In many ways, classical and pop composers are really after the same thing: to communicate emotion to an audience. Sometimes I play a recording of the Prokofiev Third Piano Concerto for my kids (ages 15, 13, and 10) and they love it. The other day we were listening to it as we were driving to a restaurant and we got to the restaurant halfway into the first movement. I was about to turn off the car and one of my kids said, “Wait, Dad, the ‘drop’ is about to happen.” The drop is a term they use in pop music when there is a long build to a climax and then the main theme comes back. So I suppose just about every classical composer knew that by creating sections and building tension and eventually leading back to the theme, they were creating a drop that would last for centuries.
I was asked to score a reality show. Working on this kind of program was something of a shock: scoring reality shows is a completely different animal than scoring scripted film or television. When scoring a scripted film or television show, the composer waits until there is a “locked” picture. This means that the producers and director have completed their edit of the show and it will not change. The composer can then write music to match the visuals moment by moment. In unscripted programs, the music is done separately for about 80 percent of the show. The picture editors have the music in advance of editing the picture. They are, in essence, editing the picture to the music, rather than the other way around.