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Michael Andrew Newell Completed Capstone

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Michael Andrew Newell Completed Capstone

  1. 1.   Composing Music for Film By Michael Andrew Newell (#0457437) Thomas Edison State College Dr. David E. Weischadle Liberal Arts Capstone (LIB-495-OL011) 1 June – 23 August 2015
  2. 2. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   2     Abstract How do I compose music for film? This capstone project consists of a creative journey into the art of composing music for film by exploring musical, technical, logistical, psychological, and business aspects of the craft. The most important of these is the construction of the music – to evoke the emotion from, and to compliment, the film. Throughout this entire process, I have discovered that each film composer’s career path is unique, which enables aspiring film score composers to break into the field. I was humbled during the creation of this project because, while I have a decade of music composition and arranging experience, I was met with a task in which I was unfamiliar. The adage, “the more you know, the more you know you do not know,” has been true of this project as I realized the depth of preparation and skill involved in a career as a film score composer.
  3. 3. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   3     Acknowledgments I would like to thank the love of my life, Bethany, for her patience and support during the long hours I have spent on this project, and throughout my entire college experience. It would have been difficult to complete this project without her encouragement. My family has been a constant reminder of why I have never given up on my dreams. The life of a musician can be, and often is, a challenge, but as Bethany knows, I do not give up on anything, no matter how difficult or taxing. I owe it to family to do my absolute best to accomplish my dreams. Thank you, Bethany. I would also like to thank my mother, Michelle, for encouraging me in my musical endeavors, especially in the infancy of my career. You are always a source of wise counsel; I appreciate and thank you very much. I love you, mom. Additionally, there are a host of people of whom I would like to thank as well, as I probably would not have made it this far in music without their mentorship and everyone holding me accountable to my craft. In no particular order, these gentlemen have guided me to achieve the best version of myself: • Mr. Mike German, my high school band director who still, even over a decade later, still provides an honest perspective to my musicianship and compositions. While we are peers in academia, he is still one of my greatest mentors and friends. • Mr. Ian Charleton, a fellow composer and arranger, who provided me with my first formal instruction into the craft of writing music, and who also provided me with my current mantra toward composition: “If it sounds good, it is good.” This gentleman is an incredible wealth of knowledge and a great friend. • Mr. Christian Flores made me push the envelope of my all-around musicianship, from an individual performer, an audio engineer, a music arranger, and even a manager of musical ensembles while serving in the United States Marine Corps. Our relationship was the beginning of my process of “thinking outside the box,” in regards not only to music, but leadership, as well. • Mr. Robert Szabo, another Marine in which I am thankful to have served with; under his direction and his insistence toward a higher standard, I had the opportunity to grow and develop my own musicianship, as well as further cultivate the leadership philosophy I would not have otherwise explored. Thank you; everyone’s contributions to my personal and professional development have not been forgotten.
  4. 4. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   4     Table of Contents Page Abstract………………………………………………….…………………………............................. . 2 Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………………..……..… 3 Media………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4 Chapter 1: Introduction..…………………………..……………………………….............................. 5 Chapter 2: Research Design and Methodology………………………………………………....…..… 8 Chapter 3: Literature Review………………………………...……………………………..…..…..… 17 Chapter 4: Results of the Study and Project…….………………………………………...………...… 19 Chapter 5: Summary and Discussion…..………………….………………………………..………… 26 Works Cited………………………………………………………………………………...……......... 31 Appendix…...………………………………..…………………………………………..………..…... 32 Media Location Coffee Pour musical score…………………………………….….. filename: Capstone(CoffeePour).pdf Coffee Pour film……………………….…………. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwC9qOLcJxk Production screen capture #1 (Coffee Pour)……………………………………………………. page 21 Production screen capture #2 (Coffee Pour)……………………………………………………. page 21 No Human Contact musical score……………………….... filename: Capstone(NoHumanContact).pdf No Human Contact film……...…………………... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xkc_QlVKl0A Production screen capture #3 (No Human Contact)…………………………………………….. page 24 Production screen capture #4 (No Human Contact)…………...................................................... page 25 Production screen capture #5 (No Human Contact)……………….…………............................. page 26
  5. 5. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   5     Chapter 1: Introduction The intent of this Liberal Arts Capstone Project (Thomas Edison State College) will be to explore how to compose music specifically written for film, television, advertisements, and video games. What to expect from the completion of this project will be in two parts: the first example will be a composition written for a short public domain advertisement; the second example will be a larger and more complicated composition which will serve as the soundtrack for a film from the public domain. Accompanying the project will also be a lengthy paper that will elaborate on a host of questions that will explain the entire process. Topic Background As a composer of mostly scholastic and professional music, I believe that next step for me is to transition into a commercial medium, such as film – the purpose of this project. I do not have the requisite experience to break into film without more applicable research. For the purpose of this project, I will be employing what I already know about music composition and adapting it to synchronize as a soundtrack. Through research, I hope to discover compositional and business secrets of the film composers that have influenced and inspired me to follow my dream. My compositional process, which will be explained more in depth in the subsequent pages, was learned through repetition, critical listening, and experimentation to understand what works and what does not. This is a similar process I intend to recreate within this project, and ultimately, within the film industry. In the ever-changing landscape of commercial music, I hope to find myself as a contributor to the film composer community. The Complete Guide to Film Scoring by Richard Davis has the subtitle The Art and Business of Writing
  6. 6. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   6     Music for Movies and TV, and will serve as my number one guide for my research and my guiding light through this project. Problem Statement This project embarks on a creative journey to experience, to understand, and to further develop and supplement my current knowledge of music composition in the greater commercial, professional, and scholastic music community. This project investigates the following questions: Primary Question: • How do I compose music for film? Supporting Questions: • What logistical elements are considered when composing music for film? • What musical and music related elements are considered when composing music for film? • What music business fundamentals should I know when involved in the filmmaking process? Professional Significance of My Work The intent of this capstone project is professionally significant because it expounds on, and demonstrates, my own musical composition process, as well as newly acquired film music composition knowledge, and its application to this new medium. The project aligns with my own professional and personal interest, and ultimately, advances my own career progression as a composer within the film industry. Eventually, I believe that my work as a composer, as well as my work on this project, will be beneficial to other composers who have similar aspirations.
