What did you learn when working on your score - or afterwards?

edited August 2021 in Competitions

For me - I wish I'd left more time to work on the mix and the audio ducking. My music sounded balanced in my headphones, but is too quiet on every other device I use. I hadn't realized that was a potential issue.


  • Yep. I don't think mine is TOO quiet, but there is a part or two that gets lost if you're listening at low volume. And listening to some of the others I wish I'd EQ up just a touch more low end. And I recall grousing as I was writing that I had a poor selection of cinematic percussion libraries, and then realized after I submitted that I have a couple I'd forgotten about. And, and, and...

    But most importantly I learned (relearned) that the biggest block to writing is... not writing. For weeks I stalled working on it because I'd built it up and couldn't figure it out in my head. But once I actually sat at the DAW and put notes in everything came pretty easy. Trust yourself and let the music tell you what to do.

  • Yes! And especially with writing problems - backup the last thing that you liked and then get tweaking until it all works.

    The other thing I would do differently now is take the time to explore musical possibilities further than surface level. There's a section or two that I wrote fairly quickly, and after doing so I never really revisited them. Simplicity's good, but looking back there's more that could have been done.

  • For me, it was accepting that my score was finished the moment I submitted it. Even though I submitted early (a week before the deadline) and I did feel like there still was a couple of things I could improve -- instead, I just relaxed and spent more time with my loved ones.

  • For me it is new thing of writing against movie, or in my case, writing against sound blindly. It is strange how it changes my own workflow.

  • Tonio_
    edited August 2021

    Well I learned literally everything there is to know about scoring to media on the go, I can tell you that it was a rough couple of weeks and a pretty big departure from my usual musical endeavours. But I did have fun doing it. I suppose the biggest lesson I learned was that my workflow is absolutely trash and that sketching beforehand is of paramount importance. Still, I'm quite proud of what I've done.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed it 100%, regardless of the outcome. It was like a scary-exciting roller coaster ride and I want to do it again. I also learned that I do not know my system or my libraries well enough to be efficient.... I am still learning software (Cubase-Crossgrade from Samplitude) So I started in Samplitude (which I love to work with), got it to a certain point and attempted to move it to Cubase (too much times spent on that) Ended up going back and finishing the score mix in Samplitude and bouncing final in Cubase, then having to go back and re-mix/bounce out of Samplitude a few times before I was happy. (of course I am still not 100% satisfied) I do think mine has some good transitions but is needs more work in beginning and maybe some parts are too busy. I might go back and upload a second fully approved (by me) version in a couple weeks. But...anyways. I had wonderful time, the was a fantastic experience.

  • I've learned that it was quite the challenge. I don't really make music (yet) and and I haven't scored to picture before, but one thing is seeing people at Spitfire doing it in those videos they post from time to time, and another thing is to try it yourself. Those videos really helped me in figuring out about how to approach this beast. It made me remember about those silent films I watched as a kid and how music had to point out every cue.

    After submitting I spent a day going through all those youtube videos for this competition and I found so many that are much better than mine in every single aspect, from orchestration to mixing and other things, which only made me ashamed of my submission. After all, there are all kind of participants, from amateurs like me to professionals who do this for a living for quite a while. I know mine is bottom list but I don't regret it at all, I had a lot of fun doing it and learned quite a lot, and the experience is mine to keep it. Better prepared for the next time we get one of these competitions.

  • Time management and focus. In the last two weeks, I've worked on and submitted two separate compositions for two music scoring competitions. The takeaway for me was proving and testing myself if I'm truly serious about writing music and accomplishing grand future musical goals, then submitting music that I'm satisfied with on time is prerequisite for all the future goals to be accomplished.

  • Very good! Only remember that to try and succeed is good, to try and fail is gain, and that the only thing to truly regret is not trying at all.

  • After submitting, and listening over and over and getting feedback from friends, was that some of my voicings were boxed. That is, triads too close together. After watching Pinar's notes (after finishing) and gulping in her arrangements, it gave me insight into the breadth of octaves her orchestra is spanning:

    I'm busy studying tonal harmony and I recon I need to get hold of Mozart or Beethoven scores and go through them, especially for parts that sound how I'd like to. That said, I didn't do any active music referencing, which I think would have helped with ideas more, so in some ways it would have been nice to get some music directorial spotting before diving in, but that helps let you know where you are musically at.

    The other thing was the amount of tempo changes I had to play with to get the right hits/beats in the film material. Damn it moved fast in the start!

    I'd also like to move out of traditional orchestra and incorporate synths - I do a lot of electronica for indie artists and getting the blend is a next step, onward to the next competition!

  • For me it was to check ahead of time for tonal sound effects, when Stargirl's staff light's up in the middle and when there's that scream near the end there's a definite pitch to both of them. It turned out that I was writing in a good key for both those moments - but that was just luck!

