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Memoirs of Composer Chance Thomas

Chapter 13 - Sneak Peek Excerpt

WARCRAFT (And Other Peripheral Life Savers)

It hurts to remember how demoralized I was.  

Down and out. No work, meager money, little hope. Anyone who has lived through extended unemployment knows how depressing and frightening it can be.  

It was early 2001. A cold, wet winter had settled over our California mountain community. The days were short and dark. The nights were long and miserable.  

I had no scoring projects. No way to earn money to put food on the table. I was getting desperate. In addition to my HUGEsound hunting and gathering efforts, I was starting to dig through “Help Wanted” postings, applying for jobs on the Internet, meeting with job training advisors, crafting resumes, trying just about anything to open some door. Any door.  

During an especially dark moment, a kindly man from my church congregation, Dean Fletcher, hired me to clean the carpets in his house. I almost broke down and cried, I was so grateful. Still, as I pushed the pink-smelling shampoo vacuum back and forth in long straight lines across the floor, I couldn’t help but wonder why no one wanted to hire me to compose music any more. 

I was still creating original demos and pitching for projects. I was still cultivating new and old friends in the game industry. I was reaching out to film and television contacts, and keeping in touch with old clients from the ad business. But nothing was coming back to me. The radio silence was carving deep, cavernous fractures in my soul.  

Perhaps only composers and actors can relate to the experience of auditioning again and again, putting out such an intimately personal expression of yourself with all your heart, all your hope… only to meet with an endless treadmill of rejection. It is profoundly, desperately agonizing.  


But churning milk does eventually turn to butter.  

My old friend from Sierra, Jason Hayes, called and asked if I would help him produce a live orchestral recording for an upcoming Warcraft III trailer. He even had a small budget for my services. Hallelujah! Warcraft was becoming a huge franchise, and I would have been thrilled to do anything on it. I would have shined Jason’s shoes and sharpened his pencils. As it turned out, this was Jason’s first time to record an orchestra, so he needed help locating a sound stage for the recording, contracting an orchestra, and booking an engineer. 

I was ecstatic, thrilled to be working on a music project again, even if it was someone else’s music. I booked Jason's session at the large chapel at LA East Studios. We brought in 25 string players and 10 brass players to perform the score, which Jason conducted. Between takes, I would occasionally offer an idea or observation through the headset. About half way through, we ran into problems with a viola part. Fortunately, I was able to fix the part and transcribe it back to sheet music during a break. There’s always something unexpected that comes up in the heat of a session.