The Composer

American Film Institute’s 44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams - Show
Director Stephen Spielberg (L) and Honoree John Williams (R) onstage during American Film Institute’s 44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute show to John Williams at Dolby Theatre on June 9, 2016 in Hollywood, California. Getty Images for Turner / Getty Images

A composer is someone who writes a music piece for theater, TV, radio, film, computer games and other areas where music is needed. The music should be properly notated so as to guide the musician/s properly.

What does a composer do?

The main task of the composer is to write an original composition for a specific project. The piece will then be performed by a musician or an ensemble. The composer makes sure that the music suits the project; as in the case of film scores where the music should help move the story without overpowering the scene.

The music he writes may be instrumental or have lyrics and may be in various styles such as classical, jazz, country or folk.

What educational background should a composer have?

Most composers have strong backgrounds in music theory, composition, orchestration, and harmony. However, there are many composers who don't have formal training. Composers like Edward Elgar, Karl Lawrence King, Amy Beach, Dizzy Gillespie and Heitor Villa-Lobos were mostly self-taught.

What are the qualities of a good composer?

A good composer has fresh ideas, is creative, versatile, not afraid to experiment, willing to collaborate and of course, passionate about writing music. Most composers know how to play several instruments, can carry a tune and have a good ear.

Why become a composer?

Although the road to becoming a composer may be hard and highly competitive, once you get your foot in the right door, composing can generate good income for you, not to mention the experience and exposure you will get along the way.

Notable Film Composers

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View listings of job opportunities and competitions for composers via Composition Today.