An orchestrator is a person whose job is to write the scores for various types of media. They write musical scores possibly for films, television shows, video games and more. Other orchestrators work in a certain genre of music, such as classical, working to write scores for orchestras, ballets, and performing arts venues.
In order to become an orchestrator, you will need a master’s degree in music composition, music theory, or another music related field. It also helps to have knowledge of software programs used in music composition.
Why Become An Orchestrator
Music is all around us. When we watch a great movie, or a television show, all of our media comes with beautiful music in the background. Music is also an important part of the performing arts. Whether it is a Broadway musical, an opera, a ballet, or another performance, music is an important part of the show.
Orchestrators write musical scores. They take a musical composers drafts, and transpose the music so that it can be put into a final draft and used in a musical performance. Orchestrators typically have a specialty within their industry. They might work with composers to write the music for operas, orchestras, and other types of classical music. Some specialize in jazz or other genres. Still, some orchestrators work in movies of television.
They transpose individual pieces of music that composers have given them. They prepare sketches using music software programs. They quickly arrange music into a final draft that will be used in a variety of ways.
Becoming an orchestrator is a good choice for somebody who loves music, enjoys working behind the scenes, has good attention to detail, and wants to work independently.
Orchestrator should possess the following qualities and skills:
Enjoys working independently
Attention to detail
Orchestrator Work Environment
Orchestrators mainly work by themselves. Their job involves working at a studio with specialized computer equipment and software. This may be a dedicated music studio or an orchestrator may have a studio set up within their own home. Orchestrators must be comfortable working independently. They will also need feedback from other people, such as composers and assistants, in order to complete their work.
The team needed to get the job done consists of assistants, music editors, copyists, mix engineers, and more. Some orchestrators work late nights or weekends in order to finish a project. Orchestrators must be deadline-oriented, have good time management skills, and be motivated to succeed in this field.
The median annual salary for an orchestrator is $50,000 annually in 2017.
Salaries for orchestrators vary depending on many different factors. Some orchestrators are part of unions, while others are not. Those who are part of unions may be paid less than those who are not, since union employee also receive benefits from being in the union. Some orchestrators get paid in a flat fee for an entire project.
Others get paid by each sheet of music that they are able to write. Rates vary tremendously throughout the industry. Those who work in industries such as film, television, video games, and other media are likely to get paid more lucratively due to the high budgets for these forms of entertainment.
Orchestrator Career Outlook
Career opportunities for orchestrators are expected to increase by 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, resulting in about 4,000 new jobs in this field within this 10 year time period.
Orchestrators will continue to be needed in their field. They will be needed to transpose original music and work for performances, and write film scores and music for television, movies, commercials, and more. The media industry relies on experienced orchestrators to produce music for entertainment.
Competition for these jobs will be tough, however, as there are few job positions that are available. Those who want a position in this field will need to have the education and experience, and be able to network their way into a position.
Orchestrators will first need an undergraduate degree. Some schools specialize in music, music theory and composition even at the undergraduate level, although these programs may be more difficult to come by. Music classes will help you decide if a career as an orchestrator is a good fit for you. It takes four years to earn an undergraduate degree.
Orchestrators need a master’s degree in their field. Master’s degrees in musical performance, music theory, composition, or something similar are good degrees to have for this field. A person may be required to audition for their degree program, submit a portfolio, or something similar.
In these programs, students will take classes about composition and theory in music. They will work with various software programs that will be useful in their field.
Below are some examples of classes that students can expect to take in a program such as music theory, music composition, or a similar program. Students will take lectures classes during these programs. They will also do more hands-on coursework, working on projects and compositions.
Introduction to Computer Music: Students will learn about digital recording and editing of music. They will learn about sound analysis, mixing and mastering. They will use MIDI, audio sequencing and MIDI performance techniques. The class will use projects to demonstrate their knowledge of digital music orchestration.
Orchestration: This class introduces students to techniques in orchestration and instrumentation. There will be writing assignments and projects involving transcribing existing music into composed pieces of work.
Compositional Practice: This history course covers the works of famous composers through time. Students will study the works of composers and analyze their work.
Orchestrator Career Path
Most people start off as assistants, helping orchestrators with their projects. They slowly advance into a full-time orchestrator position. Once in an orchestrator position, further advancement might come in the place of finding a position in the film or television industry.
An orchestrator assistant helps an orchestrator with transcribing music.
An orchestrator assistant to an orchestrator helps with tasks such as cleaning up MIDI files, preparing sketches, and more.
Must have a master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or a related field.
This is a good way for somebody to get an entry level position into the music industry. From here, a person can become a full time orchestrator. .
Related Orchestrator Careers
An orchestrator is only one of many careers within the music industry. If you are interested in becoming an orchestrator, there are many other careers you should consider as well. Below we have listed just a few careers you may be interested in.
Composer: A composer writes music for a variety of types of musical groups and needs. They may work in television or film, composing music for media. Others work composing a certain genre such as classical music.
Musician: A musician plays music professionally. They may play solo or as part of a band. They may have talents such as singing, or playing a particular musical instrument.
Producer: Producers create various forms of media, such as films, television shows, commercials, and other forms of entertainment. They take a writer’s script and work with a team to make entertainment come to life.