What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Media Composer

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Media Composer



over the last few weeks I feel that I've kind of abandoned my family somewhat so much traveling not only my family like my kids and my wife but also the piano book family that much of the Monday's family normal service will be resumed soon the reason for its hiatus will become obvious over the forthcoming weeks we're in their walk Buster season at Spitfire audio with some absolute bonzer releases coming up besides that I've also been preparing a thing that I'm more nervous about than anything I've ever done travel back in time say ten years ago and tell myself that I'd be doing one going down to London to do I would have loved disbelief but for me in the context of this vlog it is proof indeed of the stock answer I often give when asked I'm asked this often what qualifications you need in order to become a media composer for TV games now take accountancy you can invest a lot of money whole heap of time and masses of hard work in attaining Chartered Accountants status you are now fully qualified to set up a practice in accountancy or your own and that's you be a junior style of accountant with not a huge amount of experience but you would be fully qualified certified work you can become qualified to naturally you then have to build up a portfolio of clients and experience in order to drive your current market rate up now we don't have that form of qualification for media composition which is fortunate because we're not preparing people's tax returns practicing medicine putting up buildings or indeed flying planes but I'm not being qualified we don't pose a threat to our fellow man so accepting that we can't be fully qualified for every aspect of this kind of multifaceted job that we do is there particular qualifications that may be a better than others reading music understanding theory of indeed understanding the management of a department is there a vital qualification something we need to learn before having a fighting chance I mean just being a good musician surely just being an excellent musician is the first port of call play teach teach pose maybe you don't need to be like a kind of a fighter ace in order to the fire plane but you must at least have a firm understanding of physics what kind it really physics specific to the needs of flying an aircraft you don't need to be an astrophysicist to become a pilot and if not theory directing you to my take on the need to read music I would argue that most art forms on this planet are once communicated through an efficient would that be folk music or ballet or even making sushi these are things that we hand to one another as part of the human continuum not necessarily something that's documented on a chart charts confirm and fine control and inform us but they can also teach us so much the ability to just follow a score will unlock all sorts of treasures and imagined or a good orchestral program well you know I don't know I know oscar-winning composers who are ninja programmers I know oscar-winning composers who aren't I don't know I feel that these qualifications are not wholly necessary and I'm a testament to that and also why I'm so nervous today and this is imposter syndrome writ large I guess my point of view is these these qualifications naturally become facets part of your portfolio of offerings but seeing people who are hugely kind of musically complex in their their output or amazing players having to kind of unlearn what it is that is required of them as composers in our domain of media that there definitely can be too many notes and I've seen people who go to media composition classes coming out with technical knowledge that has become outdated or old hat however I think you've got to bring something to the table even if it's just one thing even if it's just a unique talent a USP I was envied guitarists and so why are you writing one of this orchestral music study Gustavo Santa liya and do that what did I bring to the table when I was starting out well I was a okay drum programmer in the days when film composers couldn't drum program I could use logic when I'd said about 50% of composers couldn't use that either and I guess something I've always benefited from is certainly from my dad is the good taste in music not to be undervalued I can make sounds in fact that probably is the thing I'm best at if there's been fire thing is anything to go by so that's what I brought to the table you see because there isn't this established kind of formal qualification you can gain for this job Eadie's understood that you have to learn on the job what will get you worth in the future is the work that you have done and the experience that you have gained with that in mind it's safe to assume that when you come out of your education or when you enter the marketplace of media composition you will do so via the doors of another composer whether that be some form of apprenticeship in my case it was drum programming and whilst those skills couldn't get me arrested today I would recommend to anyone who feels yet developed something they can bring to the table to learn how to create sample libraries this is something I think composers would be very interested in help with so only did Canada grade five flunked out of school after a levels didn't go to music college can't really read music self-taught composition through technology and just listening to lots and that finds me here today which is BBC broadcasting house to host a radio show on Radio 3 this is how absurd this is table so when I was going on there was three TV channels BBC One BBC two why TV and four radio channels well national radio channels radio 1 radio 2:23 radio for radio 4 was that kind of speech G 1 radio 1 was the poppy young one radio 2 was kind of music for fuddy-duddies and radio 3 was the seriously highbrow classical channel for me to go in there and present a radio show on Radio 3 is sublimely ridiculous and what a wonderful experience it was anyway I'll be sure to let you know when this program airs for those of you in this country of paid your license fee so I'm a testament to being under qualified for this job but think for me it's all about creating your own personal strengths to those strengths do you need to be qualified for this job I think you just need to be you your unique perspective your unique heritage your unique set of skills what you're interested in love doing what you're amazing at what you're talented at doing what makes you different the thing that makes you tick become brilliant at that and then you bring to the sister and Brotherhood of composers you and that's what our fraternity and sorority will value the most it's interesting today I was talking to these guys the BBC about originality and I feel that actually originality is born out of the confluence of your influences and your talents or laughs there are but the most important thing to do is to keep your experience and influences as diverse as interesting as possible so that your version of original which is a series of battens that have been handed over from one great composed to the next in this eternal relay race of music we all weave the DNA for future generations create music and that's what makes this job so King fascinating that's what makes it so impossible to receive an adequate education and qualification for entering into the marketplace because to be a composer is to be part of this continuum of humanity we're all so different but yet we respond so uniformly to what is brilliant music brilliant musician ship and amazing recordings and hey amazing sounds thanks as always for watching I'm knackered for sharing what's been a very special day with me here today I've hated to rant but this opportunity with Radio 3 was born of someone watching this vlog and this blog wouldn't exist had it not been for this community you so subscribe if you haven't done already do ding that Bell if you want to be notified the next time I put up a video and I'm gonna be putting a thumbs up in thanks to you for making this thing happen today quite extraordinary lots of love I see you next time bye bye

