What Style to Compose if You’re Not Submitting to Briefs

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    Hi everyone, I had a general question and I’m sure the answers are all over the place from person to person. How do you decide what styles to compose day in and day out? I’m sure we all hear a track once in a while that inspires us to create something similar/better/variation of it. But what about the times when you’re sick of doing the same few genres and still want to get something recorded? Do you put the tv on and listen for ideas? Do you return to your “roots”? Do you come up with a concept and just roll with it?


    this is a good question man,
    I am often in between.
    Some suggest to focus on one genre, the one is better for you, the one you love and where you think you can do your best. Also, it could be your “trademark” you “brand”, maybe a couple of genre is fine too.
    Others suggest to jump into most different genres you can, to have more chances to get a deal, I guess is not a bad idea but surely every production, in every genre, need to be top notch.
    And usually is very difficult to be an expert on every genre (lucky one who can do that!).
    I am into rock instrumental, I am exploring more orchestral and hybrid but as a rock guitar player that’s the genre I am working on.
    Even once you decided your genre, I think is still not so easy to find the best “structure” for the best library.
    There are some golden rules indeed, but even in just one genre there’s tons of different colours to cover.
    Just my 2 cents, I would focus on a couple of things you can really do at your best,
    best of luck man!

    NY Composer

    You guys have to know what each library is looking for. Some Libs do a lot of Dramedy and some do Indie Pop, etc.

    You guys are also not mentioning if you want to write for royalty free libs or active TV pitching Libs.

    There is eventually a need for everything, from Classical piano to Speed Metal. You have to get a general idea of WHO you are pitching to, then send an email or make a call. You can simply ask what do they need.

    Diversity is the key. IMO, someone who can write a Folk track and then do a Hip Hop and Epic Orchestra, will get further in the business than someone who does just one genre. Look what happened to Dubstep.

    Art Munson

    There is eventually a need for everything, from Classical piano to Speed Metal.

    So true!

    Per Boysen

    Yes, this is a good topic! Over here I tend to focus on the most fun styles to work in. It could be such simple things that I may have switched the Telecaster neck for a long baritone, and then I want to explore that; writing and recording to suite that instrument. I recently achieved a sitar, so ´there’s a whole new paradigm I cannot wait to get at. For a lot of acoustic instruments – sax and flutes in my case – I have picked up very good software for my EWI that allows me to record totally electronically. Not having to put up an acoustic mic, adjust it and await a silent time of the day is worth a lot. 🙂

    I kind of pick a genre that will sound good with the instrument I’m in the mood for that day. That’s a related strategy to how I tune physical string instruments; I set the range and choice strings depending on how the particular instrument sounds best. Like sort of “reverse engineering” the writing and production process to speed it up and have more fun. My all-in-the-box EWI tenor sounds almost exactly as my physical Conn tenor with a metal Otto Link 9 star, so I guess we all have our “voice”, that might be a curse or a blessing depending on what you set out to do.


    This thread is actually making me think about how “Lazy I am”. I write a TON of stuff, and have “A Serious Number of Drives FULL of music I need to go through”..

    But, every time I get a request, I just about never go back through the drives, and end up writing it fresh.

    I am the point now where I might not even write something until I get a Call/Email for it..


    That is one of the things where Interval Theory can help.Composing using Interval theory is independent of Diatonic theory, but can enhance the diatonic system. With just one interval, like a 2 using complimentary interval. For example, a 2 in interval theory means 2 chromatic steps (a C to D). Something intervals do is their complimentary interval added will always equal the number 12. The complimentary is simply by taking the bottom note up an octave, and for a 2, the interval becomes a 10 (i.e., D to C which is 10 chromatic steps). So 2 + 10 = 12. That octave raised C note and the D below is still obviously the same notes as the 2, but the interval distance changed. Even though different, their sound will still compliment each other, but still have a quality that is different.
    T.C. Jones, a Hollywood composer of many years, and composer Frank Hellinger started Music Interval Theory Academy (M.I.T.A.) teaching this method for comping up with ideas on the spot, along with many other methods using interval theory. With what they teach there truly is no way to ever have a problem with things like writer’s block.


    I like this thread! I recently went back to writing for myself when I’m not working on a particular brief or genre. By this I mean writing music I like that is in my comfort zone (music from the heart if you want to get sappy).

    Years ago I tried experimenting with unfamiliar genres to expand my sync opportunities. Well I just sorted my catalog by Total Income and found all those experiments at the bottom of the list, most with a big $0.00. When I listen to those tracks now, I still think they sound ok, but apparently they are not and I don’t even know why.

    Conversely, when I first started in production music I only wrote what I was good at and wanted to write. Those tracks are all at the top of the Total Income list even though the production quality is not very good.

    My conclusion (for now anyway) is when I write for myself, the music has an authenticity which is kind of undefinable. I think the licensor can hear that authenticity even if they don’t know it.


    Hi Alan, I would so agree with that about authenticity.

    Especially when you read Art’s thread about AI constructed music!

    Putting your heart and soul into your compositions still pays off as well as having a thick skin to take the rejections!


    The 80/20 rule works for me. Compose what you are best at and you’ll most likely see better returns with less effort allowing you to increase your output as well imo.


    Thank God Dub Step went away. What an awful genre of music that was.

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