Everything we now call ‘production music’ has become through various stages of evolution. Its origins are probably in silent movies, when cinema pianists and organists would watch the film and supply a live accompaniment. In the beginning, they will use bits and pieces of https://twitter.com/Production_Blog, either from memory or collections of written music, but immediately volumes of specially composed or arranged incidental movie music were published, with cues arranged and categorised to fit the different screen actions or moods. Perhaps for this reason this extract from Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is such a properly-known tune!
A Review Of ‘Production Music’
Soon, music became on discs, with the coming of TV in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, there was clearly a big requirement for readily accessible music, that was referred to as mood music, atmospheric music and, of course, library music. A great deal of it was of very high-quality orchestral and jazz, though together with the proliferation of synths from the late ’70s it gained a good reputation for being cheap (however, not necessarily cheerful). Originally a united states term, ‘production music’ is now in general use here in britain, as producers have planned to promote a newer generation of library music that has shed the existing image.
Production music has traditionally been distributed on vinyl or CD however it is now also available via download. A production music clients are basically a publishing company, or a department of your publishing company, that specialises in marketing, licensing and collecting royalties for production music. The end user is generally a film, TV or radio production company – but tracks could also be used for computer games, web sites, live events and in many cases ringtones. Users choose tracks they want to use in a programme and may license them quickly, through MCPS in the UK or other licensing agencies worldwide, at the set licence fee per half a minute of music. Very often this can be cheaper, quicker and much less complicated than commissioning a composer.
A lot of the television music in the ’60s was jazz-oriented; composers including Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein set the conventional in this way. Library music producers followed suit, and can corner some great jazz musicians in touring bands who are happy to supplement their meagre club fees with a number of sessions.
Today, a far larger proportion of production music is pop or rock. This really is due partly to a demand from modern TV producers, but another factor is definitely the digital revolution. The creation of convincing pop music is not exclusively the world of companies with big budgets for large studios and vast swathes of session musicians. The conventional still needs to be high and using real musicians wherever possible is undoubtedly a bonus, yet it is now entirely possible that anyone with the talent plus a decent DAW to contest with the major boys.
Production music CDs might seem like ordinary albums…
Production music CDs might look like ordinary albums…The recent proliferation of television channels has inevitably thinned out your viewing audience for many individual channels, thus causing advertising revenue, and thus budgets, to become slashed. In addition to the few with the very top, TV and film composers have had to get accustomed to focusing on lower budgets. Often – but in no way always – this has ended in either (at worst) lower-quality commissioned music being produced or, sadly, fewer live musicians being involved. Seizing a chance, the library music companies stepped in with an all new generation of music having much higher artistic and production values, which may be licensed easily.
My Method Of Composing
After I am commissioned to talkin music, it may be either on an entire album, or for a variety of tracks to be included in a ‘compilation’ album in which several composers contribute. I actually have produced six complete albums during the last 10 years contributing to another 30 or 40 single tracks. My first commission was to get a jazz album called Mad, Bad & Jazzy, which has three sequels. The title says all of it, really – the songs is mad, bad and jazzy – and a good title can obviously assist with marketing, by signalling to producers exactly what to expect from your album. The design and style which includes dominated my writing is slightly left-field or quirky jazz and Latin, with a sprinkling of indie, classical, electronic and just plain bizarre.
I work closely with one or two producers through the company (Universal – formerly BMG – in this case), who function as overall ‘executive’ producers. They have an idea from the whole concept and web marketing strategy in the album, and generally I’ll provide an initial briefing meeting using them to talk about this. Then they leave me to complete the composing and production, and can drop through the studio every now and then, especially as tracks evolve or completely new ideas appear throughout production.
An album will consist of about 16 tracks, and even though they can often be as short as one minute, I really like to think about them as ‘real’ album tracks, and so i will normally make them between two and four minutes long. I also include various shorter versions lasting half a minute, 20 seconds and 10 seconds, in addition to short ‘stings’. It’s much simpler for your producer to create these on the mixing stage than to try and create them from your stereo master later – much more about this in next month’s article.
…but the sleeve notes are meant to help the TV editor in a hurry. Note the extra one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, along with the short ‘stings’.
…although the sleeve notes are created to assist the TV editor in a big hurry. Note the extra one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, and the short ‘stings’. Because my producers at Universal, Duncan Schwier and Jo Pearson, be aware of way I work, the briefing session is quite much a two-way flow of ideas. I never know what I’m going to be asked to do, but briefs may range through the precise on the vague, for example:
Writing an issue that fits an incredibly specific commercial demand, such as lifestyle programmes or quiz shows, or to fit popular search phrases like ‘s-ex within the city’, ‘money’, ‘countdown’ or ‘stop press’.
Taking inspiration from a pre-existing track, composer or style, being very careful to not infringe any copyright or to ‘pass off’ as something copyrighted.
Taking inspiration purely from a generic film scene, such as a car chase, slapstick comedy sketch or s-ex scene.
Making a dramatic feel or emotional atmosphere.
“Just have a bit of fun and find out everything you come up with, Pete.”
Very often I may also suggest using existing tracks I’ve already produced for one more reason, like cues from your commissioned score which has now passed its exclusivity date, demos I did for something that were not actually used, or pieces I wrote only for fun.
