Knox Music Major Examines Composition, Business

May 22, 2013

Nate Beck '13

By Laura Pochodylo ‘14

Knox College senior Nathaniel "Nate" Beck has discovered, through his music capstone project, that the processes of brand management and music composition have more in common than one might think.

Beck explored the links between marketing strategies in a business context and the process of composing a musical piece for a specific audience. His project, "The Business of Composition: The Compositional Process and Its Engagement with Brand Management" aims to "experiment with connecting the creative process to a business-administrative perspective."

"I'm looking at how business informs composition, but also how composition informs business in a way that you have to constantly revise a piece and change a piece to appeal to appeal to a different audience," Beck said. "In the business world, you can take a product and re-evaluate it and present in a different way to reach a different customer base."Nate Beck '13

Beck used a model called "customer-based brand equity," or CBBE, to create a theory about potential motivations behind composition. CBBE explores the worth of a brand as perceived through the eyes of a customer.

"My project wasn't supposed to be the best way to approach composing, but just a theory to think about the compositions in a different way," Beck said. "The most interesting thing was the way you could think of composition from a not-so-strictly creative perspective."

While Beck listened to and analyzed many different types of music for his project, he ended up focusing primarily on big band music, an interest stemming from his involvement with the Cherry Street Jazz Combo and the Knox Jazz Ensemble. He plays trumpet.

As part of his research, Beck composed a big band piece.

"I had to look at big band score examples to see what was going on, and I had to listen to a lot of music. I think what drove me to create a big band piece was the fact that I was in (the Knox Jazz Ensemble) last term," Beck said. "Being a part of that was really unique, and it drove me to make that sort of music."Nate Beck '13

In addition to playing trumpet, Beck also sings in the Knox College Choir and plays the piano and drums.

As a music major with minors in business and management and philosophy, Beck says that "the music came first," but his other academic interests were essential in developing his project.

"My philosophy classes pretty much taught me how to write and synthesize ideas," he said. "My business classes gave me more of a constructed way to view things, like economics and marketing structures, and music has always just been a passion of mine," Beck said.

"The different fields of study definitely all had a hand in giving this composite education that's unique," said Beck, who hopes to pursue a career in music and arts management.