What Is A Music Composer And Why Theyre The Brain Behind The Beat

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Hello music lovers! If you’re curious about music and how it’s made, you’ve probably heard the term “music composer” thrown around here and there. But what exactly does it mean to be a composer? What does a music composer actually do? In this article, we will dive into the world of music composition and uncover the mysteries behind what it takes to create a masterpiece.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a firm understanding of what a music composer is, what their role is in the music-making process, and how they go about creating a new piece of music. Whether you’re a fan of classical music or modern pop, understanding the role of the music composer can give you a deeper appreciation for the music you love. Plus, if you’re an aspiring musician or composer yourself, this article can provide some valuable insights and inspiration.

So, if you’re ready to explore the world of music composition and unlock the secrets behind some of your favorite songs, keep reading! We’ll provide you with examples of some of the most famous music composers in history and delve into the creative process behind crafting a new piece of music. Through this journey, you’ll discover what it truly means to be a music composer and how they use their unique talents to make an impact on the world through music.

Who is a Music Composer and What Does a Composer Do?

Music composers have been creating new musical pieces for centuries. They are skilled individuals who produce music that evokes emotions, conveys messages, or tells stories. Their works are heard in films, television programs, video games, live performances, and other mediums.

These creators are responsible for the sounds we hear in movies, TV shows, and games, as well as the scores we listen to on our favorite devices. Composers apply their creative abilities to compose music that captures the mood of the scene, evokes the desired emotion, and creates a unique musical style.

What is a Music Composer?

A composer is a person who writes music. They are the ones who put their ideas on paper, arranging and orchestrating melodies and chords. They create complete pieces of music that are original or based on existing musical genres. A composer’s primary goal is to convey ideas and emotions through the medium of music.

Composers can work in a variety of styles and genres. Some composers gravitate towards electronic and experimental music while others are more traditional and prefer classical or jazz. Many composers can work across genres depending on a project’s needs.

What is the Role of a Music Composer?

The role of a music composer entails creating music that complements the visual media it is paired with. This means the right score must be chosen to evoke the desired emotional response. A composer studies various cultural influences to improve their craft, and develop a sound unique to them.

When a project is in development, the composer starts by getting an outline of what the project is about. They then set to work by writing melodies and developing themes based on the mood and narrative of the project. The music is an essential element that complements the scenes on screen, enhancing the visual medium.

What are the Different Types of Music Composers?

Composers come in different categories depending on their area of expertise. Some of the types of composers include:

  1. Classical Composers: These individuals produce music that has roots in the Western classical tradition. They tend to create pieces for orchestras or chamber groups, but can still work in other genres.
  2. Film/TV Composers: These individuals work to create music for film and television, complementing the visual medium. They work with directors to ensure their music fits the scene as perfectly as possible.
  3. Game Composers: These individuals create music for video games, using game mechanics and storylines to create appropriate sounds. The music is meant to elevate the interactive experience of gamers.
  4. Pop/Rock Composers: These individuals focus on writing catchy tunes and easily recognizable sounds. They tend to write music with a primary focus on commercial success.

What Skills are Needed to be a Music Composer?

For one to become a composer, they need various skills that will help them stand out in the industry. Some of which include:

  • Strong music foundations: This involves the knowledge of musical elements, such as rhythm, harmony, melody, and composition structures.
  • Proficiency in music notation: A composer must be able to read, write, and notate music correctly. This skill enables them to write coherent and clear music scores.
  • Research Skills: A composer must have the ability to research different musical styles and understand their cultural relevance. This skill ensures they remain relevant and create works that reflect current trends.
  • Communication Skills: A composer must be capable of communicating effectively with directors, producers, musicians, and other relevant parties. They will have to convince stakeholders why their musical scores are the best fit for the project.

