Community Composer Challenge – SPITFIRE’S GREAT MUNICIPAL BAND! – May ‘22

Hi all (please see below - your considerable talents are needed!)

I floated the idea for this challenge on the forum a couple of weeks ago and it got some serious thumbs up – so let’s get it going and see what happens…

The plan is to have a rolling and monthly challenge in which the regulars on this forum, and anyone who feels like joining in (including Spitfire’s staff… and owners??), is very welcome to post a piece of any duration in this thread by the end of the month, to which we will all try and listen!

You can also post it on socials (youtube, soundcloud, etc) with the hashtag:


… so that everyone can find it (I checked and there were no hits for the tag so I think this is a unique one – although hopefully a couple of John Williams fans will also find your stuff by accident; )


Alongside composing our piece, each month we all try and pick a “theme” for our compositions in the next month (and so on, and so on). I want each theme to be democratically selected so whoever’s suggestion has the most likes at the end of the month “wins” (please don’t dislike, I will ignore those). It could be that we end up choosing to score a video from for the next month, we could write something inspired by an interesting public domain photo or piece of art, or maybe we could pick a famous/original melody and we can all compose our own variations on it …


In the interests of getting the ball rolling smoothly, this month’s theme is, simply…


…you can do with that whatever you will (by May 31), including scoring a video of your free choice from the public domain. This month no one will judge if you want to “freely” dust off something you are very proud of from your back catalogue either: )


There are NO WINNERS AND (ALMOST) NO PRIZES. The only rewards are that this will hopefully bring more fun and friendship to what is an already lovely community, give us an opportunity to share expertise, maybe encourage some new composers to share their first piece, and also make the people who come to the forum from Christian’s, Paul’s and Spitfire’s YouTube channels feel wanted and welcome.

We aren’t looking for masterpieces here and this could also be an opportunity for you to post works in progress and get feedback or ask some of the salty dogs round here for advice on something you are getting stuck on or on how they did something (be it a mixing/mastering thing or a music theory thing, or whatever).

If anyone has any ideas (however half baked) for ways to add more fun to the proceedings, then please do suggest them below!


The good thing about no winners/no prizes is that it means the only rules are, since we are usurping their forum:

- you have to use at least one Spitfire, LABS or Pianobook library in your composition (but you are welcome to mangle it with effects).

- you have to abide by the rules of this forum (which I know you will, and thank you in advance). In particular, please do not post copyrighted material unless you have permission to do so.

- no obligation to post monthly (you can dip in and out as your commitments permit).



I will very shortly an example post which makes a suggestion for June 2022’s theme below – but please feel free to post your own and better suggestions. Can I ask please that you roughly follow my format below (with the bold heading) for any suggestion posts – it will make my life much easier when I am counting up the likes to pick the next theme.

I will also very shortly take one for the team and post an example piece for May below (I may post one more as the month progresses – as I said, the theme is “free”).

I can’t wait to hear your music - May the Thirst be with you!😎

Best wishes and thanks!


PS I have mentioned a few regulars round these parts below – hello regulars- hopefully this is something that interests you – if not please accept my apologies for the ping! Sorry also if I have missed anyone (am a bit post-Covid-y at the moment).

@Taron @Jason_Webster32 @88Freqs @antoinenry @Londoneye330 @Sebastien Angel @KeithCocker123 @flagfarm @Steve Shaw @calebjtoth @Jonathan @Gigabang

PPS – to note this is a community driven thing only and in no way endorsed by Spitfire. But big thanks to Taron, Jason Webster, Jonathan and Londoneye for their inspiring input and support on this!



  • {EXAMPLE] Suggestion for June 2022’s theme…

    [please use the bold heading above if you want your suggestion to be counted]

    We could maybe do something around the theme ‘quintet – the idea being that you can only use 5 (or fewer) voices in making your composition. One can be a polyphonic instrument (e.g. like a piano, guitar or synth), but doesn’t have to be, the rest have to all be monophonic instruments, or patches played monophonically (so you could, e.g., finally write that adagio for string orchestra and make some big bucks; )

    [Note from me – this is only a suggestion, and a deliberately slightly obscure one to encourage better ideas! please don’t dislike this if you don’t want to run with it – hopefully you or someone else will make a great suggestion for June soon and so could you please like that one instead]. 

  • Thank you Ray, I am very excited to get involved and dive straight in!

