Here’s an interesting video from Chris Siddall’s channel (lots of great stuff there) interviewing Conrad Pope about James Horner, and particularly The Rocketeer:
It’s fun to hear about the old days, before mockups, of pencil-and-paper, and people pulling all-nighters to get the scores ready for the orchestra the next morning.
One interesting thing Conrad says is how, as an orchestrator, it could be freeing to work from a sketch and a piano demonstration rather than a full synth mockup.
I don’t have a lot of regrets in life, but if there’s one thing I could change, I would have taken piano, and not the Suzuki violin method, when I was five or six.
I think it’s absolutely true that many of the best composers have great keyboard skills, which lets them realize their vision with great speed and efficiency.
And I think there’s a clarity and simplicity that comes from a piano demo, as opposed to all the bells and whistles of a synth demo.
Basically, to be a good piece of music, it has to be able to survive being stripped down to its keyboard essentials.