Lengthy reply coming up…sorry… I try to avoid these, but this reply bothered me a little.
It’s not what you have, but how you use it that decides whether you are a master composer or not.
Agree. I would hope that much is obvious.
if you don’t know how to use those resources, then having the best stuff is a waste of time
Agree. Again, I would hope that much is obvious.
I will take a composer who has the least amount of resources and has to use his (or her) imagination and creativity to wield a masterpiece, than a composer who never has to use his imagination to come up with stuff because everything he has seems to sound so good.
Fair enough, but saying a composer doesn’t have imagination just because he/she has the best resources is a pretty ridiculous statement and shows a basic lack of understanding of how the industry works although…if you want to be a composer just to write music for pleasure, then absolutely you don’t need the best resources.
- John Williams had Itzahk Perlman for Schindler’s List, widely regarded as one of the greatest film scores of all time. He chose Perlman, because Perlman plays the violin in a certain way, and has a certain tone, not to mention he is probably one of the greatest violinists that ever lived.
-The London Symphony Orchestra recorded the Harry Potter and Star Wars music. Why not record it in LA? Because the LSO is one of the best orchestras in the world.
Zimmer used 15 or so trombones + other brass instruments for the signature Inception sound, which is a score which had a HUGE cultural impact in 2010 (it has been ripped off so many times!). If he doesn’t have the resources to do that, then there is NO signature Inception sound.
Coker (yes, me) hires Ayana Haviv - soloist from Avatar, to do a recording, because she is really the only person that can nail the vocal style that I want. If I don’t spend the money to do that, I get removed from the film project for not finding the right sound for the film.
It’s possible to make even the best libraries sound bad. Believe me, I’ve heard people do terrible jobs with Symphobia and Tonehammer…!
I’ve had the pleasure of recording with an orchestra here in LA, and there really is nothing like it. And they are FAST at reading music, which saves time and money…
Would you prefer to listen to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony played by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra? Or by a high school orchestra? If you had to pick only one, which would you be more likely to choose?
If you wrote a piece of music for orchestra, would you prefer the world premiere to be played by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra or a high school orchestra?
I could go on and on…these are all statements about resources.
Anyway, if you really want to have a successful career, or what would be regarded as a successful career in the industry amongst industry peers, with a legacy/history, you need to have the best resources available. And I’m afraid it really does matter what you have. It’s really easy to hear the difference these days. Even musically untrained directors notice it.
That’s why the best composers charge so much $$$$, it’s not just because they are great composers, but they also have the best resources available to them, and that costs a lot of money. Conductors for orchestral sessions can easily charge $300 an hour. Mixers/engineers the same. Being a composer for film/tv/games, especially at the A/B-list level, you have to execute everything perfectly, not just adequately. Thats why it takes a while these days to break in (there are not many A/B-list successful composers under 30, only Bear McCreary is the one that springs to mind). Zimmer, Williams, Powell, Gregson-Williams, did not have major success until their early 30’s, because it takes a long time and a lot of experience to build up these skills and resources. It also takes time to learn how to execute something perfectly, as opposed to just doing a good job.
The simple fact is, - although this is a pretty big generalization - the best-produced music (and film/TV is all about production quality) you hear often comes from people who have great resources.
If your music isn’t well-produced, no-one is going to want to listen to it. It could have the greatest melody ever, but being a composer is not just about writing a good piece of music, it’s about executing a concept or idea meticulously and in the best way that you possibly can. This i s achieved by any of the following: composition, orchestration, arrangment, mixing, production, and probably a few more that I’ve forgotten.
I’m sorry @Ezrasound, but I felt pretty strongly about what you said. I spent 2 months working at John Powell’s studio as a tech assistant while he was scoring How To Train Your Dragon, and it really was a big eye-opener. The bagpipe sound you hear in that score, is actually seven bagpipes recorded in a HUGE room with special microphones. It’s a signature sound, and one that can’t be achieved without significant resources, which Powell has. He came up with a concept, and figured out the best way to execute it.
Maybe I’m just over-ambitious and still a bit naive, but nothing would please me more to come into work every day and have a full orchestra waiting for me and every synth/VSTi ever made. Because that gives me options and choices and inspiration, and from that comes great music. I’m striving to reach the top of my field, and I don’t know if I’ll get there, but I want to try, and having been in Hollywood now for a while, I see and understand what it takes.
NO-ONE in Hollywood at the top level got to where they are because they did everything themselves, we all need people and resources to help us along the way. I’m starting to acquire these resources, after spending 18 years training and now that I’m being given bigger budgets for projects, I can more easily accomplish better recordings because I have better resources.
John Powell had numerous orchestrators work for him on How To Train Your Dragon, thus meaning he didn’t write every note of music, does that make him a lesser composer??
Steve Jablonsky uses Hans Zimmer’s studio and has access to all the resources there, does that make him a lesser composer?
Even John Williams has an orchestrator, Conrad Pope!!
For the most part, I respect your opinion, but that one statement does a dis-service to all the composers out there who spend and sometimes LOSE money because they strive for the best recording possible by hiring the best musicians/orchestrators/conductors/arrangers.(Chris Young of Spiderman 2 / Drag Me To Hell almost went bankrupt when he got started in films because he often paid for the orchestra out of his own pocket and not out of the film budget).
I understand why you wrote this, because there are LOTS of composers who DO buy the best libraries, but don’t have the training to know how to use them or write decent music with them…
But there are also lots of composers who DO write decent music with them and have spent years training harmony/counterpoint/melody-writing, etc.etc.etc.
Anyway, live musicians and great software are tools of the trade that allow us to create great music. It shouldn’t be about who is the ‘best’ composer. If you can do something with no resources, then that’s great, but it doesn’t make you more (or less) skilled than someone who writes a good piece of music with a full orchestra.
I will take a composer who can give me a good end result, regardless of the resources used. A good piece of music is a good piece of music.
I feel like I’ve made my point, feel free to comment / agree / disagree.