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First attempt at writing Library music, not sure where to go from here

Jhickin

New Member
Hi Everyone,

I have written three tracks which I am really proud of for Piano and strings however I need some advice, here is a sample:


1. I'd love to know what you think compositionaly and if it sounds appropriate to pitch to Music Libraries

2. Is the mixing and general "sound" ok? I'm mixing on a far from perfect setup so it can be really hard to tell how it will sound for other setups and people, any general advice on this matter would be SO appreciated, I definetly think this is the weakest aspect of my craft.

3. How do i now approach libraries and pitch this? Really not too sure how to get started with this, My next intention is to do the cuts of these 3 tracks so: 1'29" , 59", 29", 19", 9" and maybe a piano only take?

Thanks so much for taking the time to have a listen again, its really appreciated

The whole set of tracks are here:
 

Soundbed

Music for TV
I'd love to know what you think compositionaly and if it sounds appropriate to pitch to Music Libraries
I'm not signed with them but this sort of reminded me of some things I've heard from Velvet Green. https://velvetgreenmusic.com/

Might send to them to see what they have to say.

One thing I have been planning to make a video about is the first 5 seconds (really the first second) of a piece are where the music supervisors decide whether your piece is going to fit on their show or not.

If the first seconds don't sound like "Spring Rain" they might click the next track. Yours started sounding like spring rain at about 16 seconds, to me. Before that, the editor could have been using the end of the previous piece.

This may sound like a harsh criticism and you may have composition reasons to have that intro. I am only making a comment from the perspective of someone who has been told enough times from my TV publishers that my first seconds did not match either the title of my piece or the emotional intent of the piece. Your first notes sounded like moments before rain (to me). If you wanted sparse drops before it really started to pitter patter, then I would expect different notes than your first 16 seconds.

~

Titles ...

Fallen Leaves - I'm a little confused because the notes are often indicating a rising gesture to me, which is not a "falling" sound naturally. I know this is terribly on the nose. Falling leaves, falling lines. I know. But TV music is often very simple.

If the leaves are rising is because there is wind? Maybe it's Windy Leaves? That way, the same piece might have more uses. The word Fallen is less important than Leaves, and your piece might work for leaves that are not only falling, yes?

Or Blowing Leaves, Leaves in Air, I don't know. The same piece might have more uses with a slightly more open title that matches the music a bit more.

~

Hope this is helpful but take it with a grain of salt b/c it's only one person's opinion.

Is the mixing and general "sound" ok?
Personally my gut reaction is that the piano sounds like a piano. There are going to be some publishers who want that and some productions that want that.

But there are already a lot of piano pieces out there.

Again from the first instant, what makes this piano-based piece worth putting on the air? My gut instinct would be to treat the piano a bit further, sculpt it with some effects or synth layer(s). Give it character. MAKE it a character. Each of these titles indicate nature ... what's happening with the story that's being told? Fallen leaves that did WHAT? Spring rain that does WHAT? Beach Snowfall that means WHAT? The tone / timbre / character of the piano can help tell that story.

• Is the beach snowfall an icy sounding piano?

• Are the falling leaves a decaying, brown piano? Maybe even crunchy?

• Is the spiring rain piano "wet" ?

The answer might be no, but TV editors and music supervisors are looking for pieces that advance the story and these touches can help establish the mood quickly whereas waiting for enough notes delays the impact. a Single treated note can set an emotional tone. Then notes can help tell a story.

~
Emotional Tone
~

You didn't ask, but I will let you know, there seems to be a lot of emotional range in the music. That isn't a bad thing at all, but TV tends to need multiple piece that each have one emotional intention. Your pieces explore a range of emotional variations within a single theme, which could work against being easy to drop onto a timeline.

Each piece you have here might be "too much" for a single TV cue ... I've done this, where I've packed two cues into one piece.

Which leads me to...

