“Painting” With Sound – An Interview with Composer Jeff Broadbent
He is a Hollywood Music in Media Award Nominated nominated artist whose music had been in video game hits such as PlanetSide 2, Transformers: Dark of The Moon as well as also in trailer music libraries. His works have also seen placement on prime-time television networks such as CBS, MSNBC, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, VH1, game developers such as Ubisoft, Sony Online Entertainment and High Moon Studios and feature film scores.
Recently, Jeff composed a powerful thrilling score for the aforementioned PlanetSide 2. You can find more information and samples here. His score for Ubisoft’s survival game I Am Alive was a finalist for the 2012 Hollywood Music in Media Awards. If you’d like to audition his music, see this link for more details.
Meet Jeff Broadbent in this exclusive interview only on TrailerMusicVibe.
TrailerMusicVibe: Could you tell us some more about yourself as well as your background in music composition?
I grew up loving music, and learned to play the piano and saxophone at an early age. I started studying classical piano and saxophone, and later progressed to jazz music and improvisation. Improvisation and the musical theory behind it is actually what got me initially interested in composition. Later I earned a Master’s degree in composition from Brigham Young University, and studied film scoring at UCLA. As a college student, it was great being exposed to all kinds of music – including the classical, romantic, and modern composers. I think this musical breadth lends itself well to film/tv/game/trailer music, as it gives you a wide palette of sonic possibilities and techniques as a foundation.
Broadbent: I started composing trailer music for the companies Beyond Music and Deep East Music. I found that I really enjoyed this type of music, as it is very large, very full, and very epic. Orchestration (the process of arranging for the orchestra) is something I find very interesting, and trailer music, due to its size, allows one to explore the full potential of the ensemble. I also love combining electronics, guitars, exotic elements, and choir with the orchestra, and trailer music is a great venue for this type of sonic exploration. Since then I’ve done trailer and production music for a variety of other companies (including Warner/Chappell Music, Universal, Twisted Jukebox, etc) and am currently working on an upcoming album of material for Position Music.
TrailerMusicVibe: Your music collection shows a variety of orchestral, ethnic, choral, atmospheric and synthetic elements. Which flavor of music has been the most enjoyable aspect to compose?
Broadbent: It’s hard to pick a favorite element! For me, the orchestra has been the backbone of the musical ensemble, so I would say my roots lie there. I’m very comfortable composing and arranging for full orchestra. At the same time, I love the distinct sonic options that electronics and synthesizers provide. I studied electronic music in university as well, and it opened a wide range of timbres and musical colors for me. I think the principles of traditional orchestration can be applied to a variety of mediums, be they electronic music, choral music, orchestral music, ethnic music, or a blend of all of these. Learning to think in terms of instrumental color and layers of sound can be applied to all of these mediums.
TrailerMusicVibe: What vibe would you say you normally get when you are in the process of composing various cues?
Broadbent: I start by thinking of the emotion I want to convey to the listener, and how to best convey this emotion through the tools of melody, harmony, rhythm, and sound. I will generally sketch out the overall form of the cue on staff paper, with any primary motifs and harmonies as well. Then, while composing, I will pay great attention to the sound and color of the piece, blending and layering different elements to make the music full of detail and vibrancy. Very much like how a visual artist starts with a basic line drawing, then fleshes it out with shading, more detail, etc. I remember reading how film composer James Horner would describe his process of working with synthesizers as “painting”. To me it’s very much like that when I create a cue – I start with the foundation of melody and harmony, but then create a full composition with depth and color through instrument layering and attention to sound and space.
TrailerMusicVibe: What was the work that you were most pleased with?
Broadbent: While I’m pleased with all the projects I’ve worked on, I’m really enjoying composing some darker sound-design trailer cues for Position Music. Music like this, that gets off the beaten path and is very creative sonically, really appeals to me. As I mentioned, it really feels like “painting” with sound – you find ways to engage the listener in a very fresh and contemporary way. I love to continue to learn and developer as a composer, and any opportunity that allows me to do this I appreciate.
TrailerMusicVibe: Trailer music has emerged as a potent genre in the music industry. What are your thoughts on its continued growth and chances of ensconcing itself in the future?
Broadbent: This is a very interesting question to ponder! Trailer music over the years has gone through many phases – from more traditional orchestra and choir in past years, to more emphasis on sound design and blending of genres today. I think a lot of exploration remains to be done with new sonic approaches. The orchestra and choir can achieve a massive and full sound, yet synthetic possibilities open a whole new realm of sound and color, something to give a unique sonic touch to each piece of trailer music. If we look at music history, the development of music often went through cycles, at times being more restrained (classical era), then more emotional (romantic era), then becoming again more analytical and precise again (modern era). Only time will tell.
TrailerMusicVibe: Are there any future projects that you can tell TMV about?
Broadbent: As I mentioned, I’m currently creating an album of sound-design inspired trailer music for Position Music, that is a blast to work on (think dark, sinister elements, the kind of music that gets you on the edge of your seat and ratchets upward to the end =)) I’m also composing music for an upcoming Warner Bros. video game for release later this year, and will be starting some additional video game projects shortly that I’m very excited about. Latest news of my projects can always be found at www.jeffbroadbent.com.
TMV wants to thank Jeff Broadbent for his eagerness to interview with us. This a composer’s music is a must-hear, no doubt about it. So what are you all waiting for? Go for it.
All the best to you Jeff.