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Creating Film Scores: A Step-by-Step Guide

Why another film score article?

There are so many different sources when it comes to soundtracks. So many interviews, tips and tricks, breakdowns and so on. Still, when I started planning my unit on film music, I felt that it was difficult to find small practical tasks. Since the population of my music classes is quite diverse, I wanted to create a framework that would allow students to do well with little knowledge. I also wanted to make sure that any kind of musical style would be acceptable.

Can you “hear” the picture?

Trending songs For some students, creating film scores can be quite intimidating. Especially if they lack keyboard skills, this can discourage and discourage students. I decided to start with the bigger picture – how to translate an image into music and vice versa. I usually have a good mix of musical preferences in my classes, so this question finally caters to the more classically inclined students with Beethoven’s Pastorale. I have chosen various examples from the symphony – from very simple (birds) to a bit more challenging.

Be creative with the first mini task.

I’m a big fan of “mini tasks”. Composition exercise in the range of 15 to 30 seconds. They are ideal for students’ short attention spans and allow them to explore a wide range of musical styles, tasks and compositions. If they are not satisfied with the result, they can always try again. In this case, I showed them a picture of the Helenen valley, where Beethoven liked to go for walks. Students had the choice of playing acoustic instruments, using a DAW, or a combination of both. An easy but beautiful combination was to include recorded nature sounds and add them to the composition.

Start of lesson:

When it comes to film music, students are often unaware of the wide variety of musical styles used in films. This lesson got them thinking:

So far, every class has been quite surprised by the number of films with Beethoven’s music. This regularly leads to entertaining discussions.

Playing with chords

Before we start a big project, I want to teach my students a few compositional techniques using the DAW of their choice. By demonstrating the construction of 7th and 9th chords, students will quickly understand the power of non-triad chords. When I don’t have time to get fancy with imovie or similar, I like to use screencasts like QuickTime Player, Screencast-o-matic or Screen Recorder Extension on chrome. Here is a simple example of a simple recording of note playing that I put into my notation software.

Preceding and following.

Students often have a good idea for a theme but don’t know how to proceed. A simple way to solve this is to teach them the idea of ​​before and after. For teaching purposes, I’m personally a fan of Musescore because it’s free, agnostic, relatively easy to use, and yet very powerful. The pieces that work well are topics that are short and to the point.


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