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An enjoyable pastime, or your livelihood?
Last post Thu, Apr 28 2022 by agitato, 80 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Apr 25 2022 17:09
by Dewdman42
Joined on Tue, Feb 27 2018, Posts 956

This conversation is becoming kind of pointless.  There are plenty of film score composers or wanna be film score composers that don't make any money at it whatsoever and are positively enamored with THAT art form, which is to apply applicable music to picture in a way that supports and/or enhances the film.  I personally know numerous people that never made a dime at it and never will.  Yet they are supremely interested in this art form for what it is...and it IS an art form in and of itself....and I would argue....distinct from that which Jerry brings up about music on its own.    Both art forms have their rightful place in the world...and in the end...people do whatever makes them happy...particularly when no money is involved in the transaction.  Film Scoring is about the story telling process...one part of it.  It is not without structure.  Yes...  if you are doing endless animated series trying to make a living cranking out mindless Ker-plunk music.. I can see how that would be pretty ungratifying after a while.  For myself...that is why I chose not to pursue a professional career in film music.  But there is still a higher form of film scoring that most film score composers aspire to, study about and engulf themselves in aspiration.  To denigrate this as a lessor form of music is unfair and flat out wrong.

That being said, there is also something to be said for writing music just for music's sake...with no picture..and I do agree with Jerry that this is an art form that is dying...we live in a video oriented culture now...and perhaps this is becoming a detriment to full musical envelopment...  no argument there.  There is something to be said for closing your eyes and just appreciating music entirely on its own...and allowing music composition to prosper and grow without being constrained to a supportive position underlying visual elements of a film.

Both forms of art are completely relevant in their own way.

The topic of whether to work at music production for a living is a completely separate question.  We all have to make a living somehow.  Sometimes a hobby we are passionate about can become just another job if and when that is pursued.  That is true with ALL hobbies of any kind whatsoever.  In a job, you do what you gotta do to bring in the money and that's it..  Perhaps you will have a few moments where you can do something truly artful with it...but I suspect that vast majority of people working in various forms of art industry have to, out of financial survival, do what the customer needs first, and consider their art second.  This is just reality.  On the other hand, if you try to make music a hobby while making a living some other way...then music will take a backseat in your life and its difficult at best to develop whatever talent you have into anything bigger and special....while the people scoring animated series every day...as laborious as that may be...do continue to develop their skills and perhaps out of that at some point in their life they will be able to apply those skills to a higher form of art that will make sense to them.  Maybe that can work, but I personally know a lot of starving musicians...so...  You can hear stories both ways...people glad they did that and people that wish they never tried.  or people that didn't try and wonder if they should have, etc.. its just not that clear cut....  we have to work to eat in some way or another....  

its ridiculous to ponder this question philosophically as if there is some great truth to what is the philosophically better approach to life.  There is no right or wrong.  People have tried both ways and some have succeeded both ways and some have not.  I would argue that the ones pursuing an art career have failed more then succeeded, FINANCIALLY...while those who did it as a hobby were more likely to succeed financially and perhaps didn't succeed as much in their art.  Which way is preferable?  Well that depends on the individual and how important their financial stability is to them.  Financial stability is not any less honorable than artistic integrity.  These are all valid values.

Its very few people that have the luxury to pursue their art form without concern for their financial stability.  they are the lucky ones.   For Jerry that means doing music without visuals...raw music.  Musical structures that stand on their own by the music itself and nothing more.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  But there is also nothing wrong with the person that is more interested in storytelling through music.  And as I said, I know lots of people that are obsessed about that art form and have never earned a single penny doing it.

Posted on Mon, Apr 25 2022 17:25
by Jerry Gerber
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 398

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

Jerry Gerber, your definition  of film music is of course correct for most composers, but is completely formed and circumscribed by the commercial practice.  You have experienced that kind of scoring because it is what usually takes place.  But it is not the ideal of film music.  The ideal usually can't be obtained, but it is not to be buried, abandoned or assumed to be non-existent the way you do.  The aesthetic reality of an art medium is NOT simply the most usual degradation of that medium.   And the simplistic concept that you brought up - that film music has no overall structure unlike symphonies, operas, etc. - is DEAD WRONG in the case of a great film score.  To me the greatest film score of all is Herrmann's Vertigo and it is music that is superior to most music in any field written at the time. Including concert hall music.   It creates - as Herrmann himself stated as his goal - an overall structure to the film bound together by musical motifs and orchestrations.   

What you are doing in your comment is reducing an art form to its worst practices and most degraded examples, and then using that to judge the art from. That is lamentably wrong. 

One other thing - you mention that an "amateur" or someone outside of a field is being arrogant in actually conversing and discussing things with professionals.  I totally disagree - some of the best comments on this Forum have not been from a clique of composers who look down on non-professionals, but from scientists and engineers who have fascinatingly objective concepts that are often startling and - by virtue of being outside the usual "professional" discourse - inspiring.  I love the mix of scientific with musical ideas as there are often fascinating parallels. 

William wrote:

Jerry Gerber, your definition  of film music is of course correct for most composers, but is completely formed and circumscribed by the commercial practice.  You have experienced that kind of scoring because it is what usually takes place.  But it is not the ideal of film music.

I agree with the above. There are no inherent technical or aesthetic reasons why the art of film cannot use music differently.  Or why films with excellent scripts and intelligent dialogue are rare.  Of course it's not the ideal, it's the norm.  

