Who's Keeping Score?


Creating Music for A Piece of Film

The music in film can be used with incredible purpose to help tell the story of the action and in some cases is just as famous and well known as the films themselves!

If you think of films such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and James Bond, I imagine you could recall how all of those famous melodies go. One fantastic example of storytelling is in the Pixar movie Up where, for a whole 5 minutes, there is nothing but music to tell the story. Have a look at the clip below and listen to how the music changes to match the mood of the scene:

When deciding what to write for their film, composers will watch the film and try to decide on the emotion of the characters and the mood of the scene and how this might sound; for example if our character is scared of another, or excited about an event, or if the scene is lively like at a party, or sad because of some bad news. Once this is decided, composers use a collection of different musical devices to help them create something suitable for the film. These devices are:

  • Tempo - The speed of the music. An exciting adventure scene might have music with a fast tempo. A serious, sad scene might have music with a slow tempo.

  • Pitch - Notes that are high or low. If the film is about a giant or a huge spaceship, then low notes might be used; if it is about small fairies or fast animals then high notes might be used.

  • Dynamics – The volume of the music. Loud music might show something exciting is happening. Quiet music might be for something sad, or reflective. Equally, the music might start quietly but then get louder as something dramatic happens!

  • Duration – How long notes are. Short notes suggest something moving quickly, like a character running, whereas long notes might suggest something important like a King arriving.

Have a look the clips below where the wrong music has been added to the film. How does each one make you feel about the action? What story might it be telling instead?

Pirates Of The Caribbean

Jurassic Park

The Task

Choose a clip from the options below to create a soundtrack for. Watch the scene carefully and pay attention to the characters’ faces and body language. This will give you a sense of the mood and what the scene is about - it is most likely that the mood will change at some point during the clip. Once decided, use the devices above to start coming up with ideas of how your music might sound.

You don’t need to be able to play an instrument to create your film music, you could use different percussion instruments from things around the house, or even make your own following one of our previous posts! There are also many free computer programs and apps for creating music such as Garageband, MuseScore, BandLab, and CakeWalk. Why not try using one of those if you have access to one? Here you could also think about what different instruments you might use to help you tell your musical story.

CLIP 1 - Don't Argue With An Idiot

Don't Argue With An Idiot
Download ZIP • 23.53MB

CLIP 2 - Piper

Download ZIP • 44.03MB

CLIP 3 - Roland Vs The Dark

Roland Vs The Dark
Download ZIP • 57.65MB

Written by Will Peters


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