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What does a Composer do?

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
  • Songwriting
  • Orchestration

 

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)
  • Arranging/orchestrating
  • 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

 

References

https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/composer-concert-stage#:~:text=Derived%20from%20a%20Latin%20word,to%20create%20an%20original%20work.

https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/composer/

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/what-does-composer-do

https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/composer-musical-theater#:~:text=Musical%20theater%20composers%20create%20songs,for%20new%20musical%20theater%20works.

 

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

Published: 23 March 2022

 

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