William wrote:

And the simplistic concept that you brought up - that film music has no overall structure unlike symphonies, operas, etc. - is DEAD WRONG in the case of a great film score.  To me the greatest film score of all is Herrmann's Vertigo and it is music that is superior to most music in any field written at the time. Including concert hall music.   It creates - as Herrmann himself stated as his goal - an overall structure to the film bound together by musical motifs and orchestrations.  

It's not simplistic at all, it's the usual, normal, everyday way that film music is made.  I gave three examples that deviate from the norm, and you added one.  No need to shout at me by saying I am "DEAD WRONG",   And if you actually take the time to think just a little about what I wrote, you would know that I didn't say film music has no overall structure.  I said that transitions between cues are usually not an issue for film music.  It's always an issue in music as an independent language and always an issue for music in ballet, dance, Broadway, songwriting and opera.. 

William wrote:

What you are doing in your comment is reducing an art form to its worst practices and most degraded examples, and then using that to judge the art from. That is lamentably wrong.

William, please try and get some awareness of your own contradictory statements.  You have said yourself how much you hate film music, and even when you like a score you have stated that you often hate the movie itself.  You use the word "hate" a lot William.   Not sure I trust such vehemence. What I am doing is looking at the vast majority of films and making statements about film music based on the norm.  If the "norm" is meaningless trash with badly written stories, inane dialogue and highly unoriginal music, well, then that's the norm.   I am not "reducing an art form to its worst practices"--filmmakers, movie studios and talentless writers are doing that.

I am aware of deeply artistic films that have been made, most were not blockbusters or highly profitable.  I have never said that film cannot be a fine art form; in the hands of gifted directors and screenwriters film is as much a fine art as any other fine art.   But remember, the conversation was veering toward the idea that the composers who meet deadlines are "heroes".  Does that mean that Debussy, who took 10 years to write his opera, or Brahms, who took 25 years to compose his first symphony are anti-heroes because they didn't have to cope with deadlines that almost guarantee a composer won't write his best music or that he simply hires other composers and/or orchestrators to write under his name?  Deadlines are a capitalist invention.  Deadlines are usually about financial pressure.  Deadlines can even kill--when NASA felt under pressure to launch the Challenger in weather that was too cold, this caused the O-Rings to become so brittle that they failed and produced the fuel leakage that blew up the spacecraft. The O-Ring engineers were warning NASA up until the last minute not to launch the Challenger but NASA ignored the experts who had studied this problem.  If we were not such a crazy species always worried about the passing of time we'd be happier, more productive and the quality of our work would improve.  So all this talk about how deadlines are so manly and heroic is a bunch of nonsense.  Why are we always in such a rush?   Anxiety and fear sabotage the intellect.  Pressure, in just the right amount, can stimulate progress and growth.  No problem there.  But too much pressure (like too much of anything that in the right amounts is good) is unhealthy and leads to mistakes and failures.  This is why there are so many product recalls--too much pressure to makes stuff too quickly, too much impatience, too much greed, too much emphasis on competition and not enough on cooperation. 

William wrote:

One other thing - you mention that an "amateur" or someone outside of a field is being arrogant in actually conversing and discussing things with professionals.  I totally disagree - some of the best comments on this Forum have not been from a clique of composers who look down on non-professionals, but from scientists and engineers who have fascinatingly objective concepts that are often startling and - by virtue of being outside the usual "professional" discourse - inspiring.  I love the mix of scientific with musical ideas as there are often fascinating parallels.

I did not write or imply that an amateur, or someone outside of a field is arrogant because they are conversing and discussing things with professionals. That's so crazy it's hard to believe you'd even say it.  My first reply to this thread was disagreeing with Macker not because he's an amateur nor about Macker not having any valuable comments to make about music, it was in response to a specific thing he said.   I have conversations often with people who come from a science background.  Many of my classical music theory/composition students have come from computer science and medical backgrounds.  I deeply value cross-disciplinary sharing of information and knowledge.  I value people who ask questions and know that there is always more to learn in every field.  I've been supporting people for decades as their music instructor who are amateurs and want to learn more about music composition as well as young gifted students who want to try and make music their profession.

In this thread I sometimes feel like I am dealing with primate-like behavior as I witness grown men unconsciously practicing their online bonding games to gang up on someone who doesn't agree with everything they say.  The silliness of it all...

Posted on Mon, Apr 25 2022 17:36
by Jerry Gerber
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 398

Originally Posted by: Dewdman42 Go to Quoted Post

This conversation is kind of pointless.  There are plenty of film score composers or wanna be film score composers that don't make any money at it whatsoever and are positively enamored with THAT art form, which is to apply applicable music to picture in a way that supports and/or enhances the film.  I personally know numerous people that never made a dime at it and never will.  Yet they are supremely interested in this art form for what it is...and it IS an art form in and of itself....and I would argue....distinct from that which Jerry brings up about music on its own.    Both art forms have their rightful place in the world...and in the end...people do whatever makes them happy...particularly when no money is involved in the transaction.  Film Scoring is about the story telling process...one part of it.  It is not without structure.  Yes...  if you are doing endless animated series trying to make a living cranking out mindless Ker-plunk music.. I can see how that would be pretty ungratifying after a while.  For myself...that is why I chose not to pursue a professional career in film music.  But there is still a higher form of film scoring that most film score composers aspire to, study about and engulf themselves in aspiration.  To denigrate this as a lessor form of music is unfair and flat out wrong.

