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Old August 16 2011, 08:34 PM   #67
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Location: Hollywood, CA
Re: La-La Land Records Releasing a 3-CD Set of TNG Scores at Comic-Con

I'm also entertained by the booklet with its highly revisionist notes about the evolving "style" of the music on TNG, stating that the blandness of the music was a creative decision on McCarthy's part that was more in line with the producers wishes rather than Berman's costcutting and total lack of musical vision. We all know Rick Berman can't tell music from white noise.
Something I've learned from working in scripted television -- and my interactions and observations from the entire post-production process -- is simply that I think most fans just assume composers get a copy of the episode and are given a carte-blanche assignment to go write their music however they see fit and then that's that.

Unfortunately, it isn't.

If my experience thus far has been any kind of indicator of how composing for weekly television series goes, what would typically happen would be the following:

1) Post sends the composers a VAM copy of the episode. (A VAM is a video-assembled-master, where everyone agrees that, at least in terms of editing picture, the episode is done. Music, visual and sound effects, titles, etc. will all be done based on the VAM)

2) The composers (the people responsible for any original music created specifically for the show), music supervisors (in charge of any existing songs, tracks, music or songs with lyrics that already exist which will be included), the editor and assistant editor, the head of post-production, the episode writer(s) and showrunner will meet for what's called "Music Spotting."

During Music Spotting, they'll go through the episode and try to decide what type of music/song works best for each scene, where it should start and end, how loud, will it punctuate or overpower a scene or line of dialogue, etc. Everyone will offer suggestions, but it's almost always the showrunner who will dictate how it goes and have the final say about what the music will sound and "feel" like.

3)Based on these notes, the composers and music supervisor will go off on their own and get to work. In the case of the music supervisor, they will go searching for songs to use in the show. In the case of the composer, they will go off and compose, perform/conduct a "rough draft" of the episode score to be presented as "score previews" for the showrunner. Again, the showrunner will give notes if there's anything he wants done or (gasp!) if there's anything he doesn't particularly like.

4) Finally, the composers will make a CD that is delivered to Post, containing all the tracks for the episode that have been composed and can be dropped in to the the AVID or Final Cut system to be implemented (and, if need be, reused later) in to the episode.

The reason I've typed out all of this is primarily to demonstrate how little creative control composers have in this process at times, and also to point out/demonstrate that television shows are run by showrunners. It's their voice that speaks for the show, it's their style and temperament that will influence the tone, sound and feeling of a show. Rick Berman could be the foremost critic and mind about music or he could be a dumbass, in terms of personal taste. But his personal taste either way plays in to his job as showrunner, and the (sad, lamentable) fact of the matter is that a showrunner, he didn't want music that was too "musical." Whether he has/had a "total lack of musical vision" is up for debate, but its important to consider the entire process I outlined above when looking at this particular issue.

Likewise, the studio/production company/whoever would still be paying composers to write new music (however similar or rehashed it eventually would become) for every episode, so I don't see how it could be seen as Berman "cost-cutting."

Last edited by doubleohfive; August 16 2011 at 10:52 PM.
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