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The Sound of Music

November 18, 2002

By Emma Justice

Emma JusticeNov 18, 2002 — Emmy Award winning composers, musicians and music mavens were on hand October 16, at Full House Productions to give members tips about adding music and emotion to programs no matter the medium.

VP of Programming Gary Kahn, welcomed guests and introduced the speakers including composer David Zee, also a NY-MCA-I member; composer Richard Reiter and a Senior Account Representative from Killer Tracks, Claude Levin, also known as music maven according to his business card!

Zee led off the discussion with some background on himself saying that besides being a composer, specializing in key board and guitar he creates music for Discovery Channel, PBS and various national TV spots and numerous industrials; on the non broadcast side he was also a producer for Black & Decker Corporation and Maryland Public Broadcasting. He said he knew all too well himself how producers think or rather don’t think of music until the last minute instead of at the onset of a production. He said as a composer he had pulled many a “all nighters” to get music to clients for their final edit.

Zee demonstrated two versions of a sound alike to “Girl from Ipanema” to demonstrate how the slightest change in music effects can alter the delivery of voice and music when mixed. Thus making it clearer or more difficult to get a message across. Zee drove home the point that when there is dialogue or narration the voice should be in the foreground and the music is secondary but supportive and achieving this can be done in numerous ways. He added that while producers have final say in a program, everybody on a production has an opinion about music because it is so subjective!

He said over the years of working in music production he developed what he called David’s rules. Number one, there is only room for one soloist in developing a piece and number two, when dealing with a voice over, never have a complicated line of music carpeting the voice. He then added the infamous Rule #3, Rules were meant to be broken, the one rule frequently used by clients!

What ever the difficulties entailed, David Zee’s credits include, programs that have won Emmy’s, Telly’s, and various NY Festival Awards and a National Songwriting contest.

The next presenter, also a seasoned award winner and composer, Richard Reiter, has specialized in National and World Wide Television, Film, Advertising, Theatre and Dance sound design. Like Zee, the more senior Reiter said he used to pull “all nighters,” but now he enjoys life and can be very selective about the programs he takes on. He amplified more precisely what Zee said about music. He too said music should be included at the beginning of the production planning because music underscores the motivation, behavioral intent or meaning of a program.

He made the point that when we think of music on an emotional level there are cultural prescribed sounds, much of which Disney created. He said when you think of something magical or space music or eerie, many of those preconceived notions of how it should sound come from our familiarity of Disney music, developed many years ago. He said when you think of something powerful sounding it is louder, stronger and with a heavy beat…hence your hard driving industrial music, which underscores growth and triumph.

Reiter said his job as a composer was to get inside the head of the producer, spending time with them, asking questions about the intended audience, the voice over, the scenes, the locations, the ideas behind the scene selections or dialogue of a program. He said, he asks a lot of questions in order to really get the intent of the producer or designer of a production. He asks about the pace or rhythm, whether the voice or talent are always on or off camera, if there are certain hit points in a program that are key to the development. These questions help the composer and the producer to arrive at a better end result.

He said all too often, a composer’s time too compressed when music is thought about last, so planning is key. Budgets of course play a part in how sophisticated a music piece is, how much money is available determines how much instrumentation is developed.

Reiter said the difference between stock music and original music gets down to the question of whether stock music does it for you. He said generally stock music requires fancy editing especially if you have certain hit points in a program…with original music it is demo’d and it is done.

On hand to discuss the option of stock music and how to do a music search on line with their music library, was Claude Lewin of Killer Tracks, a unit of BMG Entertainment. He explained that Killer Tracks is a producer and/or rep for 14 different production music libraries and a sound effects library. There services are utilized by broadcast, advertising, film, internet and audio/visual & multimedia production industries.

Lewin walked the audience through a demonstration of how you can search, sample, download, manage and license music available through their libraries online. Killer Tracks is produced in Hollywood utilizing top talent from the motion picture and television industries and they have 23 categories to assist your search including: rock, urban/hip hop, techno/club, drama, news themes, orchestral, country, animation, and comedy.

Lewin said you can download the music and payment is an honor system, and this was not a problem for the company since most professionals appreciate licensing and act legitimately. He said there are different purchasing tiers depending upon the type of program you are making, the number of copies, whether it is broadcast or non-broadcast. He concluded his presentation saying that music libraries are not a replacement for original music, but they are a good substitute.

Phil Lee, co-owner of Full House productions offered attendees tours of their 5 full service audio recording studios with two post-production studios, all of which are equipped with Protools 5.1. Lee noted that ironically the one thing they are not involved in was music production. The company serves a wide range of clientele, mediums and markets including radio and TV commercials, corporate audio programs, documentaries, internet programs, books on tape, ESL and voice over demonstration. He said that he and his partner Jeff Bush started in business 22 years ago with 1 room on E 49th Street. Now they are on W. 18th with several employees. He said they have three great engineers that have all been with the company for many years and one of the things that is important for them is to have “a good time” and be very supportive and offer their support and experienced “ears” to their clients.

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