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How Does Each Film Composer Write (Paper or Software)?

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I wouldn't say so. You need imagination whether what follows is the writing of what you've imagined on paper, the entering of it into a notation program, or the playing of it into a sequencer.  Not to be undervalued, also, is the freedom that sequencers and recorders bring into the mix by capturing improvisation, the most direct and intuitive way into the imagination. Note that even JW has mics set up next to his piano.

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Using computers in composing, is like using Pro Tools in recording: it diminishes the imagination, and makes the "composer" lazy. Nobody needs that sort of "intuition".

Anyway, what's music going to sound like, when people move on from computers?

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On 10/22/2016 at 3:00 AM, Richard said:

Using computers in composing, is like using Pro Tools in recording: it diminishes the imagination, and makes the "composer" lazy. Nobody needs that sort of "intuition".

Anyway, what's music going to sound like, when people move on from computers?

 

What does this even mean?  You're becoming increasingly incoherent and uninformed in your posting, friendo.  Maybe don't try to argue for its own sake or to appear "old school?"

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11 hours ago, Richard said:

Using computers in composing, is like using Pro Tools in recording: it diminishes the imagination, and makes the "composer" lazy. Nobody needs that sort of "intuition".

Anyway, what's music going to sound like, when people move on from computers?

 

Yes!

 

Technology is a direct enemy of human creativity!

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15 hours ago, Richard said:

Using computers in composing, is like using Pro Tools in recording: it diminishes the imagination, and makes the "composer" lazy. Nobody needs that sort of "intuition".

 

How exactly does it do either of those?

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On 10/22/2016 at 7:18 PM, loert said:

So, the next time somebody says that computers make a composer's life "easier", like all they have to do is press a button and out pops the music, or something...I can assure that is not the case.

 

Well, I can't really agree with this.  

 

What you're describing is simply the price of using these wonderful new tools which enable composers to do exactly what you're doing, display their abilities on their own terms without needing to rely on a musician or musicians to champion their work, or to demonstrate material during the process of making a film or video game or what have you.  Or, on low budget productions, to provide a virtual score without real players.  Like anything else with music, this part of the process takes time.  It takes even more time, and can be frustrating, if you write on paper first, and then have to perform the music in, as you describe.  Even writing in a notation program has similar annoyances, since importing score data into a sequencer still leaves you with zero expression or articulation changes, etc.  That's how I do it, handwritten sketches, then a virtual performance.  It's a big time investment, but it's just part of it.  Set a core template up once, and you no longer have to worry about balancing each instrument, setting reverb, positioning, all that.  Just add or subtract whatever is necessary as appropriate from project to project, but at least you're not starting from nothing every time.  And also, make keyswitched instruments.  It's better than having tons of articulations on separate tracks, unless there are egregious mixing needs between, say, a stupidly loud staccato patch and a legato one.  

 

But you know what?  I'll take this even farther.  Computers would make my life as a composer even easier if I could totally ditch the paper altogether.  I know people who work this way.  They plan their music out meticulously, mostly in their head, and then go into their sequencer, with their ensemble already set up perfectly, and they play in each part according to their plan, laying down the core foreground material as a foundation, then everything else happens.  And they're not writing anything down other than key thematic ideas in the planning phase.  The composing is happening in real time, sometimes with the first pass being kept - composition by improvisation.  Other times, things are redone, just as you might write something down and then erase it and rewrite it several times.  And no amount of complexity of writing nor of orchestration is lost in this.  The most fluid and intuitively composed music I hear regularly is a result of this process.  Afterwards, it's a simple matter of transcription, which gets easier by the day as the notational abilities of sequencers are improved, to create a score if one is needed for the real players.  Getting it down on paper is just an afterthought, as it should be.  Yeah, I wish I could do that.  But I can't balance like that, holding things in my head, working purely by sound and not worrying about the notational representation of what I'm doing.  I can't even keep simple chordal passages clear enough in my head to work out the right division of parts between the strings, for example.  I have to write that down and see it to play it.  Notation is, for me, something of a creative prison.  It reduces a medium of sound to graphical representation and the inner ear, neither of which will ever be as good as sound itself manipulated in real time.  I am fascinated by the people who are able to do this, who are one with the machine.  I'm trying to get better at it.

 

Here's an interesting question.  If some technology existed to directly channel the activity of one's brain, would some of you purists consider it a lazy shortcut to have this technology extract directly from your imagination the music that you've thought up?

