Emmy winning composer helps UNO students

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October 11th, 2013

Composer Larry Groupe' knew from a young age that he would work in Hollywood.(Photo Courtesy Larry Groupe')

Composer Larry Groupe’ knew from a young age that he would work in Hollywood.(Photo Courtesy Larry Groupe’)

Omaha, NE – Emmy Award winning composer Larry Groupe’ shared tricks of the trade with a group of students at the University of Nebraska Omaha Thursday.

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Groupe’ has composed scores for film and television including: Straw Dogs, Resurrecting the Champ and The Contender.

He knew from a young age that he had a knack for music.

“My mom started me really young,” he said. “I always changed the music as a kid taking piano lessons. I don’t know why, but I just did and it infuriated the teachers of course.”

At 17-years-old he decided he wanted to be a composer in the entertainment industry. He attended the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific, and he went on to earn his Masters of Music in Composition at the University of California at San Diego.

He began writing jingles after graduation, but decided to put his energy into creating music in Hollywood. Soon, an agent sent him a script from up-and-coming director Rod Lurie. The two worked on several projects together before hitting it big with the Oscar nominated film The Contender.

“What can often happen with composers is that if you’re attached with a director that’s moving up and if that director remains loyal to you, which I was very lucky to have Rod do, you in turn you will move along with that director and that’s a pretty common way to go not that all directors will stick with their composers they don’t but often many of them do because they start building a critical team that seems to understand them and they move forward.”

As an independent composer, Groupe’ is in charge of selecting musicians to play his compositions. Once he knows which city he will record in, he works with a specialized music contractor to hand-pick and fill-out the key players and string sections.

Although writing music and hiring a band is the tried and true method of recording, Groupe’ said technology is changing the industry.

“It has allowed a lot more people to get into movie music that weren’t necessarily musically trained to begin with. They may be really good on computer technology and they can patchwork a score together so it has allowed a lot of new people to come in which is always good for the craft but it’s also been a very kind of a nutty world because a lot of the people who want to do big Hollywood scores believe it or not can’t even read or write music yet they are credited as the composers for doing these elaborate computer pieces and they have to pass them off to a series of professionals to make them come to life so it’s a really interesting time in that way.”

Nate Van Fleet, a music performance major at UNO, is a musician interested in film scoring. He found Groupe’s breakdown of the film making process to be the biggest takeaway from the lecture.

“I thought it was really interesting. He had a lot of cool examples. You can read about this kind of thing but to get the actual first person perspective from someone who’s doing it and making a living is cool.”

Groupe’ said anyone interested in composing for television and film should build their resume by working with local filmmakers.

“You build slowly experiences and short films that you do for students and for emerging young filmmakers and you build it one little film at a time until something starts to click.”

Groupe’ is prepping to create the score for his first horror film and a new western-themed television series. He will end his lecture series at Oberlin College October 22 before continuing the tour on the West Coast. Groupe’s presentation was sponsored by UNO’s Department of Music.

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