Friday, April 11, 2008

The Scott Smalley Orchestration Workshop in Nashville, TN

From email sent by Rolin Mains of the Nashville Composers Association:

The Film Music Institute in association with the Nashville Composers Association is pleased to announce the first presentation of the renowned Scott Smalley Orchestration Workshop, currently only available in LA and NYC, in Nashville, Tennessee, May 31st-June 1st, 2008. I have included a blog entry from a film composer/orchestration teacher at the Art Institute of Vancouver that says everything better than I could have said it.


The workshop will be held at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel (in the “Ryman Room” -- http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnash-renaissance-nashville-hotel/) downtown Nashville, May 31-June 1, 2008 (Saturday-Sunday), from 10am-6pm both days. A special room rate of $169/night is available for Workshop attendees. You may sign up at http://www.filmmusicnashville.com. The Workshop costs $345, but if you sign up before April 20, 2008, the cost is only $270.


Some highlights:


You will learn (among other things):


--> a brief history of the Hollywood "style."


--> the "Z-clef." the control of the tessituric range as one of the most
important methods of keeping individual parts or entire sections
fore-grounded or back-grounded as the need of the moment arises


--> the "mediant chord relationship." This harmonization technique allows you
to keep rolling along from key to key with lots of forward momentum, while not
ever having to resolve your chordal tensions until you decide to exit the
train and confirm your modulation at the time and place of your choice.


What you will get:


--> 400 pages of actual film scores (well worth the price of the course alone)


--> recordings involving the scores


Here is what Doug Blackley, a noted composer from Vancouver, had to say about the workshop:


Who IS Scott Smalley?
Who is Scott Smalley, and why would any crowd of film and TV composers
and orchestrators go to such great lengths to spend two packed days in
his workshop?


The Scott Smalley orchestration is a two day intensive workshop on the
art and craft of orchestration for the Hollywood style film orchestra.
The workshop is offered several times a year in major centres such as
Los Angeles and New York.


Smalley's Credits
Who is Scott? Scott Smalley's credits for orchestration include top
end productions such as "Batman", "Mission: Impossible", and "The
Insider". He has worked with major film composers such as Alan
Silvestri, Danny Elfman, and many more. Scott is the sort of guy who
has been sent a composer's sketch at midnight, to be orchestrated and
parted out for the downbeat of the orchestra at nine am the next
morning! Clearly Scott is a man whose advice on the production of the
Hollywood orchestra sound is to be taken seriously.


Seminar Materials
The workshop begins with the distribution of Scott's package of film
scores for study. This is nearly four hundred pages of conductor's
score, the largest package of orchestral film conductor's scores I
have ever seen together in one place. The contents include scores
from many well known Hollywood films, such as Batman, Judge Dredd,
Robocop, Star Trek, Basic Instinct, Lonesome Dove, and others.


The scores represent a problem/solution view of scoring different film genre and
various types of scenes from action/adventure to love scenes. Scott also provides
the attendees with audio recordings of the material from the score package, invaluable for hearing how the orchestrations studied actually sounded in the real world.


Film Composing and Style
The workshop I attended began with discussion of the roots of style
that the Hollywood sound can be traced back too. Much respect is paid
to Goldsmith, and time is spent on various other composers regarding
their use of harmony and overall structure. The discussion shifted
into the control of the tessituric range as one of the most important
methods of keeping individual parts or entire sections fore-grounded
or back-grounded as the need of the moment arises.


Here Scott has created something he calls the "Z" clef, which he uses as a tool and
instructional aid to demonstrate his tessituric control techniques. I
found this to be very effective both as an instructional aid and as a
simple way to check one's own parts for lines that would be
inadvertently fore-grounded by unexpected timbral contrast.


The Mediant Chord Relationship
Next up was Scott's discussion of the mediant chord relationship chord
progression. I am sad to confess that this for me was a real "aha"
moment; a lovely encapsulation of the vibrant shifts of tonality
exploited so often in feature film writing. This harmonization
technique allows you to keep rolling along from key to key with lots
of forward momentum, while not ever having to resolve your chordal
tensions until you decide to exit the train and confirm your
modulation at the time and place of your choice.


The rest of the workshop is where one dives into the actual scores. The
first day focused on arranging strings, while the second shifted
between the remaining sections of the orchestra. Scott directs you to
specific scores and measure numbers, and plays the track in question.
He shows how the orchestration was created with specific goals in
mind, and uses his score and audio examples to demonstrate the sound
in real life.


Scott is an entertaining guy. His industry stories are thrown in
frequently enough to gain a feel for the context in which this sort of
orchestral work takes place, and as well function well to break up the
inevitable mental drain of hours on end of sight-reading film scores
at sometimes breakneck tempos!


Who Should Attend?
Who would benefit from the workshop? In my opinion this is an
advanced workshop. The audience at the session I attended was either
experienced composers, or new composers who have already put in years
of wood-shedding. There is an implied assumption that the attendees
have a basic competence in the theory of music and some ability to
analyze a score, harmonically and colouristically.


If you have worked on orchestral scoring already, and are ready to build your skills to a higher level, then I would say this workshop is absolutely something
worth planning for.

2 comments:

NCA President said...

nicole,

thanks for posting this!

rollie

Nicole Randall said...

The Scott Smalley Workshop discount ($270) is now good until April 30th. After that the price goes up to $345.