That being said, there is also something to be said for writing music just for music's sake...with no picture..and I do agree with Jerry that this is an art form that is dying...we live in a video oriented culture now...and perhaps this is becoming a detriment to full musical envelopment...  no argument there.  There is something to be said for closing your eyes and just appreciating music entirely on its own...and allowing music composition to prosper and grow without being constrained to a supportive position underlying visual elements of a film.

Both forms of art are completely relevant in their own way.

The topic of whether to work at music production for a living is a completely separate question.  We all have to make a living somehow.  Sometimes a hobby we are passionate about can become just another job if and when that is pursued.  That is true with ALL hobbies of any kind whatsoever.  In a job, you do what you gotta do to bring in the money and that's it..  Perhaps you will have a few moments where you can do something truly artful with it...but I suspect that vast majority of people working in various forms of art industry have to, out of financial survival, do what the customer needs first, and consider their art second.  This is just reality.  On the other hand, if you try to make music a hobby while making a living some other way...then music will take a backseat in your life and its difficult at best to develop whatever talent you have into anything bigger and special....while the people scoring animated series every day...as laborious as that may be...do continue to develop their skills and perhaps out of that at some point in their life they will be able to apply those skills to a higher form of art that will make sense to them.  Maybe that can work, but I personally know a lot of starving musicians...so...  You can hear stories both ways...people glad they did that and people that wish they never tried.  or people that didn't try and wonder if they should have, etc.. its just not that clear cut....  we have to work to eat in some way or another....  

its ridiculous to ponder this question philosophically as if there is some great truth to what is the philosophically better approach to life.  There is no right or wrong.  People have tried both ways and some have succeeded both ways and some have not.  I would argue that the ones pursuing an art career have failed more then succeeded, FINANCIALLY...while those who did it as a hobby were more likely to succeed financially and perhaps didn't succeed as much in their art.  Which way is preferable?  Well that depends on the individual and how important their financial stability is to them.  Financial stability is not any less honorable than artistic integrity.  These are all valid values.

Its very few people that have the luxury to pursue their art form without concern for their financial stability.  they are the lucky ones.   For Jerry that means doing music without visuals...raw music.  Musical structures that stand on their own by the music itself and nothing more.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  But there is also nothing wrong with the person that is more interested in storytelling through music.  And as I said, I know lots of people that are obsessed about that art form and have never earned a single penny doing it.

Good points Dewdman, all of them.  But I repeat:  I didn't say film music has no structure (it does); I wrote that in general film cues do not have transitions to other cues that are separated by places in the film where there is no music.  Sometimes, yes, but more often not.  Nor did I say that film music is a lesser form of music.  Also, just for the record, I had a great time scoring animation, there were many episodes that were very enjoyable and challenging to score.  I did however, get a bit tired of it after writing over 750 cues over a period of two and a half years or so and longed to return to writing music for its own sake.  After some 35 years of doing that I haven't gotten tired of it yet!

We are certainly an "eye" culture far more than we are an "ear" culture. This has been true for many decades, and is getting even more extreme.  It's not what we do that's important--it's how we do it.  Well, there are exceptions.  If you design nuclear warheads well, then maybe you should think about the nature of the defective product you're designing because if used as directed it will murder a hundred thousand people.   Just one warhead.  But I digress..

Posted on Mon, Apr 25 2022 23:48
by Dewdman42
Joined on Tue, Feb 27 2018, Posts 956

I saw this recently, which might be applicable:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag4iFa6E_yY

Posted on Mon, Apr 25 2022 23:58
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1110

Macker: Thanks for the very kind words, it makes me very happy when something I say is of some value to somebody. By the way, those 'classics' you sometimes recognise in film composers' cues are mostly due to the temp tracks chosen by the music editor and ratified by the director in order to edit the film and give the composer an indication of the scoring required in those scenes. Sometimes, the director will be so enamoured with those temp tracks (often due to repeated hearing), that he requires of the composer to mimic them very closely. Excerpts from The Planets, The Rite of Spring and Carmina Burana are some of the 'classics' that are very popular with directors and which you may often recognise. R. Addinsell composed the Warsaw Concerto bespoke in the style of Rachmaninov, after the great composer declined the offer to score the movie Dangerous Moonlight himself.

Dewdman - "This conversation is kind of pointless." I am not particularly happy to have participated in a conversation that was kind of pointless. What a waste of time! Although you may be right, here I am again, wasting even more time... And, yes, 'art' music is a much higher art form than film music, and Williams and Herrmann would be the first to admit so. Now their music is superior to a great number of so-called serious composers (there are just so many journeymen serious composers, but so few 'artists'...), and Herrmann's Vertigo could very well have been a tone poem, his North by Northwest a great scherzo, etc. However, there are always the Stravinskys, the Prokofievs, the Debussys, the Rachmaninovs, the Strausss, the Sibeliuss, the Ravels, the Scriabins, not to mention second rate names, or older composers such as the Mozarts, Beethovens and co. In addition, all those people that love film music and dabble in it in their spare time, that's great for them. Who said they should ever stop? A professional on the other hand, his daily bread, his rent, his electricity, they all depend on him finding and satisfying clients. A totally different cup of tea.

