Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

James Murray 

BA [Hons] Creative Music Production

Hi, my name is James Murray, and I am an aspiring media composer with a passion for enhancing visual narratives with innovative approaches to composition. The knowledge I have gained from this course in audio production and music theory has equipped me with a versatile skillset crucial in today's industry. These areas are the focus of my project and research, geared towards reviving traditional film scoring techniques and integrating them with contemporary methodologies.

Film Scoring: Paper vs Technology

My project involved the scoring of a seven-minute short film with and without the use of music technology. The handwritten approach utilised the practice of working a piano sketch into an orchestral piece, following cue sheets and frames per beat to sync to the picture. The technological method availed of a digital audio workstation, where music composed with virtual instruments could be lined up against the video with instant playback.
When constrained to pen and paper I felt more inspired and methodical with a clear vision for the piece's contour. I found the workflow to be smoother and the feedback to be more constructive when using technology. In the end, the client favoured these over the handwritten pieces. Overall, this experiment taught me the strengths and limitations of each of these approaches while illustrating the importance of balancing creative expression with the practicalities of an efficient workflow.

How has the evolution of music technology impacted the creative process, quality, and efficiency of film composition?

My thesis delves into the practical application of digital audio workstations, virtual instruments and notation software, discerning the implications they have on film scoring. Five established composers in Ireland were interviewed about their experience using such technology in composition and how they feel it impacts the practice. Alongside this, I scored a short film, using music technology for two cues and limited myself to a piano, pen and paper for the other two. The combined analyses demonstrated the workflow and time management benefits music technology has afforded us. Findings also surmised that there is greater value in audio production as opposed to musical arrangement, particularly from a client's perspective. The custom of handwritten sketches presented improvements in innovativeness, proving that features of the traditional practices still hold up in the creative endeavour of modern film scoring. Overall, these results suggest composers should adopt a mixed-method approach to film scoring, combining the compositional advantages of a systematic handwritten method and the efficacy of technology-based production.