Winter 2007


I remember arriving in Los Angeles—a few too many years ago than I care to remember—after having graduated from an academically driven music program at Amherst College. Although my over-all experience there was one of the highlights of my early life, the music department’s curriculum had no inclusion of film music, and certainly no nod to any music with pop sensibilities. When I referenced my respect for the music of Burt Bacharach it was countered with, “I’m not familiar with that group.” Later when I expressed my appreciation for Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite, my professor arrogantly dismissed it as “movie music without the movie.” After leaving western Massachusetts’s answer to Dorothy Parker’s Algonquin Round Table, it was through the encouragement of Stan Milander, my agent, that I joined the Society of Composers and Lyricists a few years later and truly found a home. Although the numbers were small in comparison to the nine hundred plus that we boast today, it was a unique experience to mix with my colleagues in events like we are able to enjoy as members of this organization. Having the opportunity to hear the professional insight of SCL Advisory Board Member, Patrick Williams, along with the talented panel comprised of Christophe Beck, George S. Clinton, Lolita Ritmanis and Stanley A. Smith, like two hundred of us did at our annual membership meeting recently, is a singular experience; and it is only one benefit of belonging to this great organization.

This is the fifth year that I have served as president of your society and it has been one filled with many interesting activities. Laura Dunn has done an outstanding job of putting together screenings of some of the most celebrated scores of the year. All of the Oscar nominees in the Score category were showcased at informative question and answer sessions, giving great insight into the creative process behind their music.

We hosted our long running Holiday dinner last December, and along with a festive evening in a beautiful setting, we honored two members of our community without whose contributions our profession would be less than it is. Brilliant composer and songwriter, David Shire, who had recently scored the thriller, Zodiac, and Johnny Mandel, who has provided countless inspirational scores, arrangements, and songs over the years, were celebrated by their colleagues as the latest SCL Ambassadors.

Our Oscar reception, held in February at the home of John and Bonnie Cacavas, was a resounding success. At that event, we bestowed an honorary lifetime membership on Ennio Morricone with all of the score nominees and most of the song nominees in attendance, thanks to Charles Bernstein and Arthur Hamilton. For those of you who join the SCL at the Gold Membership level or higher, this event is one of the highlights of every year and we are going forward to host another one next February. Special thanks are in order for Lori Barth. Not only is she integral to the success of this reception as well as the marvelous holiday dinner, her tireless efforts in her role as senior editor of the Score continue to make this publication one of the crowning jewels of our organization.

The SCL was a sponsor of the Film Music Pavilion at the 60th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. I represented our organization and solidified our relations with our European counterparts, including the members of the recently formed organization, FFACE, lead by our colleague, Bernard Grimaldi. There were a number of discussions pertaining to the perception of film music and the way we are educating, not only the public, but also the entry level composers and songwriters as well. Also, the larger issue of protection of rights was explored. I was able to meet and discuss these issues with both Ennio Morricone and SCL advisory board member, Howard Shore, as well as meet composer members from Spain, England, France, Germany, Switzerland and Norway. A few weeks later, SCL members were featured at a film music festival in Ubeda, Spain. A few in attendance to perform their music were Bruce Broughton, John Debney and David Arnold.

Over the year we hosted a number of events where our members could join together and celebrate film music, including a concert at Disney Hall, featuring our honorary lifetime member, John Williams. I should mention that we have a beautiful signed page from Star Wars available on our website as a Famous First. John also entertained us at a sold-out evening at the Hollywood Bowl, which was one of three fascinating nights held there this summer for SCL members.

Our members continue to be a driving force in Game Music, and we are proud to have Billy Martin, Russell Brower, and Garry Schyman on our board of directors. I was pleased to hear that a number of our members are having their music performed at the impressive concerts that are being staged around the country featuring this genre. Through all of these concerts featuring our work we are continuing to increase not only the love and appreciation for our craft, but raise the awareness of its importance as an art form unto itself.

In August, our Gold members joined with Governors Ray Colcord, Ian Fraser and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to honor the Emmy nominees, which included many SCL colleagues. This is a wonderful way to celebrate our craft in television, and we are proud of our composers and songwriters who have excelled in this field.

