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Old November 24th, 2002, 04:07 AM   #1
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Anyone compose their own music for their films?

I'm thinking seriously about taking a whack at it. I used to dabble in music and composition a bit, but I haven't had a keyboard since the early 90s. I'm sure there are mind-boggling advances in keyboards and computer connectivity and music sequencing software...so it'd be great to hear any tips some of you might have for equipment to consider.

I have a G4 Mac...and have an old Midi connector stored away somewhere...but that's all the equipment I've got.

Don't some people use sampling keyboards for foley? Seems like they'd be great for that.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 04:32 AM   #2
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Yes. I have an organ and a piano.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 05:38 AM   #3
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<<Yes. I have an organ and a piano.>>

All right, Frank. You can't get away with that answer. I'm obviously asking for advice here...sooooo...please advise me. Don't leave me hanging. Give me some details.

Lots of filmmakers have included music that they composed...especially indie filmmakers. And some of these compositions, although simple, are the ones we remember best.

It's impossible to get/afford the rights for popular music...which is a shame since music plays such an integral role in a film...and really doesn't do anything other than bring the music to an audience that might otherwise never know it exists...hence increasing the chances of bigger sales of the composer's CD. The music industry really has set up a Catch-22 situation for musicians.

Anyway...any other filmmakers that get as pissed off as I do about having to use cheesy copyright free music will understand why I want to do this.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 07:26 AM   #4
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John (the busiest man in indi movie making)

I play a little with creating my own music, i use a program called acid music, by you guessed it sonic foundry.

It allows you play with beats, loops and samples and even if those snippets are taken from copyrighted music, if you use under 5 seconds you are safe, and try to stay away from very distinguishable lyrics.

I have done this to good effect and create some nice tribal and hiphop music. There are also the groovebox and rubber ducky programs that can have you creating hardcore techno in minutes!!

One of the best ways i have got GREAT music for features is to go to a music school and university departments and leave notices up saying need composer/band/music for short film. I get no less than 20 calls and all are willing to show you what they can do and what they are good at, and this is totally free and using a person really suited for the job.

Indi movie music is always its best when simple and fitting of the movie, music is an extention of visual emotion and like lighting and camera movement must be used to further the emotion you are trying to convey to the audience at that particular moment, as well music should create motif's and building up an expectation with the audience for further interaction.

The best simple indi music i have ever heard done by a film maker is John Carpenter's music for Halloween, it was simply spectacular and had around 3 notes in it.

kermie
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Old November 24th, 2002, 10:58 AM   #5
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Kermie,

That's exactly the example I was thinking of, too. The "Halloween" main theme is so simple, but it sticks with you. "Dead Calm" is another simple but effective soundtrack that I like.

I've already looked at some of the music making programs. There's one for Mac that supposed to be pretty great. But I think I'd rather compose on a piano keyboard than a computer keyboard. I'd enjoy it more.

There are so many things to consider before buying equipment and software, though...just like when I first decided to buy a digital video camera...which brought me here in the first place.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 03:40 PM   #6
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Well, I've been playing the piano since I was 6. With an organ you can do all sorts of neat sounds. I just dub while playing, here and there, along with dubbing voice.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 05:38 PM   #7
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...er...that's uuum...nice.

Oh well...looks like I'm a pioneer. Gimme a few months and then I'll be ready to help out anyone looking to do the same thing.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 11:09 PM   #8
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John,
Kermie's idea about music students is great, there are a lot of music colleges here with lots of young kids who will be more than happy to provide music for a soundtrack. Not only are they studying how to play real instruments but a lot of them make music digitally using Reason, Cubase, Fruity Loops.

A lot of my friends are DJ's and musicians in their spare time, (when they are not teaching English) and they let me use their music if I find a song of theirs I like, I in turn film them when they have their events so it works out well for me. Going out to live shows is another way to find cool music, offer to film them in exchange for using their music.
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Old November 25th, 2002, 12:23 AM   #9
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Speaking of "Halloween"...

