Tom Schipper

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Sheet music available online

Tom

I’m very proud to announce that I’ve recently started selling my sheet music online! I was approached by Sonolize, a new initiative that wants to treat their composers fairly when publishing their music, and was asked to check their website and consider if I wanted to join their new platform. I was pleasantly surprised and decided to join. Over the coming weeks, I’ll continue uploading more of my older pieces to this website, for you to check out, perform, or just read along with!

To celebrate this new step, I’ve decided to remake my score for “The Library of Things” and make it available through Sonolize! So if you want to read along with the soundtrack, study the score, perform it or just help a composer out in these weird times, feel free to have a look! I’m still very proud of this score, and love to be able to share it with you all.

So if you’re interested, check out my Sonolize page by clicking the hyperlink or the ‘Sheet Music’ tab in the upper right corner. I hope you enjoy!

Oh, and don’t forget… You can find a free piano reduction of the Main theme here!

7 tips when feeling uninspired to compose

Tom

I recently got a request for a video to talk a bit about how you can still compose when you’re feeling uninspired or too tired or anything to compose. The video is out on YouTube, but I thought it’d be nice to make a small blog post about it as well.
For me, this subject feels very real, because more often than not, I also feel uninspired or can’t bring myself to do any composing. And this is something that can really drain your motivation to compose in the first place and is something I’m struggling with on a regular basis. These are some of the tips I would like to share how I get out of these moments of self-doubt and little motivation, and I hope they can be of value for you as well when you are feeling like this.

Make composing something physical

Music in its essence is something very physical. When you sing, you use most of your body to produce the sound. A cellist is completely surrounding his or her instrument with their entire body. A percussion player beats the crap out of their instrument. I saw a video of a concert recently of a work for orchestra and solo violin, and the solo violinist, she was jacked. Like her arms were just pure muscle. And besides the fact that you need your physique to be able to play an instrument, just think of the fact that with loads of music, you can’t withstand to dance or at the very least tap your feet. Music is physical. 

For me as a composer, I am often bent over a keyboard at my desk or a piece of paper on the piano. This can become very straining for your body and how you perceive making music. When you are in this position for hours, days or weeks on end, this fact can become something that is not only physically damaging but mentally as well.

I was in this exact position when I was writing my first library album. Until one day I completely overhauled my studio, and finally decided that it would be a good idea to buy a couple of microphones. Another thing that happened was that my parents, who are in the process of moving house, let me take heaps of instruments from their home that they had collected over the years. So there I was, suddenly with a huge amount of instruments at my disposal and the means to record these. I had SO much fun again, just trying out all these different instruments and using them as large or small elements in the new tracks I was writing. Abandoning the keyboard, grabbing a new instrument and playing this physically again brought me so much joy that the rest of the album was a breeze to make.

Stay inspired to be inspired

This might sound a little strange, but let me explain. I often find inspiration in the music that inspires me. And I know that it can be very overwhelming to listen to the artists and composers you adore because you might feel you’re nowhere near their level. Believe me, I know… But this doesn’t matter. We all have our own paths. But at the same time, I often forget this, because I’m just immersed by the beauty and craft of it. And this feeling of awe often inspires me to dive into why and how they are doing certain things, and how I can use these elements in my own music. An example for me is Jacob Collier. A jazz musician, composer, producer and whatnot I absolutely love. When I listen to his music, I’m often so impressed by how he does things and, most importantly, the JOY he puts in everything he does, that it inspires me and reminds me again how much joy I feel when writing music. Search for new music as well, broaden your horizon, and find new things you love, are inspired by and can draw from for your music.

A good way to do this might also be to go back to the pieces of music that got you into composing or film music or classical music or any type of music. For me, this is very clear. One of the first pieces of film music I loved so much that I played it for days on end was “Forbidden Friendship” from the score for How to Train your Dragon. I can sing along with every note of this piece and I still love it to pieces. Another example for me is “The Firebird”, which is a ballet by Igor Stravinsky. We played a suite of this with the concert band I played in during my teenage years, and it was the piece that introduced me to early 20th-century classical music; a time period that I absolutely love and am inspired by in my music, and made me realise that classical music is not just Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. When I listen to these works nowadays, I still remember how I felt about them when I fell in love with them. Going back to this feeling and remembering why you fell in love with a certain type of music is a great way to find back a bit of this inspiration when you’re in the dry days of your composition process.

