This chapter focuses on depictions of the creative process in a particular type of biographical source: biopics of classical and popular composers. Biopics reach broader audiences than traditional musicological texts and provide a window into how the creative process is understood in the popular imagination. This chapter outlines the main motifs that are usually associated with music creative processes in film. It compares depictions of classical composers with popular musicians, arguing that over time the two have converged as popular musicians have begun to be treated as artists rather than professional entertainers. Simultaneously, the chapter analyzes some of the cinematic conventions that are commonly used in the depiction of the creative act, particularly visual techniques such as flashbacks and overlays, and the manipulation of the soundtrack. These techniques idealize the creative act as a product of the mind, emphasizing its subconscious aspects rather than the practical techniques of composition.
Film and television composition has always been mediated by technology of one sort or another. From the earliest days of silent film, musicians necessarily had to interact, at the very least, with the mechanically projected image. The subsequent history of the media has been marked by technological advances that mirror broader scientific and engineering innovation, which have impacted the visual and aural domains to equal degrees. This chapter considers the various technical and aesthetic contexts of film and television music composition, the collaboration inherent in its realization, and the limitations that may be placed on the composer’s creative freedom. The chapter concludes with an examination of the archival resources for research in the area, and it uses materials held in the Trevor Jones and Michael Nyman Archives of the University of Leeds throughout to illustrate the discussion.
Stephen Baysted and Tim Summers
This chapter explores the composer’s experience of writing music for video games. It does so by following the musical creative process through the cycle of video game development. It begins with the pitching process, examines the factors at play in establishing the musical approach to the game, considers the compositional challenges of the video game medium, outlines approaches to recording the music, and finishes by explaining the role of music in the game’s marketing. While characterizing the creative processes of game music in general, the chapter uses two contrasting racing games as case studies. At each stage, the chapter emphasizes the variety of factors and agents involved in the musical decisions. Ultimately, the chapter suggests that the creative process of game music sits in tension between the financial realities of the marketplace, the practicalities of technology, and the creative ambitions of the producers.
This chapter investigates the interrelationship between songwriting process and product, focusing on two digital tools that became available to songwriters toward the end of the twentieth century: the digital audio workstation (DAW) and broadband internet connectivity. Two songwriter case studies are used—a “digital immigrant” who began to write songs professionally before either of these tools were available, and a “digital native” who has always used DAWs and an internet connection in his songwriting. The participants were asked to describe their creative processes in detail, and to reflect on how these tools may have influenced their decision making and artistic direction. From these and other studies the author attempts to describe behaviors and affordances engendered by digitally enabled songwriters and to speculate regarding these tools’ influence on the creative product.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essays looks at ways in which documentary films have, over the course of their history, appropriated new technology in their pursuit of greater realism. It takes as its primary focus the use of lightweight, handheld digital cameras by Agnes Varda in The Gleaners and I (2000) and Trinh T. Minh-ha in The Fourth Dimension (2001), arguing that Varda uses the new technology to extend her practice of cinécriture, viewing the camera as an extension of her hand, whereas Minh-ha uses it to challenge the coherence of representation, breaking it down into discrete pixels.