Inspiration, Feedback, and Knowing What You Want As A Composer
I’ve been writing music for an independent game development company for a few of their upcoming games, and throughout the process, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself and the industry. But one of the most useful things I’ve discovered is how crucially important it is to know exactly what YOU want to be doing creatively, as a composer. What is it that will motivate you to consistently do your job well?
This seems like an obvious realization in retrospect, but it’s easy to forget in an industry that is so difficult to find consistent work. Because of this, there is an insane number of composers currently offering to work for free in ANY genre. Allow me to repeat that last part: free work in ANY genre. This raises several red flags. I’m all for exposing and educating oneself to the many tastes and varieties that music offers, but not many people on Earth are capable of writing great music in ANY genre. Most of us could probably write for several genres but if we aren’t truly inspired, the music, and therefore the project, will suffer; it’s very difficult to fake inspiration. You can cultivate and harvest it, but you simply cannot con your way into it. Should you try, people will probably notice and call you out, and they’re right to do so. There is an important point I’m trying to stress here: the last thing the world needs is another yes man or woman, especially in a creative field, and I suspect that composers that advertise their ability and interest to write in ANY genre are just looking for work, and care little for what that work entails. As a game developer, would you really want to hire someone who just wants A job and not THE job?
Feedback is also something that is crucially important. Because composing requires so much alone time, it’s easy to develop a 1-dimensional perspective of your work. Receiving feedback from the company you’re working with is great, but you probably need more than that. Send the music to friends with ears you trust and ask them important questions.
1) Do the songs create a cohesive framework together?
2) Do they tell a story? Is that story accessible to the listener?
3) How well is it mixed?
If you have friends willing to listen, utilize their knowledge. There are plenty of people on reddit, meetup (if you live near a city) and various other places willing to listen. Ultimately, if you’re a good fit and you do your job well, the creative aspects of the music will remain in your control and you will have plenty of feedback to inform you.