Why You Should Start Working with Your Composer Earlier

 

I have observed that lately music tends to be an afterthought in some projects. Some directors (game director or whatever is the title of the person in charge of the project) don’t seem to consider music implementation after the project is in advanced state, sometimes even completed, only needing the music. This approach can come up well, especially if a good amount of work is put into use, but I will show you why you should consider starting to work earlier with the composer of your project.

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First of all, when you decide that your film, video game or advert is going to have music, you usually hire a composer. This can be for many reasons, but the main idea is that you hire a professional you trust to cover a part of your brand new project, like you would hire video editors, concept artists or whatever. The point is that in the end you end up with a team of professionals working towards the same goal: to make something as best as they can, to fulfill your artistic vision.

Also, the interaction between the makers of the final product is where the magic happens, is when the concept artist comes up with a design that the programmer loves and, in the end, they decide to include this magic necklace feature that wasn’t in the design document initially.

Obviously you can have a clear vision of what you want and feel you don’t need any advice, but let’s face it, if you are surrounded by experts in their fields, the more you trust them, the more you involve them in your project, the better outcome you will have. You will not realise, alone, that changing the musical scale in this precise moment will change the mood completely and achieve something much better than you expected, for example.

If you treat all the parts of you project equally, if you try to envision your project holistically, seeing all the parts together forming the thing you have in mind, you are more likely to end up with something better.

If you treat all the parts of you project equally, if you try to envision your project holistically, seeing all the parts together forming the thing you have in mind, you are more likely to end up with something better.

In the film industry it’s quite common that music is an afterthought, but more and more often you find cases that prove that it’s not the best idea. I recommend you watch these two videos:

Hans Zimmer in Interstellar: basically Christopher Nolan approached Hans Zimmer before starting to make the movie with a paper sheet about fatherhood. Watch it, completely worth it.

Junkie XL about Temp Love: Temp love (temp as temporary music) is when video editors or directors use random pieces of music they like to edit the film, and when the composer comes in they find it difficult to let go of the old tracks (imagine if the composer made some tracks for the video editor before!). And well, both the music and talks of Junkie XL are just amazing.


If I talk about my personal experience, I can tell you that my music ideas changed a lot of features in the video games I work for. There’s a jazz club in the video game and you want original jazz music. Okay, I can do it, but why don’t we make a jazz to play every saturday and make two or three songs that sing about the ancient civilization that lived in the area ages ago, and give hints to the player about the location of some treasures in the lyrics of the songs? This is just an idea, but music, as any other discipline, can be applied artistically and holistically, and if you don’t involve your composer in your project and just make him put some music on top of it, you will have just that, an afterthought, an important part of your project that doesn’t interact with the others as much as possible.

Also read: How to Communicate with your Composer