Work Method – What’s Yours?

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  • #35562 Reply
    Dreamuse
    Participant

    I think for this discussion, I’ve been driving at what is more likely to be the number of tracks translating to more time. If you’re a great pianist, a complex piano piece could have more note density than the 30 track orchestral piece. Assuming the inspiration for either piece takes the same amount of time–and yes, that can be a big assumption, but let’s assume for the moment–then the rest of the time is spent implementing the idea. You could spend a good amount of time tweaking individual piano notes, but chances are the time spent finding the right strings for the right parts, complete with articulation control, and mixing everything together to be believable is gonna generally take longer. No, one isn’t better than the other from a personal artistic point of view. But we’re in business, and so if we make a 2nd assumption–that there’s an equal market for both, than the piano’s the winner for me. This 2nd assumption of course is a huge one, as we also have to look at where you’re placing, market saturation of a given genre, etc… I’m just trying to compare apples to oranges as best as I can. 🙂

    #35563 Reply
    johnnyboy
    Participant

    More so than being placed, I want to be proud of everything I compose. I don’t want any of my music, that I’m not proud of, being heard.

    #35564 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    Film composers on A level films generally kick out 6-8 minutes of music a day – including meetings and phone calls. If they don’t they fall behind and will get fired. And that is “to picture”. The difference – they often have a “team” helping them. Someone to mix, someone to orchestrate.

    The trick in writing “professionally” is to successfully split the difference between the “artist” mentality and the “crank it out” mentality. Both are absolutely necessary to reach a truly professional level of achievement.

    All that said….in retrospect after having a couple thousand + tracks in my catalog (not counting incalculable film cues), the “complex” over the top time consuming tracks never get used as much as well crafted simpler ones. It might just be the paradigm that I fell into, but it held true with film cues I’ve written to picture as well when I had to interface directly with other composers, directors and producers. We are not here to make artistic statements, but instead to support the story line and picture – and quite often, that requires backing off musically. That may be the hardest lesson to learn…..

    #35565 Reply
    johnnyboy
    Participant

    “We are not here to make artistic statements, but instead to support the story line and picture – and quite often, that requires backing off musically. That may be the hardest lesson to learn…” – LA writer

    I’d like to think both can be achieved LA. But yes, composing to film, is a bit different. But, it’s possible to think of the entire soundtrack artistically. The sum of all the parts could be the masterpiece.

    Best, John 🙂

    #35566 Reply
    LAwriter
    Participant

    Yes, I agree completely – to throw artistic creativity out the window is dumb and ultimately short sighted. But if one weights the “artistic” part of the equation heavier than the “support” part of the equation, you see the same story over and over and over. “The director doesn’t understand”, “the remix engineer is ruining my music”, “the producer won’t get on board”, etc.. I’ve seen it in my own attitudes and career, and I continually see it in guys starting out over and over and over. For those who disagree, maybe check out Hans’ thoughts on the concept.

    Composers who get hired back over and over and over, production music writers whose music gets sought out over and over and over are the ones who take the “artistic” high road at all costs” concept, and put it squarely BEHIND the effort to create a better story line, create better and more appropriate music for editors, etc..

    IME, it’s just the way it is. If that doesn’t sit well, then perhaps leaving production music for the avenue of being an “artist” is a better fit.

    And writing for a library is no different ultimately than writing directly for picture. We are here to serve the story, serve the director, serve the producer – not be adored for creative “complexity”, “cleverness” or “genius”.

    Again, not throwing creativity away or being a sell out….the successful find a balance.

    #35567 Reply
    johnnyboy
    Participant

    “And writing for a library is no different ultimately than writing directly for picture. We are here to serve the story, serve the director, serve the producer – not be adored for creative “complexity”, “cleverness” or “genius” – LA

    Yes, and thank goodness there are many, many stories. I did a virtual orchestral track about a decade ago. Some musicians on a musician thread, said it didn’t make sense, that I should study theory, and that the music will never be placed. About two months later the music was placed and Marty Peters gave it a 5-Star rating for Recording Magazine. He said out of the thousands of virtual orchestra recordings they receive, mine was the best. Wow, did that fire me up. So, yes, there are many ears to hear our music, many scenes to consider, and many music supervisors that may or may not want our music.

    John 🙂

    #35568 Reply
    Dreamuse
    Participant

    After spending the vast majority of my career scoring to picture, I can indeed attest to always needing to support the picture. After a fairly short time, I could feel when a score I was doing was “peeling away” from the screen due to overdoing things. I love scoring as there’s always inspiration and direction right in front of you.

    The world of library ALTS requires extended artistic integrity, first in the overall concept, and then extended to ALT mixes. A piano track that’s part of the full mix often needs more notes added for context when one’s creating a Solo verison. I try to keep the ALT possibilities in mind as I write, but the creative process isn’t always a clean one, as we know.

    It’s been interesting to see how many times the ALT versions are used. The editor’s getting hooked by the full, but we indeed need to be aware of our supporting role. This ties into both of your mentioning that we’re not hear to make artistic statements, but rather try to guess the most appropriate ones in future uses.

    #35569 Reply
    johnnyboy
    Participant

    You guys know more than I do about scoring to film. I mostly agree with you. The music has to work with the film. It’s been interesting guys!

    Best, John 🙂

    #35570 Reply
    Dreamuse
    Participant

    Indeed! This is a great place for discussion, and so helpful to hear others’ thoughts on what we spend all this time toiling over. I think LA’S mentioning of tracks that took over the top amout of time hits home. There’ve been times where I’ve written a ton just to get to the central idea, only to remove all kinds of sh*t to get the idea presently cleanly. Some of this is the creative process, but some of it’s probably giving into noodling, as opposed to stepping back, leaving the concept/track alone for a bit, and then coming back and saying “Well then, what am I trying to say?” So we’re back to the conversation of creating several tracks at once, I suppose. Or taking more walks. 🙂

    #35571 Reply
    johnnyboy
    Participant

    Ha, ha… that’s the beauty of these kind of threads – never know where they will lead. So what gets the most placements -:15, :30, :60 minute cues? – just joking.

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