Pros and Cons of Being a Music Composer

Good Pay No Job Security
Creative Control and Freedom Challenging Competition in the Industry
Flexible Schedule Irregular Income
Working with Talented Individuals Working out of Home Often

Being a music composer has significant advantages over its disadvantages. For instance, the job’s creative freedom and the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s most talented individuals provide composers with a unique working environment. However, it is important to keep in mind the irregular income and lack of job security in the industry, too.

In conclusion, music composers come in all varieties, each with a unique approach to their craft. They are creative individuals who convey emotions and tell stories through their musical compositions seen across various forms of media. A composer’s job is never-ending, given the need to continuously research and improve their craft while remaining updated on industry trends.

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The Role of Music Composers in the Film and Television Industry

Music plays a crucial role in the entertainment industry, and music composers have the responsibility of creating the perfect soundtracks that complement the visuals of a movie or a TV show. Music composers work collaboratively with directors, producers, music editors, and sound designers to bring life to the emotions on the screen.

Movie and Television Soundtracks

Music composers create soundtracks for movies and TV shows. Soundtracks are the musical accompaniment to the visuals of a movie or TV show. They set the mood and tone and help to build a connection between the audience and the characters on screen. Soundtracks can be made up entirely of original music or a mixture of original music and pre-recorded songs.

Music composers work closely with filmmakers to ensure that the music matches the emotions and themes of the movie or TV show. They create music that supports the character development, builds tension, and adds to the overall atmosphere of the film or show.

Movies and TV shows often have a theme song or a musical score that is instantly recognizable. Music composers create these songs to be memorable and catchy, ensuring that they stick in the minds of viewers long after the show or movie is over.

The Process of Creating Soundtracks

Music composition for a soundtrack goes through several stages of production. The process starts with a spotting session, where the composer meets with the director to discuss the purpose of the music, where it should go, and how it should work with the visuals. This meeting helps the composer to understand the vision and tone of the director and get an idea of what the music should sound like.

Once the spotting session is complete, the composer goes on to create a demo of the score, which includes a range of instruments and sound effects. This is presented to the director and other key members of the team to get feedback and make changes.

After the demo stage, the composer starts to record the music with live musicians. This process can take place in a studio or with a live orchestra. The sound editor then takes the recordings and combines them with the visuals to create the final soundtrack.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Music Composer

Movies or TV shows can sometimes be made without original music, but it may come at a cost. Hiring a composer brings numerous benefits, but it comes with its drawbacks too.

  • Pros:
    • Original music gives a unique and personal touch to a movie or TV show.
    • The music enhances the viewing experience and brings out the atmosphere and emotion in the scenes.
    • Composers can work collaboratively with the filmmakers to make changes to the music until it is perfect for the film or TV show.
    • The music helps to build a connection between the audience and the characters.
  • Cons:
    • Composers can be expensive to hire, which may not be an option for low-budget movies or TV shows.
    • It takes time to create original music. A composer needs time to create music that matches the emotions and themes of the movie or TV show.
    • Working with a composer means communicating your needs and creative ideas effectively. This may take time and effort on the part of the director and the composer.

Real World Examples

Some of the most iconic movies and TV shows are known for their unforgettable soundtracks, thanks to the talents of music composers. Here are a few examples:

  • Jaws: John Williams’ iconic score for Jaws is often cited as one of the most recognizable in movie history. The music builds suspense and tension leading up to the shark’s appearance, creating an unforgettable viewing experience.
  • The Lion King: The soundtrack to The Lion King is a classic, thanks to composer Hans Zimmer’s memorable score and Elton John’s original songs. The music adds an extra layer of depth to the story, making it one of the most beloved Disney movies of all time.
  • Game of Thrones: Ramin Djawadi’s music for Game of Thrones became a cultural phenomenon. His epic, sweeping score added an extra layer of grandeur to the political intrigue and battles fought in the series.


Music composers play an integral role in the entertainment industry by creating soundtracks that set the mood and tone for movies and TV shows. They work collaboratively with filmmakers to create unique and memorable music that complements the visuals and helps to build a connection between the audience and the characters on screen. Hiring a composer may be an additional expense, but it is worth the investment in creating a memorable and personal touch to the film or TV show.