Throughout the year we have held a number of informative seminars. Dennis Brown and Garry Schyman were responsible for putting two together, the most recent being, Creating Music Without Creating Lawsuits. Issues discussed were: copyright infringement, fair use, and the creation of parodies. When you are asked to create music to sound like existing music, just how close can you get without creating a legal headache? On the panel were copyright expert, Lon Sobel, forensic musicologist Danny Gould, and writers Julie & Steve Bernstein.

In June, past president, Ray Colcord moderated a panel entitled, Where’s My Royalty? (Composer & Songwriter Rights In The Digital Age.) The distinguished panel included Jay Cooper, Dean Kay, Jeffrey Graubart, Ted Cohen and Christopher Amenita.This is available as a download and I encourage you to review this informative seminar.

In August, Ilio hosted a product tour exclusively for our members. Demonstrated were a number of new instruments including those from a number of companies, including Spectrasonics, Synthogy and Applied Acoustic Systems. Later in the summer, our prolific board member, Stu Phillips, was showcased at AFI in an event featuring examples from his long running career, including handouts of a number of his most recognizable scores. We’ve been pleased to have Stu on the board of directors and that afternoon was a special one for all involved.

The SCL is getting things moving on the East Coast. I recently returned from New York, where our Advisory Board Member, Charlie Fox, was honored at a BMI/SCL sponsored luncheon at the BMI boardroom. Doreen Ringer-Ross and Linda Livingston were in town and among the highlights of the afternoon was an intimate performance by Charlie of his amazing catalogue of work, including Killing Me Softly. BMI President/CEO, Del Bryant, presented Charlie with citations recognizing seven million performance of that work. The luncheon was attended by many of BMI’s most celebrated writers as well as our good friends from BMI, Charlie Feldman and Alison Smith.

While I was there, Sue Devine and Nancy Knutsen at ASCAP, and Joel Beckerman arranged for a working session with some of New York’s top writers including Carter Burwell. Carter was featured at an ASCAP/SCL event in January, which was part of the Columbia Workshop, co-sponsored by Dennis Dreith and the Film Musicians Secondary Market. Those in attendance were presented an intriguing look at Cater’s score for Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus with the director, Steve Shainberg, moderated by Alex Steyermark.

In May, I moderated an SCL panel on Growing and Building your Film Music Career at NYU, which was part of the ASCAP film scoring workshop there, headed by Ron Sadoff and Mike Patterson. Featured were Mark Snow, Marcy Heisler, Rob Mounsey, Maria Scneider and Cheryl Foliart.

In August, BMI hosted a screening with the SCL of The Hottest State with the talented songwriter/composer, Jesse Harris at the DGA, New York and I was pleased to do a Q&A with Jesse as Chris Farrell had done the week before in Los Angeles.

This year has not been without its sadness. We have lost a number of special people. Recently Ralph Kessler, and earlier in the year, Basil Poledouris, SCL Ambassador, Ray Evans and board member, Harvey Cohen, to mention only a few. Poignantly, Shirley Walker made her last public appearance at our membership meeting last year and it was probably the last time many of us were able to visit with her. There is a wonderful tribute to Shirley in the last issue of our Score magazine.

The coming year has many things in store. We are well on the way to screening some of the years biggest films including the much anticipated, Enchanted, with Advisory Board Member, Alan Menken. The holiday dinner will once again feature the presentation of the SCL Ambassador Award.

Several of your board members have been working under the leadership of SCL second Vice-President, Mark Adler, in formulating the SCL Film Music Award. It will prove to be a great addition to the entertainment awards process and you will be hearing more about it shortly. Our mentor program is continuing to enlighten and inform and the caliber of the participants continues at a high level. I am pleased to see that many of these talented composers are starting to make their own mark in our profession.

The current climate in the entertainment field is presenting challenges to all of our creative partners, whether they are writers, actors, directors, musicians or recording artists. The latest dilemma, unfortunately, only one of many plaguing the way that we get paid in our profession, is the downloading of our music, and especially the downloading of television programs that contain our work; very often the next day, as in programs such as Lost and Desperate Housewives. Our board member, Garry Schyman has had discussions with Mary Beth Peters, The Registrar of Copyrights, helping her to understand that our needs are, in fact, quite distinct from those of the pop songwriter. Your past president, Bruce Broughton, through his efforts in Washington, is helping formulate legislation that could be critical in protecting our rights. Your loyalty to the Performing Rights Organizations will help mold as well as support the great efforts being put forth by them on your behalf. Perhaps most important is your encouragement to your colleagues to join the SCL, as we endeavor to make this the strongest organization it can possibly be through strength in numbers. As president of this organization, I will strive to make sure that our voice is heard loud and clear as we move forward into uncertain times.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXII, Number Four, Winter 2007]


