Almost 500 and Almost 29,000

You’d never guess it to look at my desk, but I like to keep things on THE SIMPSONS pretty organized. 22 episodes per season times approximately 30 cues per episode means nearly 700 cues each season to catalog and archive. Then as we go into each new season, someone inevitably asks “How about that cue we did ‘x’ seasons ago? Let’s do that again or something like it.” This means I need to find cue ‘x’ so that we’re sure that’s really what we want and, if so, then Alf has to rearrange or restructure or rewrite the cue to fit the new scene.

At each and every scoring session, in addition to running the Pro Tools rig, running the Auricle Time Processor, and listening/watching to each cue, giving my two-cents on whether or not I think the cue is what the producers are looking for, I also take copious notes on each cue recorded. I note the “take” number, the length of the cue and a general description of the music. The description is purely based on the music, not the scene it’s accompanying. This way if I need to find something “scary” or “sad” or “ominous” (a producer favorite) or some other emotion I can search for the word in my computer stockpile of notes.

I made a decision on the first day of recording for THE SIMPSONS back on December 4, 1989 that has served me pretty well for nearly 22 years. I decided that all “takes” (each time we would record a cue, good or bad, kept or trashed) would be numbered consecutively throughout the episode and continuing to the next episode. Instead of there being 1M2, takes 1, 2, and 3, then 1M3, takes 1, 2, and 3, etc., it would be 1M2, takes 1, 2, and 3 then 1M3, takes 4, 5, and 6 and so on and so on from cue to cue, episode to episode. On that first day back in 1989 we started, of course, with take 1. Last Monday, October 24, 2011 we started the session with take 28,110.

Why consecutive takes numbers for the life of the series? Because nearly every week we record a 2M1 (the first cue of Act 2, the second chunk of the show after the first commercial break). That means we have well over 400 2M1s in the library. But as of this week there is only one 2M1, take 28,127 (the chosen take of 2M1 for NABF21 “Replaceable You”) This avoids any confusion about which 2M1 I need to use now or in the future.

We’re getting closer and closer to 29,000 takes and may reach that number by the time we record the music for episode 500. At the rate of nearly 700 cues per season we should be close to 31,000 takes by the time we reach the end of season 25, and I’ll keep taking notes for all of them right up to the bitter end.

I’ll close by letting you take a peek at my scoring notes for take 1 and for take 28,110. I was surprised at how few descriptive notes I took at that first session. You can see on the more recent sheet that I’m much better about paying attention to detail these days.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget that we’re back on the air this Sunday, October 30 with “Tree House of Horror XXII”.

Scoring Notes Episode 1 7G02 "Bart the Genius"Scoring Notes for episode 490 "Replaceable You"

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