Classical music & movie scores
Having some basic knowledge about classical music is not a bad idea. Even if chances are big that you will not reuse those ideas directly, listening to classical music will allow you to get ideas on how things can be combined and you’ll learn a lot about complex music arrangements. You will probably not do stuff that’s as sophisticated as Morzart’s or Beethoven’s symphonies, unless you’re into some crazy progressive rock, but at least you’ll get an idea of what’s possible, and of what has been done before.
While most of the music you’ll do later on will probably be much shorter and less complex, you will at least want to do some more sophisticated songs on your album that will show what you’re capable of. In this case classical music may give you some additional ideas on how to build more complex structures.
Both heavy metal and progressive rock are often credited sharing complexity with classical music, and some heavy metal subgenres have been greatly influenced by classical music too. Guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen were quite successful in the 1980s, reusing many elements of classical music in neoclassical metal and other subgenres.
Some classical composers you should know include:
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
- Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
- Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
- Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
- Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
- Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
- Guiseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
- Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
- Pjotr Iljitsch Taschaikowski (1840-1893)
- Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
- Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
- Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
- George Gershwin (1898-1937)
You may also listen to movie scores, as this is a great way to get ideas for arrangements. Film composers such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, and others have created incredibly great scores, and you should definitely know those. Buy some OSTs (Original Sound Tracks) or some compilations, but make sure to always get the original versions.
Beck’s father David Campbell is a composer, arranger, and conductor who has been working on over 450 gold and platinum albums. Campbell has been doing movie scores as well as arrangements for Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Paul McCartney, Green Day, Radiohead, Neil Diamond, Sheryl Crow, Adele, Michael Jackson, Linkin Park, and many others, as well as for his son of course.
At a certain point of time you may need to write some arrangements with strings, choirs, and other orchestral elements for some of your songs, and as you probably can’t afford a professional composer you should start listening to some classical music and film scores as soon as possible, so that you will at least have an idea of what can be done.