Alumni Special: Neil Myers

How To Compose Music for Moving Image

Neil Myers is an award-winning composer with over a decade of industry experience. His career has seen him combine creative and commercial elements in his compositional portfolio. This has included work for high profile clients such as the BBC, Sky Sports and Channel 4, alongside small independent film projects

A graduate of Leeds College of Music, Neil currently works at LCoM as part-time lecturer, helping to pass on his expertise and knowledge to students on the 'Music for Moving Image' module, which is part of our Production pathway.

Competition is fierce within the industry, so here he shares a few tips for any budding musician wanting to immerse themselves in composing for moving image:
 
1. Use The [Music] Library:
 
Don’t be afraid to put your work onto a music library such as AudioJungle. It helps get your work out there in the public domain and means that your name will at least get recognized, even if the financial rewards do not match the time and effort spent on a particular composition.
 
2. Learn From Others:
 
Work with others as much as possible, and grasp opportunities to learn from industry practitioners who can pass on their professional knowledge. Whilst studying at Leeds College of Music you can learn from experts within their particular fields – so seize that chance!
 
3. Network:
 
Use other musicians and the support network around you and encourage working relationships in all possible situations. The industry is often about being in the right place at the right time with the right people, and your chances of being successful are greater if you foster closer partnerships with others. It can be lonely writing by yourself in the studio, so working with others can generate the creativity often needed to make a successful period.

If you are unfamiliar with certain styles, take on the challenge and learn how to manipulate your own style to fit others. Alternatively, network with people that know that particular style well and learn from their creative practice.
 
4. Participate:
 
Become involved in the media industry in whichever way possible. Even if it is something that you do not directly want to do, it helps to open up the possibilities and gives you an idea of how it functions and operates.
 
5. Combine the Creative and Commercial:
 
Although there is a compromise in creativity due to requirements to satisfy both the client and audience - don’t be afraid to do the commercial side of the industry, as it financially (and otherwise) can enable you to do the purely creative things that you want to do. However, it’s about finding that balance between independent and commercial environments.
 
6. Keep on writing:
 
Aside from using music libraries, build up your profile as much as possible through sustained periods of writing. There are obvious comparisons to language and grammar here - the more you write, the more you realise and become self-aware about your own practice as a composer and musician.

If you are a footballer, you spend most of your week training for the important 90 minutes that take place over the weekend. In the same way, a musician practices scales all week so that in their final performance they give it their best possible. For writers of music, it’s about writing as much as possible to generate new ideas and to have that inherent creative spark to be inspired. I think it also helps to learn about the pace of the industry as there can often be quick turnaround and you have to be able to react to that intuitively.
 
7. Keep Time:
 
The internet has changed the working environment of the media industry – you have an infinite amount of time due to instant communication and technological advancements. There is also greater opportunity than there ever has been. However, with that greater opportunity comes greater competition. When writing for moving image, it's important to take note of this paradoxical nature of time.

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Composing music for moving image is a core part of our new Film Music degree, which you can read more about here.

Neil is currently working on a collaboration album with Julian Culme-Seymour, Alex Redfern, Dave Anson and Joshua Buck. Find out more on his website and SoundCloud.

Have you graduated from Leeds College of Music? Why not tell us what you're currently up to by emailing: alumni@lcm.ac.uk or follow our Alumni Association here.

 

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Watch Neil's Work:



Here's Neil's composition for Sky Sports 'Big Time Boxing'. You can see more of Neil's work on his Vimeo channel.

“The thing I love most about what I do is that every job is different. It goes without saying that there can be some frustrating points of working within the industry but it is always inspiring and I wouldn’t want to do anything else - writing music is incredible and there is nothing better than seeing a realisation of your work.”

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