If you could learn anything from an experienced, working composer what would it be?
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When it comes to people like Jablonsky, Zimmer, Elfman, Barr, etc.., I always wanted to ask them how they developed their motifs. The thought process behind how they approached a film to create that common theme that runs from the beginning to the end, yet adding eclectic scene appropriate musical sequences at the same time. The motif is always the most curious part for me.
Brandi, The short answer(s): Multiple Projects. As you gain more credits and experience, you may consider building a team around you to help you with the heavy lifting from time to time. Otherwise, you can prioritize your workflow several different ways. You never want to push a smaller project to the side because everything you work on should be a best effort, however, if a project is with a more successful studio/production company/director that has distribution and "reach",etc... you may want to focus on that one first.
Part 2: If the projects have a similar "tone" to them, you may also consider using templates you can set up in your sequencer. Setting up templates (tracks, sounds, effect plug ins, etc) in advance can greatly reduce your time getting started (you may have a few orchestral templates, hybrid score templates, pop templates, etc...). The best advice I can offer is to know your strengths and limitations. Weigh and assess each project before saying "yes" so you don't end up under delivering. Your reputation is as valuable as the work you do. Re: quick delivery, that requires many all nighters and (speed) comes with time! I hope this helps!
Bruce, Here is one approach utilized by Michael Giacchino: “I always thought of Lost as a psychotic opera,” Giacchino says. “Because there were so many characters, it was important for me to track them with themes.” By the end of season one, Giacchino had individual motifs for nearly every character who graced the screen. In later seasons, factions emerged that called for their own cues. Season four's "There's No Place Like Home" started as a sound for the Oceanic Six and wiggled its way into subsequent seasons' emotional moments. The tune is representative of Giacchino's methodology: Watch the episode, play the music that makes sense. “[Lost taught me] how to be quick, be fast, don't overthink things, go with your gut, and get it done as efficiently and properly as [I] can,” he says. Giacchino didn't discuss musical ideas with J.J. Abrams or anyone on the show — there wasn't time. For “There's No Place Like Home” and its repeated use, it was hitting the notes, orchestrating, then sending off for recording. “I could do anything I wanted. I had a lot of freedom to do what I wanted to do. There was no time.” There are many different approaches from individual characters
to the overall theme of the story/film (also place, time, etc... can play a part). My personal approach is to dig deep and find the real story (an example given by Giacchino was should he approach Star Trek as a space movie or a movie about two best friends on a mission?). Thanks for asking! Hope this was enlightening. Inspiration comes from unlikely places and I am sure if you asked each of the composers you mentioned that question, you would receive that many different answers.
Timothy, that was awesome! Thanks man. I love input like that. It really helps me to grow creatively. That's excellent insight.
I'm not a musician, so my wish would be to learn the soft skills. Becoming the "go-to guy" to a world class director is like walking on the moon. I'd love to learn the soft skills of how a world class composer builds a career-long partnership with a world class director. Especially during high stress times like the post-production of a big summer film. Those are soft skills I could use anywhere.
Great thread. I would like to ask how composers how to keep your music sounding fresh. I find it challenging to keep my music from always "sounding like me". It is sort of the "wherever you go, there you are" situation.
I try to keep my music sounding fresh my constantly listening to all kinds of new material. New soundtracks, new composers, and also all kinds of genre's of music. I guess I'm a bit of a music freak anyways.
how to be consistently and highly paid.
Agreed Regina! When I think of soft skills I think of the emotional IQ of a person. Someone's ability to find a genuine commonality with someone else. For me, my relationships have developed by truly just being extremely service oriented, delivering early, doing revisions as needed promptly, getting deeply involved in the directors vision and putting my all into a realizing a project... but mostly just being myself really seems to make the working environment so much more productive and positive. I am affable and I really love what I do so perhaps that passion along with being truly friendly helps. I've seen tense situations in post but realized very quickly that it was just the working style of a director or the stress from the director being through the entire process and almost there... Soon afterwards, they want to hang out
or discuss new projects. It can't be that way with everyone, but I would like to think that people are excited about my work on their films and that it somehow made their job(s) easier (worry free) and that because of that, they can trust me with their future projects. Again, it can't always be this way, but isn't it so much nicer to work with people you trust and actually like? :) Thoughts?
Brian, I agreed with Bruce but also see nothing wrong with having an identifiable sound composition wise. Balance seems to be the key because no matter who you listen to or try to emulate it is still coming through your filter and sensibilities. Embrace it but develop it.
Hey Timothy, to be reductive, I think some people are lucky enough to be supremely talented/skilled, others supremely dedicated, others supremely passionate, and others supremely gifted in interpersonal skills. The few people who are blessed with all those traits will rise to the top of their pursuits. For the most part, I know where I'm strong and where I'm weak (sigh). I also think once you've built personal and professional trust, you start to give each other the benefit of the doubt in almost every situation. But man, that relationship-building is tricky when there are deadlines, skepticism, doubts, competition, etc. Which make the soft skills that any department head must possess to gain trust from his boss and his team so vital.
It's funny because relationships are tricky sometimes But for me, mostly, I be myself, treat people with respect, tell them when I DON'T know something, and deliver what I say I will deliver. I can only keep my side of the street clean, and that's what I try to do.
Regina, I couldn't have put it any better...
Bruce, Whenever I don't know something I always say "I don't have an answer now BUT please let me find that out for you". Then I make sure I find out! :)
Brandi, I'll be addressing this in the webinar but in short ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have a contract.
Timothy and Bruce, if only all conversation were so warm and generous!! I'm not a big user of the "good vibes" expression, but yeah, good vibes!
Matt, The devaluation of music has become a frightening trend. I'll be addressing this in my webinar on July 18th but it's really about knowing your value and what you can bring to a project. There are many other factors as well...
Truly Regina... I don't want to say "good vibes" either but... yes!
It is a great conversation. I'm a huge energy person, and I can feel the good energy coming from this.