For Replica 114, I was lucky to have guidance from Jeff. One thing I admire is that he is very methodical in his approach.
He presented me with several sounds that would work as potential on screen sequences.
He’d have a scene and knew exactly what he wanted, how it was gonna sound etc. There were markers and cues set up and I could see these from within the script, from the beginning.
I don’t know if I would be better off with or without instruction. But it’s definitely invaluable starting out.
A Scoring Exercise
When looking at a scene I usually “tap tempo” in my project. What this does is breakdown the scene for me with a metronome. In my humble experience I believe there’s always a pace to be found on screen.
One way to test your “proficiency” or “accuracy” is with a simple exercise.
Pick a movie you know of and be sure you are not completely familiar with the music.
Press play play and watch it on mute. If it is a traditional score you should be able to find the pace of the scene, judging by the actions and or closed captions.
You should be able to drum out a rhythm on the desk paralleling what is on screen.
Un-mute to find how close or similar your musical ideas, rhythm and tempo is to the original score.
This may be a fun way to see if you are not far off the mark from the film composer.
While this may help in finding a good pace and finding where you should be. It’s not the be-all, there’s room for exploring your own ideas.
So much of musical language can be interpreted through rhythm very well. The pace of a scene is a kind of base, a backbone which the rest of your musical thread and ideas will emerge.
While there are no rules set in stone, there are always elements to be aware of. These are just guidelines for myself and not gospel.
Elements of A Score
I am not an expert but from just hammering different kinds of music and scores.
I’ll share what I think a breakdown of my score typically goes through the motions of.
I typically use these and grow up on them, but they can grow non-linearly.
Tempo let’s you set the pace of the music. I think you can start with the basics of all. Finding the pace of the music for whatever is on screen should be primary.
You can’t have a slow pace, to a chase scene. Or a fast pace that demands something smoother.
Unless there is room for a kind of juxtaposition, the tempo will be awkward and clunky with the film.
Contrast in tempo can be jarring and interesting.
Rhythm is always a great component in my electronic music.
I would always program drumbeats, use my fingers on the desk to drum out something, in various styles, from the ideas in my head.
From creating steady patterns, break beats with fills some percussion to perk up interest. Rhythm is a terrific narrator
Timbre and Textures will allow you describe your scene more or less.
This would go hand in hand with what kind of instrumentation do you use. What goes on screen? Are strings necessary? Some woodwinds? Brass?
However you want to stylize your musical piece it can be fulfilled by the description, timbre and textures of the instruments.
I’ve made a post on chords before (Found Here.)
There are so much emotional impact these can fulfill.
All chords and emotions are being held by the Tempo, Rhythm and timbre. Even the chords themselves require the context of themselves.
All the elements of the score will provide the context of what is going and what will drive the scene.
I would argue melodic elements can serve for developing characters.
For instance one character will have perhaps an ominous melody if they are the villain and another will have another cheery for a protagonist perhaps.
An example of melody being use for characters would be on Star Wars.
You can sense when Darth Vader was going to approach the scene, as the music was driving the scene.
You can probably curate a melody during events on screen similarly. Melody can give extra bit of depth to characters in a film.
Despite having little work in film. I still feel that what I do and how I work is correlated.
I always tend to write my music with a context or image. It helps a lot in discovering how things are suppose to build, die down or increase.
While imagery may be harder to come by for mainstream high-powered EDM music without any lyrics, I may use an image to create emotional context. It’s my secret weapon.
I think if you can channel that raw emotion much greater from nothing. The something doesn’t necessarily comes from the nothing in my case for music.
There’s always some kind of context. It maybe an incremental process where I build it up slow but there’s always some kind of image.
I think it’s much easier to come by making music that is abstract for me is to have a form, a background an image that I can create in order to draw attention and set a mood.
A lot of my own original music stems from having an image or images from my mind.
It’s a great way to draw and come up with new ideas.
These are some ideas that came to my mind when I write tracks for film or for my original music.
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