  7. 7. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   7     As a music composer, I approach film soundtracks from both a critical listening perspective, as well as an inspirational perspective, yet I have never composed a soundtrack of my own. I intend on using this project as a launching point for further developing my compositional creative process by extending my own abilities to include a commercial music approach. Overview of Methodology Music is subjective. As such, I will approach this project from a qualitative perspective, and here is why: as there are limitless possibilities to the construction and analysis of music, when incorporated with film, the most important aspect is effectiveness for the visual and the audio aesthetic. The primary method of information synthesis will be through project-based research. I chose this method because it bridges the gap between what I already know about music composition and then, through research, I will be able to understand and apply music composition techniques, both prior and gained, that is specifically written to accompany and reinforce film, television, advertisements, and/or video games. I will be performing an initial search through the Internet Archive (https://archive.org) to find appropriate film and advertisements that adhere to my delimitations. Additionally, published primary and secondary sources about film music compositional process and the music business process of filmmaking, will guide this entire project. Note: secondary sources will be an important aspect to this project; the different experiences and knowledge that composers have had throughout successful careers will provide perspectives and insight that will be beneficial to this project and furthering my career and potential contribution to the film community.
  8. 8. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   8     Delimitations A strict limitation to this capstone project is only the modification of public domain film and television advertisements. This protects me if this project were to be published. Definition of Terms The following definitions are found in multiple sources (Works Cited) as well as my own interpretation. Keywords will be added as necessary throughout the project. See Appendix A. Summary The initial chapter of my Liberal Arts Capstone Project is a brief overview of what to expect as the final product: a multi-faceted project and a paper that both researches and explores how to compose music for film, as well as a host of other supporting questions to guide the paper. In this chapter, I have introduced the topic to be discussed, my knowledge and experience on the topic, what I intend to achieve by the completion of this project, how I plan on collecting information, and have defined a set of contextual definitions for the reader’s situational awareness throughout the project. Chapter 2: Literature Review Music composition is an extensive topic. As a composer, I have written original music and musical arrangements for a variety of ensembles for a variety of purposes over the last ten years. However, a practice that I have not yet experienced is writing music for film, television, advertisements, or video games, which is, ironically, where I see my professional career progressing toward. This collection of research is aimed at bridging the gap of knowledge from being a professional composer to
  9. 9. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   9     a professional film score composer, by asking the question: how do I compose music for film? I intend to discover how to successfully accomplish this task by answering three supporting questions: (1) what logistical elements are considered when composing music for film? (2) What musical and music related elements are considered when composing music for film? (3) What music business fundamentals should I know when involved in the filmmaking process? 1. Logistical Elements Music composition only accounts for only a portion of the process for developing a musical score for film. During the pre-production process, and usually before a single note is written, meetings are held between the composer, producer, director, and other creative staff, to discuss conceptual elements that will then translate into a musical support role. Richard Davis elaborates on this in his book, the Complete Guide to Film Scoring, dividing these elements into three different categories, based on their function and contribution to the film (Davis, 140-143): physical, psychological, and technical. With the aforementioned functions as a guide, the composer undertakes many decisions about the music that will compliment, and marry up with, the film that are aligned with the concept and spirit of the film. The decisions made during the pre-production stage will ultimately lead to a smoother production stage for the composer, allowing more time dedicated to writing the soundtrack. a. Physical Function For composers, the physical function is literally how the music establishes the context of the film. What that specifically means is broken down even further to really get the composer to have a greater attention to detail to compliment the visual aspect. Establishing the time period and location is