A Brief History of Music Composers and Their Contributions to Music

Music is a universal language that has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. Over the centuries, music has evolved in various forms and genres, and music composers have played a significant role in shaping the way we listen and appreciate music today. In this section, we will take a brief look at the history of music composers and their contributions to music.

Pre-18th Century Music Composers

The art of music composition has been prevalent since ancient times, with evidence of music notation dating back to 2000 BCE. In the Middle Ages, music played an essential role in the Catholic Church, and composers mainly created music for religious ceremonies. The most famous composers of this era were Hildegard of Bingen, Guillaume de Machaut, and John Dunstable.

In the Renaissance period, music composition flourished, and vocal music gained popularity. The era’s most notable composers include Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, William Byrd, and Thomas Tallis. During this time, music notation developed, and the printing press facilitated the spread of music compositions throughout Europe.

In the Baroque period, the focus shifted to instrumental music, and composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi rose to fame. Baroque music is characterized by elaborate ornamentation, counterpoint, and the use of harpsichords and organs.

18th-19th Century Music Composers

The 18th and 19th centuries saw significant changes in music composition, with composers experimenting with new styles and forms. The Classical era saw the emergence of composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Joseph Haydn, who revolutionized music composition with their use of sonatas and symphonies.

The Romantic era saw composers pushing the boundaries of music composition, with the likes of Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, and Richard Wagner incorporating unconventional techniques such as chromaticism and dissonance.

20th Century Music Composers

The 20th century saw a significant shift in music composition, with composers experimenting with new styles and genres. The era saw the advent of technologies such as electronic music, which led to the emergence of composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage, who employed unconventional techniques such as the use of silence and found objects.

The era also saw the emergence of popular music, with composers such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Stevie Wonder revolutionizing the music industry with their unique styles and songwriting skills.

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Notable Contributions of Music Composers

Music composers have contributed significantly to the evolution of music over the years. Some of the notable contributions of music composers include:

  1. Innovation: Music composers have constantly pushed the boundaries of music composition, experimenting with new styles, forms, and genres.
  2. Preservation of cultural heritage: Many composers have nurtured traditional music and preserved the musical heritage of their respective cultures.
  3. Social commentary: Several music compositions have served as a platform for social commentary, addressing issues such as inequality, war, and political oppression.
  4. Emotionally evocative: Music compositions have the ability to evoke emotions in listeners, and many composers have used their works to express their own emotions and connect with listeners on a deep level.
Pros Cons
  • Contributes to the evolution of music
  • Preserves cultural heritage
  • Provides a platform for social commentary
  • Elicits emotional responses from listeners
  • May be too experimental for some listeners
  • May deviate too far from traditional music forms
  • May not be commercially viable
  • May not be accessible to all listeners

Music composition has come a long way since the ancient times, and music composers have played a vital role in shaping the direction of music over the years. From religious chants to modern pop music, composers have brought innovation, creativity, and emotion to music composition, making it one of the most beloved forms of art around the world today.

The Qualities and Skills Required for Becoming a Successful Music Composer

Music composition is an art form that blends theory, creativity, and hard work. A music composer is a creative individual who can mold sounds and music into a masterpiece. They possess a unique combination of technical knowledge, musical talent, and creativity that enables them to create music that resonates with people.

If you are thinking of becoming a music composer, it is crucial to develop the necessary qualities and skills to help you succeed. Here are the essential qualities and skills required to become a successful music composer:

1. Creativity and Imagination

Music composition requires creativity and imagination to create music that is unique and resonates with the listener. A music composer must possess the ability to blend various musical elements, such as melody, harmony, tempo, and rhythm, to create a captivating composition. Additionally, they must have exceptional skills in songwriting and arrangement, which allows them to create a coherent and structured piece of music.

One example of a successful music composer who exudes such creativity and imagination is John Williams. He is renowned for his exceptional musical compositions in films such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park. Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, and twenty-four Grammy Awards, making him one of the most successful music composers of all time.

