Music Composers Unite!
Are we selling ourselves out?
I've written music since about 1979. I did not know anyone else who did it: I had no support. Paper and pencil & an upright piano that cost $75. Things got more expensive, but always within thrifty reason. Music was cheaper than painting, in those days.
Then, in the 1990s, I purchased Finale, and a digital harpsichord, and a Proteus Orchestral sequencer. All consternating, and a waste of money. I wrote stuff - which now sits in a box. It will never be looked at again. The entire set-up (with PC) came to over $2,000.
After 1999, I have had no more of high technology in music. But I paid attention enough to see that all that I bought was worthless. I went underground for a while.
In 2007, I decided to have fun with video. It started as an exhilerating hobby. I found YouTube, and made lots of dumb vloggy things: few survived my mood swings. I'm hot on the delete button.
I decided that I had a new use for music: I could play in "public" - and I could play my own compositions. If I got 100 views that might be more than a real concert attendance. In a way, that strategy worked. YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo are all free. The cost was in the cameras, and some editing software. My ambition led me to spend $1000, at least. Over 3 years, it has really been more like $3000 for video/recording stuff.
So I have decent mics, and a good prosumer HD camcorder. A good laptop. And then, I discovered composers on the Internet. Digital orchestras still sound horrible, for the most part. But those who spend a little extra, or have the latest, and spend time tweaking the scores: the sound is almost useful for a personal filmscore. I became enchanted.
[I almost don't notice that I pay $50 per month for cable Internet.]
If I choose to "upgrade" and buy notation software and the rest, I will be spending a lot of time and money. And it makes me awfully nervous. Part of me pulls away - and I fantasize about going Offline. Just check my email at the public library, a few times a week.
More important to me than whether I buy anything: who benefits from the expense? And how creative is it really, after all? Using someone else's algorithms...
Why do I need to write for orchestra? Who seduced me into that fantasy?
The costs will never end: and they will remain at the top shelf of what we can afford - we, the average. Upgrades are a must. But worse: I am annoyed that so few composers, videographers, photographers, musicians have even noticed that they are in perpetual debt.
Finale, Sibelius, Garritan, Adobe, Windows, Apple - they don't care a fig for my produce. They care that I remain addicted to their product. And addicted to a dream. Costly - unnecessarily costly.
There are cheaper ways to do this. For now, I write for piano, or organ, with paper/pencil. I play my own works. I use free publishers, like YouTube. If I was so wonderful, I would have been discovered 20 years ago. I lost some money: corporations won it. But they will not get everything.
How expensive is composition supposed to be?
Replies are closed for this discussion.
The only possible cure for this is some authoritative and professional body, not financially driven, that criticises, promotes good music, and labels it into genres for better accessibility by public. Somewhat Music Academy.
I very much agree with your points there Michael. I do feel in the media world that polished productions are currently easier to pitch than good music. I even hear composers like James Horner talking about erducing the 'orchestral flourish' in his writing and I'm disappointed by it.
Hey I see you are in London. Would you be interested in coming along to the get-together in October?
I think I come somewhere in between the two extremes of this discussion. The people I want to sell music to are only interested in the score, and that's it........... or so they say.
When I was at university and we were given an essay or dissertation to complete, it was accepted that we could hand in handwritten work (as opposed to word-processed work). However, somebody close to me made light of the fact that although the various professors who mark the work say that handwritten work is perfectly permissible, they may subconsciously mark up work that is better presented and easier to read, even if they don't mean to.
When I render my work into audio format (comparitively economically to a lot of composers), I can honestly say that I do it for myself to listen to, not only for my own personal pleasure, but also to make adjustments necessary to fulfil my satisfaction that the standard of music is high. However, when I have finally notated it to the very best of my ability and I am happy that the visual work is as perfect as I can possibly make it. I will submit an audio recording of it to accompany the score, as I am well aware of the above analogy concerning "word-processed" homework.
By the way Michael. That's a great quote from Holst: 'Never compose anything unless the not composing of it becomes a positive nuisance to you'. It sums me up.
Sorry Michael, I do not completely understand what exactly is a mad lie here. Maybe I am a bit naive. I agree a professional committee can be biased. But it's exactly the bias and madness of money made Zimmer produce this loud track for "Inception", which is as precise, technologically proficient and expressive as a water-flash device in a toilet. For a professional committee, which evaluates music, to be biased towards money only is much much worse than "making a value judgement on music that is informed by its own prejudice".
As the result we have these crowds of people shaking their bodies and belching under dull music loops of ideal mechanical quality. Welcome to the world of loud inexpensive music loops, available to milions for 1 cent or even for free. Farewell Bach, Beethoven Shostakovich, Stravinsky, whose music needs a Music Academy for promotion and explanation!