Curtis Macdonald was born in 1962 and grew up in Westlake Village, a suburb north of Los Angeles after experiencing a childhood in North Hollywood and Canoga Park, California.
A self-taught pianist and then educated composer, Curtis studied and earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in composition at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. His mentors included Mort Subotnik, Leonard Rosenman, Barry Schrader and Alan Chaplin. After graduation and only months in the real world, he landed a job with film and television engineer/mixer Steve Hallmark and participated as a composer's assistant with such shows as “Star Trek, the Next Generation” and the revamp of the "Mission Impossible" series. The “seat of the pants” training he received prepared him for the business as a working composer. He acquired the skills of working a recording studio, mixing, and production and took all that he learned and began composing for industrial videos, computer games, commercials, art installations, and music libraries. Throughout his career he has worked with Disney, Paramount, Loramar, Universal, Sony Wonder, Warner Bros, and Mattel Entertainment. As a senior composer for various music libraries his music can be heard in every media market every day. At the same time he was a commercial artist, Curtis was branching off becoming his own fine artist. The experimental minimalistic approach he developed at Cal Arts was a blessing in disguise. During the beginning of the 1980's the elements in the minimalist movement in serious art music would transfer over to popular music as the decades evolved. Curtis utilized such elements as pattern repetition, sonic landscapes, and memorable melodies, and created a type of music that could be listenable and still be derived from the artistic schooling he received. This became an electronica sub-genre known as Downtempo and Chillout, which has crossed over to New Age and Jazz, and is evident on many of his releases including "Shadow Crossing" and “Everlasting” from Eversound. His first break as an artist came when he teamed up with Steve Hallmark. As New Age music became popular in the late 1980's, their release “The Highland Project”, with its moody and melodic approach was a hint of what was to become. As Curtis became more self-aware of his personal high empathetic nature, he began to transfer his emotional sensitivity into his music. Drawing from many experiences, his approach to mirroring his feelings to melody became a staple in his compositions. His deep affection for jazz and improvisation, film scores and the use of popular song form also began to take shape and with these elements, a more cohesive and commercial appeal began to surface in the creation of his music.
Curtis's beginnings in music came from the inspiration he received from his uncle, Chris Roberts. He influenced his nephew with jazz Hammond organ skills that in turn became the beginning of learning how to improvise which Curtis took to heart as he began taking drum lessons at age six from legendary drummer Louis Bellson's brother Harry, noting that it was difficult reading linear music but he could feel and execute a groove. That feeling blossomed as he graduated to his grandmothers’ gift, a 1901 Platt upright piano and began teaching himself how to play at the age of seven. As a graphic learner, he utilized memory of pitch and the topography of the keyboard and later educated himself with the vocabulary of scales and chords. This drew his attention to music theory, orchestration, and composition. With the aid of ear training, textbooks and guidance during high school and junior college, Curtis began to compose with the influences of the contemporary jazz artists of the day. Listening to Bob James, Dave Grusin and Jeff Lorber with their approach to using “pop” formulas with improvisation became a foundation in Macdonald's own sense of composition.
At this time, Curtis played in many bands and was able to realize his compositions performing at countless dinner houses, casinos, and events as well as popular venues including The Palace, The Greek Theater, The Whisky, and The Troubadour. By the time he got to Cal Arts in the early 1980's he began composing for film. Befriending filmmakers, he scored many student films that in return gave him a solid demo reel. With reel in hand, he developed relationships in the industry and began to compose for industrials which then lead to small features and 1 hour and ½ hour television projects.
Throughout the 1990's Curtis began to experiment with the sound he has accomplished and refined today, a radio friendly and accessible pop instrumental style that reflects his personal emotions all the while using the acoustic piano as the main voice. At the beginning of the new millennium the recording label Eversound approached him and with the aid of award winning composer/producer John Adorney, “Shadow Crossing” and “Everlasting” became a reality. At the same time he started his own record label CMMP and began releasing his music with the ability to explore the genres of music dear to him while continuing to express his unique style.
For his Eversound album release, ”Everlasting”, Macdonald received Grammy consideration for Best New Age Record as well as placing in the New Age Reporter Top 100 Recordings of 2007. His song “Hope and Faith” was a top 10 hit on Sirius Satellite Radio’s “Spa” for a straight 20 weeks. In 2013 his CMMP release “When Dreams Come True” received Grammy consideration and selections achieved heavy rotation on Music Choice's Soundscapes.
When not composing, Curtis works as a music editor and music supervisor for film and television. He enjoys a seasonal position at Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights and performs the American Songbook with his ever-loving Vivienne DeLuca. He loves watching sports and participating in the sights and sounds of Southern California.
Curtis's goal is to continue and evolve his present sound, experimenting in popular music genres and fusing his brand of transparent arrangements with lyrical and memorable melodies. Maintaining a relationship with the listener is a key factor in his consistent approach to creating music, and his love for music and his fans keeps the adventure going. For new music, visit www.about.me/curtismacdonald
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