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Apparently, Mr. Spielberg, upon hearing John Williams pecking the Jaws theme on the piano, originally thought it was a joke. A 2-note hook. May we all be so elegant in at least one track of ours.
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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂
Hmmm…I certainly can create a tension cue in a day, but a larger orchestral piece, unless it’s building on repetition, well I wish I could create that quickly.
At the last Production Music Conference, I remember speaking with a pretty well-known composer, and he said it took him 3-4 days. I’m still wondering if there’s a linear relationship. Perhaps the larger cue’s chance of being used in an ad or other higher-dollar placement, increases, and thus pays off.
Johnnyboy, I get your point in terms of quality put forth on both places. Still, I think there can be “best for the time you can allot” for a track, as opposed to the best you can possibly do. If you crank out a track in a day or two and it’s 90% as good as if you had all the time in the world to call it “done”–which may take a week or more–than I’m betting the former’s a better living. Still, I’m trying to figure this out, frankly.
LAwriter, would you mind providing a link of an example of what you consider a fairly complex track? Just curious.
Thanks for your thoughts thus far! I know there’s been wide-ranging debates about exclusive vs non-exclusive, but one thing I’m finding is that while it’s great to be “produced”–as in, it’s usually a better track– it’s of course no skin off the producer’s nose to ask for more polishing in (generally) the exclusive lib’s. This is where I’ve been wondering: I have about 100 slaved-over tracks that are exclusive, when I could have cranked out 500-1000 good tracks by now non-exclusively.
Thus, I forgot to ask in my last entry: Are most of the folks weighing in about non-exclusive tracks, perchance? I’m wired to be a perfectionist, but can rewire and adapt as needed. I’ll always insist on good stuff going out the door, but I’m hearing loud and clear that it doesn’t have to be album quality.
This has been a great discussion! I’ve been more of the one-track (at a time) mind, but have been thinking lately that I need to mix things up, as I’ve noticed the following arc: The initial ideas have usually been fairly easy, but the implementation–especially on larger productions–has almost always been laborious. Still, I soldier through, and by the time I’m mixing, I’m back to liking the concept again. I’ve been too compulsive to let things go, and thus it’s often been a wrestle-to-the-death thing, which hasn’t always felt great. I’ve spent the vast majority of my time scoring to picture, and never had quite this battle. Sounds like stepping away has worked well for others here, so great.
I’ve been usually included on projects that require the bigger sounding productions, and I’ve found the tracks are taking about a week each.
I’m wondering 2 things at this point: Have folks who’ve done both long-and shorter-gestated tracks, have you found in general that you can say the tracks that have taken longer to create have done better than the (most likely) simpler tracks you can crank out in a day? Also, for the guys who are cranking out a track a day, how complex are they? My larger tracks have a lot of layers, but mainly to make them sound rich, as opposed to necessarily complex. I’m not sure, though, that under all the VO, it’s worth the time, other than my pride.
Thanks for your thoughts,
Your particular genre–classical–indeed presents the opportunities (and thus challenge) for longer thematic ideas such that it’s indeed a good idea to check the length for :30 compatibility as you go.
When I’m composing, I’ll indeed write the full-length version, but before committing it, I’ll immediate set to work on the :30. Most of the time, I find I can create a cohesive cutdown so long as I can change the tempo by plus/minute a few BPM. Tempo’s one of those things that while writing feels like a bigger difference as you’re adjusting it then when you have the chance to get away from the track and come back with fresh ears. Once I have the 30’s tempo nailed I’ll use it on the full length and other versions.