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Topic: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

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  1. #1

    Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    There's something I've noticed that I haven't seen anyone talk about (or maybe no one's really aware), and that is the generation gap between composers and their understanding of contemporary trendy music styles.

    Often, when I listen to a professional composer's sample mp3's on his website, I notice that many of the older composers (middle age or approaching it) don't seem to understand the contemporary musical styles of the younger generation. They'd have these tracks grouped under the electronic section, or call a track "trance," when those tracks sound nothing like the genres they are supposed to be. However, the younger composers don't seem to have this problem, probably because they are well-versed in contemporary trendy music genres--be it drum & bass, trip-hop/downtempo, industrial, goth, nu metal, trance, progressive house, jungle, acid jazz, dub, breakbeat, electro..etc.

    One of my day jobs was being a director for a CG animation studio, and I recall when working with a local composer, he knew practically nothing about any of the musical styles I described--ones I'd like him to compose for the project I was directing. I'd say something like, "I want something that has a harder ambient electronica edge to it--like you'd hear in the chill out lounge of a club, but add a bit more of the trip-hop melancholly feel, and then for the part where the action picks up, I want a more progressive house sound than straight trance--maybe even a loftier sound, like epic trance but without the 4/4 floor beat--use breakbeats instead." He just stared at me as if I spoke Martian to him. This guy was in his mid-40's or so, and although he was well-versed in jazz, pop, rock, and the typical bread & butter stuff, he had absolutely no idea how to do any of the contemporary trendy stuff.

    So my question is--how many of you do make an effort to be well-versed in all musical styles of today's commercial market? How many of you actually recognize, understand, and know the differences between most of the musical styles I just mentioned above? Do you guys feel having that kind of knowledge gives you an edge when dealing with clients--especially when trying to get gigs that require contemporary trendy music knowledge?

  2. #2
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    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    yea you have to know all the styles of orchestration ,ethnic, electronic, beat styles, and jazz, and you have to add your own creativity to this stuff. Sometimes you might not know anything about the music you need to do and so you listen to expamples you check out the sheet music(or follow the bass and beats in the example), then you create it. It really just comes down to knowing the beats as they define the style of music for what your talking about(not jpop though), and yes there are formulas for all those styles, you can even buy midi files as examples to learn how to create them. 4/4 pushing 3/4 12/4 on tops of 4/4 etc...

    you should have told the composer I want something like this(listen to this as an example) but I want a harder edge to it with more sweeping LFO or filters whatever....

    Producers deffinitly have to know all styles of songs that means knowing where the beats have been influenced from , African, Latin, all that and more.

    Same for Classical stuff it's better to know all about the voice leading and Dominate Tonic relationship with Circle of Fiths before you go and write in modes, other scales beside Diatonic, and break, and bend the rules, so you know why and how you are creating your cadences with out a strong V to I relationship in the music so it doesn't sound so Standard Classical major/ minor

    Then you want to know Jazz since that is related of course. ok I'll stop here LOL~!!!!

    we have to know a lot of Sh**** because then there is the production of it all and ******!!!!!!
    All I can Say is...HA!...HA!...HAAAAAAA!!!!!

  3. #3

    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    The point is, that if you need something trendy (whatever that is) you hire someone in to sort it out for you. Just like other composers use an orchestrator.

    D

  4. #4

    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by neoTypic
    Anyone have a handy dandy link? Heheh.
    http://www.di.fm/edmguide/edmguide.html

  5. #5

    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by awpmusic
    Sometimes the client won't really know the different genres either - but they might think they do.
    Exactly: it's not just the composer that needs to be well-versed!

    Or worse yet, you *both* think you know, but conceptually your definitions don't quite match up. So while it seems that you're speaking the same language, you're really stepping into idiomatic blunders.

    what they need to do is let you listen to some music and then say - I want something like this
    Again, right on target.

    Of course, it's not particularly a contemporary style problem, either: ever have someone say, "I'd like some jazz here"? And then you give them some Miles, but they really wanted Miller...

