Quick Tip: When to Address Changes Using Audio Instead of MIDI

It’s not uncommon to get last minute change requests when working on a score. Often these last minute changes come after you’ve already printed your audio stems. I found that some composers, especially young composers have a tendency to go back to the MIDI, do a rewrite and then re-print the audio. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but it’s quite time consuming and often isn’t necessary. Here’s an example:

When I delivered my score to #FollowFriday the director informed me that a scene that we spotted to have a song in it won’t have a song after all and asked me if I extend my preceding cue to cover the scene? I was at the film studio and the dub was underway. I could have gone home, opened up the cue and written a quick extension, but I realized what I would likely do is essentially copy/paste the groove a few more bars and make some adjustments here and there so it doesn’t sound loopy. I could do that in ProTools on the spot using the stems in a matter of minutes, which is what I did and the director was thrilled not only with the result, but also with the immediacy of the solution.

Before going back to your MIDI, consider editing your stems to address last minute changes. Think like a music editor and figure out what can you move around, lower, raise, mute, etc. to address the notes. As music editor I do this all the time on dub stages since there is no other choice. But often even if you can go back to the MIDI, working with the audio stems is the fastest and most efficient way to handle last minute compositional changes, so don’t rule it out as an option.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.