  10. 10. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   10     important to the setting of the film, especially with stories that have notable characteristics that can be emphasized within the music. An example of this could be a raspy saxophone and an out-of-tune piano reminding the listener of a smoky 1920s-30s jazz club. This can be corroborated with something Aaron Copeland wrote in a newspaper article: “music can create a more convincing atmosphere of time and place” (Prendergast 213). A somewhat comical element that accompanies a surplus of action or character movement is a term called mickey-mousing, which can be used to great effect not just in cartoons or animated films, but in more serious films that call for exact mimicry to assist the effectiveness of a scene. The last physical function is that of intensifying the action, which in some ways is similar to mickey-mousing by its synchronization to the film, but use much more significant impact points, or hit points, to enhance the dramatic effect, such as a chase scene, an explosion, or stopping the music abruptly before a big hit point). In terms of establishing atmosphere, capturing the general feeling is important for ensuring the audience is in the correct frame of mind. b. Psychological Function After setting the atmosphere for the film with musical compliment, the composer will then tailor music to elicit an internal psychological reaction to accompany the film. Creating and establishing a psychological mood to bring a new depth of story that focuses less on what you can see and, through physical function, feel, and instead, focuses on what you cannot see, by playing on the imagination of the audience (Davis, 141-142). In some cases, rather than focusing on the obvious physical action that is happening on screen, the composer instead emphasizes the emotional or psychological state of a character. This was a look into the character’s inner thoughts that only that only the audience could be privy to. “The ability of
  11. 11. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   11     music to make a psychological point in film is a subtle one, and perhaps its most valuable contribution,” (Prendergast, 216). Music can also be used to foreshadow an event by perhaps building to a climax within a scene – the type that makes you move to the edge of your seat. Likewise, this effect can be used similarly to completely deceive the audience by building to an unexpected outcome – perhaps nothing but silence. c. Technical Function Composers will then consider the overall continuity of the film, from a production standpoint. This can be achieved musically by using different compositional techniques, such as recurring musical themes (also applies to character themes, or leitmotivs), to drive the story along; in some cases, as Michael Kamen put it: “the theme would show up in varying guises, and quite literally in the film become a character,” (Morgan, 202-203). From a more micro perspective, continuity just from scene to scene by having the music either mirror a scene change in abruptness, or perform the complete opposite task of smoothing out a scene change. Sometimes, music can even be used to assist a weak scene or poor dialogue to “fill the empty spots between pauses in conversation,” Aaron Copeland once said (Prendergast, 217). It is the sort of music that the audience does not notice during a film, but rather, would notice if it were not there. The music should always seamlessly link each individual scene to the entire film as a whole. 2. Musical and Music Related Elements When asked if he had any advice for young composers who have a desire to compose music for film, David Raksin said, “the first thing they have to learn is to be composers,” (Morgan, 296). While a surefire approach to film scoring does not exist, having a firm technical grasp on music composition
  12. 12. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   12     practice is indispensible, and continuous. Every composer has different education, experience, passion, and inspiration, and so is each and every approach to music composition is different from the next. As outlined by Richard Davis in the Complete Guide to Film Scoring, there are three cornerstones (129- 137): craft, intent, and knowing oneself. a. Craft Taking the time to study is of the utmost importance. The composer that will be employed more consistently is one that takes the time to learn the craft to the best, as Alf Clausen said, “it’s a matter of craft, it’s a matter of study,” (Davis, 131). This does not necessarily mean that the composer needs to go to college to be successful, and can be educated just as effectively by experiencing on-the-job training (Estes/Hoge video). That being said, the versatility of a composer will have the ability to recall and apply different musical styles, a broader orchestration palette, diverse rhythmic variation, believable harmonies, compose melodies that become ubiquitous, and really, anything that a director imagines, and translate that vision musically. While it is imperative for a composer to have the ability to utilize these tools, how these tools are assimilated are at the composer’s discretion; some learn through formal education within a classroom, while others learn, by necessity, through practical application as professional musicians. Mark Isham asserts that, “in Hollywood, nobody cares if you have a degree on your résumé. They care if you can deliver,” (Morgan, 39). The burden is on the composer to take ownership of his or her education (be it in school or on the road) in order to have the necessary skills to get hired consistently. Having quick and effective recall of compositional tools will undoubtedly reduce stress of an impending deadline, and allow complete focus on composing music.
