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Member Since 10 Sep 2008
Offline Last Active Sep 20 2008 04:37 PM

#4312257 Starting your career as a composer-sound designer (FAQ and answers)

Posted by on 11 September 2008 - 01:18 PM


This is a good point. Sure anyone can make music in their bedroom, but the truth is that most of it is very bland, ordinary, and sounds like a copy of some well-known music made by someone in a bedroom with no budget and half the skill. Orchestral music is some of the easiest to spot in this case. A trained ear can instantly hear someone's skill and experience when they write orchestral music either on a sequencer or record it live (and it has little to do with the quality of the samples). A non-trained ear may not be as critical, but it can instantly recognize the superior product when two tracks are compared.

Having the tools to make music doesn't make someone a decent composer any more than buying a hammer and saw makes you a carpenter. Anyone can pound a nail, but I wouldn't want just anyone building my house. As Madsen has stressed there is a lot of skill and learning involved in becoming a good musician. Someone who has put in those years of effort is much less likely to want to work for free, but that person probably won't sound like the free composer either!

When I pointed out the bedroom studios, I should've mentioned that in the current digitally-packed world, being a musician is different then before. If you can still pull off live-recordings, then you're golden. But these days, everyone does music composition on electronic equipments or software. "Composing", is only a minor part to music arrangement. Producing is the major part. It's a common misconception to think that higher quality samples = producing. Like muzo said, samples play very little in producing. Game developers and film directors can only go as far as hearing that high quality sound, as opposed to how well the mix actually is. That means anyone can sound awesome to the director/developers. It's not hard for anyone to run their midi music through these softwares, get a domain, slap on a banner that says [name], composer for TV/Film/Game and "join" this industry. So it doesn't matter if you have 10 years training spent in RCM institute, if you are willing to do digital music composition, then you need to learn how to produce, mix, tweak, master your sound.

Good analogy with the carpentry. Which is why I don't ever call myself a composer, because I think it's an joke/insult to the big guys. A suitable title is a "musician" who composes... It's a silly thing to think but that's how I'll show my respect for them. Not everyone deserves the "composer" title. My analogy had always been that just because you cook doesn't make you a chef. What would the world be when people can call themselves chef just because they can make instant noodles. And no, cooking is not a common knowledge either, some people don't cook at all. I also don't believe in the variant degrees of level like "amateur" or "professional" composer. You're either one or not. Digital music composition is not an art anymore, it's a skill. And it requires more than you can imagine. You do NOT need the "composer" title to be hired to work on projects, what matters the most is the demo's and samples.

I realize how very demotivating my posts can be (rendering the original topic useless)... don't be. They're just subjective opinions and suggestions.

[Edited by - Kaiyoti on September 11, 2008 7:18:35 PM]

#4311183 Starting your career as a composer-sound designer (FAQ and answers)

Posted by on 10 September 2008 - 01:00 AM

Original post by ndatxcod
Great tips, I was wondering which books about composing/arranging theory you would recommend.

I think composers at first should be willing to work for free on projects to get experience and to put their name out there so you can point and say "there I made the music of that game".

Having said that I'm looking for some music for my project [grin] <evil laugh>.

These are great tips, however, I do think that the common fallacy that most music composers is that as soon as they think they have the ability to make music, they want to be in the industries. Hopefully I don't offend anyone, but there are people with years of professional experience but still create terrible material. Experience doesn't mean everything. Even before trying to "work for free", composers should really spend some time just learning and building that custom trademark sound. Really, I'd hate to see good games with low budgets ruined with poor music production values. Most established composers today (people like... Jeremy Soule, Jesper Kyd, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Trevor Rabin, etc) have their signature style. Unless you're just doing it for the money, then disregard that point.

I'm not remotely a professional music arranger (I refrain from calling myself a composer because I believe that's only reserved for the people who are the real deal) but so far, I've never really had to sell myself, if you have some sort of profile up somewhere (soundclick, ctgmusic, myspace, etc...) people will generally discover you. I've had quite a bit of people requesting music for various projects. What have I learned from this? I prefer making my personal music tracks... because it's more flexible and creative, and you learn better. Most projects have certain requirements on the type of music you create, which limits you to that freedom. If I can work with a project, it's great, but I prefer ones without the tight deadlines. I like to think that ever track I do, I'm making progress towards my custom sound.

People are usually worried about building up those "credits" section in their portfolio or resume and just getting their names in projects as opposed to actually making some good music. If you're a director for a movie or game, and you're looking to hire some musician, you'll probably be more concerned about the person's style rather than what the person "can" do. For instance, I certainly don't think someone like Hans Zimmer would ever do a space sci-fi movie or a western cowboy film (although those would be interesting).

Composers probably won't like my post very much since my opinion may insult or challenge people's abilities... but to my defense, this is simply a matter of opinion. I have no intention of becoming a full-time composer (not anytime soon anyway) so my ideals probably only work for me.

[Edited by - Kaiyoti on September 10, 2008 7:00:11 AM]