Composer Interview – Adam DiTroia

How and when did you get into composition?

Well, like so many other composers, I was inspired at an early age by John Williams. I think it was a subconscious thing since I was very young when I first saw/heard Star Wars. Once I hit my early teens, I knew composing was what I wanted to do professionally. I began by scoring Flash games, local commercials, indie animated shorts, indie films, etc. As far as game scoring, I started out scoring game mods for independent development teams.

What hardware/software does your home studio consist of?

How much time do you have?! Lol. Actually, I’ve been trying to streamline lately. My “go-to” DAW is Cakewalk Sonar X1. I also use Propellerhead’s Reason 6 and Sony Vegas. My main editing program is Sony Soundforge. I have a lot of virtual instruments and effects. I tend to gravitate towards certain ones. I use a combination of IK Multimedia’s Philharmonic and EastWest/Quantum Leap Orchestra for orchestral music. I’ll be adding a new orchestral library in the very near future. For  sound effects my main  libraries are Sony’s two collections and a large custom library that is in a perpetual state of creation. I use a Korg M50 (88 key) as my main controller and an additional sound source. I’m use PC’s almost exclusively but I’ll be adding a MAC setup soon as well.

Whats your favorite piece of software and why?

Wow, good question! I think overall Soundforge. It’s just a very powerful and easy to navigate piece of software. But I love Sonar and Reason too! Hard to choice an absolute favorite.

What software are you looking forward to most in the future?

Personally, I’m looking forward to adding Symphobia 1 and 2 and the Native Instruments bundle. There are a ton more that I’d love to add but it has to make sense for my work.

Talk us through “Gathering Strength” How did you start it, what did you use, how did you master it?

Gathering Strength came to be because I was looking to write a powerful trailer piece. I specifically sat down to write something that was “epic” but had a variety of dynamics. It’s a few years old now but I think I used the orchestral libraries I mentioned above, plus some percussion from EW/QL also. It was mastered in Soundforge. That track has been licensed many times so I guess it came out pretty well :)

What is your process for mastering a track? 

I usually start off by running it through a mastering EQ, then a maximizing plugin and compressor. Then if it needs a master effect like reverb etc, I’ll add that last. Honestly, if I could send all of my work to a mastering engineer I would. It truly is an art form.

What one tool could you not do without as a composer?

Besides my hands, heart, and mind? Good question. Honestly, a lot of tools are interchangeable and replaceable. That’s not to say they’re not awesome. But everything but the first things I mentioned can be replaced. I guess the one tool I truly couldn’t live without is inspiration.

If you were starting your career again, what would you do differently and why?

I hate to look backwards lol. But I think I would study music theory, orchestration, and arranging more. I think I’m slowly developing a style, but it would be nice sometimes to have a wider musical vocabulary.

You describe yourself as a multimedia composer – whats your favorite media to compose for and why?

I honestly love all of them! There are different aspects of each that appeal to me. I enjoy the opportunity to build upon themes and tie things together with a linear format like television or film. But I also really enjoy creating music and sounds for games! I love the variety of projects I get to work on in the gaming world. I’m getting more and more into composing trailer music these days as well.

You’ve written music for apps amongst other types of media – do you find yourself getting more work for apps as the industry grows?

Definitely. A lot of my work over the past year has been for iOS and Android games and apps. That part of the industry has really blown up and it’s only just beginning. There is a lot of opportunity there for composers and sound designers. But honestly, there’s also a lot of competition. But that’s true in all areas. I enjoy writing music and creating sounds for mobile games/apps. Again, the variety is a key factor. Although I do tend to work on a lot of children’s games/apps! I’m not complaining though. I just appreciate the work!

What is your favorite type of media to write for and why?

Again that’s a tough one. I consider myself very fortunate to be working in this industry at all. There is so much talent out there! I’m humbled daily by it.

What do you do in between projects when you don’t currently have something to work on?

When I’m not working I mostly spend time with my family. I have a wife and two sons. I also enjoy movies, outdoors, games, performing with bands, duos, etc.

Do you have an ipad? If yes, what are your favorite music apps. 

Yes, I have an iPad 2. One of my favorite music apps is Music Studio 2.0. Very capable DAW on the iPad. I also love Animoog and Thumbjam! There are a ton of great music apps out there.

When someone asks you to describe your music, what do you say?

I am honestly the worst person to ask! Lol. I also write instrumental piano music and I usually describe that has similar to Yanni, Jim Brickman, George Winston, etc. Not that the 3 of them are similar. But you know :) But as far as scoring, I tend to write a lot of epic, thematic material. Stuff that works well in trailers. I also have more of a rock background (as opposed to classical), and I write a lot of rock/orchestral hybrids.

How do you use social media as a musician to get work/promote yourself?

So far I just post songs that I am working on or projects that I’m aloud to mention. I really do have to take better advantage of social media. That’s absolutely a goal for this year.

What do you think of the current market for composers? Over saturated, or plenty of work to go around?

That’s a tough one too. It’s a very competitive field but I do think there is enough work to go around if you know where to look. Personally, I contact every type of company I can think of. I’ve always had the attitude of “ya never know”!

You wrote 101 Money Making Ideas for Composers, Sound Designers, and Performing Musicians. How did this come about, and how has it been received?

That was a great experience for me. I honestly just wanted to start a project like that and follow it through to completion. So in that respect it was a great success. I really didn’t market it very much. I did receive some very nice comments about it though from the few who read it! Lol. I really appreciate those! Someday I’ll revisit it and do it right.

You’re big into composing trailer music – do you think its just a trend that will come and go, or do you think it will last as a genre in itself?

I absolutely think it’s here to stay and a genre in and of itself. I’m blown away by the quality of music I hear that is specifically written with trailers in mind. It has become extremely popular with non-musicians also. I think you will see more and more trailer music albums released to the public.

View Adam’s website at adamditroia.com

Written by: Emmett Cooke

Emmett Cooke is an Irish composer for film, tv and video games. His music has been used around the world by high profile companies including Sony Playstation, Ralph Lauren, ABC, CBS, NBC, Lockheed Martin and many more.

Film and Game Composers

www.FilmandGameComposers.com offers a wide range of interviews, reviews, guides and tutorials for composers and musicians who are interested in writing music for film, TV and video games.

Sign up to our newsletter to get a monthly digest of the latest content and information on new competitions and freebies. If you would like to write for us, please contact us.

Tweets

If Sam Lake looks a bit familiar, he's both the man who created Max Payne and modelled him in the first game :) https://t.co/N163ci9apU
If you're looking for somewhere to start, check out this course from @EvenantOnline: https://t.co/U44ecBVOXK