Fall 2007


As I return from across the Atlantic, I am happy to report that our profession is alive and well and nowhere more revered and heralded than in the hearts and souls of our European colleagues. For the third year our organization has been a sponsor of the Film Music Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. In this endeavor, we have joined with our sister organizations in Europe, whose alliance The Federation of Film and Audiovisual Composers of Europe (FFACE) is responsible for creating this pavilion, which is dedicated to extolling the virtues of our craft.

At the urging of FFACE president, Bernard Grimaldi and the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund Administrator, Dennis Dreith and with the blessing of the Board of Directors, I provided for the first time, a physical presence for the SCL. Although skeptical at first as to how my attendance could add to our organization’s cachet, what soon became apparent was the significant place our country stands in the eyes of the European community, not only as a leader, past and present in film music, but with Hollywood as the undisputed center of the film world, my presence added a physical connection, reaffirming the SCL’s leadership role in representing our community.

In my five days there, the majority of my time was spent at the Pavilion, which had numerous highlights. The first day, SCL advisory member, Howard Shore spent time there discussing his multi-faceted career with those in attendance. He had been engaged in a panel the day before, and the afternoon provided an excellent opportunity to hear his thoughts on film music. Howard has always been concerned in advancing our profession, and among the many things that came out of our discussion was his interest in moves that could further enhance our bargaining position within the industry.

As Howard shared his concert appearances with us, it became apparent that a significant bi-product of his busy schedule is the elevation of our profession, along with the heightening of our prestige as film composers in the musical world as a whole. Our illustrious founding members such as David Raksin and former Composers and Lyricists Guild president, Elmer Bernstein would be proud to see the recent increase in the number of festivals that are showcasing our members’ work. Our great friend, Basil Poledouris conducted a festival orchestra at Ubeda, Spain last summer and Bruce Broughton, John Debney and Alan Silvestri, among many others are having suites performed throughout Europe.

One of the primary goals of the pavilion is to raise the awareness of the craft of film music. I took part in a round table discussion about how FFACE is reaching out to the composer community in their respective countries to raise the stature of our profession. Members from England, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and France have been active in education, much as a number of our SCL members have taught within our collegiate environment. FFACE has set up a task force to interface with the best universities in encouraging more programs to deal specifically with the discipline of film music. I indicated that we would be receptive to sharing some of our experiences in this area for our common good; programs not only for the film composer and songwriter, but equally important for the emerging film maker as well.

I had the opportunity to visit and interact with two colleagues from Norway. I was impressed that their organization was comprised of over five hundred members, although not all specifically involved with film music. One of these composers was active in a performing group of musicians whose ensemble utilized instruments made of ice; certainly the most unique form of musical delivery I encountered.

Chris Smith from England’s British Academy of Composers and Songwriters and I had an extended dialogue on intellectual property. In discussing the differences between our respective countries, I was reminded of the superior position that the European writers have found themselves in regarding copyright ownership. Whereas in the U.S., we as composers and songwriters have operated under the “work for hire” contract as independent contractors, with the studio or company being the author of record, our European counterparts have retained authorship over the years and in the majority of cases even retain publishing rights to their work as well. Regrettably, our American prototype is becoming more common in Europe and our colleagues are joining together through FFACE to try to protect the status quo and have been effective in many cases in thwarting this dissipation of rights. Fortunately the European model of receiving royalties for movie performances is still in effect and as Americans, we reap these benefits when our works are performed overseas. I also had the opportunity to speak to several of our colleagues about the dangers inherent in down loading and streaming. All felt that our collective interest could be served by recognizing that these are all issues that we as a global community can join together to find solutions for.

On Thursday, our U.S. contingency, which included Phil Ayling and Jen Kuhn from the Recording Musicians Association, and the ever eloquent, Dennis Dreith, presented an over-view of our respective organizations, which included a video presented by the RMA chronicling the evolution of a cue, using a composition from Hook by James Newton Howard as the example. I was given the opportunity to introduce those in attendance to the SCL and our presentations were followed by a question and answer session.