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"When you employ a machine to do the work of a man, you take something away from the man".

 

There's no doubt that technology has made the Human race lazy, impatient, selfish, and intolerant. 

What will happen when computers reach the limits of their "assistance" with composing (or anything else)?

 What will replace that process, and what will be the repercussions?

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On 10/20/2016 at 9:00 PM, zaddini said:

I know that Gordy Haab (SW:Battlefront/SW:TOR/SW:Kinect/Halo Wars 2) uses pen and paper. He has dedicated team of mock-up artists that help him present his ideas to producers utilizing virtual instruments. He has mentioned it in several interviews.

 

Wow! That's pretty cool. I figured that for sure he'd just compose right on the computer. 

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https://8dio.com/2012/04/09/interview-with-austin-wintory/

 

Quote

How do you integrate samples into your work? I’m asking this in particular as I heard that you are more of a traditional pen and paper composer, like John Williams.

 

Austin Wintory: I wouldn’t liken myself to John Williams in that sense (or honestly, any other!). I sketch by hand but I always do mockups. It ends up being a hybrid of the two, and I like to orchestrate in a hybrid approach too. But my rig is certainly a core part of my approach. I am a bit more traditional in that I tend to formulate a musical idea first, then try and develop sounds or templates to achieve that, versus just loading up samples and playing around with them until I find something interesting. That approach can work too, but it’s usually not how my mind works.

 

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7 hours ago, zaddini said:

https://8dio.com/2012/04/09/interview-with-austin-wintory/

Quote

I am a bit more traditional in that I tend to formulate a musical idea first

 

 

Wait, this is "traditional" now??!!

 

3 hours ago, karelm said:

I believe pruning is a big part of the process.  What you are describing is pretty much improvisation and the big difference between composing and improvisation is that improvisation is a performance where composition is not.  For me, my ideas are not complete they need to be refined and elaborated on through the course of time so I do not think a brain transcription technology would help much.  I do think it would be the equivalent of recording my thematic ideas when there is no other way to capture a fleeting theme. 

 

Indeed. I wouldn't be able to produce an entire composition like that, but it might be useful for "projecting" a few notes at a time. Even then, there is likely to be "noise", whereas transcribing manually involves some degree of self-examination in the process.

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21 minutes ago, loert said:

 

Wait, this is "traditional" now??!!

 

 

Indeed. I wouldn't be able to produce an entire composition like that, but it might be useful for "projecting" a few notes at a time. Even then, there is likely to be "noise", whereas transcribing manually involves some degree of self-examination in the process.

 

This. One of the main advantages of pencil and paper (or digital transcription). You get to properly evaluate the work as whole and what exactly trying to do. Working of just the DAW can make it more difficult to be more critical of the bigger picture of the work. It's a valid method, but easier to get sloppy.

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I haven't found that to be the case. Seems like people who work that way are far more critical of what they're doing since they're hearing it immediately, and things get changed. It's easier to fudge things on paper.

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On 9/26/2016 at 3:58 AM, Will said:

I was wondering recently which film composers use/used pen/pencil and paper and which use/used computer software. For example, Horner. Or Desplat (I know he uses the VSL but does he sometimes use paper)? Giacchino (obviously he uses MIDI sometimes, but always?) Etc.

Hello ! I believe that a well-trained musician should not have problems with technology changes. Every good musician should have writing compositions on paper and should be able to write compositions with the help of electronics! This is a development! The authors wrote texts on paper earlier. Authors write texts in Word now. College paper writing service papersowl.com can help authors with writing papers in Word! I believe that the development of technology is a good process. Therefore, authors of texts need to learn how to use the Word, and composers should learn to use electronics!

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The analogy between music and literature is rather poor.

Spoiler

Myself, when writing, I use a tiny notebook and a pen only when out in the public, where IPads are too big to carry in a pocket, smartphone keyboard interfaces are too slow, and machines in general require launching the screen, launching apps every time, have shining screens (prohibits taking notes in cinemas / some museums) etc. and are generally too slow for wild-west style quick-drawing and note taking.

 

Also, I use a simple pencil when writing on the margins of physical books I read, because reaching for a separate paper / device to write every note and word is too distracting and clumsy.

