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Film Scoring Unit 1

This class is about enhancing your creativity while empowering you to take ownership over your learning.  Our goal is to provide you with the necessary background to be able to compose, arrange, and create music for film using the lastest most contemporary electronic tools available.  To achieve this, we have constructed a series of units, each one with a specific focus to help you develop the skills needed to create great music.  Each activity,  in each unit, serves as a pathway through the many concepts that we will explore.  While on this path you need to take the time to look around and go deeper.  The learning takes place during the journey and the sites along the way will be up to you.  


Please take the time to learn about how to work within this self directed learning environment.  Understanding the system will ensure that you are successful.  Click the link below to start your studies: 

Suggested Timeline:


Class 1 - Assignment 1


Class 2 - Assignment 2 and 3, start 4


Class 3 - Assignment 4 cont.


Class 4 - Assignment 5


Class 5 - Finish, Review your work, submit.

Assignment 1:


Your instructor will send you to to find the form to create your eNotebook for this course.

If you want to learn more about the eNotebook tool, you can go to the  eNotebook site.


Be sure to complete all of the steps for preparing the eNotebook correctly.  Make it unique, make it yours, and make sure you know how to add content of all different types.




As you document all of your work, it is very important that everything is clearly marked.  

  • Put headings on the top of each assignment.

  • When questions are asked, post the questions and the answers.

  • Consider making the questions BOLD.


Assignment 2:

Before we dive into the great content ahead, we need to prepare you for working in our Blended Learning environment.

Review the material provided at the link below:


Please read this link - "Expectation"
Answer these Questions:  
1. What do you hope to learn and be able to do by the end of this class?  
2. What is motivating you to take this subject?
Post these questions and your answers in your ePortfolio.  Thanks


Assignment 3: 




Continuing along the lines of the last post about disciplines for film composers, today we’re going to talk about some beginning steps and considerations in writing music for film. This post is for all musicians new to composing film music. Regardless if you’re a new comer or a seasoned veteran, writing for film is a discipline of its own. Much like writing a hit pop song or a great dance tune, there are rules and conventions to learn. Writing for film has its own set of rules and skills that must be mastered. Just because you can write a pop song doesn’t mean you can write a score for film (and vice versa). I often hear musicians saying that they would like to be film composers. They write a song and say something like ‘that sounds like something that would be good in a film score’. Just kind of messing around and ending up with something that sounds ‘soundtracky’ and actually writing something that adds to a film and enhances a scene is something completely different; not to mention the overhanging loom of unrealistic deadlines.



Before we get into the nitty-gritty about writing for certain scenes, let’s talk about some pre-requisites. It’s not imperative that you must master each of these styles and disciplines but it’s important that you’re familiar with each. It’s a good idea to start with whatever discipline or style you are most familiar with and grow from there. Why?


a) it’s probably what you’re best at*,

b) it may set you apart from other composers and c) it may be part of your individual ‘sound’. Beyond that you’re going to have to sit down, stretch yourself, and go through specific exercises and studies to learn the craft of writing music for film.

*You may be better (or really good) at composing in other styles without even knowing it…I talk about this more in an upcoming post…


The Styles

In the last post I mentioned that composers must be able to write in various styles. There are quite a few musical styles that the composer must be familiar with in order to make great film music. Some music styles are pretty much a pre-requisite whereas others aren’t as essential. For example, it may not be as important to know all of the various forms of klezmer as it is to know how to write a modern symphony; although knowing a little about klezmer can’t hurt.


The Orchestra

There are certain styles that will always be part of a film score. Traditional symphony orchestras will have a part in most scores depending on the popularity and type of film. Symphonies are the defacto standard when it comes to most films. They are used in everything from comedy, to drama to horror. Therefore writing for traditional orchestral instruments is something every film composer should know. Keep in mind this isn’t just writing for the orchestra but also for the separate instruments in a traditional orchestra. This can run from a small horn ensemble, a string quartet or any solo instrument (or combination). That means being intimately familiar with most of the instruments in the traditional orchestra.



Even composers who start out in other styles (for example electronic musicians) find that knowing how to score for orchestra can really enhance their career and the prospect of making a lot more money. Just writing for orchestra isn’t enough. There are different styles and conventions to learn. For example, there is a difference between ‘concert music’ and film music. Knowing something about the history of film music and conventions used in the past can help. Keep in mind I’m not talking about studying the entire history of film but if a director makes a reference to a Neumann or North score, you should have an idea of what they’re talking about.