Perhaps the most memorable moment was walking the stairs as a collective body of composers. This red carpet event was made possible through the efforts of Stephen Melchiori and the Union of Film Music Composers (UCMF) from France. The procession was led by Ennio Morricone and included a majority of composers in attendance at Cannes. Following a screening of one of the contenders, We Own the Night, the maestro was celebrated at a black tie dinner. Maestro Morricone and I had the opportunity to visit that evening, as well as at a lunch in his honor the next day, hosted by the UCMF and their president, Gilles Tinayre. At a round table discussion, once again at the Pavilion, the Maestro spoke at length about his concern that composers be properly compensated for their work, and he talked specifically about the distribution of royalties on blank media sales. This is a revenue stream that American composers have not been participating in. SCL Board member, Garry Schyman has been hoping to rectify this situation and perhaps now is a good time to re-visit this issue. Maestro Morricone indicated several times of his pleasure at being honored at our Oscar reception with the SCL Lifetime member accreditation.

Following Cannes, I had the opportunity to attend a recording session in Madrid, where Alberto Iglesias was recording guitar tracks for the forthcoming Marc Forster film, The Kite Runner. Coincidently, I ended up on the plane ride back to the U.S. with him and was happy to hear that he is recording the orchestral tracks here at Warner Brothers with our great musicians. Later in the week, I had lunch with Javier Navarette in Barcelona, as he graciously took time during the last few days of writing the score for Jean-Jacque Annaud’s Sa majeste Minor, which is recording on the outskirts of that beautiful city. Both composers have expressed that one of the highlights of their respective Oscar nominations has been our SCL reception and having the opportunity to meet with their colleagues in an elegant setting, where our noble profession was the common thread.

The Film Music Pavilion was an unquestionable success and what became apparent to all of us was the similarities in issues that all of us have in common. As well as this most recent experience, I am fortunate to have met with representatives from composer organizations from Canada, Australia and New Zealand over the past year. As we move ahead into uncertain times, I feel that we will be closer to finding solutions to difficult challenges and raising the awareness and appreciation of our craft by uniting with the great talents throughout the world.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXII, Number Three, Fall 2007]


Summer 2007


During my tenure as president of our society, I have attempted to work with our talented Executive Director, Laura Dunn, and our distinguished board and advisory members to create an environment that nurtures a pride in what we do, generates a respect for our fellow composers and lyricists and certainly as important, promotes an over-all sense of community.

You will be happy to know that the reach and influence of our organization is expanding and is indicative of the global environment that our business is positioning itself in. By the time that you receive this issue of the Score, the SCL will have presented yet another informative seminar in New York. With the help of ASCAP and NYU, we are offering a program that will not only introduce our organization to up and coming composers and lyricist at one of New York’s most prestigious music schools, but will continue to integrate our mission among our colleagues who are already having successful careers on the East Coast. I want to extend my thanks to Joel Beckerman, Sue Devine, Mike Patterson, and Ron Sadoff for making this event possible.

Also by this time, I will have represented the SCL as we joined with composers and lyricists all over the world in celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. Our organization was once again a sponsor of the Pavilion of Film Music that celebrates the art of music in film. This year appears to be a pivotal time to be joining with other groups of creators and engaging in dialogue as to what we can do to make sure that our interests are being heard in the global market place. An alliance of European composer organizations, FFACE, was formed within the last year, and their president, Bernard Grimaldi recently visited with us in Los Angeles and attended SCL events.

In April, I met with SCL Gold Member, Pierre-Daniel Rheault, president of the Board of Directors of SOCAN and Jean-Christian Cere, the director general of the Societe Professionelle des Auteurs et des Compositeus du Quebec. We discussed many common objectives facing our respective organizations. They envision an alliance similar to FFACE here in North America, and we will be having more discussions about the practicality and effectiveness of such a collaboration.

This issue of the Score has informed articles relating to a number of the evolving technological changes that will be critical to how our works will compensated in this new landscape. It is imperative that each of us stays abreast of changes that will affect our livelihood. The SCL has planned an in depth look at some of these challenges in the form of a panel discussion, and by this time, we will have already provided our membership with critical information by some of the experts in the field.

