Posts tagged ‘composer’

March 9, 2014


The nature of composing music requires that you are able to focus on creating something that is never seen, touched or tasted — only heard. The results of your work impart emotions that can touch people around the world. While there is a technical side to the craft, the process of baring your soul to create music is a very solitary process.

As such, a lot of composers tend to be people who “fly under the radar” and let their music do the talking. They don’t seek to be in front of the audience constantly, relentlessly promoting themselves within the industry. But that can cause them to miss opportunities.

One way to overcome this dilemma is the internet. Social media is a great way to reach out to fans and communicate on a more personal level. I have found that this blog, Facebook and YouTube are all excellent ways to reach out, as well as gain exposure.

But having your own personal web site imparts that you are a professional and that companies can rely on you to deliver professional material. You create a brand that people can relate to and can find if they Google your name.

A composer web site should contain all the pertinent information that both companies and fans are looking for. The old journalists’ saying, “Tell who, what, when, where, why,” is a good reference as to what your web site should contain.

Your welcome page needs to introduce you in a very visual way. It usually shows a singular image of your brand and has links to other pages on your site. If you have stirred the curiosity of the reader, they will start clicking on those links to gather more information. But be sure to categorize links so that the reader can see or hear what they want, quickly and easily.

Links should include:
“About” — Offers readers insight into who you are and what you do. This includes a bio, credits, your company information, references, reviews, etc.
“Studios” — Shows how and where you work and the equipment you use.
“Demos” — Provides visitors a place to hear the music you’ve done.
“Contact” — Makes it simple for visitors to contact you directly, as well as click on links to your social media pages.

You can hire a professional web designer for great results, or there are web hosting services that provide templates for you to design your own site. Be aware that designing your own site is less expensive and you can update information yourself at any time, but it is very time consuming to do this well. If you take this route, I would recommend learning some basic HTML coding to allow you to customize your site.

Obviously, be totally honest about your accomplishments. While you may think that embellishing your resume would get you more work, quite the opposite is true. Clients and employers will not hire someone who can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

While I have never gotten a job directly from my web site alone, it has influenced clients and employers to hire me. When they research me by doing a Google search on my name, there is no doubt that I am who I say I am.

If you are a composer and do not yet have a web site, think about creating one. While it doesn’t replace personal contact and relationships, it can provide great exposure and possibly help you land your next job.

March 2, 2014


Tonight is Oscar night and people all over the world will be glued to their TV screens to see what the movie stars are wearing and who’ll take home the coveted Academy Awards.  But is anyone dying to know what Thomas Newman will wear?

Newman is one of this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Original Score, for the film “Saving Mr. Banks.”  Also nominated for Best Original Score are John Williams (“The Book Thief”), Steven Price (“Gravity”) Alexandre Desplat (“Philomena”), and William Butler and Owen Pallett (“Her”).

Film composers aren’t the most glamorous or visible celebrities at the Oscars.   Yet they play a critical role in setting and sustaining the mood of a great film.

In a completely unscientific survey, my wife asked some friends and family members to name movies that were especially memorable because of their original scores.  What famous film music excited or moved them and stuck in their minds after they finished watching these movies?

Not surprisingly, “Home Alone” was mentioned by more than one person.
The legendary John Williams composed the original score for “Home Alone” and I’ll speak more about this music in a moment.

“Ben-Hur” (with an original score by Miklos Rozsa) also received multiple mentions.

A few additional movies and composers named in this informal survey were “Braveheart” (James Horner), “Rob Roy” (Carter Burwell), “Rudy” (Jerry Goldsmith), “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (Ennio Morricone), “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (Danny Elfman), “Somewhere In Time” (John Barry), “Amelie” (Yann Tierson), “Polar Express” (Alan Silvestri), Franco Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” (Nino Rota), “The Last of The Mohicans” (Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman), “King of Kings” (the aforementioned Miklos Rosza) and “Vertigo” (Bernard Herrmann).

Each of the people who responded to this question obviously had his or her own reasons for loving certain films and the music from those films.  But their enjoyment of these movies — and the lasting impressions that these movies made upon them — were undoubtedly influenced by the music that propelled the action and/or captured the emotions within the story.

