The Art of Scoring and Composing for Film

A good film can overwhelm you with emotions through the use of an interesting story, character portrayal, and well-written dialogue. What people don’t take into consideration is the musical score, which often goes unnoticed, but has the capability to change the mood of an entire scene.

While the dialogue is the most important sound in film, there are many other sonic elements that create the world in the screen, one of which is the score. Once hired, composers will establish a close relationship with the director and go over the script to understand the desired sound of the film. The composer will then begin writing the score as well as hire staff to help perform, record, and mix.

The score is divided into “cues” which are different pieces of music that are used for different scenes. Often, the composer will work with the director, music editor, and/or producer once the music is completed, to decide how the music will be used in each scene. These “spotting sessions” are very important for creating the final score because they cover every action and cut that needs to be accentuated by the score. The music will be altered to cater the spotting session notes, and will finally be ready for the final dub. Depending on the scene and what the director likes, the music will either take charge over the sound effects, mix it’s way around them, or lie underneath everything.

When creating the score, the composer will write to the mood of the scene as well as the actions and edit cuts. It is important to start a cue with a subtle entrance after an important moment takes place in the scene, which is known as a “beat.” The score will contain “hits” which are accents in the music that sync with edits or important moments. The types of hits, continuity and contrast, transitions, and tempo are all important factors in creating an excellent score.

By Gabriel Guzman

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