Everything we now call ‘production music’ continues to be through various stages of evolution. Its origins are probably in silent movies, when cinema pianists and organists would watch the movie and offer a live accompaniment. At the beginning, they could use odds and ends of https://twitter.com/Production_Blog, either from memory or collections of sheet music, but immediately volumes of specially composed or arranged incidental movie music were published, with cues arranged and categorised to suit the different screen actions or moods. Perhaps that is why this extract from Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is such a properly-known tune!
A Review Of ‘Production Music’
Very soon, music became seen on discs, along with the development of TV in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, there was a big need for easily available music, that has been referred to as mood music, atmospheric music and, needless to say, library music. Most of this is of very high-quality orchestral and jazz, though with all the proliferation of synths from the late ’70s it gained a reputation for being cheap (yet not necessarily cheerful). Originally a united states term, ‘production music’ is now generally use here in the UK, as producers have wanted to promote a more recent generation of library music which includes shed the previous image.
Production music has traditionally been distributed on vinyl or CD however it is now available too via download. A production music company is basically a publishing company, or a department of a publishing company, that specialises in marketing, licensing and collecting royalties for production music. The final user is usually a film, TV or radio production company – but tracks could also be used for video games, internet sites, live events and even ringtones. Users choose tracks they want to use in a programme and can license them quickly, through MCPS throughout the uk or another licensing agencies worldwide, at a set licence fee per thirty seconds of music. Frequently this is certainly cheaper, quicker and fewer complicated than commissioning a composer.
A lot of the television music in the ’60s was jazz-oriented; composers for example Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein set the regular in this way. Library music producers followed suit, and could corner some excellent jazz musicians in touring bands who have been very happy to supplement their meagre club fees with a couple of sessions.
Today, a lot larger proportion of production music is pop or rock. This can be due in part to some demand from modern TV producers, but another factor is the digital revolution. The production of convincing pop music is no longer exclusively the world of companies with big budgets for large studios and vast swathes of session musicians. The typical still must be high and the usage of real musicians whenever you can is definitely a bonus, but it is now entirely possible that a person with the talent as well as a decent DAW to take on the large boys.
Production music CDs might appear like ordinary albums…
Production music CDs might seem like ordinary albums…The recent proliferation of television stations has inevitably thinned out the viewing audience for most individual channels, thus causing advertising revenue, and so budgets, to get slashed. In addition to the few in the very top, TV and film composers have gotten to get accustomed to taking care of lower budgets. Often – but by no means always – it has contributed to either (at worst) lower-quality commissioned music being produced or, sadly, fewer live musicians being involved. Seizing an opportunity, the library music companies stepped in with an all new generation of music having greater artistic and production values, that could be licensed easily.
My Approach To Composing
When I am commissioned to music production online, it might either be to have an entire album, or for numerous tracks to be a part of a ‘compilation’ album 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 for any jazz album called Mad, Bad & Jazzy, which presently has three sequels. The title says all this, really – the music is mad, bad and jazzy – plus a good title can obviously assist with marketing, by signalling to producers exactly what to expect through the album. The fashion which has dominated my writing is slightly left-field or quirky jazz and Latin, using a sprinkling of indie, classical, electronic and simply plain bizarre.
I work closely with a couple of producers in the company (Universal – formerly BMG – in this instance), who serve as overall ‘executive’ producers. They have an idea from the whole concept and marketing strategy of the album, and usually I’ll come with an initial briefing meeting with them to talk about this. Then they leave me to complete the composing and production, but will drop by the studio every once in awhile, especially as tracks evolve or completely new ideas come up during the duration of production.
An album will contain about 16 tracks, and even though they can be as short as you minute, I really like to think of them as ‘real’ album tracks, therefore i will usually cause them to between two and four minutes long. In addition, i include various shorter versions lasting half a minute, 20 seconds and 10 seconds, in addition to short ‘stings’. It’s less difficult for that producer to produce these with the mixing stage than in order to create them from a stereo master later – more details on this in next month’s article.
…although the sleeve notes are created to help the TV editor very quickly. Note an added one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, along with the short ‘stings’.
…nevertheless the sleeve notes are meant to assist the TV editor in a hurry. Note the additional one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, and also the short ‘stings’. Because my producers at Universal, Duncan Schwier and Jo Pearson, are aware of the way I work, the briefing session is quite much a two-way flow of ideas. I never understand what I’m gonna be asked to do, but briefs can vary from the precise to the vague, like:
Writing a thing that fits an incredibly specific commercial demand, for example lifestyle programmes or quiz shows, or fit popular search phrases including ‘s-ex inside the city’, ‘money’, ‘countdown’ or ‘stop press’.
Taking inspiration from a current track, composer or style, being cautious never to infringe any copyright or even to ‘pass off’ as something copyrighted.
Taking inspiration purely from a generic film scene, like a car chase, slapstick comedy sketch or s-ex scene.
Making a dramatic feel or emotional atmosphere.
“Just have a certain amount of fun and see what you think of, Pete.”