No more important members of our community exist than our performing rights organizations. Every day, the way that we are paid as composers and lyricists becomes more complicated. With the Internet, streaming and downloading, it has never been more important than today to align ourselves as creators with organizations that look out for our rights. ASCAP. BMI and SESAC are forever vigilant in their protection of copyright and our creative output. Composers and lyricists have seen untold benefits as a result of their effective defense of our rights in court, such as in the Buffalo Broadcasting litigation, and without their constant voice in Washington, our rights would be in serious peril.

In December, Doreen Ringer-Ross and BMI hosted a round table discussion that featured an in depth look at some of the issues that have arisen over the past year. Richard Conlan and Alison Smith provided valuable insight into the way that their organization is grappling with challenges that are germane to our well-being. It was attended by some of the most successful SCL writers and it is BMI’s intent that these sorts of briefings will be held on a regular basis. Not only did the afternoon provide an insight into the complexities facing our industry, but also it added to a genuine feeling of camaraderie between fellow writers.

I have had a similar offer from, President /COO Pat Collins from SEASAC. Dennis Brown, head of the SCL performing rights committee is making plans to meet with Pat Collins, Pat Rogers and their experts in New Media to discuss their efforts on our behalf.

The feeling of camaraderie was never more evident than in April when several panels featured SCL composers and lyricists at ASCAP’s I Create Music Expo in Hollywood. I was pleased to see the good will being expressed by three of my favorite composers: Patrick Doyle, Brian Tyler and Marco Beltrami. Although we all compete on a certain level for the same jobs, a mutual respect has always been a hallmark of our profession.

Regrettably, I know that this harmony can be fragile unless all of us work together and keep this accord as a high priority. One of my first president’s messages was entitled 2004 Year of the Musician. In the body of that article, I paid testimony to one of the most significant groups in our community who comprise an extraordinary talent pool here in Los Angeles. In fact, as I have stated numerous times, I owe my career in a large part to the superb contributions that these fabulous musicians have made to my scores. Recently however, I have seen such animosity between rival factions within their ranks that it threatens to unravel this valuable sector. The irony for me is that I have friends on each side of the issues and their respective points have merit beyond the contentiousness that often clouds the bigger issues.

Speaking personally for a moment as a composer and not as the president of this organization, I find one of the unfortunate by-products of all of this discord is allowing groups to emerge that would profit at the expense of their own colleagues. One such group is the LA Buy-out Orchestra, euphemistically monikered as New Era Scoring. We have heard for years that some of the complaints of certain production companies revolve around the special re-use payments that musicians receive for their work when it is used in other mediums; new money, by the way, that is coming into the company that is generated by the exploitation of the musician’s work in other areas that weren’t originally contracted for. It is important to remember that these additional payments were negotiated through collective bargaining and through the hard work of our friends, and many times to the detriment of other deal points that were given up in trade.

New Era’s business model begins a dangerous precedent here in Los Angeles. If they succeed, the negative ramifications to our community could be far reaching. In the future, if given the option, what would be the motivation for producing companies to become signatories and make the re-use payments they are responsible for? I dare say if we were to turn the tables within our own discipline and if a sub-set of composers and lyricists were to emerge that would give up royalties and offer buy-outs to producing entities in order to generate work, our livelihood would be irreparably compromised. It is my hope, that despite their differences, our remarkable instrumental contingency can come to some consensus that will work toward their desired goals, and not at the expense of their fellow musicians.

Our community is built up of a number of integral components, all involving talented and creative individuals. Some factions of this group are creators and others look out for our interests as creators, but we are, in fact, one community. The more that we recognize the essence of this concept, embrace it, and do what we can to protect it, the sooner we will be able to move forward and work together for our common good.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXII, Number Two, Summer 2007]


Spring 2007


I attended a screening with many of you recently of the film Volver, featuring an intriguing score by Alberto Iglesias. Although compositionally he did an excellent job of moving the plot forward and enhancing the drama of the picture, I found myself relating to the music on an entirely separate level. It took me awhile to recognize that what I was reacting to was the individualism of Alberto’s musical voice. I wrote a few months back about how each composer or lyricist brings his or her regional influences into play, and that was certainly apparent in his work here, but I would like to look a little closer into how, by bringing our unique voice into the mix, we can enhance our profession at the same time.

With the advent of temp tracks, our craft took a step backward in my mind. Although these tracks serve a purpose, namely reaffirming that a movie is truly nothing without our music, it is doing a strong disservice to the film at the same time. I don’t know if Alberto had to contend with a temp track here, but my suspicion is that he didn’t.

