Creative Process Series – Part Four
In a past life, Barrie Gledden mixed and recorded for acts including Kaiser Chiefs and Corinne Bailey Rae, as well as working as a mix engineer in Nashville, before discovering his true calling as a media composer. These days, he writes exclusively for Audio Network and he’s recently had music synced on the film Zootopia, online content for HYPEBEAST and that Snickers advert with Mr Bean.
Here, he shares his top three skills for working efficiently and creatively.
1. Have a good imagination
I know I have one of these because my school reports always said I spent most of my time daydreaming. Thankfully, music allows me to channel my thoughts into something worthwhile. Having a good imagination within the music industry can create a brand new sound that makes you stand out from the crowd.
I first realised this when I was a teenager playing in different bands. I always seemed to have the ability to create a musical idea – not only for myself but also for the other musicians. The real shock came when I realised everyone seemed to listen and agree with me.
I always run with my imagination when composing but learning how to filter and focus the creative flow is crucial.
Do: Compose all the time and really let my imagination go wild when not working on a specific job.
Don’t: Copy other composers.
2.Be a good decision-maker
Be good at knowing when to finish and move on at each stage of the composing, recording and mixing stages.
As a media composer, much of what I do needs to be done relatively quickly. Time management is crucial now more than ever. Music software gives me seemingly limitless creative possibilities and allows me to endlessly, and often pointlessly, tweak and meddle with my work.
I used to spend hours recording myself and other musicians, trying to get the perfect take. I also used to sit up all night mixing what I’d recorded. In each case, I was convincing myself that this amount of effort was needed to get the perfect track. I now realise I just wasn’t making the correct decisions at the right times.
Do: Focus on the mood and message from the start. Get these right and everything decision will be simplified going forward.
Don’t: Worry if you do make a bad decision. It happens.
3. Don’t be a music snob
When I started out as a media composer, to get a foot in the door, I took on any musical work I could get. Some early projects included:
- Burger King – I created music for a staff training DVD that taught everything from how to fill the bags with fries to locking the door at night. All made much more relaxing to watch and learn from because of my splendid underscore!
- Walmart – Lots of bargain CDs for children. Over a period of a couple of years I recorded many hundreds of nursery rhymes and silly toddler tunes.
Neither or those projects were what I wanted to be doing with my music career at the time, yet the projects I took on in my early days have ended up being largely responsible for giving me the three skills I mention here.
Do: Enjoy composing silly, fun comedy music. It is actually one of the best genres of music for letting your imagination go really crazy.
Don’t: Believe you are musically better than anyone else.
Oh… Always have a kazoo in your studio.
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