Top Score

Sam Dillard is a one-man music-making machine

A music machine at House on the Rock in Wisconsin.Justin Kern - Creative Commons

Top Score for July 9, 2015


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July 09, 2015

The plot for the film August Rush seems impossible: A young man creates breathtaking compositions without any formal training. That sort of skill, without years of classes, seems impossible. Then we heard about Sam Dillard, and after one listen to his Star Trek Suite, we knew we had to get him on Top Score.

When it comes to video games, Sam is a one-man army. Completely self-taught, he not only composes music, but also performs and records his work. And then, if he's passionate about a piece, he can design and animate visual sequences to accompany the music. When asked how he became so adept at his work, Sam credits his frequent moving as a child — he was able to devote more time to learning a new skill when his life was in flux.

Sam's studio is proof that effort and passion play a larger role than equipment. He uses a couple of speakers, a keyboard and a high-powered computer for all of his work. The secret lies in his modifications — Sam built the computer himself, and he modified the keyboard's voicings to his choosing. After all the work constructing his custom-built sound library and computer, he was recently hired by Kinect for its new Harry Potter trailer.

Try to remember throughout this episode that Sam doesn't even read music. The larger-than-life, cinematic sound comes straight from his hard work and persistence.