Analyze the things that inspire you

Following up on the last one, I highly recommend you find out what it is from a certain composer, or piece of music that inspires you about them. Dive into their scores or music and listen or read what it is that is going on, and maybe try to make your own version of this. What chords are they using? How do their melodies work? How do they orchestrate certain things? Are there hidden elements that you didn’t know about? When you study these things not only do you discover what you love about them so much, but you learn some new skills and elements to add to your toolbox to use when you’re composing. It’s like you have a box of crayons that only grows, you add more colours and can do more and more things. And to kick off the composing after this, you could challenge yourself to make a new piece using one or some of the elements you just learned, and construct a new piece around these restrictions.

My favourite example of this is how I love Maurice Ravel, and always try to learn from the way how he orchestrates. I have some scores of his music, which you can also view online through IMSLP, and love to listen to his work and just read along with the score. This way I immediately know how he constructed a sound that I love to listen to, or what kind of chords and progressions he uses that I like so much in his music. Next up when I write something, I want to use some of these elements in my own music. Not to copy, but to incorporate it as an extra crayon I can use in my box of crayons. Often when people ask me how I compose, I tell them that the start is the hardest part, where the inspiration needs to come, and what follows is your craft. Analysing the things that you love helps you to develop your craft and use more different elements from different kinds of music. 

Get the hell out of your studio

This one’s easy; get the hell out of your studio. Like I said earlier, it can be really straining to just sit in your studios for days on end. It works so inspiring to just go out, get some fresh air, take a walk, pet a dog and do something that is so unrelated to music that you’ll go back into your studio fresh and ready to go. And if it didn’t work; go outside some more. Keep in mind though, that during these weird times of COVID-19, this doesn’t apply. So therefore you can…

Do something unrelated to music

Read a book, watch a movie, call your mom, play some board games, learn a new instrument, make a drawing. Whatever you do, don’t just sit there looking at an empty screen or an empty page for hours and hours, getting more and more frustrated. Take a break, for a couple of hours or maybe even days if you need to, and come back when you feel refreshed. Lack of inspiration can cause frustration, and from there it’s only downhill.

Surround yourself with likeminded people

Composing and the hours in the studio can get quite lonely. But we live in a time where it is so easy to connect with other people who spend long lonely hours in a dark place with a computer screen. So whether it is online or in your community, it doesn’t matter, it is so important to connect with likeminded people who have the same passion as you do, and therefore the same problems that you do. Being able to talk with these people about the harder times when you feel uninspired, or to share your ideas for feedback or to be inspired by the things they share or talking about composing in general can help you get out of the rut and back on track to compose. Or even better, keep you on track and inspired in the first place. And if you don’t have someone in your community or don’t know where to start online; I’m here. Feel free to get in touch at any time.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

And last but not least, don’t be too hard on yourself. Anything that is creative carries a great sense of insecurity in it. We are afraid that what we are making might not be good enough. Or we cannot let something go because our perfectionism tells that the work is not finished. Or we might be afraid to be ridiculed. After all, what we create is a part of ourselves, and so is the music that you write. These insecurities and fears we have over our work can really hold you back when you’re trying to create something, and might cause you to be uninspired, and are unfortunately an integral part of the creative process. It is so important not to let these feelings hold you back from composing anyway. It is okay to make something that is not perfect. It is okay to be afraid of the empty page before you, I feel the same way. It is okay that you’re not as good as John Williams or any other composer you love.

The important thing is to not let these things get the better of you. Recognizing these feelings and analysing what they are and where they come from is the first step towards getting the better of these. And if you’re having these feelings, it’s so important to just get to composing and do it anyway.

Fingerprint Audio official demo – Event horizon

Tom

A while ago, a friend of mine from Switzerland, Michael Boga, approached me and asked if I wanted to write a demo for a new sample library he was developing with a friend. The library consisted of all kinds of trailer sound effects, like braams, hits, booms, signatures and many more. I was humbled by the request and got to work immediately.

Over the past 2 days, I’ve had a lot of fun diving into the library and discovering all the amazing sounds that were there. I added some things of my own, and the end result is now available for you to listen to!

I hope you enjoy! The library can be required through www.fingerprint-audio.com