Student Interview: Tom Parsons

At ThinkSpace Education, we always encourage our students to reach out, whether that is course feedback or if it’s project that they have recently worked on. We are happy to share with you an interview we did recently with premium course student, Tom Parsons, who has recently done the Music for the Media course.

Hi Tom! Thanks for letting us interview you. We know you are interested in both games and film, when did you first realise you wanted to compose music for these mediums?

Tom: Well from 2012-2015, I was doing a BA in music performance and Technology and we got to sit in on some other classes and one of these was called Sound for Film. We only got to sit in a few lessons but for one of them we had to compose music to a scene from Pan’s Labyrinth.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed it and ended up doing a few horror tracks for my song writing module that year, which made a nice change from all the rock tracks I was composing. For my third year on my degree I worked on a big audio drama project doing some acting, composing, directing, sound design and art work. I really enjoyed this experience and then realised this is something I wanted to do for a living, I wanted to be a media composer.

Which composers have influenced your work the most?

Tom: I have to say John Carpenter, many people only know him as a director but he also wrote the score for many of his films including Halloween. The theme for Halloween is very simple, despite being 5/4, but so affective and distinctive, it taught me a very interesting lesson that music does not have to have a million notes per second to be considered great. Murray Gold who has composed the music for the last 9 seasons of Doctor Who and also The Musketeers: he is truly an epic composer, composing pieces which bring excitement, sadness, horror and beauty.

The work of Murray Gold really brought out my orchestral side. I can definitely sense some of Daniel Licht in my work, I loved his music for the TV series Dexter it has some dark mysterious pieces such as the blood theme but also had contrasting light and uplifting pieces such as Astor’s Birthday Party. The darker pieces are really absorbing, and although some are very simple melodically, a lot of work has gone into laying the tracks and making them sound haunting or mysterious, they are memorable and make you feel something. Finally, Danny Elfman for his haunting and terrifying Sleepy Hollow soundtrack has crept its way into a few of my orchestral horror compositions.

Do you have a favourite game soundtrack?

Tom: This is a tricky one, I find it so hard to pick one favourite. I really do enjoy the score to God of War; it’s so dramatic, powerful and memorable. Also I really enjoyed the score to Alien Isolation, it really sucked me further into the Alien world.

What experience/Technical expertise did you have before starting the course?

Tom: I started learning guitar in 2008, which is my main instrument and I can also play some bass, ukulele and a bit of piano. I have drifted away a lot over the years away from instruments and I am much more into my software and samples these days. I started earning some money for my music a few months before I started the course as I work on several podcasts, such as Small Town Horror , which I have been with since the show began and Jim Robbie and the Wanderers, which I joined a few episodes into their second season, so I knew how to write to a brief, work with clients and organise my files. I also received a Triple Merit in my Music Patrice Diploma in 2012 and a 2:1 in my BA Music Performance and Technology in 2015.

How did you find out about ThinkSpace Education?

Tom: I found ThinkSpace when I was looking for Masters courses. There were tons of online Masters courses but most were theory based writing essays and I didn’t want to write essays for a living, I wanted to compose music. I spoke to Bradley, one of ThinksSpace’s tutors who recommended I try the Music for the Media Course before doing the Masters Courses.

How have you been getting on?

Tom:The amount I have learnt about sample libraries since joining the course has been extremely valuable. Before joining the course I only had free samples and many of my pieces using the free samples can still be found on my SoundCloud. Not only has it helped me be aware of what the choices are but how some of them work, and how to install them. Since joining the course I have purchased Spitfire Albion one, Olympus Elements , Komplete 10 and also some of the Spitfire Labs Range.

I also bought another computer, a 16GB one so it could handle more samples and have less freezing problems. This was something else that ThinkSpace has helped me overcome, the fear of spending money. I use to be very afraid of buying expensive items but ThinkSpace made me realise that this is stuff I am going to use regularly and will gain me more work. I have also tried out some new genres and types of media such as the Children’s TV show in unit 2, Documentary and the horror comedy kids show which I really loved doing. The tutorial videos by Guy Michelmore are quite engaging and it’s interesting to see a range of views from other composers, producers and directors in the course materials. Some of the briefs are really detailed whereas some are a bit vague but I think that is the same when you are working, some clients are really detailed and some others know what they want but don’t know how to word it.

Thanks Tom for sharing! Check out Tom’s work here.

Are you interested in studying video game music and audio with ThinkSpace? Our post graduate game audio courses like the MFA Game Music and Audio,  MA Composing for Video Games and MA Sound Design for Video Games are all taught by experienced professionals who are at the top of their game. If you have any questions, get in touch and a member of the ThinkSpace team will get in contact as soon as possible.

About the Author

Matt Lightbound

Matt is at the helm of all the things video game related. He's worked in the industry as a sound designer, composer, audio editor and voice casting/directing.

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