In the next part of our composer interview series, our composer Jochen Flach reveals how he judges and reflects on his own composition among other things.
It’s not always easy to handle customer criticism. Obviously you want to accomplish the client’s desire and to back his own project can be a balancing act sometimes. Today Jochen tells us his personal thoughts about some important facts of a composers business. Let’s see if he has got some helpful tips and tricks for you to support you in your own musical business.
(Hitman Absolution, ANNO 2205, Risen 3)
“In the beginning it was exhausting and stressful to make the fourth or fifth rework of one track, but it’s merely a matter of time when you start to take the things more relaxed.”
TO BE CREATIVE ON POINT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY. EVERYBODY KNOWS THE SITUATION WHEN YOU ARE SITTING IN FRONT OF A WHITE SHEET OF PAPER TRYING TO FIND THE RIGHT BEGINNING AND THE RIGHT IDEA. HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED YOURSELF IN SUCH A SITUATION AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO FIND THE BEGINNING?
“I know this situation, sitting in front of a glaring blank page, waiting to be filled. I try to plunge into the right mood with the help of movies or images of the same genre. If nothing helps: I take a break and do some sports to clear my mind.”
IF YOU GOT THE CHANCE TO GIVE YOUR 15 YEARS YOUNGER SELF AN ADVICE – WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
“Be tenacious, trust your strengths, go to more concerts and take care of your network.”
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO FIND THE RIGHT WORKFLOW? DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS OR METHODS THAT HELP YOU TO GET INTO THE SPIRIT OF A THEME?
“Funnily enough that always works without any problems. I can plunge into a new world very well. I don’t have any methods or rituals.”
HOW CAN SAMPLE LIBRARIES SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR DAILY WORK? SURE, THEY ARE HELPFUL FOR TIME CRITICAL PROJECTS, BUT ARE THERE ANY OTHER BENEFITS?
“As I compose only on my PC, sample libraries are my main tool – so I can’t work without them. The work of many composers has changed as well as the customer’s claims. If a composition has been commissioned usually a composer can’t deliver scoresheets. The customer’s expectation is a great sounding mock-up. Therefore my work depends on realistic sounding and easy to handle sample libraries. Meanwhile there are phrase based libraries on the market which can support your working process and your idea generation.”
HOW DO YOU RATE THE QUALITY OF SAMPLE LIBRARIES IN COMPARISON TO LIVE RECORDINGS?
“That is always very different. As much as there are excellent sounding libraries on the market you can also find the opposite. A composer always tries to let his/her music sound as realistic as much as possible. The quality of a live recording is the aim of every sample production. Of course there are situations when a desired sound is not easy to record live. I mean for example epic, modern orchestra soundings which have been really in demand since Hans Zimmer. In this case live recordings are mixed with sample libraries to sound bigger and more epic.”
WHAT DOES YOUR FIRST CONTACT WITH A NEW LIBRARY LOOK LIKE? WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AND WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR YOU WHILE TESTING THE NEW PRODUCT?
“I definitely focus on the sound, but no less important is the usability of a library. You shouldn’t have to read a manual before you start to work with it. Of course the price plays a role, but for me that’s not too decisive, as long as it is not too excessive.”
HOW DO YOU JUDGE YOUR OWN COMPOSITION? WHICH FACTORS PLAY A ROLE?
“My compositions have to make the grade of my own expectations. And they have to be competitive in the media landscape. Equally I have to be clear on the musical aspiration. But this is always very subjective. The best way is to let your customer decide, but also the evaluation of and reflection upon the composition includes some important factors. Here are some questions I ponder: ‘Did I manage to create the intended emotions?’, ‘Is there enough variety in the composition?’, ‘Does the track fit into the main context?'”
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT YOU RECOGNIZE THAT YOU FOLLOW THE WRONG DIRECTION WHILE COMPOSING? HOW DO YOU REACT?
“Yes, this happens. I have learned to stop the what I am working on and save it in a special folder for a later use. And then I just start from scratch.”
HOW DO YOU HANDLE CUSTOMER’S CRITIC IF HE/SHE HAS GOT ANOTHER VIEW ON THE RESULT AS YOU HAVE?
“Meanwhile I can handle criticism very well although it is a process of development. In the beginning it was exhausting and stressful to make the fourth or fifth rework of one track, but it’s merely a matter of time when you start to take the things more relaxed. With years of experience you usually don’t have to do so many reworks as well. If you still have to edit your track again and again the reason is mostly a lack of communication. Find out the customer’s expectations.”
Hope you enjoyed reading the interview. Stay tuned for some more interviews with our award-winning composers, get to know them and profit from their experience. We try our best to support you in all concerns.
See you soon, your Dynamedion-Team