  13. 13. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   13     b. Intent Having requisite music composition knowledge and skill establishes how to write, but the composer’s intent delves into what the purpose of the soundtrack is, and why. The musical intent must marry with the director’s vision for the film. The intent can be called many things: motivation, inspiration, ideas, mindset, etc., but what it really comes down to is what is the compose trying to say with the musical score. The composer must consider when deciding upon musical ideas: the flow of drama, the look and feel of the film, and the tempo of the scene. An understanding of what the movie is actually about, down to each individual scene, needs to be approached thoroughly by the composer before a majority, if any, of the music is even written. Elmer Bernstein summed this up process as an “intellectual process rather than a composing process,” (Davis, 132). When the director’s vision is clearly understood, the music should serve to compliment what is visually being portrayed (see previous section on functions). This is where musical decisions are made in regards to what ensemble size, what instrumentation, what orchestration, what musical style, and what musical ideas or themes will accompany characters or scenes in the film. Additionally, keeping these musical ideas organized can, and will, help to streamline the entire process to keep the composer within the director’s timeline. c. Knowing Oneself Everything for a film is on a deadline – from the initial development stage, to filming, to video, music, and sound editing, to marketing, etc. While music is vital to assist a film with physical, psychological, and technical functions (as previously stated), the actual composition process cannot actually begin until all the filming has been done and is in locked picture status. This places an
  14. 14. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   14     enormous amount of weight, and stress, upon the composer to produce an appropriate musical score in a relatively strict timeline. Unfortunately, this is the reality of a film score composer. However, an established composer knows this is a part of the process, and plans accordingly by knowing his or her own strengths and weakness when it comes to composing with a deadline. As discussed previously, the more versatility a composer has, the more he or she will able to recall and utilize compositional tools, styles, effects, etc., and will be able to rely on an already established knowledge base and the ability to self-inspire in order to complete the this part of the film within the timeframe allotted. Every composer has different skillsets, different strengths, and different weakness, so it is incumbent upon him or her to be able to tackle musical problems that may arise from the compositional process in the most efficient manner, without sacrificing crucial space in the timeline. Sometimes having less time to compose allows raw ideas to come to fruition because the time is not available to overthink or overanalyze the musical implications of a scene or of the entire film (Davis, 131). 3. Business Fundamentals Being involved in a creative process, such as music composition, there is a certain expectation of financial compensation for the product. In this line of work, a composer usually has a lot of business- related affairs to handle to ensure this livelihood is preserved. To reiterate something Richard Davis wrote in his book, “we are in business for ourselves,” (Davis, 205). By being in business for ourselves, having proper awareness of finances enable composers to keep creating and keep contributing to film, or otherwise. According to the Complete Guide to Film Scoring, knowledge, organization, and professional assistance (Davis, 205-216) will keep the composer’s career on track.
  15. 15. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   15     a. Knowledge Knowledge is power. Composers invest considerable time into learning how to create music and should also invest the time to learn the business aspect of the job. A general awareness of how the financial necessities like composer’s fees, royalties, package deals, business expenses, and certainty takes work will allow the composer to have more control of his or her career and maintain financial security. Additionally, having a working knowledge of contracts, sync licenses, copyright, creative commons, publishing, etc., will ensure the composer’s creative work is being utilized properly and will be protected under the law. According to the Complete Guide to Film Scoring, Cliff Eidelman essentially managed his entire business by himself, with little agent involvement (Davis, 207). He had a working knowledge of the entire process, both musically and logistically, because he took ownership of he career progression early on to develop his independence within the field. b. Organization For any business, organization is paramount. Proper organization will allow the composer to focus on both creating music as well as the business. This is especially important with finances, like when tax season comes around, all records (such as receipts, financial contracts and agreements, work- related expenses, etc.) are readily accessible and orderly. For general organization, having a system to keep accountability of business correspondence, networking connections, and administrative records (such as a creation lists, director musical guidelines, audio engineer contact info, etc.) is also helpful for the future in case you work with similar film or creative personnel and for keeping the line of communication open. Financial organization and awareness of the proper exchange of money and documenting it appropriately will ensure the composer, and his or her business, abides by the
  16. 16. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   16     requirements of the law. Simply stated, “paperwork is a drag, but if you don’t do it, it can come back to haunt you,” (Davis, 206). c. Professional Assistance Having a working knowledge of the composition business and keep that business functioning properly may be daunting to some composers, and that is why there are professionals out there who assist with proper business practice and management. Early on in the composer’s career, it is crucial to realize that the composers “are in business for [themselves],” (Davis, 205). With the composer’s involvement and professional assistance from attorneys, publicists, agents, financial advisors, etc., the composer can make informed decisions about his or her career. Note that these professionals are available to assist the composer, not make decisions on behalf of the composer. These professionals should not make career or financial decisions without explicit approval and understanding by the composer. This relationship, however, does emphasize the importance or the composer’s knowledge of the business and organization as it contributes to the entire team of professionals that ensure that the composer gets the best deals and contracts for his or her work. Here is the caveat: new composers have to make opportunities happen by seeking work; this means the composer has to actively take part in both the music creation and business processes. The more actively, and perhaps aggressively, the composer invests into the business and getting work without an agent, the better the change the composer “will get the agent’s attention,” (Davis, 208). Conclusion This collection of research explores topics related to composing music for film. Three main topics were discussed: the logistical requirements, the business wherewithal, and certainly, the actual
