well, now that I've got your attention: :)

I've been at it for 35 years and have lived through more than one catastrophic, disruptive period while still making the music as best i know how.

Here's an open invitation...I'm happy to share anything about the process i can to be helpful. I won't talk about how to get a job....that's for you to figure out.

Just send me a note and i'll do the best i can to answer honestly..

I'm curious to see what's one your mind.

best,

CB

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Replies

  • Hi Chris, firstly I just want to say welcome to Composers' Forum and thank you for such a generous offer.

    How early do you normally get involved in a movie and are you often writing themes before you actually see any footage?
  • James Semple said:
    Hi Chris, firstly I just want to say welcome to Composers' Forum and thank you for such a generous offer.

    How early do you normally get involved in a movie and are you often writing themes before you actually see any footage?
  • good question James. At what stage i get involved in a project is solely dependent upon my relationship with the director. If i'm working with someone I've worked with before then I am usually involved prior to principal photography. If I am working for a new director I come on board later (after a director's cut) only because the process of selecting a composer is long and arduous due to the number of people involved in the decision.
    Personally I think sooner is better. Otherwise I have to play catch up to the common history created during the production process.
    Does that help?
  • Every project is different. Choice of music in film is the director's call. He/she is the final judge...or, in the case of a film in trouble, whoever is writing the check.
    Budgetary issues are the prime concern in the case of most films. With that in mind someone, the film editor, music editor, music supervisor will make music suggestions, temp mix cues for the director's review with the final decision resting with the director.



    Fredrick zinos said:
    Thank you Chris, Very generous of you. FIrst to say I personally have no pretensions of making a living as a film composer but I am curious about who makes the selection about what chunk of music fits a given sequence on screen. Especially if the music comes from a library of orchestral or other inputs. For the car chase scene, there are probably a million background scores that are aimed to amp up an action sequence.. who chooses the music and I guess more important, what is the criteria if there is one.. or is it just a neanderthal grunt on the part of one or more director: "me like" - "me no like"
  • How did/do you write scores that contain a big load of instruments while using no software or anything of modern techniques to rehearse?
    I can imagine using a piano and write stuff for different instuments by imagining how it would sound on a certain instrument, but this must be quite hard since dynamics and characteristics of most instruments are different.

    I also wonder how long does it take to write a score of about let us say 4 minutes for someone like you.

    Thanks!
  • Great questions!
    1- My training began prior to the advent of personal computers. no joke. All I had was a piano and a growing library of sounds stored in my mind. It was a LOT of hard work over many years (read "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell). Just because you can't physically hear dynamics or articulations we were all trained to hear these nuances in our minds. It's just the way it was done and what was expected of you. For example: in 1983 I worked as an arranger on a summer show at Radio City Music Hall. I wrote hundreds of pages of score with my mentor/partner Billy Byers while being camped out at the Hotel Edison off of Times Square. I never once had a piano to refer to...written in a quiet room...paper and pencil.

    Never forget that writing for samples is different than writing for human beings! Just because you have a great sounding sample a performance by a human will always be different. Without the knowledge of the orchestra you will never capture the true nature of a live performance in your work.

    Back in the day you were hired on credibility and experience. Trust played a huge role! Remember, because there were no mockups expectations were different. Having a meeting with a film maker and a piano was the norm. The first time I experienced synth mockups was on "The Color Purple". Q called them "Polaroids".

    A 4 minute cue?
    All depends on how much time I'm given and what the nature of the piece. Usually I use every minute available. hehe

    For example: last week I did a 30 second commercial. I composed, arranged, programmed and mixed it all my self. It took about 7 hours. An action cue for a Banderas movie (done in the same fashion) that was about 6 minutes long took about 3 days.
    If there was a budget for help I could subcontract some of these tasks. It just depends.

    That being said...the more you do it the easier it is to find shortcuts. The biggest help for me is to mix it in midi as I go. This reduced time spent printing and doing a final mix (reverbs, panning, eq etc.)



    Thomas Van Beeck said:
    How did/do you write scores that contain a big load of instruments while using no software or anything of modern techniques to rehearse?
    I can imagine using a piano and write stuff for different instuments by imagining how it would sound on a certain instrument, but this must be quite hard since dynamics and characteristics of most instruments are different.

