How to create a killer music brief for your production

February 11th, 2020  |  by Eva

An interview with Eddie Grey

This week we caught up with Filmstro composer and modern creative Eddie Grey. Eddie uses the traditional lessons of music production and blends them with the madness of modern technology. He is a lover of all things sound and is the Head Composer for shows on A&E, TLC and Oxygen.

Most notably, he has won his first award for a commercial and has recently completed production as Head Composer on the Kim Kardashian West documentary “Justice Project”.

We interviewed Eddie to find out and understand how a composer breaks down a brief and how you as a filmmaker should construct a brief to ensure the best results!

What makes a good brief and how should it be constructed?

Supplying Reference tracks and brief specifics. It is important to provide adjectives along with these brief specifics so we can capture that FEEL. I also think BPM is helpful. Give Composers a ballpark of where you want the Musical Meter to be (fast, medium, slow, etc.) If you can provide the Key of song. If you want something positive, happy, redemptive…choose a Major Key and if you want something cold, brooding, tense, choose a minor key.

 In other words…

POSITIVE = MAJOR

NEGATIVE = MINOR.

Any key aspects a filmmaker should not miss out when constructing the brief?

I personally like having references. I feel like they keep you on track with textures and dynamics.

Do you recommend a filmmaker to put a storyboard together before submitting the brief?

Storyboards are nice. They help us get in the “Psychology” of the piece. I often read the treatment a couple of times just to plant seeds so as I am working out a Musical Problem, my mind will juggle through the ideas I have just read. It is helpful especially if you are not scoring to picture initially.

 As a composer how do you deconstruct a brief and what’s your process?

I will literally drag the music references into my DAW (digital audio workstation) and map out the Tempo and Markers.

I like dissecting the movements and breakdowns. I then will build the necessary instruments and samples and get to work.

What are useful references for you to understand the genre of the music the client is looking for?

 I always go back to basics. Rhythm, Harmonic Bed, and Melody. I listen to the references and pick apart the constituents. I like to categorise the time period and the instruments they may have used. I like to analyse the Synths (if any) and pick apart the Synth Shapes and FX.

After I study the brief, I write from the heart and let the song take over.

Any final tips for new filmmakers out there when considering putting a brief together?

Please use adjectives to describe what you are SEEING and/or FEELING.

I also recommend being prepared and really marking out when you want the music to come in and how you want it to come in. I would watch the scenes and make notes of Music In/Out points.

Can you tell us more about writing for music libraries and what makes Filmstro stand out from the others?

Music Libraries give Composers a chance to get their feet wet and develop their chops and confidence. They can be the catalyst that helps springboard the career of a Composer by helping them get their name out there, build their resume and portfolio, and of course network.

I started out writing for many, many libraries. Some relationships have developed but most wither as the business can be rather cold and non-communicative. Everyone is emailing in such a non-­personal way that the relationship does not get a chance to build between talent and publisher. Filmstro, on the other hand, develops their talent and gives strong advice on how to get better. They take the time to make sure I am better and when I am better, WE BOTH WIN.

Cheers!

Eddie.