"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Sounds
September 15, 2006

Film Music

I’m coming to the end of my 12 week course on Film Scoring with Berklee. It has been a tough road. Working with timecodes and socring to video in Logic Pro has been much harder than I had anticipated. One of the things I have discovered is that writing film music is quite unlike writing […]

I’m coming to the end of my 12 week course on Film Scoring with Berklee. It has been a tough road. Working with timecodes and socring to video in Logic Pro has been much harder than I had anticipated.

One of the things I have discovered is that writing film music is quite unlike writing most other forms of music. Normally, I would start writing with a melody, a groove and a rythmn. Tempo and the final length of the song only emerge once one is well into the writing process. In fact, it is not unusal to settle on a tempo once the song is virtually finished.

By contrast, in film music you start with time – not just tempo and beats, but absolute time. To aim at writing 15 seconds of music, with a dramatic moment at 2.5 seconds and 9.875 seconds takes some getting used to.

What the course has also done is drive home the “narrative” function of music, that is, the music’s role in helping to tell the story. Watching a number of examples of films I had scene without their score, it was clear how emotionally “empty” they became.

One of the examples from the course was the city scene from Baraka. I took the liberty of rescoring that scene with music that better fitted my “ideology” of city life and it was stunning the way the scene seemed to tell a very different story.

I’ll write some more once the final assignments are in (scoring a documentary) and I have a clearer head. Without doubt I will be commenting more on music in my film reviews and adding a section to the draft book on Film and Theology.

[tags] Film Scoring [/tags]

Responses
Mary Hess 16 years ago

Is there any chance you’d ever be willing to share that assignment? I mean, share the scoring you did for that scene? I’m always trying to help my students, in the context of media awareness, be attentive to things such as how music shapes meaning — and being able to play the same scene with two different scores would be a fabulous example!

Dana Ames 16 years ago

Been lurking awhile, Fernando, and have very much enjoyed your writing & thoughts.

Having a daughter who is a dancer, what you describe with film scoring sounds familiar with regard to ballet- those famous composers who wrote for ballets were presented with similar lists by choreographers 🙂

Dana Ames
Ukiah California

Rodd Jefferson 16 years ago

Fernando,
I’d also love to hear & see your scoring. I’ve always wanted to give it a shot but the closest I came was music for advertising.

I know a few musicians with terrible time who may accidentally stumble across the dramatic moments at the right time (aiming for a more regular beat but missing terribly!). The trick is getting them to repeat it!

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Thanks for your comment Mary. There is a copyright issue in sharing the scored film. However, I can put up the music when I update the music clips page I think. Certainly you could acheive a similar result by showing that scene with Gershwin’s rhapsody in blue playing.

It’s encouraging to hear that you are making your students film music aware.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Dana thanks for your comment and for reading the blog!

Also, you’ve piqued my curiosity about ballet as well. I’ll have to read more about how those scores were written.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Rodd – advertising music, that’s cool. Any ads I would recognise?

Repeating things is always the challenge. Just this morning I played a fantastic flute part with the DAW, then realised the track was not set to record. Could I get it again with the right feel? Not a chance.

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