I generally take six to 12 months to compose and record a total album, as I want the tracks to sound great, and not such as the stereotypical library music of the ‘old days’. I begin with programmed tracks, though before presenting these as demos I’ll make sure they are as convincing as possible by including all the real instrumentation as I can – saxophone, flute and a bit of guitar and bass. Something that isn’t a live instrument should have a good reason to be there, for instance a drum loop that can’t be recreated or even a particular rhythm that must be quantised to put the genre. I in addition have a vast collection of unique samples recorded and collected during my years employed in studios as being a producer.
After the early drafts are approved, I print scores and parts from Logic and book sessions for musicians where necessary. It is a crucial step for me – I book musicians I am aware and am comfortable utilizing. Yet again, I don’t think ‘It’s just library music.’ I have to feel that the musicians are planning exactly the same: they are contributing creatively as an alternative to it being the next session.
It’s great working with Duncan or Jo at Universal – they have an excellent handle on what works. It’s extremely good to obtain some fresh ears over a project when you’ve lived from it from the studio for a couple of weeks. I remember when i presented a demo to Duncan with his fantastic comment was “great, however the saxophone is a little too in tune, may sound like library music.” This became on a ska track and that he wanted it to sound really raw and rough. I attempted a couple of times to play badly, not easy for the seasoned session player having struggled all his life to experience well. In the long run I played the sax together with the mouthpiece on upside down, and so i sounded quite convincingly like I’d only been playing for several weeks.
Getting your music accepted or being commissioned to write down production music is every bit as competitive as any one of the more traditionally glamorous goals for musicians and composers, like landing a record deal, publishing deal, film or TV commission. You will need to submit your music with a CD you should make look as attractive and interesting as you can, though a properly-constructed website or MySpace site with biography and audio clips could be just like or maybe more useful. A couple of calls to receptionists can aid you to obtain the names of the right individuals to send your pitch to: your own letter is preferable to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The Internet changed just how production music is distributed, and the majority of publishers now help it become easy to find and download the tracks you will need.
The Net changed the way in which production music is distributed, and many publishers now make it easy to find and download the tracks you will need.What is important to be familiar with is your music should grab the interest of your listener quickly. If your company is looking for writers, they will likely definitely hear music that they are sent, but frequently they are inundated, so it’s entirely possible that they’ll only listen to the very first 10 or 20 seconds of each track (which may adequately become the way their consumer will pay attention to the item, too).
Most critical is just not in order to second-guess what you believe ‘they’ want, or precisely what is ‘good’ or ‘typical’ production music. The likelihood is it’s already with their library and so they don’t need any more, and in case they generally do, certainly one of their established writers will be asked to get it done. In order to make a good first impression, it’s far better to create an issue that has some character, originality and flair; and, especially, it needs to be something you are good at doing. The ideal potential for getting your music accepted is always to offer something different, fresh and unique.
Very often, a piece you wrote like a demo for another thing that got rejected can be ideal, but paradoxically, pieces who have actually been utilized in TV programmes might not be great for production music. Often I’ve believed that music I have written for the film with a non-exclusive basis can be accepted within a music library but, as Duncan has explained, music written into a specific scene may work perfectly only to that scene, and may even not really sound right naturally. Surprisingly, additionally, it can be that production values for TV music are often not sufficient, particularly with today’s increasingly stingy budgets.
The development music company won’t like being told their job, but sometimes there is absolutely no harm to help out with some marketing ideas. CDs or sections of CDs will end up being categorised to help the final user, so you may consider doing exactly the same for the demo. Categories could be as vague as ‘drama’ or ‘lifestyle’, or they can be more specific to your music genre or era – as an example jazz, classical, World, ’60s, kitsch, indie, ska and the like. Titles are incredibly important, not just being a description but also to help you with searches. It’s the identical principle as Googling: key words or phrases within a title can be very helpful, especially for on-line searching. On the other hand, you can find limits to the volume of tracks that could be called ‘Car Chase’, ‘Celebration’ or ‘Feel Bad Blues’!
One of the things that we still find fascinating is when my music eventually ends up. What you may think your music will probably be employed for, it could possibly be visible on something quite different, be that a feature film, TV drama, documentary, shopping channel, game show or gardening programme. To understand how production music works, try putting yourself in the position of the stressed-out TV editor who desperately needs some terrific music to get a new bit of footage the executive producer asked to be added to your documentary three hours prior to the deadline. There are several possibilities:
Visit a production music company internet site and do an online search, using various keywords that describe either the genre of music or perhaps the scene that really needs music.
Naturally, a highly skilled editor or director will already have a good familiarity with music that is available, often calling on ‘old faithful’ albums or tracks, but could still search for brand new and refreshing material.
Many production music companies will likely aggressively market their http://musicproductiononline.tumblr.com, just like any good publisher should. This may mean contacting producers for any film or TV projects which are about to go into production, along with developing close and ongoing relationships using their main clients, arranging everything that composers would do ourselves when we had the time and money: courtesy calls, birthday cards, free holidays in the Caribbean, that kind of thing.
In this article, we’ve investigated this business dimension of production music: what it is, who uses it, how it’s sold and, most significantly, ways you can get your foot inside the door. But in the composer’s point of view additionally, there are technical skills that happen to be specific to production music, like the ability to create versions of your respective pieces that are great for exactly in the 10-second format, so next month, we’ll look at techniques one can learn to help make a professional-sounding production music library disc.