With the huge amount of TV and film accessible to us nowadays, the score composer is perhaps the most influential music artist around. When our beloved hero dies in Game of Thrones or Tom Cruise defies death yet again in the latest Mission Impossible, the composer is there to magnify our emotions, sometimes without us really taking notice.
But how does one go about becoming a film composer? Do you need to have an established band on your CV like Cliff Martinez or Daft Punk? Or is a classical education the way to go, more in the mould of John Williams?
Greg Tripi is an award-winning Hollywood composer who has worked on TV and movies including Dark Places, The Knick, Drive, Contagion, and Drag Me To Hell, and who is the subject of our unique multimedia feature The Score.
His route into composing began with youth orchestra and the bassoon. From there he began to learn a number of instruments to the extent that now he cannot say for sure what he is best at. His big break came when he was offered a fellowship by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to study TV music which effectively gave him a job as composer legend "Snuffy" Walden's assistant and immediately immersed him into the business.
He became friends with ex-Red Hot Chillis' Cliff Martinez which later lead to them working together on films such as the acclaimed Drive and Steven Soderbergh series The Knick.
So what advice would give to a budding film composer?
"There are a couple of obvious things," says Greg,"like make sure you live somewhere where films are made. Studying and knowing film music is really a great asset. It doesn’t mean you have to go to a conservatory or music school that does it, but knowing where it comes from is very important I think.
"The most important piece of advice, which is a little more abstract, which I’ve experienced in my own career, is that it’s not really about who you know, so much as who knows you and who knows what you do.
"If you’re a film composer trying to get into this business and you have spent time developing a sound or a style and have something very unique to your music, then the best thing you can do is just keep writing it and putting it out into the world - just giving music away - so that people know what your style or sound is.
"When those things get out there, people will find you because of it. It’s not ever going to be about knowing this person or that person, but hopefully it’s about the fact that those people know who you are even if you’ve never met them."
Tripi points to Jóhann Jóhannsson's score for the 2015 movie Sicario as his favourite recent production. But what is it that makes a great score?
"Well you know it’s a very subjective question. I think a hundred different composers can give you a hundred different answers.
"Me personally, the things that really draw me to a great soundtrack are stylistically unique approaches. It doesn’t have to be a revolutionary sound, it can be a traditional orchestra, but when composers find a very unique and fresh way to use that orchestra, especially to musicians I think those things pop out to us and take notice of them.
"When other styles of music are fused into the film music world - it’s always interesting too to me. Jazz can be fused into it, folk can be fused into it. And, vice-versa, you can take classical orchestra music and fuse into electronic music and really that’s something that interests me a lot. It’s not just electronic music being fused into an orchestra it’s an orchestra being mixed into electronic stuff."
For more on Greg Tripi click here.