“If we think of mixing [music] as a journey, which it really is, goals help us stay on the proper path and headed in the correct direction,” said Jeff Tolbert during his session, The Goals of Mixing, at Casual Connect USA. “They also help us step back and stay focused on the big picture and not get lost in the details.” He advises, “Think of a goal like a compass: helps keep you oriented in the right direction and it helps you make those re-orientations, those course corrections, faster and more easily.”
As sole proprietor of Jeff Tolbert Film & Videogame Scoring, Jeff Tolbert must spend as much time marketing as composing. Fortunately, as one who has been self-employed for many years, he has networking and promotional experience that he uses every day. His free time is spent watching movies, playing games and playing, thinking about, and writing music. Since he has to write music in many different genres, he has no particular favorite, but he does listen to a lot of film scores.
From Film to Game
Because Tolbert is used to writing film scores, he finds composing for games a fun change. He feels the biggest challenge in the games industry is the non-linearity of game play, but he certainly doesn’t want this to change. His response to this challenge is to continue to write and learn and grow as a composer.
He asserts, “Nothing succeeds like experience!”
Tears at Benaroya
When his piece “Electron Boy” was performed by a 50-piece orchestra in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, Tolbert experienced the proudest moment of his career.
He tells us, “It made my father cry, which doesn’t happen very often.”
From Art to Music
The biggest challenge he has faced in his career was having the courage to make the switch from graphic design to composing while in his mid-30s. His passion for music and the desire to compose music for films and games helped him make it through the uncertainty he felt about his talents, as well as a number of lean years.
Interactive Generative Composition is Too Cool
Tolbert is hoping the next few years will see game music becoming even more interactive and more generative. While there is nothing wrong with loops, he would love to play a game where the music was slightly different every time it’s played. The technology already exists, but as more resources are made available to the music game to make it work, it will hopefully become more common.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.