What I Learned At A Simpsons Scoring Session

Related to yesterday’s post, my presence in the Los Angeles area for the 2013 CTN Expo did not go unnoticed. Chris Ledesma sniffed that I was in town and arranged for me to attend one of the music recording sessions for the Simpsons.


As you ought to know, Chris is the music editor for the show and has been for all of its 25 seasons. In the run-up to the 500th episode last year, he started a blog, Simpsons Music 500 to explain in exquisite detail just what goes into the musical side of the show.

All I can tell you, is that they don’t simply get a bunch of musicians into a room and record them. Well, they do, but it’s much more complex than that.

For starters, they’re professional musicians, which means they are talented and seasoned enough to play music they’ve only seen one time near perfectly. Secondly, there is Chris, composer Alf Clausen, and the rest of the crew working behind the glass to make sure it all gets recorded correctly.

Via: Sound on Sound
Via: Sound on Sound

It was astonishing to see they vast amount of work that goes into it all. Besides Alf having to compose the music, the recording itself is done on a proper soundstage with all the requisite musicians and technical equipment. On top of that, they work quickly. Almost all the entire episode was completed in a slightly longer than normal session, the reason for which is the greater than normal amount of music in this particular episode.

Being a regular reader of Chris’ blog, I thought I was prepared for the experience, but I quickly learned that I was not. It’s natural that everything sounds better live, but hearing and knowing that the music you’re listening to is destined for the legend of televised entertainment that is the Simpsons is something else. If anything, it made me sorely cognizant of how inadequate my current speakers at home are for reproducing all of Chris’ hard work.

Despite a lengthy session, I was fully engaged the entire time not only by the music but with all the wisecracks that were flying about between the crew too.

I came away from the evening not only being in awe at everything I had witnessed (and heard) but also having a much better appreciation for the place of music within animation and the talent behind it as well. Many thanks to Chris for the fantastic opportunity.

Finally, the most astonishing thing I learned?

Via: Simpsons Music 500
Via: Simpsons Music 500

The Auricle software Alf uses to cue the musicians and conductor runs on a laptop with a 486 processor! Don’t know how old that is? Here’s a hint!

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