Philip Glass spoke candidly about temp tracks at our SCL screening of Notes on a Scandal. Although he doesn’t deny their necessity, he is particularly troubled when a project that he is doing is temped with his own music. He remarked that he is always very frank with directors and producers in informing them that the score they are about to get is going to be inferior to the temp, as the music they are now enamored with, the temp as it were, embodies the last thirty years of his finest work and there is no way that they can expect him to deliver a comparable score in a finite period of time.

I’ve heard many a colleague remark that they can readily discern what scene in a movie has been temped with what pre-existing score. This certainly runs counter to establishing one’s own voice, but the composer is always faced with the dilemma of who to satisfy. We are all aware of “temp love,” and most of us will be faced with the confounding situation at some point in our careers—if not on a continuum—of deciding whether to satisfy our own vision of what the music should be or whether the safer path of least resistance should be to “ape” the pre-existing music. It’s unfortunate that in many cases the musical vision of the picture is dictated by those less than qualified to be making that determination, such as picture editors or in the case of television, editing houses and the person creating the graphics in the case of main title themes. So in the midst of all of these purported experts making musical decisions on our projects, how do we create our voice and help keep the integrity of our profession as a bi-product?

If we are collaborating with a film maker who we have worked with in the past, then it would be highly likely that we could get involved with the project early enough to set the tone. A variant of this is to simply compose the music ahead of time and the temp naturally evolves into the score. That is the solution that was employed by composers Gustavo Santaolalla on Brokeback Mountain and Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. That is the way that I did it in my first professional project, The Only Way Home. Recently, at our New York event at Columbia, director Steve Shainberg indicated that although it wasn’t done that way in Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus the next time that he works with Carter Burwell he plans to employ this technique. Carter, for one, avoids listening to any temp track, except as a last resort, and by that time, he adds, his involvement with the project is most likely headed towards an unfortunate resolution anyway.

Writing the music ahead of the film has its shortcomings as well. I believe that the one quality that sets the film composer apart from other creators of music is our ability to inherently know how the use of the tools of our craft can change the tone of a scene by the minutest articulation. I remember a couple of years ago during a long underscore cue, my programmer inadvertently substituted an A-flat for an A-natural. The note change worked perfectly fine in the underlying harmony, but I remember telling him that the flatted note would imply that the character was thinking one thought at the moment when actually he was thinking just the opposite. Naturally we know how different a dominant chord can color a scene in opposition to a major seventh, but if our music is not being crafted by us for each moment in a film we simply have no control over this nuance. This is not to say that there aren’t some unexpected surprises than can occur by someone other than us dictating the placement of our music. When I spoke with Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, he said that he embraced this serendipitous interchange from time to time. Nevertheless, I think that at the very heart of our craft are the decisions we make as to when to play what music where.

A fellow composer scoffed at me when I told him that I had custom crafted every cue that I had ever composed except for instances– relegated to situation comedy shows– where certain sequences were tracked with my music from previous episodes. My process is very basic, and in most cases quite visceral: I look at a scene, emotionally react to it and then compose it. This can be a five-minute sequence or a five second cue. It still contains that spark of inspiration dictated by what I’ve just experienced.

This, I believe, is tied into finding our own voice. In his self-effacing fashion, Philip Glass said that he spent the first twenty-five years of his career finding his voice and has been trying to lose it ever since. I would submit that his unique approach to composition– his voice, if you will–along with his well-defined skills, instilled in part by the years of study with Nadia Boulanger, are all part of what make him one of the most sought after composers working today.

That is not to say in finding our own voice there are not the pitfalls of paying homage to what we’ve done before, most often when it has been received with a certain modicum of success. I remember the growing pains associated with the first episodes of Home Improvement. Roseanne was still running and it was difficult not to infringe on some of the Roseanne elements in the later series. I even incorporated a bass harmonica in the opening theme and first episodes until I thought better of it.

Self-plagiarism aside, I think that finding our own voice can be instrumental in a long-lived career. Perhaps one of the great voices that evolved over an amazing career was Henry Mancini. His use of melody and orchestration left a body of work that is totally original yet each project had that creative spark that was his genius. I know that all of us will eventually come across our own distinct style; it’s part of the growing process. Once we find it, here’s to successfully handling the balancing act of acknowledging what you may be handed and still finding your unique identity as you move forward in your career.

Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXII, Number One, Spring 2007]