For this blog, I had the opportunity to interview Gary Chang; associate professor of the music composition for the screen program. Gary’s experience is vast. He has written music for projects such as The Breakfast Club, Under Siege, and Storm of The Century. In addition, he has worked as a studio musician for artists such as Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, and Robbie Robertson. He also worked with film composers Henry Mancini, Patrick Williams, and Giorgio Moroder (recent Daft Punk collaborator). Every week I look forward to Gary’s class. He is always up to date when it comes to current film scoring techniques, gear, and the film music business.
You’ve collaborated on many films with directors John Frankenheimer and Craig R. Baxley. What advantages are there working with the same director on multiple projects?
When a composer does multiple projects for a filmmaker, there is a gained confidence in his/her work, which translates into more creative freedom and more value is placed on the music’s contribution to the film. In the case of my collaboration with John Frankenheimer, what started with an electronic score in 1986 (52 Pickup) multiple collaborations lead to a miniseries score with 60 players and 40 person choir in 1996 (Andersonville)—with all of the financial battles being fought by the producer and director on the composer’s behalf….
How would you respond to someone that says synthesizers and sample libraries are “killing” film and TV music?
Much like the Gutenberg Printing Press, and the Word Processor in later times did to change the aesthetic of literature, so has the Digital Audio Workstation influenced the current and future aesthetic of all music—not just film and TV music. From the perspective of patrons of music, there is really no turning back—an accurate digital audio rendering now allows the music to be criticized and changes implemented ahead of actually finishing of a music project—a revolutionary concept that places more of a value on content than nuance of realization. Simply stated, if there isn’t compelling content, there will be no nuance—the production will never get to the point of final production. So, has it “killed” film and TV music? Let’s just say that it stacks the deck in favor those who can utilize the technology the best, since this use of technology to demo and sell musical ideas is currently the preferred method for the people spending the money.
Any chance we might see you on stage with Giorgio Moroder this summer at Pitchfork Music Festival?
Be sure to check out previous ambassador Mason Kaye’s interview with Gary here.