What can go wrong with Original Music?

brian hall.jpg

In effort to start a dialogue on custom composition and the intersection of music and film, we've invited Marmoset Co-Founder Brian Hall to guest write for the blog today. In a start of a monthly series, we get a glimpse of the process behind the evolving story of creative collaboration.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section and let us know about your experience


It's awe inspiring to consider the raw amount of content that is being made in the 21st century. By now, we've been lucky enough to bring original scores to hundreds of projects. As we've slowly found our stride, we've developed a pretty clear picture of what defines a really healthy collaboration.

It's a simple task to talk about what defines an effective collaboration. For fun, we thought we'd explore some early warning signs that can ultimately lead to ineffective collaboration. Further, we thought we'd use kitchen metaphors to articulate each issue.


Right Kitchen, selfish chef.

The best way to describe this one is to quote the great Paul Simon in his song, "The Boxer.""A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest." In short, musicians are a stubborn, passionate and sometime irrational breed, In nearly every case, we grow up with music as a healthy, but nonetheless selfish way to hide and find refuge. At the heart of this escapism is simply "me." We are in a sense telling our own story. When it comes time to tuck away one's own narrative in order to serve another...the immature composer, above all, falls short.


Wrong cooks, right kitchen.

This one is straightforward. Above all, a good collaboration requires that all parties, whether in peace or in war, can make each other's output more mind blowing. As a filmmaker, you must remember that like Marmoset, every musician has a niche. It may be nebulous, it may be broad, but it is nonetheless a niche. I can speak from experience, musicians write music the most convincingly when we are writing a type of music that we love and therefore innately understand.


Right kitchen, wrong cookbook.

There are typically three turnkey decision making parties on any given project. Sometimes there are less, sometimes there are more. In different situations actual authority is dispersed very differently. It goes without saying, the music makers are generally perched toward the bottom of the chain, hoping they can find a way to scratch their own creative itch, and simultaneously account for and meet the needs of all parties. This is not easy. The more articulate, intentional and direct you are with your talent, the more focused, excited and and enduring you will find them. Scattered and unclear direction = grey hairs.


Right Cooks, different languages.

I've engaged with plenty of clients that feel insecure about their ability to talk about music at a high level. Let me assure you, it is not necessary to be able to eloquently talk in terms of the "technical" characteristics of music. I consider it the musician's responsibility to distill abstract feelings and ideas into concrete, definable musical direction. If from a high level, everyone is aligned, then the musician should be able to align with you, regardless of your background or lack of ability to articulate details.


Good food takes time.

3-5 business days is generally enough time for a composer to get you a first pass on anything under 3 minutes or so. Revisions take longer. Additionally, a lot of editors like to edit to music, but the reality is that composers make better work when they are composing to picture. There are ways to make either approach work, but if you've spent a lot of time sourcing your own licenses, you'll need to be prepared to reinvent your post production experience. You cannot start a pork belly slow cook at 3 pm and have it ready when guests arrive at 6:30 pm.

- Brian Hall