Why fame and fortune may be sweeter on smaller screens
Although the ASCAP workshop hinges on film composition, TV and video game music may offer even greater opportunities. Said Gerard Marino (“Gods of War”), “I signed a boob after a [gaming music] concert. Despite all the rock bands [I was in], I had to lose half my hair and go to college to sign a boob.”
For those who might believe it represents a step down from more established forms of scoring, consider that (for now) video game music offers lush budgets, easier time constraints and adoring fans. And you want respect? Gaming music has been performed by the symphonic and philharmonic orchestras of Los Angeles, Tokyo and London.
“Kids come to these videogames’ live concerts who would never come to an orchestral concert,” said “Bioshock” composer Garry Schyman. He’s gratified that people have requested his “Bioshock” piano score for “Cohen’s Scherzo No. 7;” fans have posted their own performances of the piece on YouTube.
Blizzard Entertainment’s director of audio/video Russell Brower, who is currently lead composer on the “World of Warcraft” franchise, noted that the average gamer plays 30 hours a week – so people get sick of obvious music themes. He also warned: “On most games, the audience can turn the music off. Some people want to play their game to their own tunes – they want to kill only to death metal.” It’s important that gaming music is “written not to assault you,” thus raising the bar for the kinds of complex scores that gamers have grown to love.
Of course, TV music is also capable of producing rabid fans; several composers asked to have their picture taken with Mark Snow, creator of the famous “The X-Files” theme. (Snow revealed it’s largely the result of Effects #125, “Whistling Joe,” on a circa-1990s Proteus synthesizer.)
Snow, who helped “24” composer Sean Callery get and keep his first gig, said, “Passing the baton is a good thing, because when you die, you know there will be a good crowd at your funeral.” As it happens, composer Bernard Hermann literally passed his baton to Snow during a scoring session for Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver;” Hermann died of a heart attack shortly thereafter, before completing the film.
“Don’t treat people as someone who can do something for you,” said “CSI: Miami” composer Jeff Cardoni. “Treat them as someone you want to hang out with.”
He credited his good fortune in getting “CSI: Miami” to a blind-Pepsi-taste-test as well as “being in the right place, right time, right sound, and right day of the week.”