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Film-Scoring With a Hollywood Name

This Monday is very special for quite a few reasons. One, I’m off from work for the day, which is not so special in and of itself without, two, my very first day driving to my future “college”, DigiPen Institute of Technology in Washington, on my own to (three) listen to my closest connection in the film-scoring world, David Kitay, talk about scoring films and the things he has learned about the process over his 60+ Hollywood titles.

Now for some backstory.

I met David last year when I attended the workshop as an active participant (I’m an audit this time around). He’s a really nice guy, and he enjoyed my production in the workshop last year, a workshop that hosted two phases. After two days of instruction, I was set free to produce original accompaniment to a music-deprived clip of one of David’s titles. Afterwards, I had the extremely rare and unique opportunity to conduct a string quintet from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

The whole experience was somewhat surreal, and perhaps one of my favorite moments ever, but this year, I won’t have the same chance to do it again, because, simply put, money.

Kitay is a really nice guy, and he taught me so much about the whole feel of his career, what the business expects from you, and little tricks to creating moods and feelings from certain arrangements and compositions.

For instance, composing your song at a higher tempo, even if the track is slow in its motion, really helps the musicians that play the piece to stay on track, and to not sound like a jumbled mess. I witnessed this effect first hand when my buddy, Ian, who also composed a piece for the string quintet, had mistakenly arranged the piece at a tempo below one hundred beats per minute. This caused quite a chaotic accompaniment to the original track as it played back on the computer with a really slow metronome (click track) in the background. Simply by doubling the tempo, the Seattle musicians had a far better time adhering to the sheet music, and, fortunately, Ian’s work did not have to be scrapped (since the orchestra only had a few hours to get through a plethora of arrangements).

I might talk more about the experience later, but that is what I have for you today. I have to head off now.

– K