2. Extensive Knowledge of Music

A music composer must have extensive knowledge of music theory, history, and literature. They should understand the technical aspects of music, such as harmony, rhythm, form, and composition, to develop a sound understanding of music. Additionally, they must have knowledge of various musical styles, genres, and cultures to create music that is culturally relevant and resonates with the listener.

For instance, J.S. Bach is a renowned music composer of the Baroque era who is recognized for his exceptional knowledge of music. Bach was highly skilled in composition, counterpoint techniques, and harmonization, which allowed him to create exceptional compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations.

3. Communication Skills

A music composer must possess excellent communication skills to interact effectively with other musicians, producers, and directors. When working with other creative professionals, such as musicians or filmmakers, the music composer must be able to articulate their ideas and vision effectively. Additionally, they should be receptive to feedback and collaborate seamlessly with others, as this ensures the best possible final product.

One example of a music composer with excellent communication skills is Hans Zimmer, who has worked with many famous directors such as Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan. Zimmer describes his work relationship with Nolan as heavily built on communication since the director knew exactly what kind of music was needed for specific scenes. Zimmer has composed soundtracks to films such as The Lion King, Gladiator, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

4. Technical Skills

While creativity and imagination are essential qualities, a music composer must possess the necessary technical skills to bring their vision to reality. For instance, they must have proficiency in composing software and various musical instruments, such as the piano, guitar, drums, and other orchestral instruments. Additionally, they must understand how to read sheet music, write scores, and orchestrate music for various ensembles and performances.

Key technical skills required for a music composer include proficiency in digital audio workstations (DAWs), such as Pro Tools or Logic Pro, understanding of microphones and recording techniques, and knowledge of mixing and mastering techniques to produce a final polished product. They must also be competent in music composition software, such as Finale or Sibelius, which helps them write sheet music and generate digital scores.

Pros and Cons Table

Table 1: Pros and Cons of the Qualities and Skills Required for Becoming a Successful Music Composer

Pros Cons
Allows you to translate emotions into music Requires extensive hours of practice and training
Opportunities for lucrative careers in the music industry Highly competitive industry
Freedom to work in a variety of musical genres Frequent rejection and low job security
Ability to collaborate with other creatives May require a significant financial investment in tools such as music software and audio equipment


Becoming a successful music composer requires a unique blend of creativity, imagination, technical skill, and knowledge. While it is a highly competitive industry, developing these qualities and skills is an excellent way to unlock a lucrative career in the music industry. By improving your creativity, knowledge, communication, and technical skills, you move closer to realizing your dream of becoming a music composer.

The Evolution of Music Composition and Its Impact on Today’s Music Industry

Music composition has come a long way since prehistoric times when humans used rocks and bones to make music. It continues to evolve, and its impact on today’s music industry cannot be underestimated. Let us explore the evolution of music composition and how it has influenced today’s music industry.

The Early Forms of Music Composition

Music has been an integral part of human society for centuries, and its origins can be traced back to prehistoric times. The early forms of music composition included monophonic chants and simple percussion instruments. As time passed, new instruments were developed, and musicians started experimenting with new sounds and styles.

The Rise of Western Classical Music

The rise of Western classical music in the 16th century paved the way for the development of formal music notation. This allowed composers to write down their music and ensure that their works could be replicated reliably. During this period, composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven revolutionized music composition with their innovative and complex works.

The Introduction of Electronic Music

The introduction of electronic music in the 20th century marked a significant milestone in the evolution of music composition. This new genre allowed for the use of electronic instruments and recording technology, resulting in a new sound that was completely different from traditional music. The pioneers of electronic music, such as Kraftwerk and Brian Eno, created a new kind of music that relied heavily on synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines.

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The Emergence of Pop Music

Pop music emerged in the mid-20th century and quickly became one of the most popular genres of music. It is defined by its catchy melodies, simple structure, and relatable lyrics. Pop music composition focuses on creating music that is easily digestible and accessible to a wide audience. Examples include the Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.

