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TAC Students at Sony

SFCM’s Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) students have been given exceptional opportunities to study with the film, television, and video game industry’s finest composers and producers since the inception of the program. From getting hands-on training with Emmy-winning artists to working with local organizations like KDFC on sound logos, there are opportunities for real-world experience at every corner of the field.

One of the most fruitful of TAC’s professional relationships is with our faculty from Sony Interactive Entertainment. Working with Sony composers on faculty at SFCM, students get the chance to participate in a semester-long, project-based course known as Composition Workshop. The course begins with a visit from Industry Faculty members Matt Levine and Jonathan Mayer (both music producers at Sony Interactive Entertainment for 10+ years) and is supported with weekly instruction throughout the semester by top industry composers such as Laura Karpman (four-time Emmy winner) and Tim Davies (orchestrator: Frozen, Empire). The course ends with a culminating exercise at Sony Interactive Entertainment in San Mateo where student works are professionally recorded and produced.

“The concept of this whole project is basically we’re giving the students an opportunity to essentially take a practice run at being a professional composer scoring a video game,” says Matt Levine, producer and TAC faculty member. “The idea was to have the students write for a video game — a fictitious video game. We’re trying to expose them to this concept of the composer-client relationship. The composer also needs to sort of step into the shoes of being a producer, as well, and that they’re essentially serving a client with creative services.”

During the first visit to Sony at the beginning of the semester, students are briefed on a fictitious video game in development where they are collectively hired as a team of young composers who are all writing works in support of the game. Each student is given a character to write music for complete with story line, game art, and specific technical requests. Throughout the semester, students submit demos to the producers and receive revision requests as if they were working with an actual client. The workflow is intended to simulate the creative, professional, and technical demands placed on composers in real-world production scenarios. Often these requests occur on a tight deadline and require students to work within budgetary restraints and technical challenges. It may require recording a live violin over a synthesized percussion track, or simulate the sound of a whole string section by recording only a quartet and working studio magic on it. Other revision requests may strike an emotional tone such: “The climax of the piece needs a more tragic harmonic language.” The request could also be a technical challenge: “We need something that can loop for 12 bars and work with a variety of different bass lines.” Overall, students practice using the skills as they acquire them in the various coursework and experience a professional composition workflow from start to finish.

Click here to listen to a playlist of TAC students' works produced at Sony.

Click here to watch a video about TAC at Sony.