My next intention is to do the cuts of these 3 tracks so: 1'29" , 59", 29", 19", 9" and maybe a piano only take?
Wait to see what the publisher who accepts the pieces wants. They don't always want or need (or even have the mechanism to ingest) all those variations. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

How do i now approach libraries and pitch this?
Jesse probably has the most concise videos on this type of stuff. He has a whole playlist of these 2 minute tutorials.




Good luck!
 

Soundbed

Music for TV
One more thing — to land TV spots with libraries you'll want to think about the types of scenes that are commonly on TV. What scenes are commonly on TV that this music supports? If you're specifically writing for nature documentaries (for instance) think about the topics of those documentaries. Usually animals or the effects of climate on the environment these days (afaik). My wife watches nature documentaries nearly daily and they are almost always following animals and / or talking about the climate in the region and how it affects animal behavior.
 
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Jhickin

Jhickin

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Wow! this is brilliant advice, thank you so much for taking the time to write this up. There is alot to go away and think about now.
I think the hardest thing I'm coming to terms with is this:
Your pieces explore a range of emotional variations within a single theme, which could work against being easy to drop onto a timeline.

Each piece you have here might be "too much" for a single TV cue ... I've done this, where I've packed two cues into one piece.
I have had this feedback before and have no idea how to do this. Everytime I try and cut back on ideas everything just feels "undercooked" or underdeveloped to my ears. I just natually find the easiest way to structure (when not scoring to Film) is to play two ideas against each other. Certainly for these pieces I couldnt imagine how to cut out the differing material. But I will continue to cut back and keep to one idea for each track, I understand why this is important.
Thanks again for your detailed advice and feedback
 

Soundbed

Music for TV
Wow! this is brilliant advice, thank you so much for taking the time to write this up. There is alot to go away and think about now.
I think the hardest thing I'm coming to terms with is this:

I have had this feedback before and have no idea how to do this. Everytime I try and cut back on ideas everything just feels "undercooked" or underdeveloped to my ears. I just natually find the easiest way to structure (when not scoring to Film) is to play two ideas against each other. Certainly for these pieces I couldnt imagine how to cut out the differing material. But I will continue to cut back and keep to one idea for each track, I understand why this is important.
Thanks again for your detailed advice and feedback
Okay I know what you’re saying. I need to remember what it felt like when I was working through what you’re describing and how I got to understand it like I do today.

First, there is a difference between emotional intent and musical ideas.

Re: “play two ideas against each other”

Latching on to the word “ideas” here.

I’m not making the statement that you necessarily need fewer musical ideas, per se. That might work too. But it’s not the only approach.

With piano and strings, you might have three or four musical ideas, or even more in a single queue.

But, they all need to work toward a singular emotional quality.

So, a call and response format could evoke a singular mood. A theme and variations could support a singular mood. An ABCA could support a singular mood. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” has two contrasting sections esp rhythmically that work together to evoke a singular emotional intent.

Likewise, a through composed individual voice, a solo piece, could evoke multiple moods or an evolving emotional journey or a range of emotional qualities.

What we typically want to avoid is too many emotional variations.

Usually we want to drive at one specific emotional quality. Typically I take the easy approach and do it in three intensity levels. So, a lot of my cues are simply AAA going from low intensity to high intensity with edit points.

~edit points

We didn’t discuss these. Your pieces above are going to be challenging for some video editors, because there aren’t many entry and exit points at TV durations. Of course you can go through the effort to make all those cut downs you mentioned. But like I said some pubs won’t even have a sophisticated enough system to (happily) ingest them.

So why not build in edit points?

Give us about 15 seconds of light sprinkles. Then a pause. Then 30 seconds of light rain. Then a pause. Then 0:45 to a minute more where it’s really coming down and goes to commercial.

