Composing

Discuss, share content, offer tips and advice on hardware, software, style, strategies, process, work-flow and the business of scoring a film, video or theater production

Joel Irwin
Multiple Composers - One Film

Here is something possibly controversial that we may not all agree on. Today I was talking to a filmmaker about a potential project he wants me to score. Partway through the conversation, he mentioned he uses multiple composers in a film and chooses between cues for each place. I told him (especiall...

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Richi Carter

I agree with you Joel. The only times I could understand this happening, is if the film requires a really niche piece of music, such as a Dubstep track, or an 80s Metal Song etc. Otherwise I don't see...

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Rods Bobavich

This is a new production style that we see everywhere. Asking artists to speculate for work is degrading to the artform. However, it's a truism that this is happening more and more...

If you have to ge...

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Tomasz Mieczkowski

Sounds strange to me. If there's a composer duo or something like that, it's fine, but I think you'd be able to tell if music changes from one composer to another. :)

Rods Bobavich

Yup. Sometimes two voices of music can work though. Like if you're in two different times. Or if you're trying to wildly contrast perspectives. But even then there should be communication and transparency.

James T. Sale

This process is the sign of a half-assed director. So your instincts are correct. Don't do it. I wouldn't do it even if getting paid. When you're a ghost-writer and part of a team it's unavoidable but even then, it creates myriad problems.

Joel Irwin
No Music

We talk about how music is used to support the action of the film.  But there are certainly places where no music is needed.  In fact, I personally have scored two films in the last year where not only did the scene not require any music, but the scene didn't have any dialog either.  In one case, th...

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The Birds (1963) - IMDb
The Birds (1963) - IMDb
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette. A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that…
Brian Alan DeLaney

I think that many composers, especially newer ones, can be very heavy-handed. Not every scene needs music, and not every scene that needs music needs music in your face.

Christopher McDonell
How do you approach scoring a feature?

I directed a feature-length documentary and have just hired a relatively fresh composer. It’s my second time going through this process but the first was many, many years ago. I’d appreciate hearing how composers generally craft their score and collaborate with the director. I’ve asked my composer t...

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Brian Alan DeLaney

I personally love reading scripts and getting a feel for what kind of themes and moods I want from that. If I get something in pre-production I will usually write some preliminary tracks to show the d...

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Geoff Koch

It depends on the preferences of the director. I've worked on scores where the director knows what he wants every moment down to the note and instrument, to one where he has no clue what he wants, to...

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Christopher McDonell

Thanks Geoff and Brian (I didn't see your response come in 3 weeks ago). I'm finding the temp music is helpful in establishing tone and tempo, and general mood. But the first composer I demoed (paid a...

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Leonard Wolf

I agree with both Brian and Geoff - It's great to read the script and present my ideas early but tempscore by the director can be very helpful too. Here's my basic advice to you as a director that you...

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Srdjan Todorovic
Thematic short movies without sound?

Hello Stage 32 as music composer been thinking: ok we are composing music and it might be used for some kind of picture motion (read movie). Q: Is there any thematic short movies without sound so we can use it for fulfill with sound. Just in opposite way. No music for movie, but movie for music...

Joel Irwin

To be honest, your question is somewhat confusing for me. Those creating short films, are often on a very small or no budget at all. If they use music at all, they go for 'creative commons' or some lo...

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Srdjan Todorovic

Joel, thank you for advice.

FilmCon Hollywood
Film Con 2018

Join Los Angeles’s most interactive and exciting film convention

Register now at https://www.filmconhollywood.com/register-now/ use promo code filmcon30

Joel Irwin

hmmm.... don't see the connection with film composing... looks like just like a promotion.

Beth Fox Heisinger

It's a Stage 32 event posted in all sections. See banner at the top of the site. And here's the S32 blog post: https://www.stage32.com/blog/Filmcon-Hollywood-2018. ;)...

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Steven Harris Anzelowitz
Favorite Music Score of all time and why?

Just curious. Maybe because Sunday are the Oscars/.

Joel Irwin

The most awarded musical of all time - 10 Oscars in all (I think it is one four or is it five films to ever get 10 or more Oscars).... West Side Story. Nuff said....

Fred Emory Smith

ET. Well for me its more personal as its a film I enjoyed watching over and over again as I kid. But the melodic themes are just incredible!

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

thanks

Shara Maude

Trevor Jones for The Dark Crystal.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Thanks.

