Ronald James Brown was born on 6 December 1945 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. At the age of fourteeen he left what he describes as "a very non-musical home" to strike out on his own. He was a violin pupil of Baird Knechtel for four years, achieving a conservatory grade six in that instrument. Ron also acquired skill as a Flamenco guitarist and studied theory and composition with various private tutors.
After attending university, he taught senior secondary school English literature for eight years before joining the high-tech revolution and working as a programmer/analyst and large systems consultant for some twenty-five years. As retirement neared, he rediscovered his musical calling and dedicated himself to the mastery of contemporary composition techniques and orchestration under the tutelage of Dr. Deirdre Piper at Carleton University in Ottawa. He has since continued his musical education through the internet with teachers such as Dr. Harold Owen (University of Oregon), Dr. Alan Belkin, (Université de Montréal), and composer Michel Edward.
His compositions, some of which have been performed during services at Anglican churches in Quebec, include works for male chorus, oboe and piano, and voice and piano. His idiom is a bracing admixture of tonal and non-tonal elements. Ron successfully released a CD in 2006 entitled Memories of the Outaouais, featuring a twelve-part musical sketch of Western Quebec for small orchestra; The S. S. Newfoundland: 1914, in tribute to the one hundred twenty-seven sealers who were abandoned on an ice floe during a winter storm; and two symphonies.
Ron's perception of the role of tonality has been informed by his engagement with non-tonal materials:
I am not always clear on what various people mean by "tonal" music. Music without a tonal reference can be unsettling, but has its uses. However, a tonal centre is often required to give the listener reference points. Certainly our concept of tonality has been greatly expanded during the twentieth century, but tonality itself has never really been eclipsed. I very rarely use major or minor scales, and realise that some folks call that "atonal," but that, to me, is a misapplication of the term.
He is particularly appreciative of the human element in music-making:
Though electronic devices now permit the use of artefacts unattainable by the human performer, music that is based on human performance ability and creativity will always be at the centre of the musical experience.