How to Plan The Scoring Process

Posted By: ryan On:

Photography by: Jeshu John

A student composer recently asked me for advice on workflow. Here is the response I gave him, which is a brief look at how I schedule and plan a project. It also includes my strategy for being productive even on days when I am tired, unfocused, or for whatever reason having trouble producing creative work.

“I like to create a schedule based on milestones and the amount of music I have to write. So for example let’s say I have to score a short film with 10 minutes of music and it’s due in three weeks. I will leave the last week for final tweaks/recording/mixing/delivery. I’ll give week 2 to revisions, which leaves me with having the first draft complete in week one. So that means 2 minutes of a music a day is my target.

I also allow myself a “cheat” which is that 2 minutes of sketch is equal to 1 minute of a complete cue. So that means that if I am having a rough day and just can’t seem to write good work, I don’t have to force it. Can’t get my 2 minutes done today? No problem, I can make a rough sketch of 4 minutes and have the same level of accomplishment.

A rough sketch might mean a piano only version of what will be an orchestral cue. So I do 4 minutes of piano on Monday, then orchestrate those 4 minutes on Tuesday, and ta-da! Just like that I’m still on track with 2 minutes of music per day, but I’ve made it psychologically easier on myself.”

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