Getting back to the subject of “Home Alone,” my wife’s niece found this quote from Wikipedia to go along with her nomination:

Home Alone is the soundtrack of the 1990 film of the same name. The score was composed by John Williams and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score; the film’s signature tune “Somewhere in my Memory” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media.
“Somewhere in my Memory” was actually written to “run alongside the film” by Williams.[citation needed] It can be heard in numerous sections of the film, either in full length or fragments, forming the backbone for the film’s soundtrack. “Somewhere in my Memory” is performed in many Christmas concerts in schools or professional orchestras and choirs alike across the globe.[citation needed]

It is common for successful film composers to use a main theme as the backbone for a film’s soundtrack, slightly altering the tempo, key or arrangement to coincide with what is happening in a particular scene.  That theme is what often runs through your mind, long after the movie had ended.

One of the strongest impressions that instrumental music can make on a person is when it is heard while watching a story unfold on the screen. Our minds process the visual presentation and events in the story, while our hearts react to the emotions that the music score imparts. When a great story, acting, cinematography and music score combine, it is long remembered in our hearts and minds and worthy of an Oscar.

Now let’s find out who the Academy has chosen for its highest musical honors.


July 25, 2012


As you might have guessed, I’m not much of an athlete. But I’m definitely inspired by the men and women who’ve trained most of their lives to represent their nations and showcase their talents at the Olympic Games. I would never compare myself to Olympic superstars such as Michael Phelps or Apolo Ohno, but I do believe that whether you’re a serious athlete or a serious musician or composer, many of the same tenets apply.

In no particular order of importance, I’ve found that:

• Having a cheering squad is highly desirable. Early in life, I knew I wanted a career in music after my godmother took me to a series of Broadway shows and dinner-theater performances. My parents, like many responsible adults, were not necessarily convinced that this was a good idea. I think they feared that I’d end up as the stereotypical “starving artist.” Yet in my mind, I knew that I was destined to entertain people.

There were times that their prediction seemed to be accurate, but I was stubborn or crazy enough to keep doing what I wanted to do. And while they may have been thinking, “I told you so,” I am grateful that they took me to music lessons when I was a kid. And later, as a young adult, I was always welcome at the family home on the rare occasions when I wasn’t on the road with some band or another. Oh, I’m sure they were thinking, “Please get a haircut!” but that was probably the least of their worries.

• Strive for your personal best, first and foremost. Athletic events, especially the Olympics, are extremely competitive. So is being a professional musician or composer on the world stage. You’ll likely be thunderstruck by this realization the first time you venture outside of your own school or community and figure out how many other people are smarter, stronger, faster or hotter than you.

You could use this bolt of realization one of two ways. You could just give up or you could tell yourself that right now, your goal is to strive for your personal best. Before you can deal with the competition, take the time to work on your own skills and presentation. The rest will follow.

• Take yourself seriously, but not too seriously. Learn to laugh at your mistakes as much as learning from them. For some reason, I recently recalled an embarrassing incident where the band Lois Lane was opening for Pablo Cruise at a rodeo stadium in Wyoming. My equipment was being powered by generators and my keyboards kept going out of tune every time a song started. Our guitarist, John Verner, kept coming over to help me tune up between songs and as soon as the lights went up again, my keyboards would go haywire again. Despite an audience of over 10,000 giving us thunderous applause after every song, I felt like hiding in a corner. After the show, my band mates made me feel better by telling me that the show sounded like a surreal punk band with high tech keyboards. Lesson learned? Generators and keyboards don’t mix. Make sure you fix the problem. Then have a laugh.

On another note, my daughter, Desiree, performed at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics with the “2008 Beijing Olympic Orchestra,” which was a 2008-member ensemble made up of university and high school students from around the world. Watching her on TV during this stunning international event really renewed my passion to excel, as well as my belief in the importance of music education.

Strive to be the best in the world and never give up on your dreams. I can’t wait for the spectacle of the opening ceremonies for the London 2012 Summer Olympics!