  17. 17. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   17     creative aspect of film score composition. To reiterate, the logistical requirements include: physical factors, psychological factors, and technical factors; the creation process includes: craft, intent, and knowing oneself; and the business practice includes: knowledge, organization, and professional assistance; this synthesis of information gives guidelines for a film score composer to consider when initially entering, and continuing, the film industry. Chapter 3: Research Design and Methodology As a composer, I believe the next step in my career is to compose music for film. But how do I do that exactly? How do I compose music for film? That is the primary question that will guide this project, as well as the previously mentioned supporting questions (Chapter 1). As music is subjective, research is from the qualitative perspective with the intention of using it for, and within, my project. After many revisions of my support questions, I pinpointed three that would be able to cover the most useful material for helping me work toward my goal of being a film score composer. Support For the first and third support questions, I will be researching logistical demands a composer must consider for a film, as well as the business side of the filmmaking process. The purposes of these questions, although not necessarily directly correlated to the music creation process for film, ultimately support the primary question and my second supporting question by delving into the philosophical, entrepreneurial, and technical aspects of the job. I have several sources available to research, such as the Complete Guide for Film Scoring, Knowing the Score, Film Music (A Neglected Art), Music for New Media, Composers 101: Breaking and
  18. 18. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   18     Staying In, and articles or blogs specifically about the aforementioned questions. (1) I will locate additional sources by consulting the bibliography of the Complete Guide to Film Scoring and by (2) performing detailed searches with keywords, such as “film music composition” or “music composition silent film.” (3) With each book, video, or website, highlighting, penciling in remarks, and/or taking notes on relevant information for research. (4) When formulating my research into my own thoughts and words, a stream of consciousness approach will be used to ensure both a candid and a thorough explanation of my research. (5) As this is entirely a learning experience for me, keeping personal opinion out of the research portion is necessary, as this is not just research for college; it is also research for a career. (6) During this research, I learned that making decisions about the film’s music falls into logistical demands, which adds direction to the music composition process by developing the intent. Before even beginning to write the music to the film, I had to figure out several tasks for this evolution to be successful. As part of the pre-production stage for this project, (1) I will scour the Internet Archive (https://archive.org) to find a short film or film excerpt that would serve as the primary piece of the project. The criteria will consist of: a public domain work; a completely silent film, or one with existing audio that could be muted or altered; an appropriate duration (15-20 minutes). Within my music notation software, Sibelius 7.5, (2) I will have to figure out how to synchronize video to a musical score – I have never done it before, but the software company, Avid, boasts the program’s ability to assist in the creation of film. I will be using Apple iMovie to necessary video work required to publish my project. Before that happens, (3) I need to figure out how to use the program in order to competently use it for post-production. At this stage, I’d consider this completely an experimental process to ensure I could, in fact, accomplish what I want for this project.
  19. 19. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   19     Conclusion This methodology details how I intend to collect research about this subject matter and thoroughly explain how I will be constructing my project. This project will be a combination of research, analysis, application, and creation, using the questions to develop a greater understanding of the role of the film score composer, not only for the purpose of this capstone, but also as a career. Chapter 4: Results of the Study and Project Addressing the primary question: how do I compose music for film? First that starts with finding a film, a television advertisement, or even stock footage. After scouring the Internet Archive (https://archive.org) with a set of criteria for which I needed in a film (as referenced in Chapter 3). I ran into some difficulty because, while these criteria were not very in-depth, it still took several days with many hours in a sitting to find a sampling of different films or stock footage I could use. I watched many films with a critical eye and tried to analyze which films would inspire me to write. After extensive searching, and finally deciding which would work for my purposes based on my self-imposed prerequisite, I began composing the music for two different film applications. The first composition accompanies a 30-second public domain film featuring coffee being poured into a mug; the music consists of a solo piano throughout. The scene was original titled Coffee Cup (https://archive.org/details/CoffeeCup) by Jeffrey Beach of Beachfront Productions, which I retitled Coffee Pour (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwC9qOLcJxk&feature=youtu.be). The second composition accompanies a 15-minute public domain student film about the rise in technology and the fall of human interaction in the 1950s, originally titled Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (https://archive.org/details/HaveITol1958), and directed by Stuart Hanisch, Barbara Squire, and Russ
  20. 20. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   20     McGregor of the University of Southern California Film Department. The music consists of a string orchestra, a 4-horn jazz ensemble, and a wind ensemble within this composition to change the texture and the mood depending on what the film required. I have retitled the film No Human Contact (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xkc_QlVKl0A) Both of these works were found via the Internet Archives as a part of the Prelinger Archives (https://archive.org/details/prelinger). Throughout this process, I utilized knowledge gained from the research questions, which enabled me to better construct a thorough project. Support For synchronizing video within Sibelius, I discovered that it works with relative ease. Because Sibelius falls under the Avid umbrella (Avid is also known for products like Pro Tools, Media Composer, etc.), and is highly sought after by professionals in their respective fields of music, film, and audio production. My first attempt went well – I imported the stock film into Sibelius, wrote about 30- seconds of musical accompaniment (solo piano), performed some audio editing. At this point I was ready to export the entire project, however, I ran into a dilemma: while Sibelius seamlessly synchronizes video to a musical score, the program does not have the ability to export video and music together. Which brings me to my new task: editing video in iMovie.
