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Composing for Film and Television MMus: What our students say

Student profiles

Don't just take our word for it – here's what students say about what it's like to study at Kingston University.

William Morris

Name: William Morris
Course: Composing for Film and Television MA (now Composing for Film and Television MMus)

"I have wanted to compose ever since I was a young boy. But my undergraduate degree at another university was a very traditional academic course and, despite learning a lot, I never quite found my feet as a composer there.

After my first degree, I knew I wanted to work in the music industry, but I had no idea in what capacity. I began to teach in my local area of South West London and to run choirs. I also conducted in local theatres and I went to India for a year in '96 to teach music in an orphanage in the foothills of the Himalayas.

While I was writing my first full-length musical, I sought the help of a musician who was trained in sequencing software. I had no experience of working with computers and was amazed by what it was possible to create from the comfort of your own home.

When I found out that he had studied at Kingston University, I saw that the time was right for me to learn how to use the technology myself. With that knowledge I could orchestrate my own songs and seek work in films, my other love.

So, at the age of 32, I applied for the Composing for Film and Television course. Despite being out of academic circles for so long, I was accepted on the basis of my industry experience. I was pleased to find such a good course so close to home – it meant that I would have easy access to professional studio equipment and people with the expertise to train me to use it. It was also a great opportunity to make contacts with colleagues in a similar position to me.

Since starting the course, I have gone from being a complete technophobe to being a true anorak! I have learnt how to sequence authentic sounding orchestral music from my home computer, synchronise music exactly to image with specialised software and put business packages together to 'sell my wares'. I have also gained hugely in confidence and feel ready to approach production companies with my music.

During the course I have worked on advertisements, television dramas and film scores. The most enjoyable assignment was writing a score for an animation created by another Kingston student some years earlier. We composed it and heard it performed by the internationally-famous Delta Sax Quartet. We also had the experience of recording it in a professional studio.

For my major project, I am working closely with a documentary maker on a film based on her book released in 2006. It is about the role the Ho Chi Minh Trail played in the defeat of the American forces in the Vietnam War.

It is my job as a composer to provide atmosphere and give a sense of place, whether the film is showing images of Vietnam or America. It is easy to see the power that music can provide for a film or a television programme by watching with the sound turned off. Music brings the images alive and reaches out to engage the audience. It can also make unpleasant images sanitised enough to be bearable.

There have been some powerful film scores over the years that have inspired me and I would love to have been a part of. My biggest inspiration is the composer John Williams. For one man to have been responsible for scores as diverse as Star Wars and Schindler's List or as original as Jaws is really exceptional.

My dream is to be a part of that world and with my new skills I hope I am that bit closer to my goal."

 

Name: Max West
Course: Composing for Film and Television MA (now Composing for Film and Television MMus)

"I thoroughly enjoyed the masters in Composing Music for Film and Television at Kingston University. Doing the course over two years gave me the time to develop both the technological and compositional elements of composing for moving image.

I benefited immensely from the course's 'hands-on' approach, which necessitated learning everything from software packages to rendering music to image to microphone placement for live recording. I loved working alongside the other students in a collegiate and friendly atmosphere; many of the students were international and from varied backgrounds. I also found the teachers each had their own unique knowledge and skill to impart.

I would highly recommend this course – but fasten your seatbelt for the inevitable technical frustrations inherent in using today's computer technology!"

 

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