Composing : 6 Lessons On Composing From Michael Giacchino by Amanda Toney

Amanda Toney

6 Lessons On Composing From Michael Giacchino

Awesome article with advice on film composing from Michael Giacchino: http://www.vulture.com/2013/10/michael-giacchino-how-to-score-a-movie.html

How to Compose a Killer Film Score, by Michael Giacchino
How to Compose a Killer Film Score, by Michael Giacchino
Each one of composer Michael Giacchino's movie scores took a lifetime to write. Be it the forties French jazz of Ratatouille, the hyperactive pulsation of Speed Racer, the retro-futuristic adventure b…
Joel Irwin

Some excellent general discussions of how to create the score. I personally like the last one about being quick - nothing like doing a score under extreme stress to see what comes out and how the musical ideas take shape. On my last film, I was handed the complete film at around 10 pm and had until approximately 730 am the next morning to do the whole thing. Luckily it was a short - but still required about 7 minutes of music in just under 10 hours - in the middle of the night (i.e., "all nighter")! There is really no time for analysis. It is like scoring for a weekly tv series - watch the scene a time or two, figure out the action, the musical locations and hit points, understand the context of the scene relative to the whole film and then sketch and/or score 'straight up'. No time to look back and 'what if'. And as poor as you may have thought it would turn out, amazingly it will be quite fine. The odds are, though in that short a period, most of the time (unless you are a great musician in your own right), the score will be electronic. And it doesn't have to be slow melodic and drawn out - you will be amazed when you work quickly that if the scene calls for a jazzy part or a comic part or a chase/fight part, you'll get that done quickly as well. I think it is an 'adrenaline thing'. The only thing that concerns me about these 'how to score' guidance articles has always been the 'inevitable' response of 'ok now that I know in general I need to write a melody' or "ok I need to make it sound like a 70s jazzy tv drama scene', etc. Now what?" I rarely if ever in articles (or often not even in books), see discussion of what exactly to compose. This is not a symphony composition. There may be parallels or similarities to writing a string quartet or a big band theme or a jazz chart etc. but there are also differences. How do you actually voice and shape your horns to sound like superhero music as he mentions in point #5? Michael talks about listening to other people's works. We all do that and it is very important but there has to be another way (aside from taking classes). Well for those of you who have not read this 'classic' - as the saying goes 'don't leave home without it': Hency Mancini, Sounds and Scores : A Practical Guide to Professional Orchestration First published in 1962 the paperback version is about $36 on Amazon - get it!

Matt Milne

is he still here? dripping in mediocrity as usual. As Joel says there are plenty of articles and books, yes good thick books, by composers who actually know what they're doing. I would also recommend 'on the track' for pure comedy value.

Amanda Toney

Thanks Joel and Matt for giving your feedback! I always love to hear various opinions about a topic as it helps open my mind to other views :)

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