  21. 21. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   21     Screen capture #1 (Coffee Pour in Sibelius music notation software) Screen capture #2 (Coffee Pour in iMovie software)
  22. 22. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   22     While I have been using an Apple MacBook Pro for about four years, I do not think I ever opened the iMovie program. So, in order to solve the current problem, I needed to jump right into using iMovie to figure out if what I wanted to accomplish would even be possible with my current technological set up. From Sibelius, I exported just the audio file (as an AIFF, a proprietary Apple audio file) of the music I had composed for the 30-second film, and then imported both the video and audio into iMovie. I made some minor synchronization adjustments, added some effects (fade in/fade out), and balanced the existing audio on the video (the actual coffee being poured) and the music I composed. I exported the project from iMovie without any issues, contributing to my knowledge of the production aspect of composing for film. At this stage, I’d consider this a completely experimental process to ensure I could, in fact, accomplish what I wanted for this project. For the longer film, which is the main feature of my project, I began the actual composition process. The first step was to watch the film to understand the purpose, and psychological effect, even before writing any music. I began to isolate different scenes and themes to develop a working roadmap. For example, the second film is about technology (and a dab of consumerism) and the lack of human interaction, which are constantly repeated in different applications throughout the movie, which began to inspire musical themes I would utilize later. When originally starting to score the film, I used only a piano voice to get the musical outline (which I would then orchestrate into a larger ensemble). In total, I used different techniques I learned from my research such as underscoring for dialogue, mickey- mousing, varying musical styles and orchestration to change the mood, and use of themes/leitmotivs. By drawing out a roadmap, or outline, I found important scenes or transitions in which I achieve a specific result; for instance, I used inconsistently metered time signatures in order marry with a transition on
  23. 23. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   23     screen. This type of thought and planning demonstrates my first question, what logistical elements are considered when preparing to compose music for film? My actual composition process consists of writing for piano to get the basic outline and flow of the music from the start, and ideally, to the finish, or at least a sensible ending point. In my opinion, this doing it this way keeps the melody at the forefront of the process, with the orchestration, or lack there of, being simple and transparent. This is a process I follow regardless of whether the music is for film or a standalone piece. I started adding a separate stave that consisted of countermelody and additional chord ideas to help support the melody, but without overshadowing it. The priority is getting the outline completed, ensuring the flow of not only the piece, but also to ensure the music is appropriate for film. During this process is where I start developing the themes to identify with a particular scene or character (leitmotiv), and throughout the soundtrack, I featured thematic variations, as well as used these themes in combination, to keep the music from becoming stagnant. Here are some examples: the technology featured in the film has an up tempo, cheerful melody; the married couple at the start of the film, and throughout, has a rather melancholy melody; the ice cream truck scene features a jovial march with some jazzy elements; the office building filled with people and technology has a dark, brooding vibe, as a nod to machine automation limiting human interaction, making these people more like zombies. Additionally, I composed the music with the original film sounds (dialogue, radios, television, cars, etc.) in mind to use in conjunction with the soundtrack. Upon completion of the outline for piano, I orchestrated on a smaller scale (like for brass quintet, saxophone quartet, or string quintet) because it helps me organize where I want each part (melody, counter melody, harmony, counterpoint, foundation, and then the obbligato parts, or more commonly known as “icing”), which I orchestrated into a larger ensemble. Following this procedure is two fold: one composition yields music for at least two ensembles
  24. 24. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   24     (smaller and larger), which increases potential for playability by more music groups in the future. For the film application, strings are a more familiar sound for the listener, so I used that ensemble initially. I expanded the piano and string parts, added brass, woodwinds (such as trumpets, trombones, tuba, clarinet, flute, and saxophone), and percussion to the orchestration, and over several weeks, had an entire composition that was synched to the film perfectly. From this point, I followed the same export/import process I performed with the shorter film. All of these musical decisions explain my thought process for my second question, what musical and music related elements are considered when composing music for film? Screen capture #3 (initial orchestration of No Human Contact in Sibelius music notation software)
  25. 25. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   25     Screen capture #4 (Final orchestration of No Human Contact in Sibelius music notation software) Combining both the film and the audio within iMovie proved to be a challenging task because of my inexperience with this part of the process. The most complicated part was balancing the audio that was native to the film and the additional audio that I would be providing. Within iMovie, I mixed all the audio elements, adjusting the volume of sound effects, the music, the original dialogue, the road noise, and even the film noise to bring the audio and together and work as one unit. I also added a couple film effects adding modern technology to old (video transitions, title pages, etc.). After all of the modifications have been made, the project is essentially finished – which then requires me to export/share the project from iMovie as an MPEG-4 file type for general consumption. I named my project No Human Contact. Lastly, I uploaded both films to YouTube to complete the process.
