Each year hundreds of composers of film, games, TV and media from around the world gather in Germany to attend the composing congress Soundtrack Cologne. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year along with some of my classmates and Course Director, thanks to the support of the Principal’s Go Abroad fund. The congress aims to support composers who are finding their feet in this sometimes quite brutal industry, by inviting well established professionals to present their achievements, ideas and approaches through lectures, discussions and workshops.
The main presentation stage
Prior to travelling I was nervous as the others that I knew travelled and resided separately. I have never travelled to a foreign country alone before and navigating an unfamiliar city and using the public transport without the support of a friend was an exciting experience; I feel confident about doing this again in the future. There was also time to explore the beautiful Rhine River and the stunning Cologne Cathedral and to attend a music jam session at a Cologne music studio.
Evening view of the Rhine and the Cathedral
Jamming in Bernd Keul’s music studio
The conference itself propelled us into networking and discussing our music from the point of view of being an established industry professional. The amount of advice and knowledge gained from this was astounding; it was certainly not possible to experience from reading alone. I got to meet and chat with students from international Universities and meet experienced and inspiring composers including Christophe Heral (Video Games: Rayman Origins, The Adventures of Tintin), Christian Henson (TV: Top Gear, Poirot, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Video Games: Alien, Assassin’s Creed) and Reinhold Heil (Cloud Atlas – one of my favourite films!).
Meeting Reinhold Heil
One of the most outstanding parts of the week was meeting and talking with Jessica Curry (Dear Esther, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture) one of the most prominent female composers working in the games industry today. There are so few female composers working for any media format that it was hugely inspirational to hear about Jessica’s success and her views on this matter. I believe as a female myself this can either be seen as a disadvantage or an advantage; I choose to follow the latter and only allow it to give me more determination. After feeling the welcoming atmosphere from hundreds of other international composers I am pleased to be a respected member of this community.
To demonstrate the success of this attitude I was lucky enough to be hired on the spot by one of the organisers of Soundtrack Cologne, Helge Borgarts, to contribute some music to his company’s next game release and their forthcoming album of epic music. Thanks to the amazing Principal’s Go Abroad Fund I have started on the next step in my career as through this I will achieve my very first IMDb composing credit; the golden ticket for a composer starting out on this journey. What a fantastic outcome to a fantastic week! Furthermore I have returned with cultural and language knowledge and gained a fascinating insight into the unique place that Germany and other countries hold in the soundtrack industry.
Helge Borgarts, Yati Durant (my course director) myself and others at the closing ceremony