Music Composer

By TACP Staff on July 26, 2021

Music composers are individuals who write and sometimes arrange music for a variety of purposes. Within the entertainment field, music compositions are needed for movies, independent films, commercial jingles, soundtracks, conventions, special events, music recording and production; and a host of other related activities. Songwriters can work: independently, with an agent, or on staff with a music publisher or production company, just to name a few.

What Is Music Composition?

Musical composition is a piece of music that has been written in musical notation. This means that music notes and other symbols are written – or drawn – on a piece of blank sheet music. Musicians can then use the musical notes and other symbols to play the number.

There are several different types of musical compositions. Two of the most common types are classical and jazz compositions, but other types are also prevalent, including rock and pop. Compositions are usually written for specific instruments, including pianos, violins, guitars, trumpets, and even percussion instruments.

Once a musician masters a certain instrument, he may then decide to start writing, or composing, his own music.

What Does a Music Composer Do?

A composer typically writes original musical compositions. These compositions might be played in concert by the composer himself, or by other musicians.

The musical compositions that a composer creates may be used for several different purposes. For example, they might be played by musicians in concert halls in front of live audiences. Some composers also create original compositions for use in live-action television shows and films, as well as animated features.

When creating a musical composition, a composer will sometimes need to create a certain mood or emotion with the piece. For example, a suspenseful scene in an animated film may require a slow suspenseful piece, with low drawn out notes. On the other hand, a fun scene may require cheerful, upbeat music. In some instance, a composer may have the choice to create any sort of music he prefers.

A composer will usually need to know how to play at least one instrument extremely well. While he is composing his pieces, he will usually need to play certain parts from time to time. By doing this, he can add, delete, or change certain notes or other elements of a composition until he deems it to be perfect. After a musical composition is complete, a composer will then usually play the entire number all the way through several times, which can help him correct any parts of the composition that does not flow or sound right.

In addition to writing music, most composers will usually perform other musical tasks as well. For instance, they might play in or conduct an orchestra in front of a live audience. Some conductors might also play and record their pieces as well.

Music Composer Education & Training Requirements

One of the most important requirements for a music composition career is a love and appreciation for music. Successful composers must be able to feel the emotion and mood in the music, as well as hear the sounds of the music. Actually, in a few rare cases, composers don’t actually even need to physically hear the music. One of the world’s most renowned composers and musicians, Ludwig van Beethoven, was completely deaf, and he still created original compositions as well as performing them.

In order to start a career in musical composition, an individual must first understand how to play at least one instrument and write music. While a select few may be able to teach themselves these skills, a music-related degree is often necessary for a sound music school.

Associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees in music theory or composition are extremely helpful when pursuing a music composition career. When earning their degrees, many composers will also take play in a school’s orchestra or band.

Related Articles

Music Composer Salary & Job Outlook


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, music directors and composers made, on average, $52,750 in 2010. Musicians, on the other hand, who typically aren’t salaried workers made an average hourly wage of $30.22 in that same year.

Job Outlook

Breaking into a music composition career can be very difficult at times, as this is a very competitive field. Some very talented composers may be able to write, perform, and sell all of their original pieces, but it typically takes years for a composer to make a name for himself.

Large concert halls and opera houses will often work with very talented independent composers. Many times, though, the individuals who compose music for these organizations will also perform other jobs as well, such as playing in or conducting the orchestra.

Movie producers, animation studios, and advertising agencies also work with composers on a regular basis. These composers may be called upon to create original music for movies and television shows, or they may be asked to create jingles and other music for television commercials.

Helpful Organization, Societies & Agencies

Related Careers in Music and Sound

Consider these related careers in Music and Sound.