Scoring For Film - The Composer Dynamic

With the modern world being largely visual in associating anything with music, there is something to be said for a composer's skill set to work with visuals, such as with scoring for film, whether it be short film, or a full blown production. Having the skills to create great music is just one facet in the arena of scoring.

Being apt, efficient, and to create something on-the-fly for a director is paramount. Also, having an environment of technology that provides quick turnaround on submitted stems is necessary. I find that remaining in midi till time of render, as an example, increases the possibility of an idea being utilized.

In the process of working with a director, cuts and adjustments to any given scene can be challenging to keep up with and thus it is important to be fluid with this scenario. In remote work with directors, communication breakdown occurs more often than not & re-do's become problematic or a large portion of work ends up not being utilized.  Always pay attention to the director/producer guidelines!

What is also important is listening to reference material the director provides. Having a keen sense of how to compose around dialogue is also key. Any of you composers scoring for film/documentaries? Would love to have your input.

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  • I checked out all three links. The music does seem to me to fit well into the visuals, particularly in the case of Full Circle, although I couldn't quite understand what the plot was on that one. Your scores also seem to fit in with the modern pattern of scores consisting of long drawn out walls of low sounds that slowly build over time, something I first noticed in the Law and Order TV show, but which now seems to be everywhere on TV and in movies. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks! I will circle back after I've had a look -

  • Actually here is the full short film for "Full Circle" which is available for viewing!

  • Hey Gav, currently the full films are not available to the public.

    However, the teasers, which I co-wrote the music on as well are found at the following links:

    These films are currently being entered into several film festivals at this time.

    For "Full Circle", the director had a clear picture of what he wanted musically behind his film.  I'd say 40% of what was written ended up in the final.

    For "Telephone", it was a challenging process working with footage that changed duration in several scenes as we were scoring for it.  Multiple rewrites, creating alternate stems, thus multiple Cubase sessions for any given passage.   I'd say Illumine utilized 30% of what we actually created.  This is usually the case that occurs in that a director will want more options on the "get-go" then narrow down on the final stems.  The films will eventually be available over the internet but it will be at least a half-year.

    It can be a tedious process, but with whom I was working on the score with made it fun and we only yelled at each other once or twice lol.

  • Hi Bongo John, I have done a little of this and know what you mean about how the music has to both tie-into and at the same time not overwhelm the visuals. I'd go so far as to say it is a separate category of composition unto itself (especially incidental music as opposed to titles, which can more be whole pieces). You are obviously more experienced at working in a professional context than I am, I only did it for small independent works. I'd be interested if you have a story about a particular work you did, the challenges you faced with working with the director to get them what they wanted and of course the end result with visual if you have it somewhere where we can see it!


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