Hollywood musician visits Humber for workshop

by | Nov 18, 2016 | A&E

Brett McGarry


Music is what adds humanity to films and Norman Ludwin, a long time orchestrator and session musician who has been working in Hollywood for decades, understands this completely.

Ludwin came to Humber College Lakeshore Wednesday to share with students some ideas and tips behind his process of orchestration and what it takes to work in Hollywood.

A distinction worth making is the difference between orchestrator and composer. To put it simply an orchestrator writes the music and the composer decides which instruments play the parts and how they are arranged.

Like any aspect of Hollywood, working in music for movies is cut throat.

“An entire score will sometimes be put together and recorded in as little as 8 weeks. To make it at this level you have to be extremely organized, confident and experienced,” Ludwin said.

He has worked on major motion pictures such as Jurassic World, Star Trek Beyond, Star Trek into darkness, Super 8 and Priest.

During his workshop he went over how the industry has changed in recent years and what it means for musicians, orchestrators, and composers. Lately there has been in an increase in what is called ‘pop scores’. A pop score is when pop songs are used in place of original music and this has started to cut into the amount of work available to industry musicians.

“This can be a be a big selling point for some studios. They want their money back and having well known songs will put people in the seats,” said Ludwin.

This does not mean the end of the industry though. Many still feel the need for orchestral scores and often licensing songs by big artists will end up too costly. Ludwin mentioned how some director’s favorite part is coming to oversee the production of the music and how they “are like kids in a candy shop.”

The amount of high profile work Ludwin has done has not diminished, even with his busy schedule of teaching music, public speaking, writing and publishing.

“I had always wanted to work on Star Wars movies and I am excited to admit that I was able to work on the new Rogue One movie,” Ludwin said.

Ludwin’s involvement at Humber came by a chance meeting with instructor Paul Novotny.

“We had met at an event with the Screen Actors Guild and I was pleased to invite him to speak at Humber,” said Novotny.

Though some of the concepts he discussed were esoteric and specifically for students of music, his messages about work ethic could be well received by anyone in a creative field.

“You must do as many things as you can. The variety of things I do is good for my brain and my soul. Don’t get too locked in, you always have choices.”