As a musician and composer my work forms a unique enhancement to the narrative, the visual, movement, and song. Over the course of my thirty year career I've provided the unspoken context for the expression of film, TV, and theater directors, choreographers, singers, and musicians. It has been fun, challenging, and rewarding in every way...and it continues. 

        The greatest reward has been the relationships I've formed with other creators. I haven't had the time nor have I stopped long enough to analyze why I have such an enthusiasm for collaboration. I just do and keep on finding the next friend. Having said that I suppose I'm stopping for a moment right now to tell you what I think and what people have said it's like to work with me. 

       "One stop shop" is a phrase often used to describe my studio and my work. I began singing at age 3, piano at age 7, clarinet at 8, guitar at age 15, composing and arranging by age 16, experimenting with what we used to call "multi-track recording" when I was about 18, and began earning a living as a professional musician when I was 25. I haven't stopped any of these pursuits and both my work and relationships have benefitted greatly from this. And I've benefitted tremendously from all the training I've received both in schools and on the job. 

 

       After high school where I sat first chair in the clarinet section, had several leads in plays and musicals, and worked as a professional in pit orchestras, I attended and graduated from Musician's Institute in Hollywood. There I studied with Tommy Tedesco

Paul Gilbert, Les Wise, and Ron Eschete.   I also was at the Allan Holdsworth seminar when Eddie Van Halen stopped by to jam with him (!). I then graduated with a BFA in music composition from CalArts where I studied under Arnold Schoenberg protege Leonard Stein, Mel Powell, and Rand Steiger. And, finally, I received my Masters in Commercial Music Composition from Cal State Los Angeles where I am currently an adjunct professor teaching composition, production, and mixing. 

      I have performed world wide as a multi-instrumentalist and singer and have been fortunate to share the stage with Rufus Wainwright, Moira Smiley, Van Dyke Parks, Tracy Bonham, Pato Banton, Billy Zane, Grace Jones, the L.A. Master Chorale,  and Ann Wilson among many others. Clients I've served include MTV, VH1, ABC, CBS, NBC, Universal Cartoons, Badlands Features, and Comedy Central. Most recently I played guitars, clarinet, and hand pan for Sean Penn's latest feature "Flag Day"

       What all this experience and training has helped me become is a musician and composer who can provide what is needed very quickly and seamlessly to my clients and collaborators. While it's true that I'm talented I don't think that would have helped me earn a living over these decades if I wasn't intensely interested in other people's projects and ideas. And if you're going to be called upon to compose, produce, and perform music of just about every style and across multiple cultures it helps if you genuinely love it all. 

       I comport my work and myself to the project, to the director, and to the sound. I'm happy to have a director sit 3 feet from me and watch every strum, mouse click, and edit. I've had many producing and composing sessions where I'm given verbal direction in real time as I'm composing or arranging. I'm also fine with a completely remote product and notes via email. And if a director needs a song they can't afford I'll compose and produce one for them. 

       I have been asked for and provided musical direction, conducting, playing all the guitar family instruments, bass, percussion, several woodwinds, singing, arranging, composing, music preparation and copying, producing, recording, mixing, suspension of disbelief and critical thinking. And I always look forward to being asked again...

 

What people are saying...

“The record is a beautiful statement, both artistically, arrangement wise and performance. My job was made so much easier by all the hard work accomplished before it was passed to me."........

Kevin Killen, producer, mix engineer (Peter Gabriel, U2, Elvis Costello)

"I have worked with John for over 25 years. In that time I’ve seen him work in every genre of our industry from classical to country to pop to rock to reggae to Broadway to jazz to television to independent movies to avant garde theater to legit theater to anything that requires the “best of the best”. John is that: the best of the best…..and he knows how to check his ego at the door."........

 BUTCH NORTON drummer (Eels, Tracy Chapman, Lucinda Williams,T-Bone Burnett)

“We like you because you play what we want you to play"........Rufus Wainwright

"John Ballinger’s exquisite, Bernard Herrmann-tinged underscoring kept promising a rabbit hole of perverse motivations and chills." ......
Variety Magazine

“This album was recorded really well"........

Geoff Emerick (mix engineer for The Beatles Revolver, Sgt. Peppers & Abbey Road)

"You are incredible at what you do." ........

Andrew Wantuck, producer, (Tosh.o, Jim Jeffries)

“…a fabulous composer with a wide range of expression in many styles, a superb percussionist/multi-instrumentalist … pretty much one-stop shopping. I cannot conceive of anyone better suited to the project.”  ........

O-lan Jones (The Truman Show, Edward Scissorhands, Natural Born Killers,)

“Still can't get over the perfectness of your parts.  You so tasty you should be on the menu at Denny's."........

Gary Tharp, engineer/producer  (The Calling, Jupiter Rising, Richie Zito)