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Interview with Mark Roos, Brooklyn-based composer and musician

Mark Roos has been creating music for over 25 years.
Mark Roos has been creating music for over 25 years. (used with permission)

It was the 19th century French novelist Victor Hugo (Les Miserables) who wrote: "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent."

Mark Roos has been creating music for over 25 years, initially inspired by classical greats such as Mozart and Beethoven when he was growing up in Europe. "I compose music that connects people in a powerful way," says Roos, now based in Brooklyn, New York. "It’s not just what I love to do – it’s what I live to do."

Classical Inspiration

For a time, Mark Roos lived in Vienna, and grew up a huge fan of classical music.

"I love Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler," says Roos. "For current composers, I would have to say that my favorites are James Horner and James Newton Howard, as well as Howard Shore. Their music has the most magical melodies that fit the films the score, the way they write for each scene, the character melodies they come up with are nothing short of amazing to me."

Modern living -- with its abundance of self-help literature and retail psychology -- may advocate the pursuit of one's passions. But the placement of instruments in the hands of well-deserving artists formulated the concept of justice in the ancient world.

According to Aristotle, "For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, and, in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and the well is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he has a function."

Translation: The best flutes should go to the best flute players because that's what they're for (to be played the best that they can be played).

Vision and Composition

So how does a musician create a unique composition for an audience?

According to Roos, it's about connecting with a vision. "I live to connect the directors to the actors, the actors to the scenes and the audience to the dreams they have within themselves," says Roos on his website.

While other musicians work exclusively on their own artistry or bands, Roos collaborates with a variety of developers and platforms. He's generated compositions for computer games, feature and documentary films, websites, radio, television shows, commercials and custom music production.

Such a diversity of projects requires an ability to adapt.

"I am currently working with CBS Sports for some of their sports programming as well as for the SciFi Channel," says Roos, in a July 29 interview. "And I have two movie projects, one that is just starting production and another that is currently in [post-production]."

The Brooklyn-based musician has won the following awards:

  • Rocky Mountain Emmy Award®, Best Musical Score, "Wing and A Prayer: The Saga Of ‘Utah Man’"
  • Student Academy Award®, "The Vermeers"
  • American Advertising Federation ADDY Award®, Best Musical Score, "Iomega Zip Disc"
  • Utah Broadcasters Association Gold Award, Best Musical Score, "The Spear and The Lion: The British Zulu War"
  • Garden State Film Festival Award, Best Musical Score, "God’s Square Mile"
  • Utah Broadcasters Association Silver Award, Best Musical Score, "Wing and A Prayer: The Saga Of ‘Utah Man’"
  • America’s Freedom Festival at Provo, "Let Freedom Ring," Best Score
  • Nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media award for a score featured in "Michael Port Think Big Revolution"

Creating Music

So how does Mark Roos go about creating music?

"Every show, regardless of the genre or medium, is telling a story, stories about the 'human experience'. I try to bring those stories to life, so that the viewing audience connects with the director's vision," says Roos. He adds: "I write to connect the director's story to the audience, to connect them with the hopes, dreams and even fears they may have in their own lives."

According to Roos, the composition should evoke emotions the audience is familiar with.

"I start by asking a lot of questions of the director. Often they are very clear on what they don't want, so I start there and begin to build a musical "painting" or "tapestry" of the scene, by creating melodies and ambiance tones that match the director's vision."

Unforgettable Melody

According to Roos, melody is a critical component of an outstanding composition, especially melody that becomes unforgettable.

Another component is arrangement.

"I love classical and contemporary film compositions for their powerful arrangements of orchestra instruments, I find that style captivating."

However, projects can also be challenging because of the exacting demands of directors.

"You have to understand, these directors have sometimes worked for years and years on a project, they know every scene, every camera angle, every line in the script," says Roos. "Crafting a score that connects the viewer with that vision is challenging, but it is one of the most rewarding aspects of composing for them. When a score is complete and it amplifies the director's vision, there isn't a better feeling in the world.

Follow Mark Roos on Twitter and YouTube.

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