~~Last night I watched one of the latest videos from The Hollywood Reporter which talked with Hans Zimmer, Marco Beltrami, Danny Elfman, Trent Reznor and John Powell.
You can watch it on youtube on The Hollywood Reporter channel.
It's always good to listen to how the A-list composers deal with issues we all face as composers writing for picture.
Granted the projects I have worked on are nowhere near the same league as the projects these composers have worked on; however they share the same fears, anxiety, and pleasure in the same things that I believe many of us who compose music for picture.
One area they talk about is how your "ears" change when you listen to your music with others in the room. You hear the music differently when your listening with someone else than when you are composing. You're suddenly not in "your" head but in someone else's. You sense things differently. Sometimes the "magic" that you felt when you were composing the piece or even all the way through the initial mixing process is now gone. I have this happen not only when I am listening with other people, but when I give a piece one more listen before sending it off to Jingle Punks or a client. I start to listen to it as if I was on the other end; hearing it for the first time. This can be scary! "What's happened? The piece has lost something. Was it ever any good?" Sometimes it's good to hear it this way. It allows you to be objective. It keeps you from being too close to the music. However, you don't want those new "ears" to decrease your confidence, or make you start to second guess yourself. You still need to be able to trust yourself as an artist. Trust yourself as someone who can create visions, scenes, and atmospheres with your music. Too much second guessing will lead to you being paralyzed with fear of making the wrong decision to the point of making no decision at all.
Lately I have been writing production music for Jingle Punks. Which means I don't know what my music might be used for. However I still have those incidents of second guessing myself. Usually it's because of knowing what various TV shows have used my music before. It's a case of where the success can hamper the creating process. You start to feel the pressure of re-creating the successful music. But the catch is that in the back of your mind you understand that you really don't know what it was that the music editor or music director heard in your music that they thought fit. You could drive yourself nuts with that one. For example I have a piece of music in the Carson Daly interview with Neil Gaiman. The music comes in under the part where Neil Gaiman is talking about writing for the BBC's Doctor Who. I have listened to that piece dozens of times since, trying to determine why they chose that piece. It does have a theremin type synth sound similar to the opening theme of Doctor Who. But the theremin sound isn't really the same. It does sound dramatic, with an opera singer belting out a haunting wail, but was that really it? Bottom line is...I'll never really know. Therefore I can't allow all that "wondering" to hamper the creative process by listening to music I write with anybody else's "ears". Does that mean I should never listen with other "ears"?
No. It's important to stay objective and to often wear the producer hat to make sure you are writing something that will work. You HAVE to listen with objective ears to what your writing and what is being asked for in productions. It's what keeps you working. Just don't let it paralyze your creative process.