How can we use music to tell stories?
Creating Scoring Sessions
- 15 Oct 15
We sat down with Chris Egan and the team behind Scoring Sessions to discuss the concept, composition and challenges of such an extensive project.
What is the idea behind Scoring Sessions?
Scoring Sessions is a diverse and ever-growing collection of music written specially for picture with music editors in mind. The music is designed to deliver both ease-of-use and simplicity for the editor – yet, at no point is the creativity compromised. Every step of the process has been taken with care and precision and the result is a world-class series of music composed, produced and mixed by people who truly understand the process of film music and media production.
What makes it so special?
Other than its diversity and extremely high production values, the flexibility which is afforded to the music editor is outstanding. Each track is meticulously recorded and mixed, and alternate mixes and cut downs offer the editor maximum control at the dubbing stage. We’re very proud of the entire package; special care has gone into ensuring every track is strong and has a very clear identity.
How did you come up with the idea?
We wrote the music specifically with the cinema in mind – which isn’t to say that it can’t be used in other media: successful pieces of cinema music are used on TV, in video games and in advertising. But it was the cinema and the dynamic range and scale of the big screen that served as our starting point.
We were very clear in our heads that didn’t mean just turning it up to 11 and continually adding elements to a track: the scale needs to be considered from the beginning. Even when the music is intimate, and sometimes very simple, it still feels cinematic. Because of this, it will still fit beautifully into television – in exactly the same way a film is shown on television.
How did these concepts translate into the music?
With Scoring Sessions, we never started with the music – we always started with a scene. We didn’t just sit down and start writing music and see what came out. We made a scene in our heads or as a storyboard – so, for example, when composing Action Adventure, we created a superhero: a big, bombastic character. Then we considered what he might do in an opening sequence and we could clearly imagine the icy power shooting out of his hands, blowing up cars, terrifying passers-by - until we had a complete scene in our heads.
All of this came before we’d written a note of music.
What’s really interesting is that even though I’m writing the music to a very specific image in my head, when you listen to the track you might conjure up something completely different and that’s great. The point is: the music will make you come up with a scenario.
So, once you’d written it all down and got the scenario, where did you take it next? It was recorded in Abbey Road, what was the process there?
There were 26 recording sessions in Abbey Road Studio One with the English Session Orchestra; Andrew Dudman (Gravity, Lord of the Rings) was our engineer and Trystan Francis our mixer. We recorded with a little more separation that we might otherwise so that we could create lots of alternative mixes. So, you could have a mix completely without – for example – the trumpet. There’s 64 unique pieces but, within that, you have a completely different scenario that’s appeared just by us removing certain elements.
How many different versions are there?
In the first eight albums, there are 64 tracks and each track has between 10 and 20 versions. With the alternate mixes, the 30- and 60-second cut downs, and the stings, there are 1,080 versions in total.
Did you face any big challenges in the production of this?
Yes, the sheer size of the project. If you listened to the tracks back-to-back, it would take two hours 48 minutes so you’d need a film as long as The Fellowship of the Ring or Gone with the Wind. A film score contains themes and repetition - we weren’t writing one film score, we were writing 64 mini-scores.
But careful planning, consideration and a lot of experience meant that we knew this and there were no nasty surprises along the way. We couldn't be happier with the final product.
Click below to listen to the first eight albums:
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