 

Outside of these circumstances, a laptop with a screen able to show me a thousand words at the same time and with a comfortable keyboard, or better yet, a PC with a large screen and a traditional keyboard, even before mentioning their having the "copy" and "delete" buttons, are the only real solution. Even weirdos like Nabokov and Dostoyevsky, who preferred to dictate to their wifes instead of writing, and then didn't revise their writings on their own either, would find technology—in this case: speech-to-text technology—a bliss.

 

In literature there is literally nothing going on for traditional writing. 

 

In music, I would argue to the contrary.

 

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I'm currently scoring a fairly big feature film, requiring 110-120 minutes of orchestral music, some of it highly complex.

 

I do all of my work in very detailed short-score with no additional orchestrators, sending each page off to only two people: An engraver providing orchestral parts, and an assistant providing mock-ups (and digital elements integral to the score, all of which I first notate and describe to the best of my ability).

 

It's a small team, but a very effective one. 

 

For my concert work, it's all manuscript, but most of it gets engraved courtesy of my publisher.

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1 hour ago, Marcus said:

An engraver providing orchestral parts, and an assistant providing mock-ups (and digital elements integral to the score, all of which I first notate and describe to the best of my ability).

 

This is what I do too now.  It was fun to play with the gear for a while but unless you can really make it part of your process it's better to outsource that part of the work to those who can.  I'm just a few years too old to have the right stuff for the new approach.

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I don’t write music and can’t offer an informed opinion on this topic. But I think that being able to write music with paper and pen would make a composer more agile than solely using computer tech. You can take p&p wherever you go and can input with much greater freedom (eg, you could notate calligraphically at one extreme or write chicken-scratching indecipherable to no one but you at the other). With computers, you typically must input in only the manner designed or allowed by the device or program. That would inherently have to be more restricting than p&p. Plus, writing with p&p seems more elegant in its simplicity—it’s only two tangible items, either of which could be substituted readily (no paper? Grab a napkin. Or cardboard. Or birch bark. No pen? How about pencil, chalk, paint, lipstick?...) With tech, the necessary items are remarkably more complex. You need an input device, a processor/computer, software, memory & storage, a workstation to set it up on, electricity to run it, etc. No matter how much tech aids the process, there’s no arguing that tech makes for a simple solution like p&p does. 

 

Note that I’m not some Luddite. In a previous career, I did a lot of document design and map work as part of my job. I never did any of it in an analog mode (eg, cutting pieces of paper and assembling with tape, drafting at a drafting board). It was all digital, all ArcGIS and Adobe Creative Suite. I think my work stands up well, especially for an amateur, and most things I did would be impossible in a purely analog workflow. So tech wins out there.

 

 

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On ‎1‎/‎28‎/‎2019 at 7:44 PM, Marcus said:

I'm currently scoring a fairly big feature film, requiring 110-120 minutes of orchestral music, some of it highly complex.

 

I do all of my work in very detailed short-score with no additional orchestrators, sending each page off to only two people: An engraver providing orchestral parts, and an assistant providing mock-ups (and digital elements integral to the score, all of which I first notate and describe to the best of my ability).

 

It's a small team, but a very effective one. 

 

For my concert work, it's all manuscript, but most of it gets engraved courtesy of my publisher.

 

Which SW do you do the short-score in?

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On 4/26/2019 at 1:21 PM, Jurassic Shark said:

:rimshot:

I can't not share impressions, emotions for more than two weeks run wild in me.

The San Diego Symphony concert on Friday, April 12 felt slow and controversial. I was surprised. In years gone by, the combination of conductor Jahja Ling, the San Diego Symphony, and Johannes Brahms, has been unpredictable. But on Friday Weber and conductor Jahja Ling are really a wonderful combination. Der Freischütz - the music is good enough and reflects the story of the development of young love and agreement with the devil. But the overall impression of what I heard was different. My big discovery in Chopin's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was the performance of Jan Lisiecki. His piano playing inspired me so much that I completely forgot about the bad mood from the previous performance. Jan Lisiecki played her amazingly. It even exceeded all my expectations. About Brahms Symphony number 4, I just keep silence.
This is a vivid example of the fact that it doesn’t matter at all what tools the composer uses, an Excel, a special music software, a Word, a ballpoint pen or a quill pen. The measure of everything is the talent of the composer. That's why I love John Williams. After all, he gives every musical phrase a soul. That's what we love him for.

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