With shorter deadlines and reduced music budgets now the norm, especially in TV, composers need more help than ever. A new L.A. firm offers assistance by crafting sounds to order.
Umlaut Audio creates “custom software instruments and custom sounds for composers,” explains co-founder and CEO Marc Juenger. Especially in TV, he notes, “they have three or four days to write as much as 30 minutes of music,” and so much of it sounds alike because many are drawing from the same widely available sample libraries.
Juenger hopes to tap into the market by providing busy composers with custom-designed pads, drones, soundscapes, rhythmic loops, beat-driven sound design, sound effects and more.
“We create unique sounds for their specific project,” adds Marc’s wife Anne Juenger, co-founder and COO of the company. Clients can also choose whether the sounds created can be exclusive to them on a permanent basis; for a specific time period; or not at all.
They do not deliver music, Marc Juenger emphasizes. “The composer creates the music. We offer sound design,” although within that definition, many musical sounds can be the basis. He noted that composer John Debney, preparing to create mockups of his planned “Jungle Book” score, asked for the sounds of sampled Indian instruments.
Umlaut built instruments and libraries for composer Christopher Lennertz on two of his recent films, “Ride Along 2” and “The Boss.”
“As a composer writing music for multiple genres and using electronics combined with orchestra,” Lennertz says, “it’s really important to not only have great sounds, but also great sounds that are custom built to give a score a personality of its own. It’s also imperative that the interfaces are intuitive, since there’s no time to be ‘learning’ while we’re chasing deadlines.”
Other recent clients include composers Theodore Shapiro (for “Zoolander 2”), Fil Eisler (“Empire”), Harry Gregson-Williams and Tyler Bates (ongoing projects).
Based in Sherman Oaks, with a full-time staff of four and a list of freelancers they can employ, the Juengers ask for a minimum of three days to prepare sounds but can spend months on a job if necessary.
“It’s a process,” Marc says. “We will send (sample) sounds for a sound aesthetic first, so that we really know what (the composer) wants, and then we can make revisions. It’s like working with an orchestrator. It’s a team. We listen, work with them, and figure it out.”