    Great inspiring music at the end, I love it!

    For anybody who doesn't know where to go to get material to work on, here is a link to the Cue Tube:

    Good luck and I'm excited to hear what everybody has to submit!

  • Thanks Jason - and a pleasure. It's "Rob" by the way - but don't worry, I quite like Ray: )

    Looking forward to your piece!!

  • Hey Rob! That is still a lovely idea right there. Can't believe May rolled around THIS QUICK!

    I was busy with the May Fourth project and the horror theater project that I almost forgot about this... almost...

    Righty! The free theme is certainly a great one to start off with, I started off using only free instruments! They were really nice and I actually posted some of them on my YouTube channel! The only problem was that I didn't care much about mixing... I'll post them when I found them.

    As for next month's theme, the one quoted above seems amazing already! I also had an idea but I still need to flesh it out a little bit before I present them to this community... You'll hear from me again very soon!

  • Sorry Rob, it's the auto correct on my phone! 🤐

    My theme is A Beauty Within, to try and capture the beauty of sound and also allow it to flow with the score.

    I've listed all the sample libraries I used in the YouTube video.

    I hope you all enjoy, I am still a novice so anything wrong is to be expected lol

  • Hey Jason - very nice work -thought your pace and mood were bang on. Great subtle use of voices to highlight important points in the video. Thanks for sharing!

    If this thing gets going in any way we are going to have made one hell of a diverse mosaic on youtube for people who search our hashtag - might make a good T-shirt: )

    One thing I always find slightly troubling about scoring competitions proper is that it suggests that there is an objectively "best" way to score a film when that clearly can't be the case - there can only be the score that hits the right subjective buttons for the judging panel - but then I suppose that is the case if you are pitching for a director in real life so one can't complain too much!

    That also, I think, means that there can't really be an objectively "wrong" way to score a film, you can only really, as listener, say whether it felt right for you and what you would have done differently. E.g. - the general rule I think is that you shouldn't try and hit every cut because that makes the editing look jarring, but if you happen to hit most of them in a way that feels natural then that probably won't matter.

    I might try and have a go at this film by the end of the month - Trying my best to put your amazing work to the back of my mind I just made a couple of notes with it muted which may be interesting to read. To emphasise that these are not notes on your work, or necessarily things that would show up in the end product - they are just "the big things" that I thought about when watching the film.

    Overall Mood/pace

    Obvious fit is floaty "Irish" feel - world instruments, or orchestra aping same, maybe dorian mode, parallel fifths in left hand (etc). Less obvious fit - should we be afraid of the lady at the end (is it a horror?)

    Tempi needs to flow but not drive - query whether tempo should start to drive at 1.40?? Perhaps have percussion but for hits only - don't deploy any kind of groove with it until 1.40 - treat 1.40 like EDM "drop"??

    Cuts/things to hit(??)

    Start - stillness

    0.07 - movement starts

    0.12- pace increases

    0.15 - title - fades in - needs gentle/warm emphasis. not bit hit

    0.26 - BIRD! - swoops down, hovers, then slowly flies off and up to right (copy this shape for a melody?)

    0.46 - swirls (arpeggios/delay ??)

    0.59 - pace more stately and moving towards...

    1.09 - long cut to black and then return in and white - entrance of "lady" should texture/tonality of music change here?

    1.09- 1.35 - moves back to colour - do we want slow build here - climaxing in big cut at:

    1.41 - should tempo drive here? swirl of lady to be emphasised

    2.02 - "thanks for watching" - this should be "resolute" - she's running, so faster than start, but slower than 1.40

    2.12 - out

  • Hey Londoneye - it doesn't have to be free instruments this month - you could explore "free" however best suits your time commitments - free jazz welcome (and, obviously, "nice" 😎). If you are a bit unhappy with the mixes on older stuff feel free to share and tell us why you think the mix sucks and what you would change with hindsight - would be a great learning exercise (actually that could be a good theme one month - revisiting and revamping our "skeletons in the closet" or something - there are some songs from my twenties that should NEVER see the light of day!).

