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Music for children's TV shows?

Mason

Active Member
Anyone here who have any experience with this? Do they use library music or usually hiring a composer? I've always thought it would be fun to do and there's a lot of easy listening orchestral music in these shows.
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member
"Children's shows" is such an incredibly broad term its almost meaningless when it comes to music. A show for preschoolers will be worlds apart from a drama or factual show for early teens. It's about as varied as the rest of TV - some library, some commissions etc. If you have a specific genre and age group in mind I might be able to narrow it down a bit, but even there I only know much about the UK in truth.
 

studiostuff

Active Member
Depends quite a bit on the show budget which is usually pretty low...

Also depends somewhat on the production group leaders. If they feel like purpose-built music contributes to some sort of show creative mission, there might be money for real humans.

I agree, sounds like that might be a fun gig.
 
OP
Mason

Mason

Active Member
"Children's shows" is such an incredibly broad term its almost meaningless when it comes to music. A show for preschoolers will be worlds apart from a drama or factual show for early teens. It's about as varied as the rest of TV - some library, some commissions etc. If you have a specific genre and age group in mind I might be able to narrow it down a bit, but even there I only know much about the UK in truth.
Haha, that's so true, so I'm gonna be very specific:
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member
Ah right, the much younger end of things. That one is scored - sometimes they are made from a kit of parts. But they can be verrry lucrative with repeats on rotation, so its pretty competitive.
 

Desire Inspires

To the stars through desire....
Ah right, the much younger end of things. That one is scored - sometimes they are made from a kit of parts. But they can be verrry lucrative with repeats on rotation, so its pretty competitive.
Hmmm, I need to knock out some of these and get them into the hands of Youtubers.
 

studiostuff

Active Member
It's very competitive. As with any of this work, it helps an enormous amount to know someone on the show... who knows and likes your work... and likes working with you.

Everyone has a nephew who "writes music" and a girlfriend who is a "great singer". Many times, it does not matter that your work is perfect for the show, or that the music the show is using is less than skillfully created.

As mentioned, if the show is on 400-500 TV outlets in the US and Canada, seven days a week, sometimes more than once a day, for several years... it can be a lot of fun to go to the mailbox.

Everyone wants that gig. Most of them are very good at doing this sort of work!
 

re-peat

Senior Member
I wrote the Uki music. The series — which was produced more than 10 years ago — needed original music because, there being no dialog, music had a rather important role to play in helping to communicate the content. That’s also why it’s mostly unashamedly mickey-mousing music, illustrating just about every single emotion, facial expression, idea and movement that occurs on screen.

Couldn’t have worked with library music. You’d be searching for days — nay, weeks — in library collections to find suitable cues but you’d never end up with anything even remotely close to the way the original music wraps itself so tightly and evocatively around the visuals and storylines.

And besides: days or weeks weren’t available. The production was quite an exhausting period (for everyone involved) as you will immediately understand after I tell you that most of the 52 episodes had their music made — written, recorded, mixed and delivered to post-production — in … a single day. That was the schedule: one episode per day. I still get faint in the head when I think back to that time.

Every 5 min. episode has a 2’20” central story which always has completely new, non-stop music. The ‘didactic’ segments around that central story however often re-used short bits of music that was written for earlier episodes.

The schedule being as crazy as it was, also resulted in the fact that there were never any corrections or revisions to be done. No one looked over my shoulder while I worked (as everyone was terribly busy doing their own thing) and I simply could do what I wanted to do. Well, most of the time anyway. I just had a look in my Uki-archives and of the 52 Logic files, there are only two that have the tag ‘corr’ in their name, meaning that in only 2 episodes I was asked to make an edit or a change.

Also keep in mind that all of that music was made with libraries, software and tools which are not as user-friendly and instantly-gratifying compared to what’s available today. All of it was made using the old Sonic Implants (EXS-version), XSample, Advanced Orchestra, some early ProjectSam stuff, Synful, VIR2 Elite Percussion and, in a prominent role, the old VSL Horizon Woodwind Ensembles (also the EXS version) … (plus lots of stuff I can't remember).

Sadly, on top of the limitations of the sample libraries, the absurdly strenuous work schedule was also one of the main reasons why much of the music sounds as bad as it does. More like a sketch, if you ask me today, and a very rough one, than a finished product. It’s terribly poorly mixed and produced, I find. Entirely my fault, I’m afraid. But there simply wasn’t any time to polish.

I am however quite proud of much of the musical content. Not only does it do what it is required to do, but it’s very tuneful music, and there are also many moments where there was room, I felt, for techniques that you wouldn’t immediately expect in music for pre-school kids: bitonality, dissonance, unusual modulations, …

And there’s no arguing with the fact that the series was *hugely* successful. It was sold to and aired in 25 countries and it’s still being shown today in some of them, it received awards, spawned a wide range of merchandise, got great reviews all over the globe, and it’s also the only time that I received mails from parents, some in very distant countries, wanting to tell me how much their children enjoyed Uki and its music.

