Photo by Zhiwei Liang. Follow on Instagram @lzwwilliam
StudentFilmmakers takes five to chat with Marco Zannone, a composer we interact and chat with in the Filmmakers Forums Online.
“I compose mainly piano and orchestral music. The main part of my work in the past years has been writing cues and licensing them through music licensing websites. I sometimes get to do custom projects. I’m always trying to work more on custom scoring for film and video games, both a big passion of mine.”
Marco Zannone: I feel like music should express the feeling the scene by itself already evokes. Recently, I was watching an interview where composer Michael Giacchino talks about how he scores a scene. He said he just watches and pays close attention to what the scene makes him feel, then scores exactly that feeling.
I also feel like in almost every movie, there are some scenes that are better left without any music, and this will make the scenes in which the music comes in much more impactful. Extreme examples of this are Akira Kurosawa’s movies. The music rarely kicks in, but when it does, it really gets you.
Do you compose mostly on piano? What instruments, tools and software do you work in? What is your composing process?
Marco Zannone: I almost always start with a piano to find themes and ideas, and then, develop from there. I tend to spend hours playing around at the piano hunting for a theme or passage that will really surprise me, and only start elaborating it once I have that.
As for orchestral pieces, I’m finding it’s very handy to start with jotting down the full piano sketch before orchestrating it. This really helps in keeping the arrangement simple and effective.
The main tools I use to compose are few midi keyboards in different sizes, Logic Pro X, and way too many virtual instruments I got over the years. The magic of these plugins is that they can turn your midi keyboard into any instrument of the orchestra, giving you full control on articulation, vibrato, expression and even mic positions.
Can you share with us 3 Important Things you’ve learned while creating your favorite compositions?
#1.) Keeping things simple. Especially when creating orchestral music, it’s easy to fall into the trap of crowding the arrangement with too many notes. What I’ve found by dissecting and recreating soundtracks from my favorite movies, is that the arrangement is always much simpler and with less notes than what I imagined.
#2.) If a new idea I find doesn’t surprise or say much to me, chances are it won’t do it for other people either.
#3.) If you can, always have somewhat of a clear idea of what you want to compose before you start looking for ideas. Too many choices can often be overwhelming.
What are your new year goals for 2021 as a composer?
Marco Zannone: A constant goal of mine is to keep improving my orchestration skills. I don’t feel as confident writing for orchestra as I do for piano-based pieces, so I’ll keep working on that by transcribing my favourite pieces and writing more of my own.
I’ve recently started a YouTube channel where I share compositions and orchestral mockups. It’s very satisfying sharing my work and having it be useful for other composers, so I plan to keep uploading there regularly this year.
Scoring a short film or a video game would also be amazing, so I’ll be looking for opportunities.
Marco Zannone Music | Composer