 

I have said all I had to say about deadlines. All my studies in 'art' music, the film music course I took at the Australian Film Television Radio School, masterclasses with Bruce Broughton and Christopher Gordon, all the interviews I have seen, countless colleagues' testaments, all the books (not Internet pamphlets) I have on film scoring, and my own humble experience more or less corroborate what I have written previously. A professional, by definition, has to have deadlines if only for the reason that he has got a string of contracts lined up. So, enough on that, from me at least.

(Un)Happily, the discussion has veered again on topic, i.e. professionals/non professionals, money, et al. I do not understand how this issue has not been flogged beyond death yet... I am also to blame, having once again contributed turgid diatribes, when I should have put forward the following:

To be a professional instrumental/orchestral composer in the western tradition (film or otherwise) you have to satisfy at least one of the following two requirements:

A) Your work has to be of professional standards, as those are recognised internationally,

and/or

B) You get paid regularly for your compositions.

A superlative sounding mock-up, one where nobody can tell whether those are real strings/brass/woodwinds playing, is NOT - I repeat, is NOT an orchestral work of 'professional standards'. It is a work consisting of treated synthesised sounds. I want to see a score! Everybody will judge a score! That is where people will determine whether you are a professional instrumental/orchestral composer or not. That is where they will determine your orthography, they will read your trombone lines and trills(!) (which a sampler will perform perfectly at any speed), and whether those are possible. That is where they will read your harp scoring and how possible that is in real life. That is where they will see how sensitive you are to the Eb Clarinet intonation issues, whether you know the trumpets' useful notes (which don't begin at the bottom of their range), horn scoring, approaches to different ranges, dynamics considerations, true balance among the sections (your mock-up probably consists of about 200 strings, 16 horns, etc.), the list is virtually endless...

If you create a mock-up and then you need an orchestrator to "iron out" the crap in order for it to be sensibly recorded, then you are NOT a professional instrumental/orchestral composer, unless you satisfy the second aforementioned requirement (Hans, for example). That is because you have to collaborate with someone that knows what you don't; meaning, you are unable to do it on your own. If you get paid to give directors mock-ups as the final soundtrack that will support the film, then you are a professional synthesiser/samplers composer. Very-very different.

Now, jsg has said a couple of times how he cannot go to a scientists or engineers forum and blend in. I agree. I said something similar in the beginning. I added something very important though. This here is not a composers forum. It is a vendor's forum, where anyone interested can register and say whatever pops into their head. The engineers forum on the other hand is populated exclusively with professionals, certified with some official stamp that everybody acknowledges. They didn't just buy a computer, threw a pirated copy of AutoCAD in there, took a 6-week intensive Internet course in engineering and, voici, engineer... Same with the scientists in the other forum. 

This here forum does not expect you to know the history of instrumental/orchestral music from the Middle Ages onwards and its evolution (how about the theory of affectations during the Baroque period, opera reforms of Monteverdi, Lully, and Gluck), neither does it expect you to even know notation(!), let alone theory, harmony, counterpoint (including the differences between 16th and 18th century counterpoints) and types thereof (all the kinds of fugues, inventions, canons, etc.), instrumentation, orchestration, forms and characteristics thereof, schools and techniques of composition (from the organum, to the evolution of sonata form, to spectralism and neo-complexity, and all in between and around those), etc., etc., etc.

As an example, I was a freshman when one of my professors told us we all should know how to play the last three Mozart symphonies on the piano by heart (he proceeded to play part of the 1st movement of the middle one). I can't do this now any more than I could do it then. I do know the symphonies of course. But how deeply do I know them? This is a microscopic, subatomic example (one of many) of what is required, and of the intergalactic distances in mastery that exist even among people who are actually qualified!

It sounds a little more complex to composing a trailer or a couple of cues of background music, doesn't it?

And how about film music history, theory (including semasiology - musicology these days is very much dependent on linguistics), and (d)evolution? Not just Hollywood. Europe and Asia as well. Spiccato alone just doesn't cut the mustard!..

That is however the modicum of knowledge that would be required in a Composers forum (capital C, as you see, rhyme not intended), similar to the engineers' one, if any discussion were to have professional meaning. The VSL forum on the other hand is a free-for-all domain, as it should be. As a result, discussions here that are outside the scope of the company's products, can be anything, about anything, without any requirements of expertise; justifiably!

I, for one, am very happy that there are so many non-professionals around who love music so much that they part with their hard-earned money to buy expensive apparati in order to delve into the magical world of music, as hobbyists. If you care so very much that others consider you a professional, you have two choices: a) Play the professional to those who don't know any different, b) Become a professional who real professionals will regard as such.

But know this: Even though I know where the head, belly, and limbs are on a human, and even know where some of the internal organs are and what they do, broadly speaking (ex.: brain, heart, liver, appendix), I can't turn up in an operating room full of doctors and say, "Hi guys, I know these things and have watched a few surgery videos on YouTube. Can I participate?" 

Concordantly, many of you have no idea, seriously you cannot even imagine how few seconds, how few measures it takes one that knows music to discern from an actual orchestrally recorded cue (not a mock-up) whether the composer of the cue knows music or not, even if the composer has made more money from that cue than most will ever see.

Bottom line of argument? If you want to be taken seriously, be serious.

I always remember something Mike Verta said: In order to be a Hollywood composer these days, one needs a laptop and a pulse...

