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Good composition and structure VS writing to picture

Discussion in 'Tips, Tricks & Talk' started by Thomas van der Burg, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. Hey guys and especially Mike,

    I've noticed a lot of times you critique us mostly about our compositions and structure and development. I understand that it is very important but I notice I find it very hard to focus on good structure when writing to picture. I have to invest so much time in writing music that fits the picture both storytelling wise and timing wise that most of the time when listening to it without the picture it goes all over the place. What are you're thoughts on this and how do I improve my compositions when writing to picture? If you've covered this in a masterclass please let me know, i'll buy it ;)

  2. In order to serve both masters - internal cohesion and picture edit - we've first got to master the internal cohesion part. We have to be masters of internal, self-supporting structure so we know how to preserve that while following the picture.

    But there is also something that happens to us when we're new to scoring especially, which is that we tend to Mickey Mouse and follow individual actions, moments, etc., instead of being clear what the overall drama arc for the scene is and score that instead. This requires, obviously, an understanding of drama.

    It is important to remember that film composers of yesterday were not just skilled symphonic composers and masters of structure - they also went to schools where they read the classics and learned about dramatic structure, from Shakespeare to Hemingway. In fact, because of this general education, most of the studio heads back in the day knew literature and drama as well and this changes everything. Writing music does not happen in a bubble - it is influenced by tons of supporting experience and skills. This is why we have to be students of film as well, so we know how to identify and serve the drama.
  3. That's an amazing answer. I indeed am falling into the trap of Mickey Mousing a lot. So how would you say to approach learning dramatic structure and then translate it to scoring? Maybe an idea for a masterclass? :) For know I guess i'll use my free time to practice composing without picture.

  4. Watch the film, take some notes, then close the movie and don't look at it. Go write some music that you think fits the scene or drama or character (whatever element you want to enhance with music). Write a whole piece of music, then try it against the picture and see if it fits, if not try again. There's a great video on YouTube with James Newton Howard talking about writing the opening for Fantastic Beasts, he tried over 40 versions before he got the one that worked. Our first attempts at anything are rarely our best work.
    Samuel Diaz likes this.
  5. https://mikeverta.com/product/online-masterclass-film-school-101/

    Possibly what you're looking for?
    Samuel Diaz likes this.
  6. Great Video! Crazy to think that composers at his level still struggle with that kind of stuff. Totally worth it though because that’s one of his best scores imo.
  7. Do you have a link to the JNH YT clip?
  8. He gave this talk a few times so there are a couple of different videos with the same content -
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