CUA New Voices

Becoming a music composer 101. What Do Composers Do?

Composer usually write authentic musical compositions which may be performed, e.g. in concerts, by the composers themselves or by other performing artists. The composers’ musical compositions can be used to serve various purposes. The can, for example, be performed in concert halls by musicians for live audiences, or used in studio productions. There are also composers who create authentic compositions to be used in films, live television shows, or for animation productions.

Very often, when writing musical compositions, composers are required to create a specific emotion or mood to make their music fit the piece. To  give you an example, suspenseful scenes in animated films will require slow suspenseful music that comes with lower notes and drawn. Do you think this a job for you? Take a career quiz and see if there is  a fit. But funny scenes could very well be needing upbeat, cheerful music, and there are of course also moments and scenes in which composers may choose their own preferences.

In general will composers need to be able to master at least one musical instrument very well, but preferably more. When composing musical pieces, they generally will need to play specific excerpts at times. This will allow them to delete, add, or change notes or passages in their composition until they are satisfied with the piece. When they have completed their compositions they generally will be playing the entire piece over several times to find parts that require some sort of correction, or to identify parts that do not sound right, or to allow for improvements.

Most composers are engaged in some other musical activities in addition to writing their music pieces. Many of them can be found playing in, or conducting, orchestras to perform before live audiences, and some of them may also be engaged in the recording industry as studio musicians.

Where Do Composers Work?

Getting a break through as a music composer can be highly challenging. The music world is a very competitive sector, and sometimes highly talented music composers have the chance to write and perform their work right away or sell their original work, but generally it will take quite a few years to build up a name for themselves.

Bigger opera houses and large concert halls frequently work with highly talented and independent music composers, but most of the time, they will need additional work to be able to make a living. So many of them can be found performing in other jobs, for example playing in orchestras music studios.

Advertising and marketing agencies, movie production studios, directors, animation studios, they all are usually working with music composers. They may be needed to write original music for television shows or movies, and they are also frequently asked to create music for commercials or jingles for regular programs.

Education Requirements for Music Composers

Probably the most important requirement for music composers to be successful is love & appreciation. They must love music in general. Successful music composers should have the capacity to not only hear the tones and sounds of music, they also need to be able to understand and feel the mood and emotion in music. There are some rare cases, though, where music composers don’t physically hear the notes of their  music. Remember that one of our planet’s most famous musicians and composers, Beethoven, was entirely deaf, but the genius still composed and performed the most beautiful original pieces.

To be able to begin with a career as music composer, individuals must understand how to write music, and they must be able to play a musical instrument (or preferably more) very well. Some highly talented ones may teach these skills to themselves, but in general, they will need to go to a music academy to earn a music-related degree. Many music schools offer degree granting programs in music theory and music composition. These programs may be extremely helpful and you can earn associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees. While in music school many students and future composers can build up their experience by playing in school bands and orchestras.

Average Annual Salary of Composers

The American BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) reports that in 2015, music directors and composers had a mean annual income of around $49.800, or $23,90 on an hourly basis.