Ryan Shore is a 2013 Emmy Award and 2012 Grammy Award nominated composer for film, television, games, records and theater. His ability to easily collaborate and compose memorable music in a wide range of styles has quickly made him one of today’s top sought-after composers. Shore has also received the Elmer Bernstein Award, adjudicated and presented by Academy Award winning composer Elmer Bernstein. His scores include Prime, Harvard Man, The Shrine, Sesame Street, Numb, The Girl Next Door, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, Scooby-Doo!, WrestleMania Mystery, Spy Hunter, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, Lower Learning, Vulgar, and Stan Helsing. He is currently scoring Disney Television Animation’s upcoming series Penn Zero: Part Time Hero. Shore also plays saxophone and has performed with artists including John Williams, Matchbox Twenty (US tour and The Late Show with David Letterman), Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Dave Koz, Natalie Cole, Arturo Sandoval and Gerry Mulligan.
When I was began my career, I had very little balance between work and life. I worked and thought about work 24 hours a day. Perhaps that was necessary in the beginning. Due to there being so many people who want to work in this industry, I think in the beginning of a career it may actually be valuable to have a bit of an unhealthy balance, so that you can establish yourself and learn as much as possible.
When I'm working with a director I encourage them to direct me in the way that they might direct an actor. Music is very subjective, and everyone hears it differently. Particularly, the way that non-musicians hear music is very different from the way musicians hears it. It can be very difficult to talk about. I usually try to keep conversations not really about music and instrumentation but about emotion, because I feel like that is a language that we can all talk about.
By staying organized and scheduling the process carefully, that helps alleviate one of the most largest challenges on any project, which is pressure. I do all I can to remove as much pressure as possible, because when you’re writing music you really don’t want to be feeling those deadlines. You don’t want to be feeling the pressure. You want to be feeling the music.
When I’m not certain of what I should be composing, I find that there are some basic questions I can always come back to in order to help find the music direction. Specifically: Why is there music in the film? What role will the music play? What is it that we want the music to say or what aspects of the story do we want the music to support? If core questions like these can be answered, that can help create musical direction. It’s of paramount importance that the composer is on the same page with the filmmakers, so that everyone is working towards the same goals together.
Composers can't take shortcuts with MIDI. If it’s not possible to record with live musicians, the production quality and emotional effectiveness will come from spending lots of time programming the MIDI to make the music sound as real as possible. It's very important that you put as much humanity as possible into all of your synth elements.
I believe one can benefit even more from their practical experience if they already have a solid musical foundation to build upon, so I would I highly recommend starting with formal education first, if possible. Ultimately however, success and growth will come from what is learned and applied. If a formal education isn’t possible, that shouldn’t preclude one from pursuing their goals and learning from practical experiences.
Good templates are extremely important for composers. My equipment setup is highly tweaked, and I’ve pre-mixed my palette so reverbs and panning are already in place. This way, when I get a call to compose something, I’m ready to go and I can deliver music as quickly to the moment I’m thinking of the music as possible. Building solid sample templates is a very effective way to save time.
When projects are busy I bring synthestrators onboard my team (people who orchestrate and perform the music on their rigs with samples) so that I can spend more time composing.
Delegating responsibility applies to all businesses. For me, the biggest reason I delegate responsibility among my team is so that I can keep my focus on the creative aspects of the work, and to free up as much of my time for composing as possible. By building a team I have been able to create a better life balance for myself without sacrificing the quality or quantity of work. I’m still delivering at the highest level, and I'm still able to deliver all the service that I want to deliver.
When scoring I try not to overreach or attempt something musically which we can’t afford to produce, because that sets all of us up for failure. If a music budget can only afford a limited number of live musicians, then I always start by trying to find a musical approach that can be achieved with the musicians we have. In an ideal scenario, I want that approach to be so right for the film that if we had ten million dollars to produce the music we still would have done it with that limited number of musicians. That's when you know you found the right approach.
I have not focused much on trying to find my voice. In fact, I try not to spend time consciously thinking about what a new piece of music might mean in the context of other music I’ve written in my career. I only focus on the film I’m working on in that moment and what I feel would be my best musical contribution for it. If over time I’m developing a voice of my own, great. But I never try to shoehorn in "my voice" and put that above the needs of the project.