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Topic: How do you attack scoring to picture?

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  1. #1

    How do you attack scoring to picture?

    What is your method to score to picture? I'm trying to learn and am using different techniques to get going.
    I'm just studying on my own, but I guess first you figure out where to put the music (with the directors requests).
    Then find a tempo for the scene?
    Do you write a melody that fits and then expand it? Play piano to picture? Set up a harmonic structure?

    I've been told a couple of times that I'm not using melody very well. I wrote this piece as a transitional piece for a TV show (just practice). It was to be for something like "Revelations".

    Then was critiqued that it lacked melody. I hear a melody, so I'm not understanding what kind of melody or how it should be used to be more of a melodic piece. Is it just too much harmony?

    I'm talking about the part after the harp until the StormDrums.
    RevSceneX

    But most importantly, how do you attack a scene?

  2. #2

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    I don't know the answer to this, having no experience. But I don't believe that there is an easy answer. I just purchased four books regarding this, from a bookstore in Studio City, CA.... but I haven't started reading them. And I don't believe that reading them will automatically make me a film composer. I think that one must need lots and lots of experience to get it right.

    You do know, I imagine, about the upcoming 2-week intensive course in film music composing this summer in Seattle. I wish that I could attend! This is more expensive than the books and requires time off of work, but will give one at least some "experience" and hands on training.

    David

  3. #3

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    Hey Chamber - I'm usually in the studio and don't get to read to deeply through-out this forum (good thing lately), could you give more info on that course in Seattle?

  4. #4

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    Hey rjames,

    I actually like that cue a lot. I would just look again at some of the voice leading. some of the lines aren't as smooth as the could be for this mysterioso cue.

    Also, melody in this kind of piece may not be as important. I would try to hinge it all on one motif.

    Cheers,

    Jose

  5. #5

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    I think my way is sort of looking at the video and sort of feel what kind of musical color I would have liked to hear there if I was watching this in the theatre. Then I put that music there and start working from there - changing what needs to be changed and re-doing what felt good at first but turned out not to work as well as I first thought. But I very often return to this "look at it and feel it, and hear it in my head" thing. Doing what the director asks, is more difficult since he/she has to relay his precise inner vision to you, so that you see the same thing in your head as he does. If not, then you are just fumbling in the dark.

    The music is often used to emphasize things that are not obvious from looking at the picture only - for example turning an image of a cute little girl into a cute little devil with the proper music colors in the background, and such. For those parts, the script is a great help, so that you can understand the situation and the emotions, what came before, where you are and where you are heading with the story. A little interest and knowledge about every day psychology and drama is a good thing here

    Using a full symphony orchestra with "the proper" classical terms of making music for this, is a very difficult and cumbersome task indeed. I suggest you start out with just synth drones, pads, rhythms and subtle melodies. Those are quite enough to portray the situation. Then, as time, experience and hopefully wisdom (and ninjas ) sets in you might want to embellish on those basic elements - using more instruments and composite textures and colors in the music.
    Kid: When I become an adult I wanna be a musician.
    Parent: Son, you cannot become both.

  6. #6

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    Quote Originally Posted by rJames
    ...Then was critiqued that it lacked melody...

    But most importantly, how do you attack a scene?
    I agree that this doesn't have a strong melody. To test this, try writing lyrics to the melody and sing it.

    But I don't think melody is the key when writing to picture. Sometimes you want it. Sometimes you don't. Your example would work great with the right images.

    There are some great books on film/TV scoring. I have:

    The Reel World: Scoring for Pictures, by Jeff Rona, and
    Complete Guide to Film Scoring, by Richard Davis

    The Davis book is probably best for your needs, but I can recommend both.

    The first step is to find out where the music will exist. Then you need to come up with a general idea for the mood and style. This will tell you how much "cartooning" (sync'ing musical events to actions on the screen) that you will want to do.

    If you're doing an underscore with no cartooning, then you can be pretty loose with your timing. You might find that you want about two minutes of music, with increased tension at 1:05 and a romantic feeling at 1:35. You can play it pretty organically and mess with the tempos to get the timing down.

    If you're cartooning or syncing with action hits, it's another story. You want to work with timecode and get things accurate to a single frame of video. You will often need to insert strange time signatures to get the beats to line up and keep the tempo flowing. There's often a fight between the tempo that you want and the number of beats that you want.

    The question about melody is a personal thing though. One composer works more with impressionistic moods. Another composer might have a down home style that is folksy and melodic. Another might use leitmotifs. All I can say is to write what sounds good to you and develop those chops. The challenge is to present a style or mood that compliments the picture - and that satisfies the director/producer.

    -JF

  7. #7

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    I think that piece is excellent. I wouldn't change a thing. If you want to write pieces with more melody, then write new cues, but don't wreck that one.

    I've gotten tons of criticisms over the years. Many are worthless, and thank God I ignored a lot of them. I'm not saying melody isn't important, I'm just saying don't let one or two people have too much influence over your writing. Except from me, of course!

    - Mike Greene

  8. #8

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    I agree that this doesn't have a strong melody. To test this, try writing lyrics to the melody and sing it.
    Exactly! That's really funny, Jon!

    - Mike Greene

  9. #9

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Greene
    Exactly! That's really funny, Jon!
    And I wasn't even trying to get a laugh.

    The "sing it" test is a great melody test. (It's also a nice way to make sure that your wind players get to breathe.)

    -JF

  10. #10

    Re: How do you attack scoring to picture?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    I agree that this doesn't have a strong melody. To test this, try writing lyrics to the melody and sing it.
    -JF
    In fact...

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