What we should now call ‘production music’ has been through various stages of evolution. Its origins are probably in silent movies, when cinema pianists and organists would watch the film and offer a live accompaniment. In the beginning, they might use pieces of talkin music, either from memory or collections of written music, but very soon volumes of specially composed or arranged incidental movie music were published, with cues arranged and categorised to fit the numerous screen actions or moods. Perhaps for this reason this extract from Krommer’s Double Clarinet Concerto is unquestionably a highly-known tune!
An Introduction To ‘Production Music’
Very soon, music became located on discs, and with the advent of TV within the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, there seemed to be a big demand for easily available music, which had been called mood music, atmospheric music and, naturally, library music. Much of this is of very high-quality orchestral and jazz, though with all the proliferation of synths inside the late ’70s it gained a history of being cheap (however, not necessarily cheerful). Originally a united states term, ‘production music’ is currently generally speaking use here in the united kingdom, as producers have wanted to promote a more modern generation of library music which includes shed that old image.
Production music has traditionally been distributed on vinyl or CD however it is now made available via download. A production music clients are basically a publishing company, or even a department of any publishing company, that specialises in marketing, licensing and collecting royalties for production music. The conclusion user is generally 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 include in a programme and might license them rapidly, through MCPS in britain or other licensing agencies worldwide, at a set licence fee per thirty seconds of music. Often this is certainly cheaper, quicker and much less complicated than commissioning a composer.
A great deal of the TV music in the ’60s was jazz-oriented; composers including Henry Mancini and Elmer Bernstein set the regular in this way. Library music producers followed suit, and may corner some excellent jazz musicians in touring bands who are delighted to supplement their meagre club fees with a number of sessions.
Today, a significantly larger proportion of production music is pop or rock. This really is due to some extent to your demand from modern TV producers, but another factor is the digital revolution. The creation of convincing pop music has stopped being exclusively the field of companies with big budgets for big studios and vast swathes of session musicians. The conventional still should be high and the usage of real musicians wherever possible is certainly a bonus, however it is now feasible for anyone with the talent plus a decent DAW to compete with the important boys.
Production music CDs might appear like ordinary albums…
Production music CDs might appear to be ordinary albums…The current proliferation of television stations has inevitably thinned the viewing audience for the majority of individual channels, thus causing advertising revenue, and therefore budgets, being slashed. Apart from the few with the very top, TV and film composers experienced to get accustomed to focusing on lower budgets. Often – but by no means always – this has ended in either (at worst) lower-quality commissioned music being produced or, sadly, fewer live musicians being involved. Seizing a possibility, the library music companies stepped in with an all new generation of music having higher artistic and production values, that could be licensed easily.
My Method Of Composing
When I am commissioned to talkin music, it could be either on an entire album, or for numerous tracks to become included in a ‘compilation’ album in which several composers contribute. I have produced six complete albums in the last a decade contributing to another 30 or 40 single tracks. My first commission was to get a jazz album called Mad, Bad & Jazzy, which now has three sequels. The title says it all, really – the tunes is mad, bad and jazzy – and a good title can obviously assist with marketing, by signalling to producers exactly what to expect in the album. The fashion containing dominated my writing is slightly left-field or quirky jazz and Latin, having a sprinkling of indie, classical, electronic and just plain bizarre.
I work closely with a couple of producers from the company (Universal – formerly BMG – in such a case), who serve as overall ‘executive’ producers. They know of the whole concept and web marketing strategy from the album, and customarily I’ll offer an initial briefing meeting along with them to go over this. They then leave me to perform the composing and production, and definitely will drop from the studio every now and then, especially as tracks evolve or completely new ideas come up during the course of production.
An album will consist of about 16 tracks, and although they can often be as short as you minute, I like to think about them as ‘real’ album tracks, so I will usually make them between two and four minutes long. I also include various shorter versions lasting thirty seconds, 20 seconds and 10 seconds, as well as short ‘stings’. It’s much simpler for that producer to generate these at the mixing stage than to attempt to create them from the stereo master later – more details on this in next month’s article.
…nevertheless the sleeve notes are designed to assist the TV editor in a hurry. Note any additional one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, along with the short ‘stings’.
…nevertheless the sleeve notes are designed to help the TV editor in a hurry. Note the extra one-minute, 30-, 20- and 10-second versions, as well as the short ‘stings’. Because my producers at Universal, Duncan Schwier and Jo Pearson, know the way I work, the briefing session is quite much a two-way flow of ideas. I never understand what I’m will be motivated to do, but briefs ranges from the precise on the vague, such as:
Writing something that fits a really specific commercial demand, like lifestyle programmes or quiz shows, or fit popular search phrases such as ‘s-ex within the city’, ‘money’, ‘countdown’ or ‘stop press’.
Taking inspiration from a preexisting 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, say for example a car chase, slapstick comedy sketch or s-ex scene.
Creating a dramatic feel or emotional atmosphere.
“Just have a bit of fun and find out what you think of, Pete.”
Often I might also suggest using existing tracks I’ve already produced for the next reason, such as cues coming from a commissioned score containing now passed its exclusivity date, demos I have done for something that were not actually used, or pieces I wrote exclusively for fun.