There are some themes, arrangements and stylistic elements that are used over and over in film music. If you sit down and study film scores you may find a lot of themes and styles coming up again and again. These are the elements that I’m talking about. It’s important to know something about the various forms in classical music. That includes 20th century atonal music. traditional romantic and classical symphonies, etc. Modern scores may include some 20th century atonal elements, traditional symphonic melodies and arrangements, married with electronic and rock textures. It’s not atypical for a modern score to include most if not all of these things within a single score.


Not Just the Orchestra but…

If you’ve read any book on orchestration, you’ll notice that the first half of the book (if not more) will be focused on the separate instruments, their ranges and special notes on each. This is simply the first step. If you’re going to write for an instrument, the more you know about that particular instrument the better. For example when writing for trumpet it’s not enough to know the range of the instrument, you have to know what the instrument will sound like in the different registers. You should know some of the technical problems with the instrument ( for example which trills are hard to play, and/or what keys are easier). More on this in an upcoming post.


The First Step


As you can see, we’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning the craft of writing for film. Like any other endeavour, it starts with a single step. Take what you know so far and grow from there. If you’re an electronic musician, try writing to certain scenes with your current set up. With all of the videos online, there is no lack of sources to write to. Start with your instrument and grow from there. Try some of the ideas I’ve listed here (for example writing for certain instruments). If it’s all completely new to you, get some material and get started. Try writing something right away. As soon as you learn a new skill, use it in your writing and memorize it as quickly as possible.




After reading this introduction by Mr. Maddocks, what are your initial reactions?

 Do you agree?  


What areas will you think you will need to focus on during your studies?



Post the answers to these questions in your eNotebook, unit 1.





Assignment 4:


Some of you may have used Logic software or some other type of DAW to create music in the past.  This assignment is designed to get most people familiar with Logic so that they can begin to compose as soon as possible.  If you have experience with Logic, consider going through the lesson anyway.  There are several interesting techniques that will be explored that may be new to you.  


If you are a complete beginner, no worries.  Follow the path that I have created and be patient.  As you explore, remember to think of the software research this way:


  • How do I get a sound to be produced?

  • How do I change the sounds?

  • Can I mix the sounds together

  • How do I save my work?


Click on the link below to get started.  Follow the links on each page until you complete your work.














Be sure to post your work on your ePortfolio.  You will also need to create a Soundcloud account.


Assignment 5:


This project will get you to explore the basic functions of the Logic Software even further.

The following are the key components of the software that you will use. Copy this list into your eNotebook and define them.

  • Use of the arrange Window

  • Zooming

  • Split at Playhead

  • Scissors Tool

  • Marquee Tool

  • Fade Tool

  • Automation

  • Volume control

  • Bouncing




Download this audio file for the project.


You will be taking a famous speech and will be moving the words in the  audio file so that a completely different speech is heard.  The original text is below.  


This is an excerpt from Richard Nixon's Watergate "I am not a crook" speech:


Let me just say this. I've made my mistakes, but in all of my years of public life, I have never profited from public service.I've earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think too that I can say that in my years of public life that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president's a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.



To load the downloaded audio file into Logic, go to the Media Bin  on the right side of the interface and add audio file.

Drag the audio file into an audio track and start cutting.


Cut the sound file and move a few words around, until it contains:  People have got to know whether or not I think this kind of examination obstructed justice.I've earned my years of public mistakes In all of my years I have never profited from a crook. 


Once you are satisfied with the edits,you may want to get even more creative.  Create an underscore beneath the text.  

Very soft Americana Music.  Download:   America the Beautiful


Be sure to fade in and fade out on the ends of your files.

When you Bounce the Audio, be sure there is no dead time at beginning or the end.



For those of you that want a greater challenge:

Stretch out word lengths to make the sentence flow more smoothly.
Explore the flex tool for this purpose.

Consider altering the inflection of the sentence by altering pitch






Post your result to Soundcloud, then embed the file into your eNotebook.  When complete print a screen shot of the audio editor (Command Shift 4) and upload the audio and screen shot to your eNotebook.







Be sure you have clearly labeled all of your assignments in your eNotebook.

You should have the following:


Assignment 2  Questions and answers

Assignment 3  Intro Reading Questions

Assignment 4  Logic Notes, Demo Song

Assignment 5  Nixon Edit posted from soundcloud.





Take the Summative Quiz

Go to this link to complete the final quiz











When all assignments are complete, go back to On Campus and submit your work by posting the url to your

Jimdo Unit 1 page.  Make sure your assignments are clearly marked.  Put your Jimdo into view mode before you copy the URL.  Look at the dark bar that shows in view mode.  Use the url at the top right.      

Make sure your website name is in the title of the URL.  









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