Continuing our series on using music in TV (and film, the web & etc), we hear from Intricuts, a music producing, editing & composing company set us as a partnership between Fraser Bennett and Mathieu Karsenti. They have worked on shows such as Sky’s successful Got To Dance, ITV’s Take Me Out and have worked closely with reknowed dance group Diversity.
It seems there is more to music on TV than programme title themes and finding a track to cover your short film! Mathieu agreed to explain his business, the art of music editing and how music can make great TV:
How did you get into composing music for TV?
My music partner and I first edited music on a show called Got to Dance after we created music for free for one of our contacts. We had a little bit of composing to do but otherwise musically it was pretty much editing. From this show, we ended up working with Ashley Banjo from Diversity on their performances and other jobs followed. We both met on myspace years ago and we’re both musicians, having performed live or worked as music producers for Soul, R’n’B, Hip-Hop and Pop underground acts. We’ve always had an affinity with composing epic, orchestral music though so whenever we can, we’ll indulge!
What exactly do you mean by music editing?
Music editing in this context is mainly editing existing commercial tracks for TV shows such as Got to Dance for Sky1. Dancers compete whilst dancing to our edits (this could be a remix of say Lady Gaga followed by Daft Punk and…. something else). The skill is in making everything sound seamless and professional, nothing jarring and definitely no abrupt cuts!
It’s a minor part of what we do but one that has opened the door for us to compose bespoke music on other shows. This is a particular skill and it makes sense for dancers but to my mind that should be applied to editing music in adverts or other shows for instance. Every time I watch something on TV, the music editing is quite poor; ads cut out music half way through a chorus or music is not properly faded out. My guess is an audio engineer is doing this rather than a musician!
What sort of music do you compose and for what purpose?
We do all sorts, if we feel we can do it, we love to rise to the challenge! My colleague Fraser Bennett specialises in ‘mashups’ or remixes for streetdancers, so musically it can go anywhere from the latest Pop hits to creating bespoke Dubstep or Hip-Hop beats. I love to compose orchestral pieces, blending in percussions and modern beats depending on the job (like the recent composing I did for CBBC’s new show featuring Vic Reeves). In this current economic climate, we feel we have to adapt to whatever comes our way so we’re always looking to learn, to improve our skills and we’ll take on any job. In the summer, we produced Rock renditions of popular songs to accompany a Gospel choir for Lee Mack’s All Star Cast, so that was interesting!
In our recent show CBBC’s Ministry of Curious Stuff (transmitted on CBBC from Monday 15ht January 2012 9am), we composed beds, stings, title music and end credits and for Lee Mack’s All star Cast, we made ‘soundalikes’, adapting tracks to suit a particular idea for the show (let’s say Lady Gaga ‘Born this way’ soundalike replaying verse1, chorus and end). Everything is played by us and composed by us. With our experiences as music producers and musicians, we’re able to work easily with songs and song structures. This is obviously more creative for us but it’s also a completely different challenge!
In your opinion, what difference does music make to a TV programme?
It makes a huge difference! The choice of music is crucial and being open to change what you’ve just composed to better suit the work is also very important. You constantly adapt to the producer’s vision and once they understand what we can achieve, it usually starts to become very exciting! Sometimes we create very subtle ‘beds’ for passages on a show and the audience might not necessarily listen to everything, but it’s there and it has to convey the right mood. When dance is on the menu, syncing music properly is essential (such as in Diversity’s Britain’s Got Talent performances). I would say it’s a little bit like dressing up properly for the right occasion.
What should a producer bear in mind when commissioning music for a TV show?
I think they should look for composers with varied experiences, someone adaptable and someone who will pull out all the stops to achieve the producer’s vision and more. All too often people only remember you for one show and assume that’s all you do, when in actual fact we’re very versatile. Also a better budget should be allocated for music because it is such an essential part of TV, without it the show feels empty. As composers and music producers, we aim to deliver high quality results as quickly as possible to often tight deadlines, but just like image editors or make up artists, we spend long hours doing what we do!
What does your business do?
We provide bespoke music solutions for film, TV, theatre, dance, multimedia and advertising.
How do you find work?
Mainly word-of-mouth. Keeping our followers up-to-date via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is important but ultimately work comes from people we have worked with before or that have recommended us to other people. In this communication-led era, it’s always good to tell people online about what you but face-to-face is the decisive factor for getting the job in the first place.
What is the work you are most proud of and why?
We’ve enjoyed every bit of work that has come our way so far so it’s hard to say. Some of the highlights have been making music with creative people such as Ashley Banjo from Diversity and seeing his troupe perform sell-out shows across the country, dancing to the music we’ve made, and recently composing music for a two times Bafta winner on his CBBC show starring the hilarious Vic Reeves was fabulous!
What advice would you give to aspiring composers who want to get into making music for TV?
Learn your craft, never assume you know everything there is to know about music because you never know what may be thrown at you! Never stop writing music in your spare time, exploring your possibilities and pushing your limits. If you feel you should diversify what you do that’s great, you’ll get more work! Network a lot and understand who does what behind the scenes.
You find more about Intricuts on their own website: http://intricutsmusic.com and check out some of their work on video:
Diversity – Red or Black for ITV: http://vimeo.com/29880759
Lee Mack’s All Star Cast: http://vimeo.com/29883630