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🎡 How to De-Clutter Your Musical Scores

🎬 scoring Jan 09, 2024

One of my Composing Career Bootcamp students recently mentioned that they struggle with adding too much to their music.

This is one of the most common traps for media composers, and I’m guilty of it, too. βœ‹

I find that OVER-scoring tends to be caused by one of two culprits (and sometimes both):

  • 🧠 Ego (trying to make something cool, smart, or ground-breaking at the potential expense of making something functional)
  • ⏰ Time (having too much of it, and getting bored of what you’ve written)

So for most cases, focusing on serving the picture and avoiding over-baking ideas are the two best things you can do to de-clutter your music.

But you might need a little more help.

So here’s a short-list of 5 quick tips to help πŸ™‚

#1: πŸ—‘οΈ Delete bad ideas or muddy additions early and often

Get comfortable hitting delete. The longer you hold onto an idea that doesn’t work, the harder it is to let it go later.

#2: 🎹 Don’t over-invest time in musical sketches

Piano sketches will always sound empty in contrast to an orchestra. Over-sketching usually leads to overcompensation with dense voicings, counterpoints, and a lack of contrast.

#3: πŸ“ Don’t compose to a script

The picture you see in your head when reading a script is NOT what the director sees. Save yourself the pain of having to re-write your score by waiting until you see what the picture was intended to be (or close to it).

#4: πŸ”‡ Don’t mute dialogue/SFX

Music is only one of three primary sonic elements in media. Treat dialogue and SFX as band-mates to your music, and allow them to help you decide when to push music forward or lean it back.

#5: πŸ“© Don’t send a piece to the director on the same day you finish it

Give yourself at least a day to re-listen with “clear ears”. What your piece needs becomes more apparent when you take some time away from it.

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