Well, some of us can always tell who's who.

But why should you mind?..

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 01:26
by Jerry Gerber
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 398

Originally Posted by: Dewdman42 Go to Quoted Post

I saw this recently, which might be applicable:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag4iFa6E_yY

It's applicable.  A composer I know once remarked "Music sells everything but music".   

Listening to music without visuals, without games, without jogging, dancing, doing homework or talking with friends--I have no idea what percentage of the population regularly engages in this activity.  Maybe some people, whether professional musicians or not, are just more interested and more sensitive to music, and can feel a sense of satisfaction listening without distraction of any kind.   Those are the people I write for.  

Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 01:51
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 597

-

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 02:04
by Jerry Gerber
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 398

Originally Posted by: Errikos Go to Quoted Post

To be a professional instrumental/orchestral composer in the western tradition (film or otherwise) you have to satisfy at least one of the following two requirements:

A) Your work has to be of professional standards, as those are recognized internationally,

and/or

B) You get paid regularly for your compositions.

A superlative sounding mock-up, one where nobody can tell whether those are real strings/brass/woodwind playing, is NOT - I repeat, is NOT an orchestral work of 'professional standards'. It is a work consisting of treated synthesized sounds. I want to see a score! Everybody will judge a score! That is where people will determine whether you are professional instrumental/orchestral composer or not. That is where they will determine your orthography, they will read your trombone lines (which a sampler will perform perfectly at any speed), and whether those are possible. That is where they will read your harp scoring and how possible that is in real life. That is where they will see how sensitive you are to the Eb Clarinet intonation issues, whether you know the trumpets' useful notes (which don't begin at the bottom of their range), horn scoring, approaches to different ranges, dynamics considerations, true balance among the sections (your mock-up probably consists of about 200 strings, 16 horns, etc.), the list is virtually endless...

,ow few measures it takes one that knows music to discern from an actual orchestrally recorded cue (not a mock-up) whether the composer of the cue knows music or not, even if the composer has made more money from that cue than most will ever see.

Bottom line of argument? If you want to be taken seriously, be serious.

Dear Errikos,

When I was creating scores for my acoustic music I took every pain to create scores that were up to current professional standards.  I don't have particularly good handwriting or graphic skills so it was difficult for me. But as I became more and more committed to the virtual orchestra, I began to question why I was even creating scores at all.   I realized there are other reasons to create a score that is not intended for live performance.  Here's a a brief article I wrote on the subject if you are interested:  https://www.jerrygerber.com/markings.htm

Your definition of serious orchestration is that you've defined (and perhaps limited) working in the virtual medium to being a "mock-up".  Have you considered it possible that for some musicians it may be a legitimate and serious artistic medium in its own right, deserving of exploration, commitment and developing techniques that are indigenous to that medium? 

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you've written, but it seems you've created an either/or situation:  Either you're a trained orchestrator and write for live players, or you don't know the first thing about orchestration and work with sample libraries, sequencers, MIDI, etc. I see it as normal and possible to be both.  For every technique a traditional orchestrator has to master, the musician working in the virtual medium also has an equivalent number of new techniques that need to be mastered. Synth programming itself is an art-form that one could do and spend a lifetime exploring the possibilities.  Sequencing a melody that has expression, gesture, nuance, dynamics, the right attack and releases, the right kind of note connections--this is a time consuming and very detailed process that someone attempting to "mock-up" a piece probably won't engage in.  Then there is mixing, mastering, maintaining a studio, troubleshooting--these are all related skills that go into producing recordings using relatively new tools.  And this is in addition to one's knowledge of harmony, counterpoint, form and structure and composition.  No wonder one lifetime is barely enough.  No wonder I sometimes still feel like a complete beginner when I sit down to work.

Technology has given us new ways to make music, new ways to record music, new ways to edit music.   There are some that are going to approach these new tools seriously, some will ignore them like the plague, and some will dabble in them from time to time.  These differing approaches to new music technologies have nothing to do with one's knowledge of music, one's musicianship, or one's seriousness as a musician.   Some excellent composers are simply not facile with technology; other than using Sibelius or Finale they are not interested in what computer-based instruments can do.  That's fine, there's room in this world for every and any approach.  Seriousness of intent is not determined by the tools we choose to make music with, that's how it appears to me. 

Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 02:08
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 597

-

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 02:13
by Jerry Gerber
Joined on Thu, Jan 19 2006, San Francisco, CA USA, Posts 398

Originally Posted by: Macker Go to Quoted Post

But it seems we're expected to conform to the opinion of a certain contributor here, otherwise he'll go on and on and on; trying to smear, belittle and invalidate the "opposition"; playing the victim; playing the BIG BOSS who will brook no contradiction; and generally reminding everyone - grandiosely - that nobody else has his status or can possibly understand the absolutely unique work he does, and that his opinion MUST therefore prevail. All without providing anything substantive to help win others over by means of fair, well informed and respectful debate. Moot, it seems, doesn't exist for him. His game is zero-sum.

Macker, enroll in an anger management class, don't give yourself a heart attack.  Your pride has been injured and you are sounding like a guy who's revenge fantasies knows no bounds.   Learn mercy and compassion.  They will serve you well. 

Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 02:17
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 597

Errikos, yet more nice points, and all so well put. All excellent nutriment for this debate.

