So, you've graduated from college. Now what? Nothing fills your soul with equal parts exuberant triumph and debilitating anxiety quite like being thrown into the real world. Whether you're feeling confident or paralyzed by fear, many college graduates will be faced with similar post-college learning experiences. In this blog post, I'll be going over what you know, what you don't know, and some next steps and what to expect.
No two composers share the exact same formula or workflow when it comes to scoring to visual media. I'm always adjusting my workflow to meet the needs of each individual project I'm on, it's just necessary in order to keep growing as a composer and as a professional. Although I'm always trying to do something a little different, there are a few questions I ask myself that, for the most part, stay pretty consistent from project to project.
Last week I posted the first part of my 5 Ways to Become a Better Film Composer, which focused more on the non-musical side of the profession. This week is part two, and I'll be focusing more on the musical aspects. Today's film composer is very interesting, it's not at all the same as the classically trained composer of the pre-1970s or 80s eras. Because of this, there have been some drastic changes in musical styles and aesthetics in film, so today I'll try to be broad about the genres, but will include some things I think are still very necessary.
There's a lot that goes into being a good film composer, it's more than writing good music and having expensive equipment. This is the first of a two-part list where I'll give you a few ideas on how to be a better film composer. This is not a "how-to" post, but rather a list to inspire you to take a critical look at yourself as a musician and address areas you can improve upon. When you're confident in your abilities, I also have an article for 10 Ways to Make Money as a Film Composer!
Image is not my own screenshot. Taken under fair use from Wikipedia.
It's no secret that, in today's music industry, we are all expected to wear several hats - and, in many cases, it is absolutely required in order to find any sort of success. So maybe you're a composer or songwriter, and let's say you're working on maybe a TV show or a movie or a short indie film. Among many other hats you may have to wear, one that is very likely to come up is the music editor hat. So what is a music editor? What do they do? And why should you, the writer, have to deal with it?
Lead sheets are standard amongst jazz artists and composers, but they're also a useful tool that all musicians should be able to make if needed. Above is my YouTube tutorial, and as promised I'm also giving a step-by-step breakdown:
As teams are wrapping up and preparing to submit their 48 Hour Film Project shorts here in Portland, I thought I would take a moment to reflect and share my process as a "48 Hour composer". So grab your two-liter mug of coffee+Rockstar energy cocktail and let's begin!
There are thousands of ways in which you (the composer) can emphasize the drama of a scene, and every composer will interpret the scene differently. Below are just a few ideas to consider that are widely utilized by many successful composers all over the world.
1. Orchestration and Genre Clichés
It is important to consider exactly what kind of film it is that you are working on so that you can understand what kind of drama is necessary to convey in your music. For example, the drama that may take place in a science fiction thriller like James Cameron's "Aliens" (composer: James Horner), is not going to sound like the drama that you would find in a movie like Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha" (composer: John Williams).
So your first question is going to be this: what is my orchestra? This will again depend on the style of the film. So let's consider some useful clichés that are found in film scores:
Film | Music
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