22 Comments

  • smashingairguitars says:

    While not a requirement I do recommend exploring music theory. It really helped me communicate my ideas clearer and also in figuring out what is going on inside the music and how all the pieces work together. Outside of that nothing can beat a discerning ear and good taste.

  • Adrian Fundescu says:

    OK.I would sum it to:It's about interaction between knowledge and management of what that means in the conditions of market.;-)).That is a point of view of someone who was a musician most of his life and decided to say ''fuck off'' to general public and become a trader in UK .Witch goes just fine.I have some nice orchestral work behind and will develop it after i get set financially (that is secured 2-3 mil to administrate ,which is almost done).Anyway…programming an old drum machine should be part of educational process.Make drum patterns.Programe sounds in analogue mode.Do things like this..And after that get to ''modern'' ready chewed stuff/Samples..drums /etc.I think that would be the ''media'' way.Also listening and trying to write down some ''classics '' one likes and feels that he'her can undetrstand the inner movement of music.Emulate first ( as an exercice) and after that see if anything ''comes'' as your own thing in that ''language'.

  • Yuri says:

    3:56 Christian! 😳 Are you… 😏 naked?

  • skylightmusic showreel says:

    The BBC reception staff, the last time I was there…"Sorry sir, you're not allowed to film or take photographs in reception, thank-you"…I'm guessing that they stopped you too?! I'll look forward to hearing your broadcast on BBC R3 when it's aired 🙂

  • tubadylan says:

    What a thoughtful and fun vlog. Thank you!

  • Marcus Manderson says:

    Great video!

  • Robin Beanland says:

    love you

  • jasonk125 says:

    BBC Radio 3 is live on the web at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_three Looking forward to Christian's show.

  • Andrea Consoli says:

    Super inspiring and great to watch, thanks for sharing this Christian : )

  • Paul Glenn says:

    Thanks for the thumbs up Christian, I worked bloody hard making this all happen for you… but you know what, you deserve it, and all the success to follow x

  • Keith Theodosiou Composer/Musician says:

    As usual another good discussion and to be honest, I would say the only thing that really matters is you write good music. If it sounds plinky plonk, it won't be good enough. I only do up to grade 2 on the piano so I taught myself the rest and left the theory side of it out.
    The bottom line is, if people like the music you compose and the way you compose, that is all they are interested in. The end product is what matters. That's what I think anyway.

  • Wouter Hardy says:

    Amazing knowledge Christian! Thanks again:)

  • Ilia Tilev says:

    Reading music and understanding theory are two different things.. For me it's much more important to listen and feel the music than reading notes..

  • bardistass says:

    Ahhh…..So you're that guy that hogs the aeroplane toilet!!!

