Study event review: Masterclass with Laura Rossi
Since childhood I have been fascinated by the ability of film music to completely capture an audience’s imagination. The OCA Enterprise funding seemed the perfect opportunity to find out more about the work of film composers, and I was delighted that my application to fund a masterclass with acclaimed composer Laura Rossi was approved. Due to the COVID-19 crisis we had to abandon plans for a face-to-face workshop, but instead had a successful and inspiring day on Zoom, with 22 students taking part.
Laura gave a very engaging talk about her career as a film composer, including some insightful tips on communicating effectively with directors and how to approach the task of writing an original score. We had a go at what is known in the industry as ‘spotting’ (determining the role music should play in a particular cue), as well as the reverse – listening to an extract from a score and imagining what kind of scene it would be suited to. The Q&A sessions were particular highlights, with many students taking the opportunity to ask Laura questions about her experience.
A few comments from other students about the day:
It was a fascinating session, giving many insights into the life and workings of a film composer. I was very relieved to learn that Laura’s music was mainly played live by varying ensemble sizes, and when it had to be sampled music, the addition of a live performer made all the difference. Many of the disciplines demonstrated are transferable into non film composing. Laura spoke about how she discussed mood, emotion, storyline with directors, and this is something to take into my own composing. Having a definite idea in that regard will help to inform my own work, along with deciding how to achieve the effect you are intending musically. She also works to a firm structure and plan, something else to add to my own working practice. Laura’s advice on making use of “discarded” pieces of music by adding them to music libraries was very helpful. It would be fun to try to compose some film music, but if I didn’t succeed in doing that, there was still huge value in the session, applicable across the composing board. (Fionagh Bennet)
This was so informative and interesting that it has ruined everything I watch on the screen. I am now distracted by the music far more than I was before, from the composer’s perspective – timing, mood, dynamics, motifs, forces, etc. The session was useful not only for introducing us to many resources, but also in explaining how to use them. (Tim Wright)
I would just like to say a big thank you to Emma for organising such an interesting and informative masterclass with Laura Rossi, who also deserves a big thank you for giving up her time for us. I know this took a great amount of work to organise. I found the day very informative about an area of music about which I know little and took us right through the process of creating music for film. I think it is invaluable to be taken out of the academic setting and have a view into the music business. There are probably few areas of music with such tight programmatic demands and it was an interesting lesson in directly linking musical ideas to events and emotions. (Christopher Barchard)