Film composing


Time To Practice, And Write

I have one week until I depart for Napoli, and then Germany for festivals in the north. I reside for the next week in my house in Colledimezzo Italy. My vibes are set up in the garage of my father in law here, and I will practice, and write for one week. It is rare in my life when I have this much down time to practice, and write, and relax a bit. When I was attending The Juilliard School in my college years I used to practice, or shed as we musicians say for 6 hours a day. It always amazes me how even at my age of 54 years old, I still have the desire to practice my craft. To perfect the many diminished, and altered patterns, and scales. To search for new ideas, and possibilities, as well as to simply write a few new tunes, and learn new tunes that I still don’t know. The motivation in the music is for life, and I expect to play until I literally drop. Hopefully that is a long time from now.

The art of jazz improvisation is a continuous quest. It never seems to get old, and the constant searching for new stuff to play on the vast amount of standards, blues, and rhythm changes written by all the music masters. Of course these days I work a lot out of the Nicolai Slonimsky book titled “Thesaurus Of Scales And Melodic Patterns”. This book was Coltrane’s handbook. It has a huge amount of information in which he dissects the octave into multiple parts. The “Sesquiquadritone  section is the division of the octave into 4 parts, and gives you many different diminished patterns, and scales that are all applicable in the jazz genre, and the classical genre as a composer. So I practice a lot from this book , and learn the different scales, and patterns in all keys, but of course I try to live by the advice I give to my many students, and that is, “Practice does not make perfect”. PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT”!!!  Practice everything slowly and correct. Not fast and wrong.

Fast and wrong 1000 times will give you no results. Slow and perfect  10 or 20 times will give you major results!

Mark Sherman

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Wow! It sure is a different scene in the studios these days than when I was in the thick of it in the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. The other day I recorded 23 cues for a motion picture entitled “Should’ve Been Romeo”. The amazing thing is the engineer, composer, and other musicians are all working in LA. I recorded my parts in my office at home in New York. I have done this many times now for various jingle, and film composers. They send you pdf’s of all the music, and a reference mix of each tune in wave format with click track, and I add the  parts requested on vibes, or whatever instruments they want using my Apogee ONE’s and Pro Tools to record with. Then I upload it to a site like Media Fire where you can upload heavy memory files for them to download in LA. Then they put it up on their mix in their studio, and make a few adjustments, and that’s it. I email an invoice, W-9, and I-9 form, and I get paid.

In the studio scene in the 80’s and 90’s I used to have to travel down to the studio. Pay for parking. Go to the studio and record for a while. Then we would all break at “Possible 20’s” bar on 55th st. This place was named after the standard studio call of 1 hour with a possible 20 minutes overtime. So when you finished one date and had a 40 minute break till the next date, you would hit Possible 20’s for food or drink. These days you need not leave your house to do a high profile film date. What a world of technology we live in. Most of that  possible 20 studio scene is now dead as there is much less studio work in New York these days compared to the old days. Now everyone has Pro Tools , and the equipment necessary to record with, so it eliminates a lot of studio time to be purchased by the producers. It has closed many fine studios in New York City as they just cannot stay alive.