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Welcome back to composer spotlight, the blog series where we talk with composers across the globe to discuss their development and creative process. In this edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with composer and Berklee film scoring student Alexis Bragga.

Continue below to check out the interview!

Please tell us a bit about yourself and where you are based? Hello my name is Alexis Bragga and I am 21 years old. I am currently living in Boston, Massachusetts with plans of moving to Los Angeles next year. I am finishing my last year at Berklee College of Music where I am studying Screen Scoring.I will be graduating in May 2024. In addition, I am president of the club Berklee Film Scoring Network that attracts a large variety of students and work as a peer tutor for the screen scoring department. How did you get into composing music? I have always been fascinated by music; I grew up exploring multiple types of instruments. My first instrument was the drum set and, eventually, I began teaching myself piano. In eighth grade my mom and I took a trip to Boston and decided to visit Berklee. I don’t remember much of the tour but what I do vividly remember is watching a student conduct their own music with an orchestra – I was in awe. That was the first time I was exposed to film scoring. After that experience I started paying more attention to how music related to film. After my senior year of high school was cut short due to COVID, I bought my first laptop and began trying to compose my own music to picture in Logic Pro. When I arrived at Berklee, I applied for the film scoring program and have been in love with it ever since.

Alexis analysing a score during a studio recording session.

How would you describe your creative process when writing music? It is different for each project. I am still learning which process works best for me as I am growing and developing as a composer. Some ideas come more naturally to me than others. I try to watch the scene a few times to figure out what mood I want to convey first. After I’ll start to hum along a few melodic ideas to see if any seem like they will fit or can be adapted to the scene. I usually get an entire sketch of the full scene or composition done first and then spend the rest of the time fine tuning and orchestrating each part which can sometimes result in changing the whole thing. I always compose right into the DAW or on a piano (Cubase is primarily what I use). I have never been someone who can compose right into a notation software and mock it up after. It is hard to give a definitive answer because it really is different every time and that’s why every new project is exciting because you can try a new approach or stick to something you like.

Alexis conducting a recording session. Are there any tools or techniques that you have found especially useful when studying film music composition? Berklee does an amazing job of preparing you for all aspects of the film music industry. For each of our projects we are required to compose, make changes from feedback, prep pro tools sessions for recording, make scores, conduct, record live, and mix our own projects. That being said, there is a lot of information thrown at you very fast and it is important to really understand the hardware and software that you are using. I have found that being able to grasp the overall concept first and fast during class is the best way for me to learn. Afterwards I will do further research to get a deeper understanding of each topic and most importantly practice that topic and try using it for my projects. Additionally, I found that utilizing your professors office hours can be the most useful and best learning moments as you can ask more specific and deeper questions regarding the topics. Youtube is also my best friend, you can learn almost anything on Youtube now. I have found during my time at school that the most important skills I can have are time management, being curious, always seeking new opportunities, not afraid to ask questions, and being very personable. Additionally, you have to be bold in this industry and I always remind myself that you’ll never receive a yes if you don’t ask or put yourself out there. Berklee also will bring a lot of industry professionals on campus which is a great way to meet and gain valuable advice from industry professionals and I always make sure to attend and optimise the opportunities at these events. How do you approach writing cues for different styles of film, horror, action, romance etc?

When writing cues in different styles I will try to do my research and listen to music in that style while I go for walks and try to figure out what I like about those particular pieces. I will watch how it works and interacts with the scene and see there is a common idea/technique I see throughout a few scenes. The first thing I do when I start composing for a different style is try to find the pacing and mood of the scene. For action, I prefer to start with building a rhythmic aspect first, add the melody and fill in the harmony and countermelodies after. For horror, I try to create a soundscape first and overall texture and feeling before going into fine details and adding different techniques on each instrument. Romance cues, I tend to start with a melodic idea and orchestrate and build from there. If I am working in a style I am very unfamiliar with I will reach out to a friend who excels in that area and ask them for guidance and tips and use them for feedback before presenting to a director. What are your future goals as a composer? I like to dream big. As I enter the first few years of my career I would love to work as a composer's assistant for one of my favourite composers. I want to gain experience and knowledge underneath someone who I respect as a composer and individual while offering my strengths and skills. Ideally after around five years I would like to start composing on projects myself and one day be able to have my own small team working on bigger projects. I think it would also be really cool to work on a project that turns into a series of films. That concludes this edition of composer spotlight. If you want to hear more from Alexis then you can follow her via the links below:

We hope you enjoyed checking out this article!


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