I must say I too find the continuation of this thread curious. The topic I started is essentially an opinion, and of course opinions are like ar**h***s, everybody has one, lol. The problem with differences of opinion in open forums can sometimes be that we ordinary members are not part of one cohesive, formally structured organisation, and hence the "Simon Says" rule doesn't apply and can't be enforced. I love that freedom, though freedom for all appears to rankle with a few here.

It seems we're expected to conform to the opinion of a certain contributor here, otherwise he'll go on and on and on; trying to smear, belittle and invalidate the "opposition"; playing the victim; playing the BIG BOSS who will brook no contradiction; and generally reminding everyone - grandiosely - that nobody else has his status or can possibly understand the absolutely unique work he does, and that his opinion MUST therefore prevail. All without providing anything substantive to help win others over by means of fair, well informed and respectful debate. Moot, it seems, doesn't exist for him. His game is zero-sum, and anything goes.

Well his lack of decent debating skills would be dreary and deadly boring, save for the fact that there's a new game in town! (Readers of my posts here probably know what I'm referring to.)

Let's see if we can get him to extend this thread more and more and more, y'know, for the benefit of all mankind, Lol.

First, here's another mightily helpful item of news from JP Sears:-

   The Safe Space Hotline

Also, for good measure, let's hear an example of the work of another member here called up by the BIG BOSS as an ally, so that we can fully understand what we must aspire to and achieve in our music-making in order to impress the BIG BOSS, win his approval and become an honoured member of his tribe. The BIG BOSS obviously has very, very high and strict standards and it would be remiss of us not to study them.

   Rosanna Demo

I'm sure you'll easily see the similarity. Oh and that reminds me, Let's not forget that scientists, engineers, mathematicians, music theorists, etc, stand no chance, according to the BIG BOSS, of matching his talent in music-making, and I agree; none of these types tend to be terribly good at being a mechanic.

Happy mooting!

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 03:12
by Dewdman42
Joined on Tue, Feb 27 2018, Posts 956

Originally Posted by: Jerry Gerber Go to Quoted Post
Technology has given us new ways to make music, new ways to record music, new ways to edit music.   There are some that are going to approach these new tools seriously, some will ignore them like the plague, and some will dabble in them from time to time.  These differing approaches to new music technologies have nothing to do with one's knowledge of music, one's musicianship, or one's seriousness as a musician.   Some excellent composers are simply not facile with technology; other than using Sibelius or Finale they are not interested in what computer-based instruments can do.  That's fine, there's room in this world for every and any approach.  Seriousness of intent is not determined by the tools we choose to make music with, that's how it appears to me.

This is how I see it too.  50 years ago, the symphony orchestra was the sonic palette that composers had to work with, but today we have all manner of instrumentation, literally limitless sonic potential with electronic instruments, filters and all manner of timbre and modulation at our disposal.  If Mozart or some of the other great composers from their time were alive today; they would probably not confine their work to only symphony orchestra when there are all these other sonic tools out there.  IMHO.  Unless they were film score composers  hehe ;-)

There is definitely a certain tradition associated with the symphony orchestra and a historical legacy.  We honor this history and will continue to do so.  A relatively small number of individuals are able to work in that musical context.  To execute works for this medium requires extensive training and understanding about the symphony orchestra, a lot of which comes only through actual experience.  And that is fine.  Its extremely expensive, financially, for an orchestra to muck its way through a score created by someone that doesn't know what they are doing.  I think its completely valid to say that actual symphony orchestras and their committees should be (and are) discerning about which works they will be willing to perform, which meet a certain level of competency in that specific field of music.  No argument.

I am thankful that VSL and other sample developers have made it their mission to make these kinds of sample based tools available for the rest of us mere mortals to compose and learn about the symphony orchestra and try ideas out.  I actually specifically chose the VSL VI series initially for exactly the reason that it was not a big set of layered trailer music tools...it was a set of articulations covering the instruments of the symphony orchestra and would REQUIRE me to learn how to properly articulate instrument parts, layer instruments to create sonic timbres, balance them and work with them in ways that might be closer to reality.  I realize its still possible to do things completely wrong with sample libraries that would never work with real players...but I feel VSL has done an incredible job of staying close to the original instruments.  It honors the symphony orchestra, its tradition and legacy.   20 years ago, this was simply not possible (or may have been out of my budget at the time).

But I also think that we have a lot more sonic potential beyond the symphony orchestra.  We have instruments made possible by modern technology.  Its easier to work with, less expensive to work with and can be used to create endless sonic possibilities, perhaps some that have not been tried yet.

Hans Zimmer's score from Dune is an awesome example of this, IMHO.

Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 04:05
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 597

Hey BIG BOSS - isn't there something in your law about the absolute impossibility of a software front-end script kiddie (or whatever he was professionally for a few years) having anything valid to say about composers and composition? C'mon, where's the BIG BOSS law now?

Well I'm disenchanted, disappointed and dis-everything else. Just when it seemed we're all going to fall in behind you and be happy to obey the new BIG BOSS law of this forum, it all falls apart!

Jeez, now somebody else will have to replace you because obviously, we can't be doing with this kind of flip-flop inconsistency and lack of clear leadership from our BIG BOSS.

Well I guess dudboy will make a great new BIG BOSS,

Hahahaha.

(No, no, that's laughter of relief that hope is at hand - honest!)