  26. 26. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   26     Screen capture #5 (No Human Contact in iMovie software) Chapter 5: Summary and Discussion The intent of this Liberal Arts Capstone Creative Project explores the different processes, practices, and experiences of successful film composer careers. Music composition is an extensive topic, and as such, the project delves into new territory in which I am not familiar. The entirety of this project is aimed at bridging the gap of knowledge from being a professional composer to a professional film score composer. I am taking the time to study, which is of the utmost importance. The composer that will be employed more consistently is one that takes the time to learn and develop these skills, as Alf Clausen said, “it’s a matter of craft, it’s a matter of study,” (Davis, 131). This consideration has been taken into account when formulating and constructing this project.
  27. 27. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   27     Statement of Problem This project embarks on a creative journey to experience, to understand, and to further develop and supplement my current knowledge of music composition in the greater commercial, professional, and scholastic music community. This project investigates the following questions: Primary Question: • How do I compose music for film? Supporting Questions: • What logistical elements are considered when composing music for film? • What musical and music related elements are considered when composing music for film? • What music business fundamentals should I know when involved in the filmmaking process? Explanation of Project The project is essentially an exploration into how to compose music for film. Using the four aforementioned questions, research has covered not only musical, but logistical, philosophical, entrepreneurial, and technical aspects of the job that I will not only use for the purposes of this course, but also because I have a passion for this field as a career. The project includes will be multi-faceted: films with custom soundtracks, musical scores, an explanation of my creative process, and detailed research paper involving the project’s questions. Review of Methodology As music is subjective, research is from the qualitative perspective with the intention of using it for, and within, my project, using my project questions as a guide. I will be researching several primary
  28. 28. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   28     sources, which I personally have at my disposal. I will also be developing compositions as the creative aspect of the project, showcasing what I have learned. This project will be a combination of research, analysis, application, and creation, using the questions to develop a greater understanding of the role of the film score composer, not only for the purpose of this capstone, but also as a career. Summary of Results As mentioned above, I composed music for two different film applications. The first composition accompanies a 30-second public domain film featuring coffee being poured into a mug; the music consists of a solo piano throughout. The scene was original titled Coffee Cup (https://archive.org/details/CoffeeCup) by Jeffrey Beach of Beachfront Productions, which I retitled Coffee Pour (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwC9qOLcJxk&feature=youtu.be). The second composition accompanies a 15-minute public domain student film about the rise in technology and the fall of human interaction in the 1950s, originally titled Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (https://archive.org/details/HaveITol1958), directed by Stuart Hanisch, Barbara Squire, and Russ McGregor of the University of Southern California Film Department. The music consists of a string orchestra, a 4-horn jazz ensemble, and a wind ensemble within this composition to change the texture and the mood depending on what the film required. I have retitled the film No Human Contact (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xkc_QlVKl0A). Both of these works were found via the Internet Archives (https://archive.org) as a part of the Prelinger Archives (https://archive.org/details/prelinger). Throughout this process, I utilized knowledge gained from the research questions, which enabled me to better construct a thorough project.
  29. 29. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   29     Relation of Research to the Field This project’s research was not, in fact, a yes or no/right or wrong answer, way of undertaking a task like this, but rather a collection of different experiences from which I could derive from and then apply to the project. Elmer Bernstein summed this up process as an “intellectual process rather than a composing process,” (Davis, 132), and in order to make a meaningful contribution to the field of film score composition, I must study and I must create. I used the Complete Guide to Film Scoring as a definitive reference for what I aimed to accomplish in both technical and business practices from the working film score composer’s perspective. This acquired knowledge was used in conjunction with my existing compositional process for the completion of my project. The creative part of the project is the final product of my exploration. Eventually, I believe that my work as a composer, as well as my work on this project, will be beneficial to other composers who have similar aspirations. Discussion of Results I chose this project to showcase my abilities as a composer and apply these skills to something I had never done before: composing for film. Included in the project are several pieces of the project that come together to demonstrate why I did what I did, which encompasses the two films, two musical scores, and a detailed explanation of the entire process for consumption by the reader/watcher/listener. Also included is a research paper that outlines technical aspects of film score composition by means of my supporting questions, describing different stages and considerations that are highly recommended by composers that are successful in this field (Complete Guide to Film Scoring, Davis; Film Music, Prendergast).
  30. 30. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   30     Conclusion The primary question for this project (how do I compose music for film?) was definitely answered as my knowledge base was significantly expanded by the research and practical application of what I had learned. However, I do realize I have only scratched the surface of what it means to be a film score composer. Completing the Liberal Arts Capstone Creative Project has given me the tools necessary to use as a launch point into a profession in which I have a passion and a vested interest in pursuing for the longevity of my career as a music composer.