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  6. #6

    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by neoTypic
    Anyone have a handy dandy link? Heheh.
    This link will keep you entertained for a long time. With soundclip examples too!
    http://www.ishkur.com/music/

    Quote Originally Posted by awpmusic
    Clients just talking about what style they want will always bring problems - what they need to do is let you listen to some music and then say - I want something like this.
    That doesn't always work, as the composer in question will usually try to mimic the examples without really understanding the idiosycrasies of the genre. To be well-versed in a style, you have to be exposed to it for an amount of time, and have heard a number of different artists' works in the genre to grasp what the essense of the genre is. The better acquainted you are with various styles of music, the clearer your understanding of what seperates them or makes them similar becomes. I can't remember how many times I tried to explain trip-hop to composers who's offered to compose for my projects, just to have them give me blank looks or think I'm talking about hip-hop. I'd then have to explain the difference between the two, and then go and find various examples of trip-hop to show what I'm talking about. Now, isn't that part of a commercial composer's job--to know various styles of music, because you're supposed to be the expert on music, not your client? Knowing all styles of music should be a part of every working composer's homework during his downtime, don't you think?

  7. #7

    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markleford
    Exactly: it's not just the composer that needs to be well-versed!

    Or worse yet, you *both* think you know, but conceptually your definitions don't quite match up. So while it seems that you're speaking the same language, you're really stepping into idiomatic blunders.

    Again, right on target.

    Of course, it's not particularly a contemporary style problem, either: ever have someone say, "I'd like some jazz here"? And then you give them some Miles, but they really wanted Miller...

    - m
    Yes, but that's assuming the composer in question even knows anything about the genre they're discussing at all. At least in your example, both parties know SOMETHING About jazz styles. In the cases I described, the composer in question is completely oblivious to the fact the mentioned styles of music even exists, or have heard any of it. How can I discuss in finer detail what school or style within a genre I want if he's knows nothing about it? Do I then have to educate him by playing dozens of examples for him so he could learn what should've been part of his job in the first place? Once again, he makes a living doing it--he should be he music expert of various styels and genres and time periods--not the paying customer. Isn't it a little embarrassing to have the client educate you on matters regarding music?

  8. #8

    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunatique
    Now, isn't that part of a commercial composer's job--to know various styles of music, because you're supposed to be the expert on music, not your client? Knowing all styles of music should be a part of every working composer's homework during his downtime, don't you think?
    You wouldn't go to a dermatologist when you have heart problems, you’d go to a cardiologist. They’re both doctors, but with different specialties. Sure, the dermatologist knows something about the heart since they had to do a rotation in cardiology back in medical school, but dermatology is what they do best. Now if you had an emergency, you’d go to ER and have an ER doctor patch you up for whatever your immediate issue is. Since ER docs can do a little bit of derm, a little bit of cardiology, etc….

    Now, I select my doctors based on their specialty, what about you?

    You wouldn’t go to “50 Cent” for a romantic violin and cello duet, you’d go to __________ fill in the blank (perhaps me!)

    Have fun with this one!

  9. #9

    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    @sghoughton: That's a fab link.

    @lunatique: You have a point, but you're unlikely to find a young guy (who will be more likely to know what you're talking about) with the necessary skills/equipment/experience to cover all the bases you'd ever need. It sounds as if this guy just wasn't the right guy for your job. And I would say that any experienced composer would leave the first meeting straight away and find out what the hell you were talking about. It's just unrealistic to expect ALL composers to be able to write a children's song, score a horror movie, provide crossover trip-hop/euro-dance/industrial techno, an ambient wash of underscore, write a pop song, write an opera with full orchestral score, not to mention a piece for harpsichord/ukelele/tibetan nose-flute/duduk.

    If anyone came to me asking for something I knew little about, I'd research it and then do my level-best to provide something they were happy with. But often it will be the composer who suggests a style to suit the scene, allowing the director to agree or disagree.

    I'm also reminded of a story from a friend of mine who has produced hundreds of commercials for tv, of a director who asked for some "Miles Davis Saxophone". Hmmmm.. And also my friend was asked to produce some jungle music (this is going back to when Jungle was relatively underground in the UK), so he produced some 'jungle-y' sounding music (think Jungle Book and you won't be far off..) Needless to say, he didn't get that particular job. Yet he has had huge success with other commercials and idents, as well as a number one single.

    Some directors establish long-lasting relationships with certain composers, it just sounds like you haven't found yours yet..

  10. #10
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    Re: Do you really understand contemporary trendy music genres as a composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by sghoughton
    That's a great link and I have saved it - because I've never had a clue what any of this means. A film writers dream to have that link. On loading the Musique Concrete section in Down Tempo - I got addicted to track 4 by Stockhausen immediately - I swear to Christ the milkman sings that every morning at 6.00 am.

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