Junior Ailon Goraly spends nearly two hours each day on music. “I want to achieve the very best that I can out of my musical ability. And that’s simply not going to come without putting in a lot of effort. I just love the process, and it’s something fun and emotionally stimulating to do with my free time that I will carry with me for years,” he said.

While he has played violin for seven years, Ailon only started composing music during the pandemic, leaving him with a plethora of unposted music stored on his computer. “For the first year and a half that I was composing, I wasn’t composing for anyone else because of COVID. I just wrote pieces and shoved them in a folder on my computer, and then I wrote another piece.” He added, “Playing my own songs gives me more freedom to be able to play what I want to play, and it’s more motivating because I’m not playing the music of someone who died two hundred years ago.”

His process begins by messing around on his violin or simply composing on paper, and will write a song around the first measure that comes to mind if he finds it creative enough. “Music is the pattern of tension and release. If a piece is really quick, there’s a lot of tension. Sometimes I don’t know what it’s going to turn out with at the end. I just have this specific idea I like and turn it into a story as a development.”

He also offers his composing skills to other musicians, like a French horn player from Julliard and a tuba player for the San Francisco Youth Symphony. Instead of taking commissions for his talents, he simply takes credit for the work. “Now that I have the opportunity to have my songs played, it’s so amazing that I don’t work,” he said. However, he said it can be a struggle to compose something that he loves. “When other people compose music, there’s a canon of what people have done before and you’re supposed to stick to that or break it in a very specific way. But if you break what people have done in the past you’re going to get critiqued for it. It’s very hard to do things correctly.”

Under the alias That Composer Dude on YouTube, he posts music memes, recent projects, and songs to more than 700 subscribers. His most popular video, “If 2020 Had a Soundtrack,” has upwards of 121,000 views, with an abundance of positive comments. “I want my listeners to have a good time. Generally, my philosophy is to create a story or emotion with a piece of music,” he said.

For inspiration, Ailon listens to the big names in classical music, but also specifically tries to find underground classical composers using recommendations from YouTube. He also loves The Beatles and Radiohead. “There’s a wide variety of music that I listen to and draw inspiration from, but it can be hard to listen to my own music because I can’t separate the story from the flaws I see in the piece.”

Ailon’s current project began on January 3, 2021, writing one measure of music every day. “Let’s say I had a really bad day. I’m going to write that measure with emotions that are going to convey more negative thoughts.” As for plans for the future, Ailon is looking forward to doing more in-person performances. He said, “I think a lot of value in music is being able to share with people in person. There’s a lot of things I have in the pipeline to compose.”

Sonia Freedman is a junior in her second year of M-A Journalism. She began "The Music Moment" column and is looking forward to continuing to write about the culture, community, and unique events at M-A. In her free time, you can find her editing Spotify playlists, extending her Duolingo streak, or formulating the best salad. You can also find her work on the blog for jwa.org!

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