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Topic: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

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  1. #1

    HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    So, I'm working on my entry for that TCM Young Film Composers thingie, while I'm still considered "young". (As of June I'll be "not young", I suppose.) I improvised some vocal lines and picked the best one to indicate a general structure for the piece and then I went back and am arranging everything to essentially match that (although I've gone off in different directions here and there). It's going well and has been a great learning experience, but here's my question and concern...

    One of the rules of this competition is that everything must be notated. The audio demo is not enough. And I'm thinking, "How the heck do film composers get every piece they compose for a film to be the right tempo in the notation?" How can you notate that precisely enough so that it will be performed and recorded correctly to match the film cues??

    In this one minute piece I'm working on, there are at least ten or more specific things where the music is supposed to hit a cue with what is on the screen, and there are, I think, three very different tempos at different points, as well as many points when the tempo picks up or slows down a bit. So I went through and input the tempo settings to work with the cues and still be in line with the meter, but how can you really be accurate with that in terms of notation? Does your notation for a film score indicate that in bar 12 you are at 205 bpm and at bar 13 it is 215 and bar 14 225, etc.? And are the conductor and musicians expected to be able to match that? And if it's not that specific, only using the basic tempo indications like moderato and ritardando and things like that, then how can it be expected to exactly match the film cues? Two different conductors' ideas of what those terms mean in terms of exact tempo could be different, eh?

    So, I hope someone understands what I'm trying to say and can elaborate on this. I know I can get my demo score to sound how I want it to and to match the film piece, but I'm just not sure how the notation would work to match that.

    Thanks,
    Shaz
    www.EricHermanMusic.com
    - Cool Tunes for Kids -

  2. #2
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    Smile Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    Ok, sorry to waste space without exactly answering this for you but I would think that; Yes, for film scoring, you should have the exact tempos notated. I'm sure that when an orchestra is on a sound stage with a conductor for the actual recording of a piece of film music, there is probably a click, either audible or visible for the conductor to keep the whole thing precisely where it needs to be in relation to the film. Do they require sequencer files also? By the way, I turned "too old" during the contest. Lol, seems like a bummer for a lot of aspiring middle aged beginners huh? Hope this helps. You might also post this in the "Sample Libraries" section of NS. Best of luck.

    Eric

  3. #3

    Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    You just made the classic filmscoring blunder. You thought of the music first.

    Usually, you'll need to time the picture out and get either a sequencer locked to picture or in your case you need to take timing notes and then match your music to that.

    You'll be forever guessing at tempi and hits if you think of music first. Picture drives all unless you can convince them to change the edit to match your music. Rare but can happen.

    It's a tough one as your approach now has no real time associated with it. Maybe you can make a tempo track in your sequencer by manually taping in the tempo. Then you can use that tempo track to set up your written score. Then you'll need to mark tempo and tempo changes in your score and bring the tempo track with you.

    I wouldn't try to do it without click unless you can have your music editor put in a lot of punches a streamers for the conductor.

    Cheers,

    Jose

  4. #4

    Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    I'm working on the competition too . . . I'm not sure if you have to worry about the score unless you're a finalist. For the first round, I thought all you had to submit was the audio.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  5. #5

    Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    Quote Originally Posted by josejherring
    Usually, you'll need to time the picture out and get either a sequencer locked to picture or in your case you need to take timing notes and then match your music to that.
    This is the approach I'm taking. I have timed out five distinct parts of the scene, each of which will serve a different purpose . . . one to build tension, one to release it, one to sound sad, etc. I then translated these times into measures so that I can use Overtures, since I don't have any fancy sequencer software. It's still hard to get it to sound right, especially when you can't click "play" at the same time.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  6. #6

    Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin
    I'm working on the competition too . . . I'm not sure if you have to worry about the score unless you're a finalist. For the first round, I thought all you had to submit was the audio.
    I think that's right, but the question was intriguing me, regardless.

    And Jose, I think you misunderstood, or perhaps I wasn't clear enough... I do have the tempos all set to the film and am recording to a click track. I'm just wondering how that is notated and expected to be recreated in typical film scores. Do they indeed use click tracks and very specific bpm in the score as EricW suggests?

    Thanks,
    Shaz
    www.EricHermanMusic.com
    - Cool Tunes for Kids -

  7. #7

    Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    The original technique didn't use an audible click, but used a visual metronome. They would take a print of the film and punch holes in it, so light would flash on certain, pre-calculated frames. They'd also run a scribe across the film between the holes that would make a diagonal line run across the picture between the punched frames. The line was a bit like the "bouncing ball". It would give some sense of anticipation before the beat. (Very helpful for slow and changing tempos.)

    I've read that there is software for the Mac called "Cue" that overlays this effect on video. I'm not sure if there is similar software for the PC.

    -JF

  8. #8

    Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    The original technique didn't use an audible click, but used a visual metronome. They would take a print of the film and punch holes in it, so light would flash on certain, pre-calculated frames. They'd also run a scribe across the film between the holes that would make a diagonal line run across the picture between the punched frames. The line was a bit like the "bouncing ball". It would give some sense of anticipation before the beat. (Very helpful for slow and changing tempos.)
    My goodness! That seems like an awful lot of trouble . . .
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  9. #9

    Re: HELP! - Tempo in film scoring???

    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin
    My goodness! That seems like an awful lot of trouble . . .
    Not as much trouble as notating all of the separate scores and hiring the live orchestra.

    Personally, I'd love to work with a good visual metronome. Sometimes it's easy to lose the click in the rest of the music, but no matter how loud things are, I can still see light.

    -JF

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