Exploring Film Music
In association with Neil Brands’:
‘People’s Guide to the Orchestra’
Written for Merton Music Foundation 2016
Film Music Background and Context
• Investigate composers and film
• Neil Brand and other composers
• What is it like to compose music for films?
• Encourage children to research a composer from a choice of films.
• Play some Neil Brand music and provide facts on him
• Orchestral families
• Resources: Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra DVD and
Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf DVD.
• Neil Brands commission is entitled the ‘People’s Guide to the
Orchestra’ and will be available in January. It is written with a
narration part which will be performed by an actor.
Neil Brand’s Thoughts….
Children wanted to ask Neil some questions on his job as a composer in
order to help them understand the meaning of the word ‘composer.’
The three most popular questions were:
• How does a composer become a composer?
• What is it like to be a composer?
• Why are there more male than female film composers?
How does a composer become a composer?
‘I think its nature rather than nurture - loads of children have music in
their heads that they struggle to write down in any meaningful form,
although now there are wonderful resources like digital recorders,
computer programmes etc there is more chance that a tune can be
caught in some form or other. For the rest, I think it is a question of
being as open as possible to all types of music and, where possible, to
get as much real experience of music making as possible. Then watch
the scene you have to score and ask questions - find out everything you
can about the characters, the place, the time - then try things.’
What is it like to be a composer?
‘It depends. I love it but then I always compose to a dramatic context - if
I didn't have some sort of context to write to I couldn't write - to use
music to explore music, to interrogate musical ideas and see where they
go - that is a remarkable art I don't feel qualified to talk about. It is also,
I think, a responsibility because I believe you have to touch as many
people as possible with your music. Within the world of scoring film
soundtracks today the work is very quick, high-stress and can be
frustrating - you may not be scoring to a final cut, there may be other
problems or the film-maker may not like what you do.’
Why do you think most successful composers
(of film music) are men?
‘ I really don't know, although Rachel Portman,
Debbie Wiseman and Anne Dudley may have an
opinion on that! Its certainly not because men are
better at it than women, they're not!’