The journey leading up to this release was perhaps one of the longest in the history of film/tv music recordings. Although composer Robert Bruce has always maintained a very diverse involvement with music - including projects ranging from educational music/programs to music for healing and meditation to a collection of modern classical artsongs – his Music for Animation and Children’s Productions has perhaps been his most central creative direction in music from the very beginning.
Although highly smitten with the most “charming and childlike” classical music he has listened to over the years, everything from Schumann to Prokofiev, the music he heard on cartoons and children’s shows as a child also helped shape much of his “lighter” music, of which he has written a great deal since his teens. Since his 20s he has, off and on, been seeking opportunities to write directly for animation and children’s productions but, for various reasons, this seldom became a reality for him.
He explains, “The main problem was that I always had very strong musical/artistic ideas and a lot of solid finished compositions whenever I approached production companies. When their projects didn’t really appeal to me or the music I already had didn’t quite fit their projects, they naturally moved on to other composers who were more willing to give them just what they were after. As the market got more and more flooded with music, producers, to a degree, seemed to care less and less about the actual ‘stand-alone’ quality of the music, something that always meant the world to me. Also, I got really turned off by the industry’s overuse of digital synths and samples in the 80s and 90s and that also kept me looking in other musical directions for quite a long time. Then, finally, when I did get back on the trail, I discovered that I wasn’t really willing to work super fast writing new music for various projects as I knew I couldn’t do my best work under that kind of pressure, and that also kind of defeated my whole purpose.”
The solution to this ongoing dilemma finally surfaced in the early 2000s at the start of what is now becoming the film/tv music industry’s fast-increasing use of stock and library music. The composer says, “Although I had heard of music libraries years ago, I didn’t really know much about them and never really noticed them as an opportunity for myself. In recent years, too, the quality of the music itself has really come up a lot among the more prominent libraries, and I’ve been fortunate to have developed good working relationships with two of the best – Audio Network in the UK and Sonoton in Germany. These companies of course have worldwide distribution and if a piece is good and has a certain sound or effect it will generally get used multiple times in various kinds of productions. This works well for everyone involved and I can still write and produce my best and most imaginative work, and I take pretty much as long as I need to work out all the details. I’ve now become known as something of a specialist in this kind of quirky children’s semi-classical music, and that seems fitting enough.”
He considers his best work in this genre as being on par with and as valid as any of his more “serious” music. “It wasn’t so much a matter of just copying the styles and ideas of the music I heard on TV back in the 60s, it was more the whole effect of the visuals, characters, stories and the music together that really affected me, that sort of ignited something creatively in me and produced a kind of spirit, a musical direction that was already a basic part of me. It is still alive and well to this day”, he says.
While Robert is admittedly a typical hard-core musician type, it has developed over the years that most of his music projects and directions do indeed have some kind of involvement with audio-visual productions. Aside from the music on this present CD which is now used in many film and television projects, including 20-20 with Barbara Walters, he has also developed an ongoing Live Music/Silent film performance series, performing his own piano scores to about 10 of the most outstanding silent films of the 1920s. And, he has also recently made his multidisciplinary artsong project into a series of HD videos designed for television and “new media” applications. “I’ve always been very attracted to multimedia and multidisciplinary projects that include music and also to music having some kind of practical purpose. The latter is kind of an extra challenge that intrigues me. But in all this it’s always been a central concern for me to keep the quality of the music as high is it possibly can be. I believe there is no excuse for anyone using or releasing music that is unpolished and/or lacking in depth.”
Most of the 36 tracks on this independently released recording, his first Film/TV Music CD intended just for listening, are published by either Audio Network or Sonoton and are available through these libraries for production purposes. Most of the very apt titles to these pieces are by artist Nancy Winlove-Smith.
Robert Bruce’s Music for Film/TV – CD 1: Music for Animation and Children’s Productions is available through CD Baby and all associated digital download services such as iTunes, Amazon, and others. It is also available from his website www.robertbrucemusic.com.