HIGH LIFE: A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : Scoring With a Pair of Keyboards : Invention: A composer makes music in his advanced computer program at Troy High School in Fullerton.


It began at parties with the simple tapping of unequally filled glasses to produce musical notes. As a child, Jory Prum was already on his way to becoming a music composer.

Prum, 18, a senior at Troy High School in Fullerton, has been composing music in a more formal sense for the past three years.

He has combined his two favorite hobbies--computers and music--into a music-making machine. Using a high-tech Macintosh program hooked to a musical keyboard, he is able to play notes on the keyboard while the computer transposes them into a musical score.

Among his projects: rearranging the Troy High school song for the entire band. “It just needed to be done,” he said. The rewriting of the song fulfilled Prum’s internship requirement for the Troy Tech program, an advanced computer magnet program at the school.

Although Prum’s new arrangement has yet to be used, he expects Troy band director Ken Klein to implement it next year.


Not everyone in the band had a copy of the original score, and some copies were handwritten. “We were lucky if we had a copy of the (old song), and if we had one, we were lucky if we could read it,” Prum said. “I ad-libbed it the whole way.”

Prum said he got the idea a year ago when he received the Finale program, a notation program for the Macintosh. Finale uses a Music Instrument Digital Interface language to connect the keyboard to the computer. Prum can play back the composition with all of the instruments, or he can extract individual instruments to make corrections.

The original score, handwritten by Cliff Stout and a Mrs. Ganson, was problematical. At one point, the part of the tenor saxophone abruptly stopped before starting again a few measures later. The flute part was written four notes too high, and music for the drum and cymbals was “not written well,” Prum said.

In another facet of the Troy Tech program, Prum is taking classes outside campus. He is enrolled in a Regional Occupation Program graphic arts class and a music theory and musicianship class, the latter at Fullerton College.

Prum has eclipsed the necessary 200 hours of internship for the Troy Tech program by more than 100 hours. “It doesn’t seem like work to me,” he said. “This is something I enjoy doing.”

Prum, who plays trombone, bass, mandolin, piano and drums, lives a life of music. He plays guitar for Fullerton Children’s Repertory Theater, his brother’s acting group, and is a volunteer at Fullerton Civic Light Opera.

In addition to the school song, Prum has written four other songs since 1990. His most recent piece is “Racing the Imagination,” an instrumental work for contemporary ensemble with a touch of jazz. This piece was entered in the Disneyland Creativity Challenge, and Prum hopes eventually to sell the piece.

He has also written music and lyrics for “The Seagull’s Cry,” a ballad about a girl, and “To Touch and To Hold You (The Meaning of Life),” a ballad for two guitars.

Prum has managed to apply his musical talents to the classroom. Instead of doing a written book report on Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Prum wrote and composed “The Bell Tolls Now,” which describes an outsider watching the novel’s hero prepare to blow up a bridge.

“He’s an outstanding student in all areas of the Troy Tech program,” said Jackie Reedy, assistant principal at Troy. “He’s a good team player and has a lot of experience at starting things.”

Hoping to major in music composition, Prum has applied to the Cal Arts school in Valencia, the Berkeley College of Music in Boston and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Prum said he is leaning toward Berkeley because of its five-year dual major in music composition and film scoring. Juilliard, which accepts only 17% of its applicants, has only eight spots.

After college, Prum would like to work for a major film company. One thing he doesn’t want to do is deal with recording publishers. “All they want is money,” he said.

Brian Singer is a junior at Fullerton Union High School, where he is editor-in-chief of the Pleiades, the student newspaper.