How to Communicate Effectively with a Composer

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! I’m a game music composer and believe that communication is key to a strong working relationship. In order to ensure that you get the best music for your project, whether it’s a game music soundtrack, film score or anything else – knowing how to communicate effectively with your chosen composer can really help.  Here are a few tips that I hope will help you to get the most out of your working relationship with your composer.

1. Share your vision

- about the music you would like for your game, film or project. Some people think that telling a composer that they have complete creative freedom is a good thing. However, often this can be confusing. Without any direction or insight into what you have in mind for your project, it will be extremely difficult for the composer to create something that will feel right for the project both to you and to them. They may end up going off in a completely different direction to what you expect or would like and so it tends to be most useful to discuss your vision and what you’re hoping for in and from the music.

(Also check out: How to Work Well with a Game Music Composer)

2. Don’t micro manage or be too pushy

It is often best to offer some guidelines and an idea of what you’d like in terms of the music mood and style etc., however it’s still important to give your composer room to be creative and to input some of their own ideas into the project. They will want to bring your vision to life and to create something fit for purpose, however it’s important to note that they will most likely do this best if you trust them to do it their way. Don’t get too involved with all the details and don’t micromanage the whole process.

(Also see: 6 Ways to Spot a Bad Composer Before it's Too Late)

3. Don’t worry about musical terminology

It’s usually best to avoid musical terminology all together rather than try to use terms which you aren’t fully comfortable with. There are lots of different ways to describe music and lots of different types of music! Don’t get bogged down by the lingo as it can end up being confusing for everyone. It’s usually best to focus on describing how you want the music to feel and taking it from there.

4. Use reference tracks

It’s quite common to use reference tracks that contain elements that you like and are looking for. Tell the composer what you like about the track or tracks you’ve selected so that they understand where you’re coming from with each of the references. People listen to music in different ways and so don’t assume that what sticks out for you in a certain track will be obvious to the composer. Help them understand what it is that you’re keen on or not so keen on with the example pieces.

5. Offer constructive and descriptive feedback

It would be really good if the composer gets the music right first time, however, realistically it may take a few iterations before the music fits your game or film perfectly. You may need to work with them to help shape the music to meet your needs. Try to be positive where you can and explain what works or doesn’t work for you in what they’ve done. If the music isn’t quite what you’re looking for, think about what needs to change for it to sound closer to what you need. Be patient and keep in mind that a composer isn’t a mind reader and so you may need to help them to get on the same page as you, if they haven’t quite gotten there already. 

Do you have a composer that you're happy with for your project? If not, perhaps I can help. Explore my site to learn more about me and/or contact me now to discuss your needs and to see how we might work together.

(Also explore: 5 Top Tips for Hiring a Game Music Composer for the First Time)

 About the author: Ninichi is an experienced game music and film music composer. She creates music in a range of styles and has worked on numerous games and films supporting indie game developers and indie film makers with their projects. 

Contact Ninichi to commission her and discuss your music needs.

Follow her @ninichimusic