  • SmithComposition says:

    Hi Christian,

    I really like your thoughtful videos. Thanks always and please keep going.

    Here’s my basic answer that goes beyond the obvious musical and technical skillset required for media composition… basically what you need are qualifications that don't provide certificates on expensive matte paper.

    Maturity, intelligence, experience and taste. Knowing what supports the picture. Knowing how to communicate. Knowing how to watch. Knowing how to listen. Knowing how to feel. And also realizing that media composition is a service industry.

    What you will probably never learn at a school or uni ‘film scoring’ course:
    Technically and emotionally expressing a range from sorrow to euphoria. Without having lived life and experienced certain emotions, how can a composer – or anyone, express them? Not just experiences, but knowing how to translate them to sound.

    Faking it will only get you so far, and you should be constantly looking to develop your emotional intelligence. "Love" goes beyond a minor 9th chord.

    And…just for fun, here’s a quick exercise: Look out the window. See that horrible big grey building over there? How does it make you feel? Can you translate that feeling into a piece of music? Can you grab an instrument and “play” that big grey slab of concrete? Play for it, play with it, play around it. 

    Everything evokes an emotion, and knowing how to harness and express this requires life experience that can’t be taught in a course.

  • Torgul says:

    Well … charts do organize things :). (also that is the smallest hotel room I have ever seen.)

  • Sample Grit says:

    If it's for the BBC or Channel 4 then you need to be able to lie.

  • John Landells says:

    I’d love to know what the other passengers were thinking seeing you carry a camera into the toilet on the plane! 😂

  • Duncan Thompson says:

    Wow! Congratulations! Your investment in this vlog has unleashed something innate, hard-won, and beautiful. I was just thinking over these last two weeks “fuck! this guy should be the presenter of …heavens-know-what …something!!! (monetarily rewarding and open to an even wider audience).” You are that good! And we are all that greedy for your thoughtful insightful, “fuck-it-I’m-saying-it” commitment and presence. I think your bravery, courage, and… haha… gall(!) is both admirable and inspiring. I’m not trying to blow smoke up your ass nor vying for number one fan spittle-flicker ranking. It’s more just an acknowledgement of the underlying subtext that you haven’t really acknowledged, but have manifested considerably, which is the answer to the questions: “what qualifications do you need?” The answer clearly is: “the willingness to put yourself on the line and to stretch yourself, trust yourself, objectively check yourself, and fly (and damn the trepidation)!” The human being is an incredible resource we all have. Stretch it and trust all of its component assets. Fuck the ego, fuck the fear, fuck the doubt, just trust what one instinctively knows about oneself but wouldn’t shout out from the rooftops for fear of laughter but for which one would go to live-or-die lengths to prove to oneself that those quiet inner voices, whims and instinctual certainties are not from the realm of deluded self-indulgence, but from our better nature — generosity, honesty and the willingness to fall flat on one’s face publicly being the surefire test of their value, truth and worth. It’s what sets the best YouTube bloggers/presenters apart — that and professionalism, aesthetic effort, and non-narcissistic substance and self-exposure. And for that you should be congratulated. We all benefit, and it’s our loss not to mirror.

  • RLeaguer2 says:

    Fantastic episode Christian. You should be rightly proud, and it was wonderful to witness your determination to overcome imposter syndrome before entering the hallowed grounds of BBC3. Now you have truly arrived! Can't wait to hear the episode, though as an exiled Brit, hope there is a link to it you can share with us at some point. I've said many times on these vlogs, that your insights go way beyond your own field of music, and I've often applied your thoughts to my own field, and as I prepare for an opportunity that provides me with a chance to share in your imposter syndrome, I am greatly encouraged by your success in overcoming it, and will aim to do likewise. Thank you. (and can't wait to here what's coming in the Spitfire Blockbuster reference…)

  • Sjoerd Visser says:

    Inspiring stuff. Very firmly believe that this counts for a lot of jobs apart from media composing.
    For instance, as a webdeveloper got there the exact same way. By finding a USP for yourself.

  • Ben Tinker says:

    As far as education goes I’m eternally indebted to this vlog. The only thing I could possibly share with others is make sure you’re always learning. Learn from everyone. Learn from every project. Learn from every score you hear. For me, I think if I were to stop learning I don’t think I’d be interested in being a composer anymore.

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