In today’s competitive music industry, a composer’s big break can occur in a matter of seconds after several disappointments. No one knows that better than John Hunt ’01 of South Orange, N.J., who made his musical debut during MTV’s The Challenge: Rivals most recent episode.
Previously, two of Hunt’s original compositions were slated to be part of episodes of MTV’s Real World Las Vegas. He collaborated with a company co-owned by his uncle and aunt to create the music and twice the work was bumped.
After the disappointments, Hunt’s uncle was hesitant about contacting him for the next project, The Challenge: Rivals “The S#!% They Should Have Shown” episode. “He said he didn’t want to put me through the frustration again,” Hunt recalls. “But I asked to do it just for practice.”
With just a week to pull together the project, Hunt spent more than four intense hours of creation and an additional nine hours of editing to produce a soundtrack of only 30 seconds, including animal sounds representative of the show’s Costa Rican setting.
As the episode began, Hunt was momentarily deflated as he heard another composition in the background.
“I thought, ‘Oh man, what happened this time?’ It turned out that they used my music at all of the bumpers, and they used the animal sounds throughout the show,” he says. “I was on cloud 10. An intro is heard only once, but my track was featured going to and coming back from four or five commercial breaks.”
Hunt’s talent for electronic music grew from a convergence of his skills in mathematics and music. He started playing guitar at 15, but music did not become integral to his life and future until his experience at Lafayette.
During sophomore year, Hunt, who was then a mathematics major, was invited by a friend to take an introductory music course. “It was tough at first, and I liked the challenge.” He took more music courses. “At some point, it clicked. I realized that I had a passion for music.” He switched majors.
Hunt credits William Melin, professor emeritus of music, with influencing his professional direction.
“I took an electronic music course in my junior year,” Hunt says. “We did some recording using a computer program and several electronic instruments, including a drum machine. Professor Melin stuck by me, and my interest blossomed.”
In music composition, Hunt found an interesting marriage of mathematics and music.
Mathematics comes into play in various aspects of composing, such as developing harmonies. “As it’s structured, music is mathematical,” he says. “And now with everything going digital, it makes an even stronger connection.”
Hunt has been performing as DJ Magnum in clubs and for weddings. His composer pseudonym is Bitter John; his creations can be enjoyed on Myspace, Facebook, and SoundCloud. As he moves on to his next project for MTV, he envisions composing on a grander scale, ultimately, scoring for movies.