It may feel as if it’s taking some of the immediacy and fun out of writing music, but it is a necessary step if you want to be productive.
If you don’t have a clear vision for the track, you can end up meandering in all sorts of directions and ultimately end up with a product that isn’t commercially viable.
Before you begin a new track, ask yourself these questions.
- What is its intended usage – is it corporate video music, cinematic trailer music etc.?
- What instruments will be used?
- How long should it be?
- Does the genre require a specific structure, such as 3-4 ‘act’ trailers?
- Have you researched tracks that sell well in this genre on music libraries, to see what style and structure are preferred by buyers?
When checking out libraries, make sure you study the tracks that sell well, not the tracks that you personally like. It can be easy to get caught up in trying to emulate music you enjoy listening to, rather than being optimal for the buyer.
General Composing ‘Rules’
- Create a short intro, get to the main idea quickly.
- Your track should be consistent, style and energy should be evident immediately, and it should develop quickly.
- Stick to one emotion, idea and genre. Don’t waver in mood too much.
- Be creative and add your own individuality, but don’t stray too far from what’s expected. The vast majority of buyers will want something relatively predictable and ‘safe’.
- Stay in one key as much as possible, if an editor has to chop out a section of your track, the last thing they want is a sudden change in key when trying to splice parts together.
- Create edit points – breaks in the music between sections, so that the editors can cut from those points to the end easily. These could come in the form of hits, breakdowns and loop points.
- Most editors prefer a solid, final ending, no fade out or lengthy finish. Imagine your music being used in a TV advert and how quickly the music needs to finish.
These suggestions should apply to virtually any genre of music.
It’s worth remembering that a good cue can be achieved very effectively with solo or minimal instrumentation. Don’t feel the need to pile on more and more instruments and effects to get the best results.