And that was the greatest reward of all. Because that is precisely what I set out to do: create music which one or two generations of children, when grown up, would remember fondly, the way I remember some of the music of tv-shows from my childhood with undying affection. I think those are *very* powerful memories. And I am also of the opinion that it is of undescribable importance to feed our youngest other music — gentle music, more melodious, a bit old-fashioned perhaps, sunny, expressive, pure and uncynical, yet not without some musical sophistication — than the loud, noisy, one-dimensional, dancebeat-driven music which one hears way too often these days, in my opinion, in pre-school kid’s tv-shows.

Here are some of my favourite Uki moments:

Uki_Intro.mp3
Uki_Story19.mp3
Uki_Story43.mp3
Uki_Story49.mp3
Uki_Story13.mp3
Uki_Outro.mp3
_
 
Last edited:

ism

Senior Member
I wrote the Uki music. The series — which was produced more than 10 years ago — needed original music because, there being no dialog, music had a rather important role to play in helping to communicate the content. That’s also why it’s mostly unashamedly mickey-mousing music, illustrating just about every single emotion, facial expression, idea and movement that occurs on screen.

Couldn’t have worked with library music. You’d be searching for days — nay, weeks — in library collections to find suitable cues but you’d never end up with anything even remotely close to the way the original music wraps itself so tightly and evocatively around the visuals and storylines.

And besides: days or weeks weren’t available. The production was quite an exhausting period (for everyone involved) as you will immediately understand after I tell you that most of the 52 episodes had their music made — written, recorded, mixed and delivered to post-production — in … a single day. That was the schedule: one episode per day. I still get faint in the head when I think back to that time.

Every 5 min. episode has a 2’20” central story which always has completely new, non-stop music. The ‘didactic’ segments around that central story however often re-used short bits of music that was written for earlier episodes.

The schedule being as crazy as it was, also resulted in the fact that there were never any corrections or revisions to be done. No one looked over my shoulder while I worked (as everyone was terribly busy doing their own thing) and I simply could do what I wanted to do. Well, most of the time anyway. I just had a look in my Uki-archives and of the 52 episodes Logic files, there are only two that have the tag ‘corr’ in their name, meaning that in only 2 episodes I was asked to make an edit or change.

Also keep in mind that all of that music was made with libraries, software and tools which are not as user-friendly and instantly-gratifying compared to what’s available today. All of it was made using the old Sonic Implants (EXS-version), XSample, Advanced Orchestra, some early ProjectSam stuff, Synful, VIR2 Elite Percussion and, in a prominent role, the old VSL Horizon Woodwind Ensembles (also the EXS version) … (plus lots of stuff I can't remember).

Sadly, on top of the limitations of the sample libraries, the absurdly strenuous work schedule was also one of the main reasons why much of the music sounds as bad as it does. More like a sketch, if you ask me today, and a very rough one, than a finished product. It’s terribly poorly mixed and produced, I find. Entirely my fault, I’m afraid. But there simply wasn’t any time to polish.

I am however quite proud of much of the musical content. Not only does it do what it is required to do, but it’s very tuneful music, and there are also many moments where there was room, I felt, for techniques that you wouldn’t immediately expect in music for pre-school kids: bitonality, dissonance, unusual modulations, …

And there’s no arguing with the fact that the series was *hugely* successful. It was sold to and aired in 25 countries and it’s still being shown today in some of them, it received awards, spawned a wide range of merchandise, got great reviews all over the globe, and it’s also the only time that I received mails from parents, some in very distant countries, wanting to tell me how much their children enjoyed Uki and its music.

And that was the greatest reward of all. Because that is precisely what I set out to do: create music which one or two generations of children, when grown up, would remember fondly, the way I remember some of the music of tv-programs from my childhood with undying affection. I think those are *very* powerful memories. And I am also of the opinion that it is of undescribable importance to feed our youngest other music — gentle music, more melodious, a bit old-fashioned perhaps, sunny, expressive, pure and uncynical, yet not without some musical sophistication — than the loud, noisy, one-dimensional, dancebeat-driven music which one hears way too often these days, in my opinion, in pre-school kid’s tv-shows.

Here are some of my favourite Uki moments:

Uki_Intro.mp3
Uki_Story19.mp3
Uki_Story43.mp3
Uki_Story49.mp3
Uki_Story13.mp3
Uki_Outro.mp3
_

Great story. And that’s very lovely music. It works wonderfully with the content.

Would love to hear more about writing in this kind of uncynical emotional space , should you ever feel compelled to write more.
 

Guy Rowland

Senior Member
Wow, didn't know you did that Piet. 52 episodes must have sent you stir crazy, but I'd love a 2 1/2 minute score per day gig for, well 30 of them? You got terrific results for that time and budget, and I can well imagine how gratifying the letters were.
 
OP
Mason

Mason

Active Member
What a wonderful surprise to have the composer here! I realize that with the question about library music this series wasn’t a good example as it’s easy to hear that it was made especially for the series. But it’s a perfect example of wonderful music for this age group and I agree that they deserve good music. So well done, and I love your intro and the very thoughtful outro.
 
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