Composing music to a theme or mood?

I find that creating an imaginary scene and putting it on paper helps me when composing music for a certain mood or theme. If I create a scenario and hold that image, music immediately starts to flow.

I was having trouble getting started on a cue that I wanted to be tense and mysterious, so I typed out the following and printed it out:

“A lone family portrait sits on the fireplace mantle in an otherwise empty room. Several empty boxes are strewn about the floor. Police tape blocks entry to the room.”

I read it a few times and envisioned the scene in my mind, even to the point of watching a camera pan across the scene. Inspiration soon followed with a creepy and surreal piano phrase beginning the track.

I guess I work best when composing to a visual image. What are your techniques when it comes to composing to a specific theme or mood?

Till next time…

That Ever-Elusive “Wow” Track

There really is no substitute for musical excellence when you get down to it. In the music business, we have three choices: lower the bar, meet the bar, or exceed the bar. A common lament I hear today is that the production music libraries are saturated with music. I especially hear this about the royalty-free libraries.

I’ll admit that the internet age and proliferation of music apps and software have opened the doors wide for composers of all stripes to bring their music to the market. Yes, the market is saturated. But, is the market saturated with excellence? I don’t think so. That’s not to say the music isn’t good. It often is. I can listen to a hundred tracks and agree that they are all good. Some are very good. But rarely do I hear one and go ”Wow!” When it happens, it’s a notable experience because it’s so uncommon.

So that brings us to ourselves and the music we’re churning out on a daily basis. Every time I ask myself what my ultimate goal is, the answer is the same. I want to take what I love to do and use it to make what it touches better. In the process, I wish to earn a decent living for my efforts and contribution. None of this happens without striving for the absolute best and then reaching even beyond that. The market is saturated with ”very good.” Is it saturated with ”Wow?” Despite the ocean of obviously great talent out there, I don’t think it is. That’s why in an earlier blog entry I wrote about the importance of constantly improving our craft and making it a point to learn something new every day. Even something as little as taking a stock plugin or virtual instrument and tweaking it to make it our own makes a difference over using it out of the box to create another track out of the tens of thousands of them with the exact same sound.

We owe it to ourselves, our colleagues, and the music industry to constantly push the boundaries in our musical pursuits. To capture and create that elusive ”Wow!” track. Anything less, and we’re settling in to that ever-beckoning comfort zone where little happens and not much is noticed.

Attempting to reach a goal is the fun part. Enjoy the pursuit. I know I am!