I generally take six to twelve months to compose and record a complete 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 get them to as convincing as you can by including as much real instrumentation as I can – saxophone, flute and a bit of guitar and bass. Everything that isn’t a live instrument must have a reason to be there, say for example a drum loop that can’t be recreated or a particular rhythm that needs to be quantised to put the genre. I in addition have a vast selection of unique samples recorded and collected during my years doing work in studios being a producer.
As soon as 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 personally – I book musicians I am aware and am comfortable working with. Once again, I don’t think ‘It’s just library music.’ I have to believe that the musicians are thinking the same way: they are contributing creatively instead of it being merely another session.
It’s great dealing with Duncan or Jo at Universal – they have a great handle about what works. It’s extremely good to get some fresh ears on a project when you’ve lived along with it inside the studio for several weeks. I remember when i presented a demo to Duncan with his fantastic comment was “great, nevertheless the saxophone is a little too in tune, looks like library music.” This was over a ska track and then he wanted it to sound really raw and rough. I tried a couple of times to play badly, difficult for any seasoned session player having struggled all his life to try out well. In the long run I played the sax with the mouthpiece on upside down, thus i sounded quite convincingly like I’d only been playing for several weeks.
Getting the music accepted or being commissioned to write production music is every bit as competitive as any of the more traditionally glamorous goals for musicians and composers, for example landing a record deal, publishing deal, film or TV commission. You need to submit your music on the CD which you should make look as attractive and interesting as you can, though a properly-constructed internet site or MySpace site with biography and audio clips could be just as or even more useful. A few phone calls to receptionists can aid you to get the names of the right customers to send your pitch to: your own letter is preferable to ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
The Internet is different the way production music is distributed, and a lot publishers now help it become easy to look for and download the tracks you will need.
The Net changed just how production music is distributed, and a lot publishers now allow it to be easy to search for and download the tracks you need.The biggest thing to be familiar with is that your music should grab the interest of your listener quickly. If your company wants writers, they may definitely listen to music they are sent, but frequently they are inundated, so it’s entirely possible that they’ll only tune in to the first 10 or 20 seconds of each and every track (which might adequately end up being the way their end user will tune in to the item, too).
Most critical is not to try to second-guess what you believe ‘they’ want, or exactly what is ‘good’ or ‘typical’ production music. The probability is it’s already in their library and they also don’t need any longer, and when they do, among their established writers will have to practice it. If you wish to produce a good first impression, it’s far better to create a thing that has some character, originality and flair; and, most importantly, it needs to be something you are perfect at doing. The most effective chance of having your music accepted would be to offer something different, fresh and unique.
Frequently, a piece you wrote as a demo for something different that got rejected might be ideal, but paradoxically, pieces that have actually been found in TV programmes is probably not best for production music. Often times I’ve thought that music We have written for any film on the non-exclusive basis could be accepted in the music library but, as Duncan has explained, music written to a specific scene may work perfectly only to that scene, and might possibly not sound right by itself. Surprisingly, it may also be that production values for TV music are often not suitable, especially with today’s increasingly stingy budgets.
The development music company won’t like being told their job, but sometimes there is no harm in assisting out with some marketing ideas. CDs and/or parts of CDs will end up being categorised to help you the end user, so you might consider doing the identical for your demo. Categories can be as vague as ‘drama’ or ‘lifestyle’, or they are often more specific to a music genre or era – as an example jazz, classical, World, ’60s, kitsch, indie, ska and so forth. Titles are really important, not just as a description but in addition to aid with searches. It’s exactly the same principle as Googling: key phrases or phrases inside a title can be very helpful, specifically for online searching. On the other hand, you can find limits to the quantity of tracks that could be called ‘Car Chase’, ‘Celebration’ or ‘Feel Bad Blues’!
Something that I still find fascinating is the place where my music ends up. What you may think your music will likely be useful for, it could be visible on something quite different, be which a feature film, TV drama, documentary, shopping channel, game show or gardening programme. To understand how production music works, try putting yourself from the position of any stressed-out TV editor who desperately needs some really good music to get a new component of footage the executive producer inspired to be added into a documentary three hours ahead of the deadline. There are several possibilities:
Visit a production music company site and do an on-line search, using various keywords that describe either the genre of music or even the scene that really needs music.
Naturally, a skilled editor or director will already have a good understanding of music which is available, often calling on ‘old faithful’ albums or tracks, but could still keep an eye out for first time and refreshing material.
Many production music companies may also aggressively market their http://musicproductiononline.tumblr.com, as any good publisher should. This could mean contacting producers of the film or TV projects which are about to go into production, and also developing close and ongoing relationships because of their main clients, arranging all the stuff that composers would do ourselves if we had the time and expense: courtesy calls, birthday cards, free holidays in the Caribbean, that kind of thing.
In the following paragraphs, we’ve looked at the company dimension of production music: what it is, who uses it, how it’s sold and, most significantly, how you can get your foot inside the door. But through the composer’s standpoint additionally, there are technical skills that happen to be specific to production music, such as the power to create versions of the pieces that suit exactly in to the 10-second format, so next month, we’ll look at techniques you can study to make an experienced-sounding production music library disc.