Lololol

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 04:47
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 440

.

Anand Kumar
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 04:56
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 440

Originally Posted by: Dewdman42 Go to Quoted Post

There is definitely a certain tradition associated with the symphony orchestra and a historical legacy.  We honor this history and will continue to do so.  A relatively small number of individuals are able to work in that musical context.  To execute works for this medium requires extensive training and understanding about the symphony orchestra, a lot of which comes only through actual experience.  And that is fine.  Its extremely expensive, financially, for an orchestra to muck its way through a score created by someone that doesn't know what they are doing.  I think its completely valid to say that actual symphony orchestras and their committees should be (and are) discerning about which works they will be willing to perform, which meet a certain level of competency in that specific field of music.  No argument.

I am thankful that VSL and other sample developers have made it their mission to make these kinds of sample based tools available for the rest of us mere mortals to compose and learn about the symphony orchestra and try ideas out.  I actually specifically chose the VSL VI series initially for exactly the reason that it was not a big set of layered trailer music tools...it was a set of articulations covering the instruments of the symphony orchestra and would REQUIRE me to learn how to properly articulate instrument parts, layer instruments to create sonic timbres, balance them and work with them in ways that might be closer to reality.  I realize its still possible to do things completely wrong with sample libraries that would never work with real players...but I feel VSL has done an incredible job of staying close to the original instruments.  It honors the symphony orchestra, its tradition and legacy.   20 years ago, this was simply not possible (or may have been out of my budget at the time).

But I also think that we have a lot more sonic potential beyond the symphony orchestra.  We have instruments made possible by modern technology.  Its easier to work with, less expensive to work with and can be used to create endless sonic possibilities, perhaps some that have not been tried yet.

Hans Zimmer's score from Dune is an awesome example of this, IMHO.

 

There are many things said here that I would disagree with, and not bother to respond. But one thing you said compelled me respond: you used the phrase 'sonic possibilities' and immediately followed it with Hans Zimmer as an example. In my opinion the two dont go together. HZ single handedly killed sonic possibility for generations to come, thanks to sampled instruments that he had in his finger tips. If there is no electric current there is no Hans Zimmer, and Debussy or Strauss or John Williams created infinitely more sonic possibilities  simply using their imagination (and training!),  pencil and paper and the orchestra....no electricity needed except for recording.

You imply that sample libraries help create limitless sonic potential even in the hands of amateurs as opposed to the good ole symphony orchestra. Wrong again, IMHO. Do you think orchestral music ended with Mozart? Listen to some 20th century music all the way till Dutilleux and the likes.  It is impossible to create sonic potential beyond what they did with sound libraries without knowing how an orchestra works or having solid musical training. All we get is moronic and monotonous HZs thump thump ostinatos and the same goddamn drone shit that permeates every movie.

It is amusing that you think the symphony orchestra is some relic of the past and things have evolved into something better. LOL 

As an example of 'sonic possibility' just listen to the opening of this movement from Arnold Bax. This score from a 100 years ago hands down beats anything possible today with the most advanced tech. I wish some intelligent director used this incredible score in a sci-fi movie! The Dune score is toilet paper compared to this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCbNBu4wqC8

And just the other day I was watching The Shining, with Penderecki and Ligeti's incredible and complex string textures. Just mind boggling variety of sound.

There is something those composers knew that today's drone zombies don't, and THAT is the craft that is dying. Everyone thinks making orchestral music should be easy, and as we sow, so we reap.

Hope you educate yourself!

Cheers

 

Anand

Anand Kumar
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 05:30
by Dewdman42
Joined on Tue, Feb 27 2018, Posts 956

Originally Posted by: agitato Go to Quoted Post
There are many things said here that I would disagree with, and not bother to respond.

how enlightening.

Quote:
But one thing you said compelled me respond: you used the phrase 'sonic possibilities' and immediately followed it with Hans Zimmer as an example. In my opinion the two dont go together. HZ single handedly killed sonic possibility for generations to come, thanks to sampled instruments that he had in his finger tips. If there is no electric current there is no Hans Zimmer, and Debussy or Strauss or John Williams created infinitely more sonic possibilities  simply using their imagination (and training!),  pencil and paper and the orchestra....no electricity needed except for recording.

Apparently you are not familiar with the score to Dune, which I highly recommend you expand your mind and check out the film and the score.  

I don't disagree with you about some of his earlier work, I was a Hans critic for many years myself and still am with regards to the point you make above.   But Dune...that was really something new.

Quote:
You imply that sample libraries help create limitless sonic potential even in the hands of amateurs as opposed to the good ole symphony orchestra.

I did not imply that.  

I said nothing about "amateurs".  I also was speaking specifically about synthesizers and other electronic instruments that go way beyond "sample libraries" as expanding the sonic palette.  

Quote:
Do you think orchestral music ended with Mozart? Listen to some 20th century music all the way till Dutilleux and the likes.

I didn't say that either.  A lot of 20th Century music is not much interesting to me...nor to most of the general public.  And by the way 20th century music does not need to be performed by a symphony orchestra either.

What I said is that people like Mozart, if alive today, would have embraced the latest and greatest sonic possibilities...they would not have confined themselves to the symphony orchestra.  in its time, the symphony orchestra WAS the latest and greatest thing.

