Sound Design and Score: An Indie Film Round Table

Twin Cities feature film - sound

How does a composer write music that doesn't draw attention to itself? How can a director convey scoring ideas if they're not a musician? Why is temp music important for an editor? When should sound design reflect the real world, and when should it be from a character's psychological perspective? Will the dialogue editor choose the lavalier or boom mic recording, or both?

These are just a few of the conversation-sparking questions we discuss in today's Composer Quest podcast episode (the season six finale!), featuring the team behind the upcoming film Twin Cities. You'll get to hear perspectives on film sound from a director/writer (David Ash), producer/editor (Jason P. Schumacher), sound designer (Mike Hallenbeck), and composer (me). We dissect the entire post-production sound process, from a spotting session with all four of us, to our experimental on-the-spot scoring session, which was very productive and slightly nerve-racking for me as the composer.

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Hypnotherapy and Creativity with Vanessa Cornett-Murtada

St. Thomas professor Dr. Vanessa Cornett-Murtada specializes in teaching piano, creativity, and performance anxiety reduction techniques. In this episode of Composer Quest, Vanessa shares some tips on getting past mental blocks as a composer, and she explains how hypnotherapy can be helpful in reducing stress, increasing productivity, and sparking creativity. She also explains why Brahms is her favorite composer.

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Comic and Sublime Songwriting with Erik Ostrom

Erik Ostrom - Photo by Chris Curl

Erik Ostrom was working at a Silicon Valley startup when he realized songwriting was his true passion. He has since moved back to Minnesota and found another passion: the improv comedy world. In this episode of Composer Quest, Erik and I talk about his recent performance with The Local Music Scene, a song-based improv comedy troupe. Erik also shares some great stories behind his songs and insights into writing interesting lyrical rhythms.

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Episode 150: UBK on Music Production and Arranging

Composer Quest Episode 150

For this special 150th episode of Composer Quest, I got to talk with Gregory Scott, co-host of my favorite music production podcast, the UBK Happy Funtime Hour. Gregory answers my tough music production questions like: "what effect would you use if you could only choose ONE?" He also shares his process in creating the upcoming Sneaky Little Devil record with his wife Sarah.

Also in this episode, you'll get to hear the results of our MIDI Remix Quest, where composers swapped MIDI data and blindly added their own sounds.

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Magical Songwriting Tips with Jess and Peter

Stripes on Stripes

Jess Scherer and Peter Lund faced a songwriting quandry: what do you write about when you've been happily married for several years? They decided to stretch their imaginations by writing a magical concept album about wizards, and it turned out to be great songwriting fuel. In this episode of Composer Quest, our conversation covers songwriting tips, circuit-bending a teletubby, and a nomination for the greatest Texas jingle of all time.

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Thing a Week with Bryan Schumann

Bryan Schumann - Composer Quest

Composer Bryan Schumann has embraced self-imposed deadlines; he's been consistently making at least one "thing" every week in 2016 and blogging about it. In this episode of Composer Quest, we talk about what he's learned from this experiment. Bryan also talks about his eco-friendly music projects, like a bike-powered electric band and his future solar-powered recording studio.

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Composing Quest 19: MIDI Remix

MIDI Remix Quest - Composer Quest

Since the recent episodes of Composer Quest have been about electronic and video game music, I thought we could do a composing quest related to it. So here's your challenge, should you choose to accept it: create a loop-able piece of music that's under 2 minutes, using MIDI. Send me your audio file and MIDI layers ( by May 25th.

Next, I'll send your MIDI layers to another random participant in this quest, and they will add their own sounds to your MIDI data, with no knowledge of the sounds you used. You will also receive someone else's MIDI file to do the same. When everyone's done with their remixes (June 3rd deadline), I'll reveal the original and remixed versions of each track. I think it will be a fun experiment!

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Patching Together a Creative Life with Anton Torres

Anton Torres - Composer Quest

Anton Torres has been an electronic music hobbyist for over 20 years, using the very earliest incarnations of Apple's Logic and Ableton Live. In today's episode of Composer Quest, Anton shares some wisdom on living a creative life, even if you only have 15 minutes to spare each day. We also hear why Anton decided to leave his suit and tie job in New York to pursue his creative dreams, and how he ended up working at the board game company Asmodee North America.

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Game Music Melee

Game Music Melee

A few weeks ago, I got to participate in a very fun live composing event at GlitchCon, called Game Music Melee. Three of us composers got up onstage to write video game music on the spot, based on game suggestions from the audience, in JUST 30 MINUTES. Not a lot of time. Emily Reese of the Level with Emily podcast hosted, and after two rounds of composing, she interviewed us about our process. It turned out so cool, I wanted to post it as this week's Composer Quest episode.

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World Tour Kickstarter Launched!

Composer Quest Kickstarter Screenshot copy

I'm excited to announce my Kickstarter campaign for the final season of the Composer Quest podcast: a multi-month musical adventure around the US, Australia, and Taiwan. I asked listeners if they'd be willing to host me, and I got a great response! I'm really looking forward to visiting all these cool places, interviewing creators there, and adding this exciting "on location" element to the final season of the podcast.

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