. Interchanging Idioms: Writing for an Audience: composing music on request

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Writing for an Audience: composing music on request

Part 2 (?) of "Commercial Music"

I wasn't really planning on writing a series for this topic, but I've been working on a project for my daughter --a theme song for her "late night" television show project she's doing at work. The idea of the show is to create a 'talk show' like episode to illuminate what their department does. They needed an opening theme so I wrote one.

Living This Life by Chip Michael

However, my daughter and her boss wanted it to be more up-beat, less "minor mode." Interesting request since I wrote the piece in Dorian mode, not really major or minor. But, I gathered what she meant, so I made some minor edits.



Did I sell out? While I like the first version better, the music wasn't written for me. It was written for a specific audience. They wanted to hear something which the first version didn't quite capture. They like the second version much better. In terms of music complexity, the first version has more of what I'd consider "crunchy" chords, finding that place between sweet and tangy.

There's a point to all this. As a composer, I need to be aware of my audience. I need to know who they are. Yes, I do write music just for me - but that doesn't pay the bills. As working composers, we need to make room for both types of music composition and for a place where they meld. Is the 2nd piece worthless because it was written to spec? Not at all.

I'm curious as to what you think.
Which piece do you like better?
How should composers handle commercial demands versus artistic desires?

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