Quote:
It is impossible to create sonic potential beyond what they did with sound libraries without knowing how an orchestra works or having solid musical training. All we get is moronic and monotonous HZs thump thump ostinatos and the same goddamn drone shit that permeates every movie.

you are not speaking intelligently now about what I said earlier.  Perhaps a red herring.  

Quote:
It is amusing that you think the symphony orchestra is some relic of the past and things have evolved into something better. LOL

I did not call it a "relic".  You are sure putting a lot of words into my mouth.  Why all this animosity?  I also did not use the word "better".  I said we have a wider sonic palette.  Whether or not that is rendered into something better is entirely up to the composers and performers involved.  And I think they have just barely scratched the surface of what could be possible when expanding beyond, perhaps still including, the symphony orchestra.

Mainly people associate the symphony orchestra with great works of the past and modern film scores...   There is nothing particularly magical that the existing symphony orchestra is the be-all-end-all for composers in the 21st century and beyond, other then perhaps nostalgic feelings towards a time honored tradition.  And the fact that orchestras still exist and are ready to perform at a high level.

Quote:
As an example of 'sonic possibility' just listen to the opening of this movement from Arnold Bax. This score from a 100 years ago hands down beats anything possible today with the most advanced tech. I wish some intelligent director used this incredible score in a sci-fi movie! The Dune score is toilet paper compared to this.

I was not meaning to compare nor contrast Hans Zimmer's Dune to Arnold Bax or any other esteemed composer of the past.  Simply to show an example where symphony orchestra has been combined with synth textures...to great success.  Whether you like it or not..he did actually win an award for it, which must mean something more then "toilet paper".

Quote:
And just the other day I was watching The Shining, with Penderecki and Ligeti's incredible and complex string textures. Just mind boggling variety of sound.

No doubt...excellent works!

Quote:
There is something those composers knew that today's drone zombies don't, and THAT is the craft that is dying. Everyone thinks making orchestral music should be easy, and as we sow, so we reap.

ooohhh zombies.  wow.  I haven't ever seen one of those.  

I certainly didn't say orch music was easy and I don't think anyone on this thread has said that either.  With modern tech we have endless new possibilities.  You don't like Hans Zimmer, fine that is your opinion.  I certainly am not going to compare him to some of the composers you mentioned, no doubt about that.  But I think future great composers that rival them will use these new tools, perhaps in addition to the symphony orchestra...or perhaps not.  Its also possible the symphony orchestra will eventually die due to the cost required.  The main thing that symphony orchestra does very very well is combine the talents of 80 players on a stage, which bring in humanism and dynamics that are very very difficult, if not impossible, to perform using current midi devices, etc.  But this will change in time.

Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 06:44
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 597

Seriously now. As the originator of this thread, I've a few observations on its development.

1. The theme of the thread has been essentially an opinion piece; a bit of (non-academic) philosophy, if you will. I really do not believe there's enough scope to underpin the discussion with hard objective facts, to the extent that a logically solid and universally valid conclusion could be derived. It's not science. There is no scientific paradigm to guide us, nor to be broken and replaced by a new paradigm. Hence at most it's mere philosophy.

2. A good number of useful perspectives and insights have been contributed and have, I hope, enriched and perhaps even enlightened some readers in their thoughts, feelings and attitudes on this topic. I can certainly say I've appreciated and also learned from much that's been said here.

3. We hit an obstacle early in the course of the discussion when, it seems, a certain member objected to the topic being discussed at all by anyone he deemed to be an 'outsider', or otherwise 'unqualified' to offer opinions on the topic. The discussion grew somewhat ugly as a result of that, but nevertheless yet more useful perspectives and insights were contributed by others. Even so, the dismissive, grandiose and illiberal attitude of this one member has persisted. In my book this has on the one hand sullied the debate, but on the other hand been met by others with trenchant and illuminating contributions. Whether or not the illiberal content has inadvertently served as pieces of grit from which pearls grew, is difficult to answer; but the 'illiberal member' is now, sad to say, a marked man.

4. The debate remains open to all of course. But I for one have said my piece and enjoyed the free part of the debate, especially the contributions of the two main luminaries, William and Errikos. My sincere thanks to them both for their contributions.

5. Of course in any lively debate there is much cut and thrust, but at the end of the day there is always the need for agreeing to differ on disparate or even diametrically opposed opinions. Any who can't or won't do that would be foolish to think that anything goes these days; certain things are most assuredly not tolerable for most of us who enjoy living in what remains of our free democracies. One of those intolerable things is the attempt to shut down free, decent debate. (Trolling is also not acceptable - mind how you go, trolls.)

Happy moots!

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 06:54
by Dewdman42
Joined on Tue, Feb 27 2018, Posts 956

the great oz has spoken

Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 07:04
by Macker
Joined on Tue, Aug 21 2018, London, Posts 597

Hope you took note of what I said about trolls and trolling, dudboy.

Talking about needing to go pro, here are some great tips from JP Sears:

How to Become a Narcissist

I like the brown water bit - reminds me of a certain piece of junk hacked and hyped by an irresponsible amateur as a great improvement over VSL's equivalent.

Happy new career as a troll.

Lol de lol de lol.

"Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words."
~ Franz Liszt
Posted on Tue, Apr 26 2022 16:14
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5724

Anand, I completely agree with your post.  BTW I loved those John Williams links - the Imperial March was mind-boggling in the power of both music and performance. The fun he must have had hearing that right in front of him...

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