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Tips for trailer music and screen music composers from Jeff Broadbent

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In our recent two articles we shone a spotlight on composer Jeff Broadbent’s score for Ubisoft Blue Byte’s RTS Champions of Anteria as well as his creative process behind Time Stands Still‘, published by Position Music. The multiple Hollywood Music In Media Award-winning and Global Music Award-winning composer also mentioned several things composers new to both industries should keep in mind:

Have a plan.

Having an overall plan of where you would like your career to go and what kinds of projects you would like to work on is helpful. Just as a business needs a vision and long-term goals, likewise the freelance composer needs a similar focus, and then put into motion the daily actions needed to achieve these goals.

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Learn your craft.

The first is to learn as much as possible about music composing. I learned a great deal about music through private lessons and university as well as personal study; the benefit of education cannot be overlooked. Getting your hands on film score manuscripts and studying them as well as listening to a lot of current score music, is also beneficial.

Learning the technology is also critical. Having the best equipment you can obtain, developing solid mixing skills and learning to use music technology (DAW, plugins, software) is vital. Production skills like these are incredibly important. Many projects may not have a budget for live music (or a limited budget) and as such, being able to produce great-sounding music in your studio is necessary.

Read also:  Tips for young composers from Richard Jacques (James Bond 007: Blood Stone, Mass Effect)

Don’t forget you run a business.

From a business standpoint, networking, meeting people that hire composers, marketing oneself and having excellent demo material are all very important. Shortly after finishing university I read many books on running a freelance business and this gave me a foundation to understand what I needed to do in order to build up my own composing business.

Networking via conferences (such as the Game Developers Conference), company inquiries, social media are all part of the recipe for marketing yourself and working on projects. Understand that just as much effort and thought needs to be put into business development practices like these as the music production itself.

Read also:  BAFTA winner Jason Graves: Tips for young composers

The right music, presented to the right people, at the right time.

You need to make sure you have the right music for whichever projects you are aiming for, you need to build relationships with and present your music to the right people and if possible, do so at the right time (for example, when they are looking for new music).

Read also:  Award-winning composers' tips for aspiring newcomers (Hans Zimmer, Patrick Doyle, Johan Söderqvist, Dario Marianelli)

In Trailer Music…

…think of a sonic identity.

The first thing I like to do before I compose a trailer cue is to have a sonic theme in mind. I like to think of one or two instruments or sounds which will be central to the cue so that each cue has its own sonic identity. This helps give the audience something to latch onto while they are listening.

Read also:  First of its kind Online Course 'The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer' is out now

…make an immediate impression on the audience.

Trailer music needs to make an immediate impression on the audience in a short space of time, so it needs to be very dynamic, direct, and memorable. It also needs to support the technical requirements of a trailer – having various edit points and sections that expand and build a strong climax, etc.

Read also:  Trailer Music Placements September 2016 (incl. Miss Sloane, Nocturnal Animals, Collateral Beauty)

…convey a feeling of development and completion.

Having melodic motifs that repeat and develop over the course of the track is helpful. In a film or video game score, the composer has a lot of time and soundtrack ‘real-estate’ space upon which he can create various themes and present them in different variations, etc. But in trailer music, you only have the duration of the single trailer cue to present your motifs and develop them. As such, it is very important to use musical elements and motifs that bring a sense of development and completion to the trailer cue.

Read also:  A Decade of Epicness: Aleksandar Dimitrijevic about composing for trailers

You can find out more about Jeff Broadbent on his official website.

Cover Photo Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer

This article was published inn collaboration with Plattentellerrand.com

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Based in Berlin, Germany. Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief. Music Producer at Eon Sounds Productions. Founder of Composers for Relief. Keeps Moving.

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