  • AH, you guys are getting it ON, hehehe, excellent! I'm a bit too wrapped up in important work right now, but hopefully later this month I can have some fun with all this! I'd love to and salute your brilliant engagement, Rob! 😎👍️

    @Jason_Webster32 , I'll have a listen to your masterpiece later tonight! 😉

  • Thanks for the initiative Rob!! Its a great idea and I'll get my composing cap on!! Best wishes

  • Thanks Rob, when I was scoring this I used the bird noises when the black bird was flying, I did lower the volume as the bird went down then increased it and as soon as it flew off the screen I turned all instruments off apart from the pad synth (I probably should of reduced the sound a tiny bit more) then I had the melody of the start come back in, but the swirls was a way of turning a dial, but a dial of growth, I wanted to add drums to the build up but my computer wasn't playing ball, as soon as the lady in black appears I changed the melody into a different melody, I wanted to add more elements but again my computer wouldn't let me (I will be investing in new hardware) as she was walking I changed the chords to make a heart beat noise pulsing to her every 2nd step as soon as she twirls I put the bird music back in to tie it to the bird scene because she is the bird ❤️ I don't think it was meant to be scary I think it was more she was being seductive as she looks down and up, (she isn't wearing a braw) she knows she's got you under her spell, so she runs wanting you to chase her as you too are a bird having the ability to go into the sky and look down at the world from a birdseye veiw.

    Maybe I looked too much into it, I wish I finished it with the piano I used at the start, but then I decided to leave it because on a loop it just loops really well, one of them Piano's is Paul's from the toolkit I used, I love his piano, so clean.

    All sample Libraries I used are linked in the YouTube description, I probably should of listed them here too.

    I did notice there was other little things I avoided (there was chops and changes to the scene of the woman, there was also glitch type of distortions images as it changed.

    It was quite difficult to score the ending because all she did was walk...

    That was my thought process when I approached it, you are right though, it's what you see and how you approach it, it could mean that somebody is chasing her and she is running for her life.

    Its interesting to see how people approach the same material, it also helps others to see how it could be scored in different ways, helping everybody progress and become better at the art they love most ❤️

  • Taron
    edited May 2022

    Hey, Jason, I've watched it now. Sorry for the delay. It starts off properly ominous with a sense of sweetness, somewhat somber. As the bird shows, there still is connection between score and film, but soon it starts to lose it as the clip becomes more inventive, tighter, constructed. At that point you'd have to respond with your score or somehow tie it together. And not just with effects, but compositionally. It changes and so should the score. The meandering melody really only works for the opening. After that you'd have to take charge. I'd probably consider changing the whole arrangement as soon as it gets "graphic" with the split screens and all that. The lingering carpet of pads just washes away from the pictures, if you asked me.

    However, there are some very neat qualities to it in moments. Lovely sounds, too. 🙂

  • Thanks brother and Rob, I failed to keep the momentum, I feel like this will be a great learning curve until next months competition, I understand what you mean, I can't wait to hear other people's submissions ☺️

  • I've always kind of liked the idea that there are no failures in music, only early drafts: ) There's a brilliant Leonard Bernstein lecture out there somewhere where he has an orchestra play through all Beethoven's drafts for the ending of the first movement of the 5th symphony - they are all fine, but you do see why the one he ultimately picked was perfect (but he of course, and nonetheless, still wrote all the other ones - and so believed in them enough to write them down).

    Incidentally, @Taron - if you have a moment would be interested in (and grateful for) your thoughts on my LABS only "municipality noir" effort - see above (third post in the thread). Hyper-minimalist but I feel (more or less!) like I was treading on the right side of the fine line involved in such things.

  • Nice. Thanks for the tag, will try rummage up something for free this morning, as June/July will likely be a write off.

  • Taron
    edited May 2022

    @Retroblueman , "municipality noir" is beautiful. I find the "pseudo side-chained" low choir a little less favorable most of the time, though I can understand the idea. If it was actually side-chained to the kick, it might have more organic qualities.

    Composition is really so very pleasant with some wonderful chord progression in there and really elegant voicings. Drum treatment is very delightful. Wonderful choices there.

    All of it is wonderfully easy to listen to and aside from the above mentioned, I wouldn't change a thing! Great job!


    (Also, I would never call this "hyper" minimalist, haha. It's still very rich and has plenty of arrangement!) 😎

  • Awesome - I hope we will still be going with this in August so (if we are) fee free to drop back in then! Look forward to the piece!

    Many thanks!


  • Thanks @Taron - it was inspired by your recent LABS/Glass piece - glad you like it! Also - on the side chaining - because LABS Strings doesn't have legato, my thinking was to have the ducking happening as a sort of "misdirection" when the strings transition notes so that the lack of legato is a bit less obvious.