Francisco Casals
How much in advance Music Composers want to be involved in a film project?

I'm a director and writer currently on development of my debut feature. As I understand, soundtrack composition starts in post-production during or after the first cut. However, I want to get involved in my team composers that love the story of the script and that I know that their creativity emanat...

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Francisco Casals

THANK YOU Joel Irwin , Allen Lynch and Jonathan Price for your feedback!!! As a multidiscipliinary artist I have always loved music as an artistic vehicle, as an emotional expression but also fascinat...

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Joel Irwin

I am being hired to write music to support the action - very specific action at various points. The music needs to add to tension or surround and envelope you when two people kiss. These hit points ca...

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Jonathan Price

I think you'd find a lot of composers that are comfortable with both scoring to picture and scoring from a script. The latter is similar to composing a tone poem or an opera.

Wesley Lawrence Curry II

This is really a question most thought of well before you asked it. I simply (internally) demand a chance to work with a director on not just the 'tones' and arrangements of an original score....but s...

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Joel Irwin

Wesley - just to quickly diverge - studying and listening to composers from before say 1970 is very important to any serious music creative. And many people who paid attention to say Bernard Hermann,...

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Joel Irwin
Afflict The Comfortable

I walked in my first composition class of the semester today really upbeat.  Since the end of the Spring semester, I scored 7 films (one never released) and of those 6 released, one won 'best score', one was nominated for 'best score', and the documentary I scored won for 'Best Documentary'.  I deci...

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Ronald Atkinson

Great advice! And some of those comments sound a lot like what my composition professor would say!

Kerry Kennard

Though, you won. Yes, still good advice to listen to others. I heard a good critique of one piece at Mix Me / FB group.

Russ Whitelock

One of the hardest (to hear) yet the best piece of advice given me was - "Beautiful theme BUT WAY OVER USED"! I tend to weave the central theme throughout the film in various ways and with different o...

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Wesley Lawrence Curry II

I am brutishly cadenza'd, Joel. And....a little bit confused, I got a message (I think from you, please forgive me if I am incorrect) from you on icomposition and haven't found the piece you spoke abo...

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Joel Irwin

hmm... i looked through all my private messages back four years and did not see anything with you. The full score referred in this post above was for "The Last Command" which premiered last Aug in LA...

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Dara Taylor
Oscars

Hi Everyone! It's been a while since I've posted. Who does everyone think is going to snag the oscar for best original score this year? What scores do you think were snubbed?

Linwood Bell

I sure hope Keala has a great performance of This is Me. She use to sing jing for me. What a little powerhouse she is. Always sings it like she means it, as you should.

Dara Taylor

I too think that Desplat will probably win, but I'm rooting for Burwell.

Allen Lynch

Dara, I usually root for the underdog. Hey Linwood! Who do you think will take it this year? When did Keala sing for you?

Linwood Bell

I'm with you guys with Desplat. I listen to it often, but still haven't seen the movie. I need to get out more!! It's been a long time since I've seen/worked with Keala. Like 15 years or so. Of course...

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Jonathan Price

+1 Desplat

Jim Defalco
Royalty Free sites

I'm a filmmaker and I've used royalty free music sites, as well as a composer for my projects. I was wondering what sites anyone can recommend for quality royalty free music.

Also, what would the going rate be to score an eight minute short film that would only need a 4 minute track? In the past I h...

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Joel Irwin

The rates vary on many factors including things like who owns the copyright, whether the film will generate any income, and the geography to name just a few.

Now I do something quite controversial - I...

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Daniel Latteo
Allen Lynch

Great piece Daniel. Thanks for sharing.

Daniel Latteo

You are welcome Allen. BTW great body of work you have accomplished so far.

Joel Irwin
Try A Short Score

We all work on many sized projects when we write music.  For those of us who concentrate on shorts and features, we often write a significant amount of music  - often over 100 bars.  That gives us enough time to create a 'motif' or a 'mood' and we often get to 'develop' the music and have it both te...

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Jonathan Price

Yeah, I think trailers can be an opportunity to get to the heart of a project. I scored the trailer for INOPERABLE (https://soundcloud.com/jonathanprice/inoperable-trailer) before seeing the movie. I...

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Linwood Bell

That was great Jonathan! I had to turn my headphones down because I was frightened.

Dana Solomon

At that point with what you're doing, you're pretty much scoring a trailer. Difference however, is that you're composing to a picture that's already locked, in your case. Normally with a trailer, it's...

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