Very often I might also suggest using existing tracks I’ve already produced for one more reason, like cues from your commissioned score which includes 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, when i want the tracks to sound great, and not much like the stereotypical library music of the ‘old days’. I usually start out with programmed tracks, though before presenting these as demos I’ll cause them to as convincing as you can by including as much real instrumentation when i can – saxophone, flute and a certain amount of guitar and bass. Everything that isn’t a live instrument must have grounds for being there, such as a drum loop that can’t be recreated or possibly a particular rhythm which needs to be quantised to suit the genre. I furthermore have a vast assortment of unique samples recorded and collected during my years doing work in studios being a producer.
Once the early drafts are approved, I print scores and parts from Logic and book sessions for musicians where necessary. This is a crucial step for me – I book musicians I know and am comfortable dealing with. Once more, I don’t think ‘It’s just library music.’ I need to believe the musicians are planning exactly the same way: they are contributing creatively rather than it being yet another session.
It’s great dealing with Duncan or Jo at Universal – they have a fantastic handle on which works. It’s incredibly good to obtain some fresh ears on a project when you’ve lived from it inside the studio for a few weeks. One time i presented a demo to Duncan and his comment was “great, however the saxophone is a bit too in tune, looks like library music.” This became over a ska track and then he wanted it to sound really raw and rough. I tried once or twice to try out badly, difficult for a seasoned session player having struggled all his life to play well. Eventually I played the sax with the mouthpiece on upside-down, so I sounded quite convincingly like I’d only been playing for a couple of weeks.
Getting your music accepted or being commissioned to write production music is every bit as competitive as some of the more traditionally glamorous goals for musicians and composers, for example landing an archive deal, publishing deal, film or TV commission. You will need to send in your music over a CD which you should make look as attractive and interesting as you possibly can, though a highly-constructed internet site or MySpace site with biography and audio clips might be just as or maybe more useful. Several cell phone calls to receptionists will help you to discover the names of your right people to send your pitch to: a personal letter is preferable to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The Internet changed the way in which production music is distributed, and most publishers now help it become easy to look for and download the tracks you need.
The Web is different the way in which production music is distributed, and the majority of publishers now ensure it is easy to locate and download the tracks you want.The biggest thing to understand is that your music should grab the interest of the listener quickly. When a company is looking for writers, they will definitely tune in to music they are sent, but frequently they are inundated, so it’s likely that they’ll only pay attention to the 1st 10 or 20 seconds of every track (which might very well function as the way their end user will tune in to the merchandise, too).
Most significant is just not in order to second-guess your opinion ‘they’ want, or precisely what is ‘good’ or ‘typical’ production music. The chances are it’s already within their library and so they don’t need any longer, and when they actually do, among their established writers will be asked to undertake it. If you wish to make a good first impression, it’s much better to create an issue that has some character, originality and flair; and, above all, it ought to be something that you are great at doing. The very best probability of obtaining your music accepted is always to offer something different, fresh and unique.
Frequently, a piece you wrote being a demo for something diffrent that got rejected could be ideal, but paradoxically, pieces which have actually been employed in TV programmes may not be best for production music. Frequently I’ve considered that music I actually have written for the film on a non-exclusive basis can be accepted in a music library but, as Duncan has explained, music written to your specific scene may work adequately simply to that scene, and might not really appear sensible alone. Surprisingly, it can possibly be that production values for TV music tend to be not suitable, especially with today’s increasingly stingy budgets.
The development music company won’t like being told their job, but sometimes there is absolutely no harm in assisting out with some marketing ideas. CDs and parts of CDs will turn out to be categorised to aid the end user, so you may consider doing exactly the same for the demo. Categories may be as vague as ‘drama’ or ‘lifestyle’, or they may be more specific to a music genre or era – for instance jazz, classical, World, ’60s, kitsch, indie, ska and so on. Titles are extremely important, not only being a description but in addition to help you with searches. It’s a similar principle as Googling: key phrases or phrases within a title can be extremely helpful, especially for online searching. On the other hand, there are actually limits to the number of tracks that might be called ‘Car Chase’, ‘Celebration’ or ‘Feel Bad Blues’!
One thing which i still find fascinating is how my music ends up. Whatever you think your music will likely be employed for, it could show up on something quite different, be that a feature film, TV drama, documentary, shopping channel, game show or gardening programme. To comprehend how production music works, try putting yourself from the position of the stressed-out TV editor who desperately needs some really good music for a new part of footage the executive producer motivated to be added in into a documentary three hours prior to the deadline. There are various possibilities:
Search for a production music company internet site and do an online search, using various keywords that describe either the genre of music or even the scene that really needs music.
Needless to say, a seasoned editor or director will already have a very good expertise in music which is available, often calling on ‘old faithful’ albums or tracks, but could still be on the lookout for new and refreshing material.
Many production music companies will also aggressively market their http://musicproductiononline.tumblr.com, as any good publisher should. This can mean contacting producers associated with a film or TV projects which are about to go into production, and also strengthening close and ongoing relationships with their main clients, arranging all the stuff that composers would do ourselves when we had the money and time: courtesy calls, birthday cards, free holidays from the Caribbean, that kind of thing.
In the following paragraphs, we’ve considered the business dimension of production music: what exactly it is, who uses it, how it’s sold and, most significantly, how to get your foot from the door. But in the composer’s perspective in addition there are technical skills which are specific to production music, such as the ability to create versions of your respective pieces that fit exactly in to the 10-second format, so the following month, we’ll be looking at techniques one can learn to help with making an experienced-sounding production music library disc.