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Schymusica23 karma

I know there is a trend these days to write long suites of music at the beginning of the process - this is particularly true in films these days. It's a technique used Hans Zimmer in particular and also by James Newton Howard. Both great composers.

That said I have never used this technique. As I mentioned above I start with a cue (often suggested by the audio director) needed for the game and work on it until I get it right. Once I get it write the rest of the score can be much easier to write because I have established the style and themes. This to me is the biggest challenge.

I don't use anything unusual in terms of software. Digital Performer, Kontakt, Zebra, Omnisphere, VEPro and TONS of samples.

Getting started is a tough question to answer because you will find that no two composer have precisely the same trajectory. Some (though few) just explode on the scene and never stop. Others can work for many years without much recognition until something big breaks for them.

I think it's still best to live in LA (though especially with games not a requirement at all) and you need to be reaching out and making contacts and writing a lot of music until you really develope your skills as a composer and find your 'sound'.
You need to be sooooo passionate about it because it is not not not an easy way to make a living. You have to want it more than anthying. If you do you have a real chance.

Schymusica20 karma

Hi Carol -

Bioshock infinite was a very difficult nut to crack so to say. We really wanted a different sound for the game and I experimented for a very long time without finding it. I think to some extent the reason was that the team at Irrational was still finding the heart of the game while I was experimenting. Once they discovered that Elizabeth was central (which was after showing the game at E3 and seeing the response to the Elizabeth AI) I wrote a theme for her and Ken LOVED it. That was the hook I needed and it moved more easily after that.

Schymusica15 karma

Cohen's Master piece was a blast to write. He was described to me as a crazy but brilliant artist but he was reactionary in his artistic tastes. I did NOT know that Cohen would blow up the pianist who was practicing the piece. It was a LOL moment when I discovered that!

My first thought was Rachmaninoff who was a classical Russian composer who was writing in an old fashioned though popular style well into the 20th century. So Rachmaninoff was the model in my mind. And Rachmaninoff was also a brilliant pianist and wrote a ton piano music so it just all made sense.

I guess I will write more like it when one of my clients ask for something like it. But it is a very unusual request.

I do remember finishing it and calling my agent and telling her that I felt like a "real" composer that day!

Schymusica10 karma

Hi Sonny - I had some time to prepare your/1st questions so you get a LONG answer!

To be honest I enjoy all three. Sounds like a copout but they all have their upsides and downsides - both business wise and creatively.

TV is FAST meaning you often have just a few days to write and record a LOT of music. That can be incredibly stressful but also FUN - as in facing a firing squad and the feeling you might get if everyone misses! But on the business side you get performing rights royalties which can come in for years which can be incredibly helpful with the inevitable ups and downs of any career. We call it mailbox money!

Films ( if they are good) can be wonderful. I love playing picture and though compared to games it is relatively fast it is nothing like TV. You usually get a month or two to write and record and it can be very rewarding if like I said the film is good and moving in some way.

I love scoring games as well. They really changed my life about ten years ago when I started with Destroy All Humans! In some ways they are similar to writing concert music because you often are not writing to picture - though the music still has to conform to the needs of the game. I’ve said this a few times and I will say it again - the most interesting music I have ever been asked to write has been for games like Bioshock and Dante’s Inferno

No back end payments however so you get paid upfront and just hope that you keep getting hired so you can pay the bills!

Schymusica10 karma

Hi Ciriacus,

Music is both an intellectual and emotional art. For me the best comes from the heart! However when you spend years and years composing and studying the music you write is informed by the technique and experience gained.

So really you need both to do the job properly. Writing songs is different from scoring in many ways because a song is all about the song and the emotions of the songwriter. But when your scoring anything you need to make the music about the game or film you are scoring and what the needs for the scene or level you are scoring. It's about the game and not just about the music.

However all that said I write from the gut and the more emotional I feel about the music I am writing the better it usually is!