Or, find ways to repeat something that can be edited and sections can be skipped. Slice and dice, slice and dice. That’s what editors need to be able to do with our music. You could have a repeated figure where there’s a few notes that slow down until a fermata, and each time the music comes back with more intensity. If this audio can be edited easily the video editor could skip the middle section(s) going directly from the end of the first fermata to the last. In other words it doesn’t need to be loopy / looped to be slice-able but it needs edit points to be usable.
 

jcrosby

Senior Member
Wow! this is brilliant advice, thank you so much for taking the time to write this up. There is alot to go away and think about now.
I think the hardest thing I'm coming to terms with is this:

I have had this feedback before and have no idea how to do this. Everytime I try and cut back on ideas everything just feels "undercooked" or underdeveloped to my ears. I just natually find the easiest way to structure (when not scoring to Film) is to play two ideas against each other. Certainly for these pieces I couldnt imagine how to cut out the differing material. But I will continue to cut back and keep to one idea for each track, I understand why this is important.
Thanks again for your detailed advice and feedback
Soundbed's advice is spot on. Library music isn't chosen for its complexity or beauty. It's chosen to support a role. That role could be anything from background music on a documentary, reality show, or short/independent film; to marketing a product, film/TV series/video game; to being used as background in a trade video... The uses can be broader than you might think...

In any one of those scenarios (perhaps other than in the case of a trailer) the music isn't there to capture your attention. Even then, a trailer for example has a very specific formula of sonic devices it relies on to fit into the context of marketing a film/series/game. Not to digress, but this might be perhaps the single best example where literally the 1st 1 to 3 seconds can determine if someone listens further or not... It has to be engaging from the very opening.

The point is that you have to think of any piece of production music from the perspective of the library, music supervisor, and editor.... Does the library curate a specific sound? Does the brief specify a format - (intro->build/breakdown->climax/backend)? Is it one long piece of music with no gaps for an editor to cut to? Does it have a stinger/bumper/signature that might be used as a segue or attention grabber?

Production music isn't music written for listening enjoyment. (This in no way implies it isn't enjoyable to compose). The challenge of writing to a brief can be just as interesting as scoring a film. I.e. in a film you can create an evolving piece that helps tell the story over time. The challenge of production music is the opposite... How do you condense a piece down to 90 seconds or tell a three-act story in 180 seconds? How do you make it edit friendly? And how do you end the piece in a way where an editor might be interested in using it for the climax, or as a transition, or even as a unique fingerprint of sorts?

The last thing to be aware of is that it's incredibly rare your entire piece of music is used as is. More often than not a piece is either chopped up and rearranged to fit the edit. More commonly only a portion of the music is used. They might use 60 seconds, they might use 15, they might use only the ending... Writing a piece of music intending to be heard beginning to end simply doesn't work as an approach.

Finally the average brief will require cut downs - shortened versions, often 60 and 30 seconds. Some libraries might also request a 15 second version and/or a 'stinger/bumper'... You have to write with this in mind, especially if specified, or you'll either receive a ton of notes or the library may just outright reject it... It may sound a bit harsh or simplified but you really do have to adapt a 'check your ego at the door' attitude by not becoming attached to a piece of music....

TL;DR version:
Simplest is best - Trying to fit multiple ideas into a piece of production music doesn't work. That isn't to say there can't be sections, but things have to relate to one another...
It has to be editable, and ideally should be arranged with an editor in mind.
 
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muk

Senior Member
I have had this feedback before and have no idea how to do this. Everytime I try and cut back on ideas everything just feels "undercooked" or underdeveloped to my ears. I just natually find the easiest way to structure (when not scoring to Film) is to play two ideas against each other. Certainly for these pieces I couldnt imagine how to cut out the differing material. But I will continue to cut back and keep to one idea for each track, I understand why this is important.

Two ideas are fine as long as they express the same emotion. They both have to fit underneath an unchanging scene or dialogue.

This is probably very simple, but many who start out don't actually do this: listen to production music. Go to the catalogs of the top tier production music libraries and listen to their tracks. If you do this you'll quickly get the hang of how to structure your tracks and how to create interest and contrast in your tracks while still staying within one general mood.
 
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