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Topic: The Day the Music Died...

  1. #1

    The Day the Music Died...

    I just finished up a piece of music for a project here at work and was really happy with the result. It featured a ton of Omnisphere, Kontakt and Goliath. The music ebbed and flowed, moving from edgy, glitchy moments to large washes of breathy voices. There were moments when the music would "hang" and then come crashing back in. You know, cadence, tension and release, stuff that makes music... music.

    One of the people involved in the project decided he didn't like the piece and had an editor use a program called Sonicfire http://www.smartsound.com/ to create a piece he thought would work better. The piece he sent was a horrible guitar loop over and over with very little change to the piece.

    I am not the best composer in the world, I am not a purist, I am not a musical snob but when I have someone feel they can replace genuine "hand made" music written specifically for a project with an auto-generated hack... well it's a sad day for music.

    At first I was angry and then the more I thought about it the sadder I got as it seems that some people think that the craft of composition can be replaced with cut and paste. In this digital age George Lucas thinks he can throw a ton of CGI at us and we won't realize that the story on the last three Star Wars movies is crap and that no amount of digital effects can save it. Same thing with the Brittany Spears of the world. No live singing at a concert, just flop around to prerecorded music. Where is the craft???!!!!!

    On a positive note I saw a Cirque de Soleil performance this weekend. Real musicians on the stage playing some of the most inspiring music I've heard. I am going to buy the album (Alegria, check it out) and hopefully the composer will get some money from this sale and be able to continue writing gorgeous music. I am not going to buy Brittany's new album but I may google some candid photos of her as this seems to be more important to her than singing (note, I don't hate Britanny, she's darn cute, I just have issues with people calling her a musician )

    I'm sorry I can't post examples of what I did yet due to the fact that the project isn't "out" yet. Without them it's hard for you to "hear" the story. I'm wondering if any of you have experienced this before and how do you explain to "these people" if they don't have the ears to begin with.

    All the very best,


    PS In the end I replaced some of the washier moments with more rhythmic passages. Still cool, still fitting the piece. Of course there is a second version to the video due next week and they want to revisit the music. Maybe I should buy Sonicfire? (or become a plumber )
    "Every time you play a wrong note God kills a kitten."

  2. #2

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    Very Disappointing to hear this. Conveinece is becoming a real problem


  3. #3

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    I think even a bigger problem is that backstabber who did the music him/herself behind your back instead of suggesting the assigned composer to change the things he/she didn't like. Shows nooooo respect at all.
    Film Composer - www.juhanalehtiniemi.com
    My latest project: Our first indie pop -single, produced in Ableton Live, available also on iTunes and Amazon
    Mac Pro 6-core 3.33GHz

  4. #4

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    Alegría is a good album. It won a grammy

  5. #5

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    I think karvasika makes an important point. Our philosophy is that all of us in the production supply chain (editors, audio post engineers, composers, etc.) live in the same trenches, and as a matter of professional courtesy, should have the attitude of "having each other's backs."

    For example, we all slip up from time to time and we'd much rather have the opportunity to fix those errors before the client has to get involved. We have great affection for an editor or post mixer who discreetly gives us a shout if we've accidentally upcut a cue or labeled it with the wrong timecode. We do the same if they forget to imbed audio in the OMF or some such.

    But here's the most important part of that equation. Sometimes the client will ask us to weigh in on the quality of someone else's work. In these cases, we never EVER criticize or demean. It can be a tricky diplomatic two-step at times, but ultimately - it's simply not our place. And if we want like consideration, well...do unto others, right?

    Case in point. Not too long ago a client left our studio after an hours-long mixing session - apparently very happy with the results. We sent the layback audio to the editor, who called us back requesting the stems. When we asked why, his response was, "I just think this thing needs to be remixed." When we explained that the client had just approved said mix he was totally unfazed. We told him we couldn't release the stems without client approval and he STILL didn't get it. So we called the client - who hit the roof. The guy got a good tongue-lashing and no doubt had it in for us after that.

    Too bad. His problem. If anyone at OUR place did something like that, they'd get a tongue-lashing from me...and it wouldn't be pretty.

    Back to the point, maybe the editor in this story thought he was helping the client. But he sure wasn't making friends of his fellow soldiers in the trenches.

  6. #6

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    Regrettably watering down to the most common denominator to suit a mass market is par for the course. Particularly when it comes to anything that may be remotely artistic.

    Most people are quite practical in their approach. Convenience and immediate gratification, read successful marketing, is more important than quality or substance.

    To satisfy myself I must write for me. Unfortunately paying the bills is a different matter.

    Regards John

  7. #7

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    That's a sad story, and I'm afraid this practice is becoming more and more common. I briefly looked at the smartsound website, and I think it's complete crap. But at least it seems they credit the original composer- that way there's the chance of a future collaboration? And at least proper credit can be given this way as well.

    A few years ago I slaved over a score for a two weeks, prepared and recorded parts for a 12-piece ensemble. I was so proud of it! At the screening I discovered that the filmmaker had taken my final mix, cut it up, reversed it in places, pitch-shifted it, and in some cases completely obliterated the audio... It was a nightmare! I walked out of the theater fuming. But in the end I guess that's the name of the game, at least as long as we're writing music for someone else.

  8. #8

    Re: The Day the Music Died...


    Great input and insight. Much appreciated. It is sad when an individual will put themselves before the common good of the project. Like putting their thumbprint on it, even if it degrades the project, makes them feel they are important and contributing. And then they run around saying "See the video I directed"

    I am definitely tired of those who "can't do" telling those that "can do" how to do it. Now if Ridley Scott was giving me input I'd listen as the dude has a successful track record a mile long and is an expert in his field. It's these people that have absolutely no respect for the process and can't see or hear the difference between craft and cut and paste that kill me.

    It's true as soon as you get paid for your art it is no longer yours and you are subject to changes and opinions no matter how insane they are.

    Is it hypocritical of me to think software like Sonicfire is the devil yet use samples that replace real musicians? Maybe the guy who uses Sonicfire and squirts out an hour worth of music in a day is the smart guy?

    Thanks again for the input!

    "Every time you play a wrong note God kills a kitten."

  9. #9

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    been there-done that.
    a "producer" of TV music hired my studio to produce some soundtrack for a documentary and since he turned out to be a complete tonedeaf douche with zero talent i ended up doing all the composing work too.
    Half of the studiotime was wasted by repairing the horrible treatments that he applied in between dates to the data on his laptop.
    A tool like Stylus RMX can turn into a weapon of mass distruction in the wrong hands let me tell you-especially when the wannabeproducer finds the tonal loops in the library and starts stacking those with no respect to any rootnotes or scales.

    Guess whose name appeared in the endcredits.....

  10. #10

    Re: The Day the Music Died...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Scheffler View Post
    A tool like Stylus RMX can turn into a weapon of mass distruction in the wrong hands let me tell you-especially when the wannabeproducer finds the tonal loops in the library and starts stacking those with no respect to any rootnotes or scales.
    Now that's a special kind of stupid... Sorry to hear about that. Maybe it was good thing that your name was not in the credits?

    "Every time you play a wrong note God kills a kitten."

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