Being a composer isn’t just about writing nice tunes. In this new millenium, especially when it comes to media/film composition, a composer’s job description entails everything and anything from knowing how to read and analyze a script to writing for a full symphony orchestra, knowing how to program a synthesizer and being a good mixing engineer. Composers are expected to wear many different hats and wear them well at that. Directors expect to hear demos and mockups that sound as good as—if not better than—the final product, so we have to be producers and engineers. With the constant developments in technology and the breadth of excellent sample libraries available today, standards are constantly rising, so we have to be technologists. Since being a composer, by nature, still seats us squarely in the position of operating as independent contractors, we have to be business savvy and have a handle on finances, scheduling, and accounting as well. The list goes on and on.
Daunting isn’t it? Especially since each of these crafts alone could take a lifetime to master. As we cannot learn and master every harmonization or orchestration or even mixing technique a specialist would know, there must be systems in place to handle the parts where we are forced, either by budget or lack of connection, to handle those for ourselves. And when we ultimately do find ourselves in the enviable position of being able to hire out the necessary parts of production to a team of seasoned specialists, it becomes even more important that we know and understand a little about each area in order to be an effective manager and leader for the team overall.
That’s exactly why we’ve created SCOREcast University (SCU). Through a series of white papers, reference materials, and strategic tools over the next year, SCOREcast University aims to supply you with essential harmony, composition, orchestration and technology understanding to improve the quality of your work and help you take the next steps in building a successful career.
SCU will serve a dual purpose. First, it will be used as a ‘reference room’ which articles from other channels will refer to for further and background information. Second, it will serve as a ‘go-to’ library for easily locating information that would otherwise take you precious time to find.
While often cross-pollinate and not as distinct, there are six phases from the initial idea/concept of a score to the final product, and SCOREcast University will focus on each one through interconnected resource material.
The essential work every composer needs to do before sitting down to write music. Themes such as how to plan your time and your project, how to read a script and ‘interpret’ the director’s words, how to attend a meeting with the director and avoid unpleasant surprises, how to research your project, and how to develop the basic concept for the project will be covered here.
In conjunction with SCOREcast’s Composition channel (spearheaded by Ryan Leach), SCOREcast University will provide you with useful information regarding Tonal, Jazz and 20th Century harmonic devices as well as resources and specifics on turning your themes into full-fledged compositions.
For each orchestral section (strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion) we will provide you with important instrumentation information as well as a variety of techniques and devices you can use to make the most of the orchestral forces you have available.
Aside from expensive sample libraries, the other most important factor in creating realistic mockups is the use of appropriate sequencing techniques. This category will contain resources for everything from sequencing for strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and band instruments, DAW-specific techniques, sample library specifications, blending different libraries, and efficient template set-up.
How to prepare your score and parts either using a notation program or using your DAW’s printout, best practices for working with session musicians, how to run a successful scoring session, how to layer recorded instruments with sample libraries, and much much more… the prep and recording section of SCOREcast University will resource all of these concentrations.
A detailed overview of the basic techniques involved in mixing and mastering your work; how to use panning, EQ, compression and FX to make your productions come alive, mastering techniques for specific genres, etc.
An often neglected but equally important step in the chain of production scoring. This section will contain references designed help you see your project through to completion; specifications for industry standard deliveries, resources for physical or electronic delivery, checklists for dubbing and mixing sessions, cue sheet protocol, after-sales service and more.
In building SCOREcast University, we are putting together the world’s first online repository of resources specifically designed for the orking film music professional. With resources built by the pros in the trenches who are in the trenches everyday in Hollywood and London, we hope that the SCU database will quickly become a go-to tool for you and your team and that it will help you become quicker and more effective as a content provider by handling some of the more technical and mundane tasks that come with with job.
For those of you taking your first steps, SCOREcast University might serve you well as a starting point. For those of you already there, it can help you freshen up your memory. In any case, we hope it will help make your lives easier!
See? Life doesn’t have to be so hard!
SCOREcast University launches February 1st, 2012, first with a set of comprehensive orchestration tools. Keep your eyes on the front page for further information.