  • I love the procedure of doing a sort of initial sketch without too many worries. Fairly immediately I chose 147BPM and then just rode it through. Only later I saw the scoring tips video and watch it, talking about speed changes, hehe...but somehow it felt like things fell well into place and I just made it work.

    Now, I'm working with MuLab, which is wonderful and all, but really no good for scoring video as you can't sync to it. After I realized that I only made a sketch (haha), I went into Premier and made a click track, timed to all the beats from cuts to special movements or moments, made a wav from it and took it into MuLab for orientation. That helped a great deal.

    I limited myself strictly to LABS libraries for some misguided principles of mine, just to see how far I might get with them and I had a blast, honestly. I wasn't able to get enough tight sounds together for any truly melodic moments, but in terms of atmosphere, pacing and depth I thought it worked beautifully.

    Then there is the playing with timing, when to react with the music, when to foreshadow, when to give a wink and when to guide along. It was rather impressive how such a brief set of sequences could contain such a variety.

    I've learned that I'd love to do more scoring, love to explore more traditional scoring, but also to play with developing themes, associating elements to characters, essentially helping to tell a story by filling in the intangible, I suppose. Doing that to content that is a bit more timeless would really be a great calling.

    Well, I'm looking forward to the next for sure, hoping I'll be able to make some time for it, too.

  • I learned that I have a big gap in my end-of-project plan. My video uploaded without music several times, before I finally downloaded another software to take care of it. Once this finally worked, I was so relieved that I didn’t notice the poor video quality, resulting in my submission being a blurry mess: 

    Here’s a better quality version, uploaded too late to be considered. The track is unchanged, it’s just a different volume and better quality export:

    Happily, I created a ‘plan for next time,’ created after the fact (as most of my plans are): 

    One last reflection… I know that re-writing/editing can go on forever, so I think it’s probably best if there’s some structure to this time. But how to do this? How many test-plays and how much feedback should one seek along the way? Orchestrating is a time-consuming part of the process, but it’s hard to give anyone a ‘taste’ of the music unless it’s (mostly) fully orchestrated. But by the time you’ve done that, it’s hard to go back and make changes - especially with a deadline upon you. Thoughts?

  • I learned you can get tired of viewing the same 2 minutes of video over and over again... hats off to those who do this professionally.

  • I just learned about the project just a few days before time was up and that was interesting. I can say this; ....we all perceive the scenes of the movies differently that’s why we all have our own version of the music. The main issue is how much are we able to express what we perceive or feel to be able to translate it perfectly into music notes. If we all did, we all would be Bachs or Mozarts.....

  • Keith Theodosiou
    edited August 2021

    This is what i have learnt, I didn't enter the contest, why? because I had serious writers block and had it for a few months.

    Ususally in that situation, i will go to an older piece I have written and re work it or extend it as the theme is already there but on this occasion, I didn't.

    You just can't force yourself to write, It has to be natural.

    One thing I have learnt over my many years of composing is you need inspiration and I have always found inspiration when I buy a new instrument.

    I just bought Hammers a little while ago and sure enough, the floodgates opened. Unfortunately, I got it too late for the contest (two days before deadline) and although I usually write pretty fast and sometimes three or four pieces at the same time, I thought I would wait till the next contest (if there is one).

    I did mess about with and older track that did work with the footage and it would have been a case of just making it fit but like Pinar said, doing that may work but just doesn't feel right.

    There is always a next time :)

  • 😆 Same here!

    I imagine there's some benefit to working as fast as Pinar did and knocking a scene out in a day. (I wish that I could write that fast! Eventually, I hope.)

  • calebjtoth
    edited August 2021

    I think the unique take that everyone brings to writing music for a scene - and even performing music for that scene - that's part of what makes music alive. And the longer you work at it, the better you speak that language. Bach and Mozart have something of a head start on us because they grew up in households that were saturated with music writing and performance - they grew up speaking that language from the start.

    Were they musical geniuses? Probably. But so much of that was all the work and practice and writing that they did day after day, year after year.

    Learn from your predecessors - and the live ones too.

    Keep practicing, keep learning, keep writing. Finish something as often as possible - it's an important skill that many of us struggle with.

    Find new ways of thinking and write how you think.

    Onwards and upwards!

  • Yes, Bach or Mozart....were music geniuses ... composers like them define the term “musical genius”. Mozart started composing at the age of four and yet Bach is the biggest genius of them all by far. Of course they worked endlessly to achieve the fruits of their God given gifts in music and that’s what we need to understand. But we live in an era where real art and music is forsaken and abandoned ....

  • Quite so! What I mean to say is as they made the best use of the environment and heritage, so we also may press forward to further refine our skills and the arts. As composers, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, as Bach and Mozart and Tchaikovsky and Beethoven did.

    There is more to be done in demonstrating the value of an art form than bemoaning its lack of cultural appreciation. From the perspective of some, it hasn't been earned yet.

    That's where we can come in.