No announcement yet.

Is it micromanaging to decide which instruments I want a composer to use?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is it micromanaging to decide which instruments I want a composer to use?

    I am working with a composer on a current project and I find that he is going in a different direction with the music than what I wanted. Basically he likes his electronic, synthesized sounds, where as I usually prefer the more instrumental, acoustic sounds. But I find I kinda have to fight him on this, cause I don't think that electronic sound will work for this type of tone that the movie has.

    Another thing is, is that I gave him some samples of music from actual movies, and said this is what I am going for, and he decided to ignore those completely and do his own thing, but I don't think what he is going for is what I want, but maybe it should be his artistic decision partially as well?

    So I am wondering, is it fair of me to tell him which instruments to use, in order to keep it more on the acoustic side, or is that micromanaging?

    It's just he seemed to have done all this work without asking me about it and asks me what I think and now I feel I have to say, that is not anything like the examples I sent you at all, and I felt he did too much work without running it past me first.

    So what do you think?
    Last edited by ironpony; 11-10-2018, 01:02 PM.

  • #2
    I've done many work for hire composition projects and the person I'm working for is always right. You absolutely have the right to keep him on track by suggesting instruments, providing examples and etc. However, if you've decided not to pay this composer, they might be taking the attitude of well, I'm working for free so I'll provide whatever I feel like. This of course is an unprofessional attitude, but hard for you to argue.

    Usually, you and the composer would do a "spotting session" before any music is written. This is where you sit down together and go over the completed film making notes on what type of and where music should be happening. The composer should keep you in the loop and look for your approval as he progresses.

    In any case, if you're quite positive you're not going to get the results you want, you should think about looking elsewhere.


    • #3
      The tone of a film can swing wildly if the material onscreen is represented and accentuated by music or sound effects that generally don't mix. It's imperative the composer and director/producer in some cases are on the same page roughly. An acoustic sound Vs. electronic sounds almost in the wrong ball park for collaboration.

      I agree with studio nine for the most part, the director usually has a pretty good idea of what sound they're seeking, and the composers primary job is to bring forth those aesthetic qualities. Directors I have worked with will make suggestions on specific instruments at specific points, or give general instructions for the music (Big orchestra, small, chamber, etc.).

      You always want the congruent ideas shared between the director and composer to be overlapping circles with some room for play. As mentioned before, a spotting session usually gets everyone on the same page. There's no problem making suggestions to the composer regarding what you would like to hear, they are usually happy to incorporate any interesting idea into their score.

      If you're having difficulty finding a common form both you and the composer can agree on, it may be a sign of creative differences and you may want to rethink before proceeding. No one is particularly at fault, but when you choose a composer for a project, a sampling of their prior work usually gives a good indication of what you're going to get. Composers create and manipulate music based on their knowledge of instruments, and an electronic composer might have difficulty determine the proper timbre for a French horn or woodwind, conversely someone who composes orchestral music might have difficulty with dry mixing faux drum kits and electronic sounds.

      So make suggestions for things you believe would compliment the film to the composer, nothing wrong with that. But if you are suggesting too many instruments that correspond to more a traditional orchestra, your composer might not feel comfortable doing that kind of score, and the search hopefully would continue for a more suitable replacement.

      But, kudos on using your own composer. I've seen a lot of indie films that use stock music, heavily edited, and the difference is astoundingly apparent~


      • #4
        There are some important questions here.

        - Did you see the music with picture?
        - Do you not like it , because it is not what you envisioned or because it is not your taste?
        - Or: does it really not work with the scenes?

        When I talk with composers I (almost) never talk about instruments.
        I talk about atmosphere, setting (Spain sounds different than France ;) ), emotional arcs, energy and moods.
        Of course I did check previous work, so I can tell them what I like about their previous work.

        But apart from that I do ask them for their expertise.


        • #5
          I saw the music with the picture. I would say the rythym hits the beats and all that, it's just I felt the electronic sound didn't work.

          I'd say it was not what I envisioned.

          But he doesn't necessarily have to rewrite all the music. I think if he were to just use the composition he has in his program, and swap out the instruments for other instruments, then it could work, which is why I suggested using different instruments, instead of rewriting the whole thing necessarily. Cause it might sound good just with acoustic instruments, instead of electronic.

          I worked with him before, which is why I used him again. Before he did a short film of mine that was sci-fi, so his electronic music worked better for that, compared to this current non-sci-fi short film. But I wanted to work with again cause I thought he did a good job before.


          • #6
            One last question:
            did you tell him what your vision was before he started?


            • #7
              Yeah I showed him some movie examples, and talked about the tones of the movies and how I was going for that tone, sound and feel. But I felt that he deviated from that a lot.