Composers are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. I’m not just saying that because I am one, I’m saying it because it’s true. They frequently work hours beyond a typical 9 to 5 job in pursuit of perfection in every aspect of their custom music. This goes not only for the actual notes of the music but everything involved with its creation: mixing, parameter automation, and MIDI editing. If I continued to list things you’d likely stop reading this due to boredom.
I say this because there is value in the work of composers who create tracks for licensing and purchase to be used with different forms of media. While they might not be working to a specific film clip they are still creating an aural experience that can define a piece of work. It could even affect the media creator because they heard something specific in that track that made them want it in the first place!
But just like any field of work with options, custom music has some advantages to pre-composed/licensable music. This is especially applicable to those of us who get to work in-house with a video team to bring their vision to life.
Something was missing
Our team was recently working on a video that introduced a new award for the Triangle AdFed Addy Awards. The crew worked hard on the video to create something visually intriguing. While working on the music (using licensed tracks) something seemed missing. Luckily, I was asked to step in and compose something original to match the visuals!
One of the things that wasn’t working for video producer Bryan Reklis was the lack of edge to the track. It was too clean and crisp for what we were trying to accomplish with the overall product. The lack of variety didn’t help either as the track had one tone throughout. While it worked nicely with the timing of the edits, it simply didn’t add anything else into the mix.
This is where the advantages of working with a composer to make a custom soundtrack came in handy. The human interaction between two people working towards the same goal can have some surprising results. Having the ability to talk about what it is you want musically makes it easier for team members to integrate music into the project. The music is made specifically for their tastes and the needs of the project. This collaboration can lead to an even better version of what the video team and composer originally had in mind.
Mix and Match
Many licensable tracks also are created to have the same tempo and same time signature (number of beats in a measure of music) throughout the track. While this is very useful for editing, it can sometimes lead to redundancy. It’s not uncommon for video teams to purchase several pre-composed tracks and edit them together to form a Frankenstein music track with no consistency.
With this in mind, I was able to create a track that had changes in time signature, tempo, dynamics, varying sections, and modulations to move the music forward in a 44-second window. Below I have attached a sort of “walkthrough” video where you can check out the Pro Tools session with the different instrument tracks and some of the parameters that were adjusted to keep the music moving forward while also serving the purpose of the advertisement.
If you have music creators in your team, use them! We love the challenges that come with creating the track that fits just right. I hope you’ve enjoyed this walkthrough. We will have some new projects coming out soon that I’ve enjoyed composing for and I look forward to sharing them with you all.
The Voice of the Composer