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How can I produce an epic soundtrack?

Well first of all, what software do you have? If you want to create high quality music to that level then you are going to have to take a lot of money out of your own pocket to find sound libraries and plugins. Sorry to say it but that’s how it is.

But if you can get that stuff then you’re past step 1.

Step 2 – You ideally need study a little about composition. If you’re completely new to composing and theory, I would suggest pulling out some books on it. If you’re feeling up to it you could go straight to the heavy-reading theory novels and learn from there OR if you’re very new, the Music Theory for Dummies book is good enough to teach you the essentials including modes and modulation and all that jazz. Pick up the Audio Technology for Dummies too if you don’t know much about mastering for orchestra (Which is different to dance music).

Step 3 – Pick up an orchestration book and a Spectrotone chart. Use these as guides when orchestrating.

Step 4 – Learn about frequency ranges/bands and how to achieve balanced orchestration and a balanced mix. Ideally the harmonic series is something you should absolutely be learning, now.

Step 5 – Listen to lots of music from Hans Zimmer and Audiomachine all the way back to the Romantic Period. Take away the techniques that have been used in previous pieces and apply them to your own. The thing about Hans Zimmer is, his music can sound really simple and balanced with consonant chord progressions (usually played by copious amounts of brass) but he’s also a genius when he needs to be. He shoves modal interchange in ‘Time’ from Inception. His tracks for Gladiator use Mediterranean harmony (to represent the film’s geographical location and time period).

Step 6 – Ultimately, you need to know how to bring out an emotion or a character in your music. Learn to vary your dynamic range and how to develop themes and ideas.

Credits: Yvette Renshy, Year 2 BAhons in Film Music and Soundtrack Production, Songwriter, Composer.

Eli Lira

pianist and professor