A theatre Composer writes original music to help tell a story or convey atmosphere and emotions. They may write music for voices and instruments to perform, or it may involve electronic and digital tools.
For traditional plays, a Composer would write the music that underscores the production. In musical theatre, this would include writing songs, and Composers may collaborate with a Lyricist and a Book Writer.
As well theatre, Composers can write for film, television, video games, radio, advertising, recording artists and more.
What are the main responsibilities of a Composer in theatre?
- Creating and arranging the score
- Meeting with Directors/Producers to understand requirements of the production
- Studying the script to get a strong sense of the show
- Working with the Sound Designer to ensure that the music compliments additional audio
- Working closely with Singers, Musicians and the Musical Director
- Making any necessary revisions to the score once the production is in rehearsals
What qualifications do I need to be a Composer?
Some Composers can write music by ear, but usually you will need a very strong understanding of music theory and techniques.
Qualifications and subjects that may be useful include:
- Music theory
- Instrument and/or voice exams
- Studying music or a music-related course at degree level
- Music composition
Search our training opportunities in music here.
What skills do I need to be a Composer?
- Reading and writing music
- Music composition and songwriting
- An understanding of different instruments (it can be helpful to be able to play a range of instruments)
- Ability to work independently and collaboratively
- Networking and people skills
What does a career as a Composer look like?
There are many different ways to begin a career as a Composer, but a typical path can be to study music and then take up a mentorship or residency with an established Composer.
Some Composers’ work begins as their own project, for example writing a musical, but often you would be working on a commission from a theatre company or Producer.
Composers most often work on freelance contracts, but it is possible to find residencies. Some Composers will also work part-time as Music Teachers and/or offer arrangement, orchestration and transcription services.
Read our blog 'How to become a freelancer in theatre' here.
How much can I earn as a Composer?
Salaries and fees can vary a lot depending on the type of production, and the individual’s skill level and experience. Composers may be paid per minute of completed music. The average salary for a Composer is around £40,000 per year, across the different industries.
Search for Composer roles on The Stage Jobs here
Published: 23 March 2022