    I think you have been investigating ways to get legato out of Discover and I wonder if there is something in this - e.g. if you had BBCSO Discover Violins sidechaining themselves, possibly in two tracks with the notes alternating, could it reduce the attack a little and smooth the transitions (very half baked idea but thought would float it).

    I did try sidechaining to the actual kick but I got a bit seasick😉 There's actually a four to the floor kick track that I wrote, but the audio from that is going only into the compressor (I use the velocity on the Kick midi notes to control the side-chaining - one of my favourite tricks!

  • Alright, you have me install LABS strings 1 & 2 again, pfff... I chose to ignore them, since I now have Core (besides Discover), but for you I'll have a look at how best to blend longs with them. 🧐

  • Don't do it just on my account! Not least because if you cracked it that might spoil some of my fun: ) I sort of see LABS Strings as the "chamber" alternative to the "symphonic" BBCSO Discover strings and so it definitely has its uses when one is engaged in trying to make free stuff sound as beautiful as possible - And also, because it is a chamber ensemble, it possibly has uses even for owners of Core (although I think I may soon be seduced by originals intimate strings on that front as I have a voucher that needs using). I should disclose though that I have a deeply soft spot for LABS strings because it was the very first Spitfire sound I made with my own two paws 😍

    That said, it would be wonderful to see how you approached the problem (but more wonderful to get some of your music on this thread!). Hope the important work (that you mentioned above) releases you soon!

  • Well then, I've found a few minutes to do a tiny test track for you, trying to go for long strings, see how terrible they'd blend for what wants to be legato, but I must say... it's not half bad, isn't it?! 😀

  • Alrighty, I could steal myself about two hours and went for another quickie. This time I shall call it my submission for this first round:

    Again, LABS Only, playing around with the strings, but also the Cello Moods, which are very interesting indeed.

    List of LABS-libs used:

    • Strings

    • Cello Moods

    • Micahs Choir

    • Christmas

    • Percussion

    • Bass Guitar

    Effects are Auburn Sounds Panagement, Ozone 9 and Valhalla Supermassive.

  • Fantastic work Taron (on both counts) - although I expected nothing less😃 Yeh, LABS strings, particularly the low end - a lot to say nice things about there!

    Alright, well, let's not stop here - suggestions are still required for June's theme - and I have been working on a Peccatum Angelicum score which I will put up at some point this month (the mix is super-muddy at the moment and further work is needed - possibly considerable further work if it sounds rubbish once I have removed the mud). I think this whole project can bear double entries as your time commitments allow

    In the meantime - anyone out there reading this - your music is extremely welcome here and I would love to hear it!

  • Thanks, Rob! 🤗

    I had a look at Peccatum Angelicum and a few others on the cue tube. Thus far they didn't quite inspire me to go at them, but if you were forcing us to, I'd see if I find a moment to give it try, of course.

    Just to keep this all important message alive: To every musician here, if you have a moment, make a track and bring it in. I'm excited to hear what else will show up here! 😃

  • What I will say about working on Peccatum is that a lot of the challenge was trying to make some quite shonky editing look natural and intended - not sure I have wholly succeeded but you'll see soon enough...

  • Amazing idea! As soon as I've got some spare time I'll write something (:

  • This sounds amazing! Really loved the use of choir in there. Makes the whole piece sounds very serene. This style reminds me of James Newton Howard on some of his scores, but he adds a bit more strings onto it. But nonetheless, we're not trying to copy others here! This piece is amazing in its own way! Well done!

    Really liked the nice little drum layer underneath the strings. Then it progressed with some more movement. This sounds incredible! 😁


    I will definitely roll with the 'free' idea. Currently in theatre showing season but after next week it's done for the season! There's a lot I learned from my first gig as a composer for a play I might share it if I come around to that. As for the free piece - I think I have something in mind, I just need to write it down!

    Talk to y'all soon

  • Thank you so much Londoneye, that means alot to me, when I get some spare time I'm going to take Robs/Taron advice and have another crack at it, I'm going to add strings into it as I feel it needs more, I kind of loose the momentum after the bird swoops off the screen, I thought it would be clever to turn instruments off but it ruins it, I should of built it up and I also missed a build up opportunity at the woman scene, I'll see what I can do to improve, I'll leave this one on for the time being :)

    I can't wait to head what you produce, I'm excited for your submission