    I also wonder how long does it take to write a score of about let us say 4 minutes for someone like you.

    Thanks!
    everything you ever wanted to know about music in film...
    well, now that I've got your attention: :) I've been at it for 35 years and have lived through more than one catastrophic, disruptive
  • Wow, thanks alot for your answer, really interesting!

    I've got some more:
    - Do you listen to other music while composing for inspiration?

    - Which orchestral instruments can you play and what would you suggest to a composer?
    I probably am going to learn to play violin, just for the sake of understanding it better and because it is fun ofcourse.

    - What are your thoughts when composing/way of working out something?
    for example: I try to find some nice chords and build around them alot.
    On the other hand I always try to keep in mind to do unexpected things like a drastic climax change and build towards it just a few seconds before it starts.
    What I also try when figuring out some nice chords: some chords don't sound nice after eachother, but finding a third one after it can make it totally different and sound really nice. This is kind of hard to explain but I think you get the idea.
  • only have a minute so i will make this brief:
    - I only listen to other music when I'm asked to do something I've never done before. That being said temp scores are actually a great way to enhance the communication between filmmaker and composer

    -My very first orchestration teacher made a career out of writing concert band music for different grade levels. He said: "ALWAYS know how every note you write is fingered (and at what grade level). Fabulous advice really. I know which trills to avoid on the flute, clarinet, which double stops are possible on string instruments, leaps that are tough on brass instruments, ranges of all the instruments etc. Remember you are dealing with the idiosyncracies of the instrument you are writing for....not just key on key off information. If you do this your players will be eternally grateful. It's called "learning the language of the orchestra"

    -for me it's all about melody and counterpoint...anyone can plunk out a few chords. it takes skill to be in control of a contrapuntal piece of music...think bach

    -music, and all storytelling, is about beginning middle and end. a chord only has meaning if there is context surrounding it...where you were before and where you are leading to.

    BTW- I am a pianist. I play the guitar also. But, I can make sounds on all the saxes, flutes, trpt, trb, and french horn. I can finger everything that i write for strings...
    key on key off...is just the tip of the iceberg....the instruments of the orchestra are truly amazing and diverse. That's why it has survived for hundreds of years.

    good luck



    Thomas Van Beeck said:
    Wow, thanks alot for your answer, really interesting!

    I've got some more:
    - Do you listen to other music while composing for inspiration?

    - Which orchestral instruments can you play and what would you suggest to a composer?
    I probably am going to learn to play violin, just for the sake of understanding it better and because it is fun ofcourse.

    - What are your thoughts when composing/way of working out something?
    for example: I try to find some nice chords and build around them alot.
    On the other hand I always try to keep in mind to do unexpected things like a drastic climax change and build towards it just a few seconds before it starts.
    What I also try when figuring out some nice chords: some chords don't sound nice after eachother, but finding a third one after it can make it totally different and sound really nice. This is kind of hard to explain but I think you get the idea.
    everything you ever wanted to know about music in film...
    well, now that I've got your attention: :) I've been at it for 35 years and have lived through more than one catastrophic, disruptive period while st…
  • Thanks for the thought. You know....that's what I thought the job was? Writing for the specific instruments. Nice to hear from you. Check out my blog: www.chrisboardman.wordpress.com
    Cheers

    CB



    Lisa Smolen said:
    -My very first orchestration teacher made a career out of writing concert band music for different grade levels. He said: "ALWAYS know how every note you write is fingered (and at what grade level). Fabulous advice really. I know which trills to avoid on the flute, clarinet, which double stops are possible on string instruments, leaps that are tough on brass instruments, ranges of all the instruments etc. Remember you are dealing with the idiosyncracies of the instrument you are writing for....not just key on key off information. If you do this your players will be eternally grateful. It's called "learning the language of the orchestra"

    Thank you, Chris, for pointing this out. Just because something can be played into a computer on a keyboard doesn't necessarily mean that an oboist or flutist can do it. There aren't many things to avoid, but they need to be considered for a reason - though a skilled professional can usually play whats on the page, but a some cost to facility.

    There are too many "composers" out there now who have no clue how to play any instrument of the orchestra and yet try to write for the medium.

    We always enjoy playing the music of someone who knows what our tools can do.
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