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17 Signs that you are a composer in 2022

I can only speak for myself but it wasn’t obvious to me that I was blessed with the ability to compose game music.

My parents were not interested in music and despite my love for it, the world I grew up in existed of 2 occupations: doctor and lawyer.

Even after 4 years at music school, I left very unconfident in my ability to make a living and did a number of jobs I had no passion for, but like a lot of people I was always looking for signs or a push to go for the job I really wanted, and thank God that there were many hints along the way that helped me realise that game music composition might be what I am supposed to be doing!

1. Music tends to come to you unprovoked

We all sing in the shower or hum our favorite tunes now and then, but hearing something in your head that you've never heard before is a big hint at one's naturally ability to manipulate melody, harmony and rhythm. The order is irrelevant but coming up with a song on the spot (esp with experience) is a gift not everyone has.

Composer Yoko Shimomura stated "Music comes to me very naturally. My brain acts as the traffic lights to avoid clutter and traffic."

Be careful not to forget this if you're studying theory.

2. Knowing the names of the people who wrote the songs you like (and/or actively research them)

This is true for popular music but even moreso for games because the composer is not immediately obvious. Every song is incredibly catchy, melodic and obviously the product of someone who knows exactly what they are doing. You hear song after song and you have to know who made it!

3. Frequently having music in you head when no one is around.

4. Not being particularly attached to any one instrument.

This mainly concerns people who do play an instrument, but is equally valid for those that like to punch in their ideas directly into a DAW or computer software.

After investing most of your life into the technique, tone etc of an instrument/genre, musicians tend to become more open minded about things they might not have been previously interested in. Personally speaking, I played guitar but, I constantly came up with ideas that I knew would work better on other instruments. After I started composing, a lot of my pieces rarely ever had a guitar in them.

5. The music you hear in your head is usually not playable on the instrument you play (represents something bigger)

This is an incredible talent, something that composers deserve MORE credit for! It reminds me of the scene in Amadeus where Mozart is sick and he dictates "Confutatis (Sequentia)" to Salieri.

To already know where you want notes to go in an ensemble is a wildly unique ability that takes a lot of practice to make a reality.

If you've played in a band you're probably aware that you often have to sacrifice an idea you may think is incredible to suit what works for everyone.

What I see a lot in Japan is many talented musicians come together and make great music but usually most of the creativity comes from the vision of a single band member while the others are simply told what to play.

If composing is your thing but you're in a band, you need to get those idea down on paper ASAP!

6. You can groove (create) to a constant click with no music.

7. Tend to be indiscriminate with the music you listen to but still have your favorite genres.

8. You purposely listen to game music loop before you continue playing.

9. Just listening to a great song doesn’t satisfy, and you have to assimilate.

The vast majority of people can listen to their favorite song, freak out, mosh, party, cry over a break up or even sleep and be completely satisfied.

While I'm sure music educated people do exactly the same, for most of us that is NOT enough.

3 things are vital to the life of a composer when it comes to their favourite songs/music

one of which is ASSIMILATING.

"How did he/she do that?"

"I love that sound!"

This is a big difference that differentiates composers from casual listeners.

10. You become emotional when you hear a choir

This one I don't really have much to say about.

It made the list because, the first time I cried listening to a song, was Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio when I was 6/7.

The funny thing is that, it was only the chorus that made me cry and I was literally immobile when I heard it, and I didn't know why I liked it.

Then years later, watching an interview with Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy composer) he said he had the exact same experience hearing a choir for the first time and it was how he knew he wanted to be a composer.

11. You don’t have rules for composing.

Music has no rules

12. You buy a game because of the composer

13. Hearing your own composition come together gives you all the dopamine you need even after the100th time.

Trying to be the best at you field isn't easy but regardless of the outcome, that feeling of being more experienced that the day before with a song that you experimented with or the culmination of your efforts to cultivate your sound is still a great reward.

14. When you listen to a song you hear rhythms/harmonies/melody that don’t exist in it but think it sounds better with your changes.

15. You like to change the rhythms/harmonies/melody structure of a song you already know how to play.

This one is inspired by Alan Menken (Disney Composer) who learned many classical pieces on piano but would reharmonizes whenever the teacher left the room. Total G!

16. You're only other option is too physical and you're not sure you're cut out for it

This is yet again from Nobuo Uematsu who wanted to be a wrestler. It would be so cool if this was really true for all composers!

I really wanted to be like Bruce Lee but as I got older I hated training and getting a bloody nose haha.

17. You want to be a composer

Thanks for reading!

More content coming soon!

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