Lipstick on a Musical Pig

It's easy to be seduced by technology, especially when it involves creating music. After all, almost every new computer comes with some program for combining sounds into patterns. I can't dispute that fooling around with sounds is fun, in fact, I've done it all my life. But confusing patterns of sound with actual music is a mistake that media professionals would do well to avoid.

We get lots of demos at Omnimusic. There are thousands of people - perhaps tens of thousands - who aspire to write music for film and television, and that number grows with each new computer sold. As a major supplier to the industry and one of the few production music companies that shares royalties with our composers, we are besieged with requests from new composers to include their music in our catalogs. 

We listen to everything, of course, because as a composer who started out knocking on doors looking for work, I feel an obligation to give everyone a chance. And we do find some extraordinary talents, as our customers know. But more and more we find ourselves listening to tracks that lack a creative underlying musical idea.

It's that core idea - that musical "seed" or "motif" or "hook" or whatever you want to call it - that's is absolutely essential to make a piece of music work. It's the foundation on which the entire piece is constructed. So if the original idea isn't really that good, no amount of technological wizardry or bells and whistles will make it better, more interesting, or, most important - have any impact on an audience.
And that's where it counts. Great music can make an good video better. But combinations of beats and sounds that lack a creative underlying musical idea can make a good video mediocre. It's that simple.  Patterns of sounds may fill the spaces in your voice-over, but you're cheating yourself out of the most powerful and cost-effective production tools you have: real music that touches your audience.
A note to composers: The easiest test to find out if you've actually got a piece of music or not is Can you play it on the piano?  If the answer is no, then it may be premature to put on the musical lipstick.

 - Doug Wood


  1. Hey Doug,
    Your sharing post on the title Lipstick on a Musical Pig is pretty nice. I read and found it very informative. I hope your post will help people a lot. Thanks for your awesome writing.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts