Name: Pedro Bromfman
Occupation: film/tv composer
Current Release: Far Cry 6 on Ubisoft Music
Recommendations: If you haven’t watched Cinema Paradiso, drop everything and do it now! It’s such a special movie and the music, oh the music… Thank you Giuseppe Tornatore and Ennio Morricone! /A piece of music I’d highly recommend is Adagio For Strings from Samuel Barber. It beautifully illustrates how darkness can be scored with beautiful melodies.
If you enjoyed this interview with Pedro Bromfman explore his discography on pedrobromfman.com
When did you start writing/producing film music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started working with music for visuals in 2002. I had worked as a session musician, music producer and composer/instrumentalist for several years before venturing into scoring. I moved to LA with my girlfriend, now wife, Daniela in 2001. She joined the film program at UCLA and we met a lot of filmmakers, made friends from all over the world, and a lot of them needed music for their projects. I had studied composition at Berklee and worked with very diverse styles of music since my teenage years, so I felt it was just a natural fit. From there I started scoring commercials and trailers, then documentaries, TV, feature films and video games.
As for influences, Ennio Morricone is certainly my number one! I remember watching Cinema Paradiso when I was 13 or 14 years old, in the movie theatre, with my father. I was blown away by that movie and the music, wow! It’s interesting that I never thought of film scoring as a career path for me until I moved to California. Maybe I was discouraged by the tremendous music of Mr. Morricone.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I got into film scoring at 25 and, I feel I had lived a few different musical lives by then. I had grown up listening (and playing) Brazilian music, Rock and Blues, became fascinated with Jazz around 15 and decided to go to Berklee to study Jazz composition and performance. After that I spent time in Argentina and got into Tango, while also being fascinated with Caribbean music. I worked as an arranger and produced instrumental Latin music before moving to California and studying film scoring and orchestration at UCLA. I truly believe your collection of musical experiences and studies come together to shape who you are as an artist and composer. From there, as you work on your craft and get more and more projects under your belt, you hopefully find your voice. Even though in this field you may need to re-invent yourself every time you start a new project. It’s probably one of the most exciting parts of my job.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I feel that identity, musical and non-musical experiences, become an endless source of inspiration to draw from when you are creating music. And the more experiences you have as professional, the larger that pool becomes.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
My main challenges when I started composing was learning the technology and figuring out how to produce quality music on my own. Before moving to LA I would write down my ideas, rehearse with other musicians and go into a studio to get them recorded by an engineer, who would run the entire session technically speaking. During my first few years in LA I really had to learn how to make music using a computer, how to record at home and make those tracks sound good, up to Hollywood standards. It wasn’t easy, but now I consider my studio my main instrument. I don’t think I would have been a film composer if I hadn’t started around the same time this audio technology revolution was happening.
What, to you, are the main functions and goals of soundtracks and film music and how would you rate their importance for the movie as a whole? How do you maintain a balance between, on the one hand, artistic integrity and sticking to your creative convictions and, on the other, meeting the expectations of the director?
I think of music as the soul of a movie, TV show or game. It’s not something you see or need to be paying attention to, but it makes all the difference. You feel it almost subconsciously, it’s a lot of times what makes you cry or gives you goose bumps during a scene. It helps you connect with a character or feel a certain way about a particular situation. It also helps the filmmakers or developers tell their story, it gives pace, emotion, a sense of anticipation, fear as well as keeping the audience on the edge of their seats in the bombastic action sequences.
As a “media composer”, especially one working on high profile projects, you have to understand that you have a supporting role and you’re there to serve the show. If you’re working on a film with a writer director, you know your job is to support their vision and tell their story. Hopefully you’re brought in as an equal collaborator and your creative input and ideas are considered invaluable to the project. It’s then your job to figure out how to create music that’s exciting to you as a composer, while doing what’s best for the film. It doesn’t matter if you create the most beautiful piece of music, if it’s not right for the scene.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of film music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
Sound and sound design has become a huge part of film music. I think as technologies developed in film and TV, as audiences started having more and more elements competing for their attention in the movie theatre (sound FX, visual FX, intricate camera movements, fast editing, etc), this trend emerged where melodies were considered dated and distracting. The concept that the music was there for colour and pacing, but shouldn’t stand out too much, was prevalent for a few years. I think we’re now finding a balance where melodies and themes are coming back, while at the same time composers spend a tremendous amount of time finding the right sounds, ambiences, creating their own software instruments to find the right timbers for a score. I think sound design and composition go hand in hand for modern composers.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with the other creatives involved in a film production?
I have a very self-contained setup. It’s usually just me and my right-hand man Juan Carlos Enriquez, working on the music for a project. I play a lot of the instruments in most of my scores but always try to bring in the right players, depending on what I’m working on and what I need in a score. Finally, if the project calls for an orchestra or string section, that’s really the cherry on top. When you get to go to a place like Air studios or Abbey Road, and hear amazing musicians adding their magic to the notes you’ve written, it’s truly special.