Stage.

ben-at-bso-smlA cherished moment from 2016 was hearing the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform several of my pieces at my 25th Harvard Reunion. To be in that audience with classmates, friends, family and my wife, Jackie was an extraordinary experience. I felt lucky.

“We Live In Public” was a Sundance-winning film I co-scored with Marco d’Ambrosio. I also scored the Slamdance-winning film “Heart of Stone.”

Besides the music I’ve written for television and film, I’ve created music for many commercials, including Honda, Bell South and McDonalds.  I also take great pleasure in my songwriting pursuits. Highlights are the wonderful (it really is!) children’s CD, “Another Big Day,” created with the phenomenal Dave Nachmanoff. With Christian Bordal, I made a pair of folk-electronica CDs as “emalazarus.” If the mood strikes, please check them out.

I am also developing a musical with my Tony-nominated partner-in-crime, Kristin Hanggi (she of “Rock of Ages” fame). Our workshops in New York, Hollywood and Pasadena have been highlights of recent years.

So here I am, a composer, songwriter, pianist and dad. My studio and home are in Silverlake, a hilly, beautiful neighborhood in Los Angeles.  I am quite a distance removed from elementary school piano lessons; yet, in many ways, I still feel like that wide-eyed kid exploring and navigating the musical landscape to the fullest.

It is quite an adventure.

Thanks for visiting.

© 2012 Ben Decter - All rights reserved