During a recent viewing of Halloween I noticed that John Carpenter himself (the director) wrote and performed that haunting score.
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Old November 25th, 2002, 12:38 AM   #10
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i second (or third) the idea to use university music students. luckily my sister is a music/vocal major at a university here. and it's nice because not only does she know people within her classes, but she's hooked up with a few electronic artists outside of school as well as a few blues and lounge musicians. it's great having someone that knows what they're doing with music (i'm completely music illiterate). i know what i like and might sound good, but her knowing how to get it and what might work even better is a dream.

haha, and if they won't work for free, they can usually be persuaded with some beer, pizza and/or anime.
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Old November 25th, 2002, 02:25 AM   #11
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Ken, I've always thought that was pretty cool that John Carpenter made the soundtrack. I remember him on Letterman when it was first released. Until "El Mariachi" came along, he probably had the biggest low budget coup in history.

Rik and Matt, I definitely plan to try to schmooze some music students into writing some original music. Rik, do you know of any music schools or conservatories here in Tokyo. I searched the web and came up with not a whole lot. Almost all the schools they mentioned were small rock and roll schools.

I still plan to get a keyboard/sampler, midi connector, and software to do some myself. I'll start doing my homework now on what equipment is best, cheapest, and available here. Hey, if John Carpenter can do it...
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Old November 25th, 2002, 02:38 AM   #12
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I've composed music for several productions of my own. Earlier they were slideshows (yes, REAL slides) and nowadays DV productions (mainly nature, but I'm also planning my first feature).

I have a long hobby-based realationship with music, but no real musical studies. Besides the cons of that I also have some pros; I can really concentrate on the feeling the music creates and not worry too much about the "right" theory (of course I have the minimal knowledge considering e.g. notation to be able to compose by playing keyboard or drawing notes).

For financial reasons I use Live!-soundcard and soundfonts which I think has done the job so far. My music style is mainly a sort of orchestral/classical, but I've done other types of music as well.

The composing process goes from picture to music of vice versa. Sometimes I have a cut that I'm composing to or a piece of music I'm cutting to. It all depends on inspiration.

I wouldn't change my self-made music for anything (realistic that is) because if I have a vision of a scene (mood/emotion/whatever), it's a lot easier to bring it up in music by myself than to explain it to someone else.

Good luck on your composing. It's painful but it pays off. Financially and emotionally.
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Old November 25th, 2002, 01:09 PM   #13
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* * MUSIC COMP * *

John,

I second the above using Acid by Sonic Foundry. I bought a collection of CD's specifically for the loops. Its a great tool and I am using it in my dv film.

I've also contacted a few musicians who are working on and allowing me to use their music in my film and future films.

I am working the same area you are. Pioneer away...

Cheers!

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Old November 25th, 2002, 02:13 PM   #14
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I had a little dabble in music a while back with Logic Audio & EXS24 (software sample synth). Mostly made a few tunes to try to write music for classical setups (strings, horns, piano, percussion, etc) with individual instruments instead of just hitting the old "string section no. 32" presets. The sample CD's are not the cheapest in the world though (not to mention the cost of Logic and EXS24) so it's not for the absolute beginner who just want to try some stuf. Better to use Reason (www.propellerheads.se) or Acid.

If anyone wants to hear the results it's over at http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/187/henric.html

Regards,
Henrik
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Old November 25th, 2002, 02:19 PM   #15
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The college students are a great idea. I just completed my first short film (with zero filmmaking experience) and a musician that was between gigs did my music - 'just for the experience', he said! Sounds pretty good too. He used my cheesy, el-cheapo Casio keyboard (his was in the shop) and it wasn't bad! He also used loops and sound FX.

When others found out I was shooting/had shot a short film, musicians crawled out of the woodwork (at least three others) wanting to score the next film I shoot.

I agree with the gentleman that scoring your own - because you know the feelings/mood would be optimal, but I have no music background, other than being able to play a little guitar - and I wouldn't know where to begin!

Either do it yourself, or find the free musicians. I personally wouldn't use the copyright free CDs on a film. Of course I say that - if I can't find a free musician, I'll use what I have at my disposal!

As usual, this is just opinion!
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