The Impact of Music Composition on Today’s Music Industry

The evolution of music composition has had a profound impact on today’s music industry. Here are some of the ways in which it has influenced the industry:

  1. Diversity of Music
  2. The evolution of music composition has led to the growth of different genres, styles, and sub-genres, resulting in a musical landscape that is diverse and exciting.

  3. Accessibility of Music Production and Distribution
  4. The introduction of digital audio workstations (DAWs) and online distribution services has made music production and distribution more accessible than ever before. Anyone can now record and distribute their music online, which has encouraged more people to pursue music composition as a career.

  5. Increased Collaboration Among Music Producers and Composers
  6. The rise of collaborative music production has resulted in more diverse and innovative music. Music producers and composers, who may have previously worked independently, can now collaborate easily through online platforms, resulting in exciting new musical creations.

Pros Cons
Increased diversity of music Potential loss of traditional music
Increased accessibility of music production and distribution Over-saturation of the market with low quality music
Increased collaboration among music producers and composers Risk of losing individual creative vision in collaborative projects

In conclusion, the evolution of music composition has been an integral part of the history of music. From ancient monophonic chants to digital music production, it has gone through many transformations. These changes have helped to shape the music industry we know today by making music more diverse, accessible, and collaborative. Ultimately, music composition continues to evolve, and we can only imagine what kind of exciting new musical creations will be produced in the future.

FAQs: What is a Music Composer?

What does a music composer do?

A music composer is responsible for creating original music pieces for various platforms, including movies, television shows, video games, and even theatre productions. A composer typically works with producers, directors, writers, musicians, and engineers to bring the vision of music to life.

What skills are required to become a music composer?

Some essential skills required to become a music composer include an understanding of music theory, the ability to play an instrument, expertise in using music software, creativity, and strong time management skills.

How does a music composer earn money?

A music composer earns money by selling their compositions or by being commissioned for a specific project. Some music composers also earn royalties from their compositions that are used repeatedly, such as in movies or TV shows.

What kind of education does a music composer need?

While formal education is not always necessary, a music composer must have a strong foundation in music theory and the ability to play an instrument. Many music composers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music composition or a related field, giving them more extensive knowledge and advanced skills in music composition.

Can anyone become a music composer?

Technically, anyone can become a music composer, but it requires a combination of natural talent, significant dedication, and hard work to succeed as a composer. Many composers spend years honing their craft through constant practice, education, and experimentation.

Is being a music composer a lucrative career?

A music composer’s earnings depend on the type of projects they work on, their level of experience, and the location where they work. While a relatively small percentage of composers make a considerable amount of money, it is possible to have a successful and profitable career in music composition.

Can a music composer work from home?

Yes, Music composers can work from home, as long as they have the necessary equipment and software to produce music. Many composers work as freelancers and often work from home to fit in with the flexible schedules required for their work.

What genres of music can a composer compose?

A music composer can compose in different genres of music, including classical, jazz, pop, rock, and more. The genre depends on the type of project and the vision of the producer or director, for example, a composer working on a movie may need to create score elements that are consistent with the film’s theme.

How long does it take to become a music composer?

The length of time it takes to become a music composer varies. Depending on one’s dedication, talent, and education, it can take several years to a decade to become a successful music composer.

What is the role of a music composer in a movie?

A music composer’s role in a movie is to create and produce music pieces that connect emotionally with the audience and help to enhance the film’s storyline. Composers must work closely with the film’s director to match the film’s tone and capture the emotions being portrayed.


Music composition is an incredible field that requires discipline, hard work, and creativity to succeed as a music composer. It involves a range of skill sets such as music theory, proficiency in using music software, and flexibility in managing time to juggle multiple projects. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a music composer, there are a variety of resources available to you, including schools, online tutorials, and local music schools. With the right tools, you can start your journey to becoming a successful music composer. Best of luck!