  31. 31. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   31     Works Cited Davis, Richard. Complete Guide to Film Scoring: The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV. Ed. Jonathan Feist. 2nd ed. Boston: Berklee, 1999, 2010. Print. Morgan, David. Knowing the Score. New York City: Harper Entertainment, 2000. Print. Prendergast, Roy M. Film Music, A Neglected Art: A Critical Study of Music in Films. 2nd ed. New York City: W. W. Norton, 1977, 1992. Print. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You. Dir. Stuart Hanisch, Barbara Squire, and Russ McGregor. Perf. Bob Olsen, Gloria Jensen. University of Southern California, 1958. Student Film. Coffee Cup. Dir. Jeffrey Beach. Beachfront Productions, 2012. Stock Footage. Hoffert, Paul. Music for New Media. Ed. Jonathan Feist. Boston: Berklee, 2007. Print. iMovie. Vers. 10.0.8. Cupertino. CA: Apple Inc, 2015. Computer software. Sibelius. Vers. 7.5.1. Burlington, MA: Avid Technology, 2014. Computer software. Music Composers 101: Breaking and Staying In. Prod. Sam Estes and Michael Hoge. Sonicsmiths, 2015. Instructional Video. Schifrin, Lalo. Music Composition for Film and Television. Ed. Jonathan Feist. Boston: Berklee, 2011. Print. Various. "Top Collections at the Archive." Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine. Archive.org, n.d. Web. <https://archive.org/>. Prelinger, Rick. Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine. Prelinger Archives, n.d. Web. <https://archive.org/details/prelinger>. Patches, Matt. "How to Compose a Killer Film Score by Michael Giacchino." Vulture, 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 June 2015. <http://www.vulture.com/2013/10/michael-giacchino-how-to-score-a-movie.html>. Maddocks, Robert. "The Score." Web log post. The Score. Robert Maddocks, July 2008. Web. 14 June 2015. <https://intensemusic.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/the-reality-of-becoming-a-film-composer/>. Siegel, Robert. "How to Compose Music for the Movie About Music." Audio blog post. National Public Radio. National Public Radio, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 June 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2014/12/23/372729084/how-to-compose-music-for-a-movie-about-music/>.
  32. 32. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   32     Appendix Definition of Terms • Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF): Apple Inc.’s proprietary lossless audio file format. • Audio engineer/ing: the process of balancing and editing audio for a variety of applications. • Commercial music: music used to accompany advertisements, film, or video games. • Copyright: intellectual property right to creative original works. • Counterpoint: musical lines (melody or countermelody) that depend on each other harmonically, but are granted independence from rhythm, contour, and even form by composers/performers. The master of counterpoint is Johann Sebastian Bach. • Creative Commons: an organization that encourages creators to share and build upon creative works in a legal manner. • Critical listening: the process of analyzing music and sounds with the intention of making improvements upon a composition or arrangement. • Countermelody: a secondary melody that is in tandem with a primary melody. • Cue: musical piece or segment that is a part of a soundtrack. • Ensembles: musical units o Brass Quintet: consists of trumpets, horn in F, trombone, tuba. o Concert Band: consists of woodwinds, brass, and percussion. o Jazz Band: consists of saxophones, trombones, trumpets, and rhythm section. o Jazz Combo: consists of guitar, keyboard/piano, bass, drums, and usually a saxophone, trumpet, and/or trombone. o Orchestra: consists of woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion. o Saxophone Quartet: consists of soprano (or alto), alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. o String Quintet: consists of two violins, viola, violoncello, and double bass. • Film Score: the music that accompanies a film. • Harmony: use of musical chords to augment melody, countermelody, or foundational parts. • iMovie: Apple Inc.’s video editing software. • Leitmotiv: music that is associated with a specific character or idea. • MPEG-4: video and audio file format that is a standard video file format that can be streamed over the internet in a variety of applications. • Mickey-mousing: a compositional technique where music is perfectly synchronized with scene changes; originally used in cartoons, hence the name.
  33. 33. Liberal Arts Capstone: Michael Andrew Newell   33     • Music arranging: the process of using an existing composition and modifying it from the original. • Music composition: the process of writing original music. • Music theory: rules and guidelines for understanding the construction of music and assists composers in writing or arranging music. • Musical composition: an original piece of music. • Musical score: type of organization a composer uses to visually represent music; used by conductors to rehearse ensembles. • Orchestration: the way music is arranged to fit an ensemble. • Production stages: o Pre-production: this stage is for organizing and planning how all the pieces of a film will come together (production meetings, screenplay/script writing, scheduling/timeline, when support elements begin, etc.) o Production: this stage is where all the filming and recording actually takes place o Post-production: the stage is where support elements begin work and finalize the film (audio engineering, music composition, video editing, etc.) • Professional music: music written for professional ensembles (such as the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra or the Tallahassee Swing Band). • Public domain: the status a piece of music is classified as, if composed before 1923 and does not require a composer/publisher to give permission for another composer or arranger to create, and copyright, a derivative work, from the original. • Royalties: payments made to creator for use of their work. • Scholastic music: music written for use in educational institutional performances. • Sibelius: music notation software I, and many other composers, use. • Silent film: films from the early 20th century that uses a musical as the main catalyst for telling a story rather than spoken dialogue (some films contained dialogue was displayed in text form on a black screen for the viewers to read). • Soundtrack: the music that accompanies film, television shows, video games, advertisements, etc. • Underscore: music that is used as ambiance underneath dialogue.

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