James Cannell

Composer & Orchestrator

James Cannell on SoundBetter

Nothing beats hearing the music you have composed being played by an orchestra. But how do you go from rough sketch to professional score? This is where I come in. Whether it's a small piano sketch or a near completed piece, I will orchestrate your music for small, medium or large ensemble.

I'm a U.K Based Composer and Orchestrator for Film, Video Game and Television with 10+ years experience in Film Score Orchestration and composition. My journey began at 8 years old, studying guitar with Tim Jefferson (BBC Midland Radio Orchestra, The John Barclay Collection). Since then, further studies in Film Orchestration have been guided by Jason Frederick (101 Dalmations 2: Patch's London Adventure), Jim Davies (Prodigy) and Dr. Norman Ludwin.

My career began with a short score for an online fighting game called Eugene Houdin in 2013. Since then i've worked on multiple projects for the Stanford Space Institute, Lyndon White Illustration, Everdream Pictures, Engage One Video, Clacton Musical Theatre Society and many more.

Alongside my primary career of composition and orchestration, I also develop Kontakt Instruments to enable other composers to create music.

Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.

Interview with James Cannell

  1. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  2. A: I recently worked on a Kickstarter campaign for a graphic novel. I was asked to create a 90 second orchestral track in the style of the authors favourite composer. Having never heard of the person, and with a quick turnaround, it was quite a pressured time of research, composition and mock-up. It came out really well and the author was extremely happy. I also sent him a digital copy of the orchestral score too even though it was requested.

  3. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  4. A: Score study. Never stop learning your craft.

  5. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  6. A: Either. If it sounds good, it doesn't matter

  7. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  8. A: To always deliver more than is expected

  9. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  10. A: Helping others create and achieve their vision

  11. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  12. A: Most are intrigued about the process of going from very little in terms of musical sketches into full orchestral pieces.

  13. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  14. A: That I sit behind a keyboard and press a few buttons. Music isn't that hard, right?

  15. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  16. A: I don't normally tend to ask to many as most clients i've worked with have a pretty clear idea of what they want.

  17. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  18. A: You don't have to know all the musical terminology to converse with composers and orchestrators. We're pretty good at figuring out what you're after.

  19. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  20. A: My Jackson 'Adrian Smith' signature guitar, iMac, Presonus Studio 68c, Headphones and a cushion to sit on.

  21. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  22. A: I was made redundant from a job in 2010 and decided that I would take a year off to decide where I wanted to head in life. During that year I met one of the most amazing people I know who I instantly clicked with. We sat around at weekends and began writing songs, something which I had never done before, but with him it was as easy as breathing. After that, I decided that i'd see where music could take me.

  23. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  24. A: John Williams. If it wasn't for him, we would never have gotten scores such as Star Wars, E.T, Jurassic Park. The list is endless. I would love to just watch his process and take as much information and knowledge as possible.

  25. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  26. A: Don't wait for inspiration. Write daily and keep EVERYTHING!. You never know when it could get used.

  27. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  28. A: Normally symphonic orchestral

  29. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  30. A: Orchestration

  31. Q: What's your typical work process?

  32. A: Depends on the job.

  33. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  34. A: I'm currently running a 2017 iMac 27" with 64GB ram. Standard software used is Sibelius, Logic Pro X and Kontakt.

  35. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  36. A: This is a difficult question but Michael Jackson has to be in the list. After hearing Beat It for the first time, that was it. I wanted to be the next Eddie Van Halen. As my musical tastes evolved, Iron Maiden and John Williams became the main inspirations for the music I compose.

  37. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  38. A: Short sampled instrument mock-ups for videos on YouTube and Kickstarter campaigns along with production music.

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