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"Make Up Scene" by Paul Johnson Rogers

I'm a pro composer working mainly for tv and, increasingly, for film. I started in bands but, after a series of second-rate record deals (releasing a series of second-rate records!) I managed to shift my career to my first love, composition....

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I'm a pro composer working mainly for tv and, increasingly, for film. I started in bands but, after a series of second-rate record deals (releasing a series of second-rate records!) I managed to shift my career to my first love, composition.

The great thing about writing for production companies and libraries is the opportunity of working in a variety of styles. The great challenge is that, often, the client will give you the brief at, say, 09:00 am and expect the finished track by, say, 4:00 pm the same day!

This was one of those situations. The brief was to provide 3' 20" of orchestral music, with a climax at three minutes, to accompany a scene in a film in which the actor is applying make up to transform their appearance. I was sent a QT file which, unfortunately, was corrupted - there was no time to muck about so, for the first time ever, I composed a piece to picture without actually seeing the picture! I fired up my MacPro/Logic 7 and loaded VSL SE patches.

For speed, I focussed on using just the sustain patches, not even bothering about articulations! I also patched in a piano sound from my trusty Roland JV1080. The mood was to be 'happily serene' with a big climax at three minutes as the actor stands up and looks in a full length mirror.

Like many composers, I don't really know what happens when I write - I just sort of switch off and it happens by itself. All I remember about it was that three hours went past very quickly and suddenly the rough track was sequenced. I went through it, correcting some sloppy playing and dodgy orchestration.

Next, I splashed some reverb and delays around, just to bring the instruments to life. This highlighted the need for further edits; after another hour or so of 'tweaking', I felt it was ready to send off to the client - and this is where the major problem lies. I realised long ago that my ears get tired after a few hours of concentrated work and unfortunately, the mix was not very good (brass too loud at the end). I've since remixed it but, whilst I'm proud of the track and the speed of completion, I wish I'd had the time to listen with fresh ears.

Anyway, here's the track as despatched, warts and all.

Further information is available at www.pauljohnsonrogers.com

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By Paul Johnson Rogers Thursday November 30, 2006
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