I relish the opportunity to write music whenever possible, especially when there are constraints involved. The hardest thing about writing music is the vastness of possibilities. This is the nonsense, the space, the absence of form or wit. This is why I write my blog and my fascination with creation and form.
When I write music for myself, I start with the guitar – a riff, a chord change. From there, a melody is born. Out of the melody comes a mood and then words coalesce on the tip of my tongue. At first I usually mumble some sounds but eventually, meaning takes shape and I develop a theme. The rhythm of language and the melody, and the mood drive the lyrics and then the force of will and the cerebrum takes over. From there comes a song.
Working as a professional composer, the contraints are much tighter. Take Nickelodeon. Take irony. Nick at Nite bought the rights to play the Brady Bunch on the network but through some strange contractual snafu, they were not allowed to use the theme song in the promos. So they called me up and said – Tim, do what you do. The constraints this time was to create a piece of music that evoked the Brady Bunch theme song but did not impinge on the copyright. I must come as close to stealing as I possibly can without stealing.
Arrangement, rhythm, timbre, bpm, performance (in a manner), tonality . . . none of that can be copyrighted. So I take those things as much as I can and change the melody, which can be copyrighted. In the case of the Brady Bunch theme, I actually created a harmony part (mostly) and used that as a melody. This is probably pushing the envelope. No law suits yet (knock on wood).
This is the theme song we all know and love:
It's cool in a shitty 80's TV Theme Song kinda way. It's got a great white-boy groove. I can almost see the band – eyes cloyed, overbite in full force . . .
Here is what I wrote:
OK yeah I don't have a good white-boy groove, nor do I have a real drummer or horns. I mixed the horns low because frankly they don't sound that good. Fake horns never do. But I think I nailed the breakdown and the guitar/bass. That I can rock out on.
Here's the spot. The opening music is stock music.
And here's the spot with music only. I had to cut it up a bit to fit the spot, as you will see.