Michael, There are prioba



There are priobably any number of seemingly heretical things I do to create music. Standardising, where possible, on 120/60bpm, is not all that bad.

Since I usually proceed to/from the places where I shoot on-foot, (there is usually no other option), it is quite, in-order, for me to use (say) 120bpm and an overtly ‘marching’ rhythm for the background at such times. The only danger there, is not to make it so pronounced that feet start tapping in the audience,to the detriment of what is ‘really’ going-on, on-screen. That is not to say that I don’t vary tempo when that is called for, it’s just that for purposes of fitting music to what I produce by way of a story-line, I have to have some starting-point, mine being a script, followed bycommentary, in a process which has someflexibility, but within limits. I doubt if/when my output is used as film/video ‘audible-wallpaper’, much in the way of phrasing orfine nuances of tempo, have a significant amount todo-with-it; but then, I am dealing with natural phenomena, ‘critters’ and aspects of conservation, not ‘people’ with their numerous foibles, complexities and endless demands; so, by-and-large, I am not giving expression to human emotions.

I change keyconstantly, so I usually write in the key of ‘C’ (major). That way, I have to specify the exact pitch of all notes by means of sharps/flats, as I go. Incidentally, for most wildlife/natural-history documentaries, passages in ‘major’ keys tend to be a rarity. My background was largely in the late 19th/early 20th century ‘romantic’ tradition, and that is, by-and-large, the music I try to create, although music by Aaron Copland has sometimes furnished inspiration to get me started. I am acutely aware of my limitations in that regard. Most aspects of my timing and audio-mixing editing processes are subject to modification right up to a late stage of putting it all together, so a ‘mechanical’ delivery is something I am always aware of, and do my best to avoid. But, if a sort of musical story-board, flow-chart, or whatever, is what it takes to get my message across and shoe-horn the various components together, then, that’s the way I do it. My current video-module, is rather long at almost 45 minutes, but it does cover a lot of territory, and music ‘carries’ the story-line in several places. After-all, we are into story-telling as entertainment, not simply reciting catalogues of facts, figures, and statistics. Above all, for those without specific interests in geology, geography and zoology, I still have a duty to ‘entertain’, up-to-a-point.

Another very useful device I have adopted, is to compose, usually, in 12/8 time. That, with twelve being divisible by two, three, four and six, makes it very easy to seamlessly switch to another ‘beat’ or to adjust tempo, at the expense, frequently, of masses of ‘dotted’ notes. I have no background in tertiary music education, and when I have to listen to some of the stuff produced in this country, by those with such qualifications, I thank my lucky stars, that my background has been that of a lifetime enthusiast and critical listener, and not that of someone with absolutely no aptitude, who has been educated into-it. I guess you know the kind of stuff, I mean; ‘No, don’t play it again Sam……thanks all-the-same’.

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