Composers write music pieces that may range in length and difficulty from 30-second radio jingles to symphonies. Once a music piece is created, a composer either produces a recording of it, or ensures the piece can be performed by others by creating accurately annotated sheet music for each instrument involved in the piece. They generally have no other specific duties unless they:
- Are composers-in-residence for symphony orchestras, choral groups or post-secondary schools
- Are college instructors or university professors
- Have accepted a commission or signed a contract that defines additional responsibilities
Composers often develop a style of their own, but may produce music in other styles when required by clients. For example, they may be commissioned to compose music for a live dance performance, a new symphony, or a film or television soundtrack. They may work closely with artistic directors, film editors, arrangers, conductors or music copyists to complete final scores, or with performers in rehearsals and recording sessions.
Film and television composers study films and scripts and work with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of the music so that it creates the desired effect.
Increasingly, composers use computer software and synthesizers to independently produce complex music scores, to orchestrate and to create new arrangements, and to output sheet music.