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Unit 10:

Unit code: QCF level: Credit value:

Composing for Film and Television


A/601/1544 5
15
Unit aim

The aim of this unit is to enable learners to understand and apply techniques to the
composition
of music for film and television, analysing key works and practical considerations.

Unit abstract

Composition for the moving image is a functional application of music composition, and is
intended to serve and complement other creative material. It requires a different approach to
abstract composition: film composers work within a set of externally imposed parameters to a
brief that is usually supplied by a director. As film composition usually involves working with or
for several different specialists (directors, editors and music editors), it requires flexibility, and
the ability to compromise and adapt to changing requirements.
The most important consideration when composing for moving image is to score music that is
both appropriate to the film and meets the directors brief. As such, the composer must avoid
flash or ego-driven composition, and score with economy and sensitivity.
Whilst traditional film composition often necessitates a big budget for multiple performers and
studio time, modern film composers can actualise final productions from a good home studio,
using synthesisers or quality sampled software instruments. Quality production methods are
now easily available, but this also means there are many enthusiasts willing to score to
moving image for the experience, making it difficult to find a way into the industry.
Having a showreel that showcases either a specific and individual style or the capability to
produce diverse work is essential to anyone wanting to compose for the moving image, and
students will be required to produce a portfolio of original music scored to picture. They will
also examine key examples, creative approaches, technical considerations, and the
underpinning theories involved in composition for the moving image.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this unit a learner will:
1. 1 Understand definitive examples of music composed for the moving image
2. 2 Be able to apply compositional techniques involved in the composition of music for
film and television
3. 3 Understand practical considerations involved in composing for film and television
4. 4 Be able to use studio technology in the production of music for film and television.
UNIT 10: COMPOSING FOR FILM AND TELEVISION
BH029654 Edexcel BTEC Levels 4 and 5 Higher Nationals specification in Music Issue 2 October 2011
Pearson Education Limited 2011

UNIT 10: COMPOSING FOR FILM AND TELEVISION

Unit content
1.

1 Understand definitive examples of music composed for the moving image


History: landmarks eg film, television scores, the growth of music and the moving
image,
genre specific landmarks, exemplar material, use of source music, important
composers
Analysis: musical and technical analysis eg comedies, horror films, westerns, war
films, soap opera, television series, documentaries, advertisements, comparison of
television and film approaches, landmark scores
Aesthetics: the art of composing for film/television eg dramatic and musical
relationships, style, ethnic/geographic considerations, audience expectation,
pastiche, period, source music versus original music, songs

2.

2 Be able to apply compositional techniques involved in the composition of


music for film and television
Melody and harmony: techniques eg motifs, multiple motifs, unaccompanied melody,
melodic texture, melodic character, familiarity, harmonic language, pedal and
ostinato, characterisation, tension and release
Rhythm: techniques eg tempo, pulse, metre, percussion, rhythmic themes, rhythmic
ostinato, polyrhythm
Orchestration: techniques eg colour, colour changes, characterisation, locale,
orchestral effects, scoring, instrumental effects, non-traditional instruments,
contemporary instruments and rhythm sections, style
Drama: techniques eg underscoring, musical language, emotion, tension, emphasis
and de- emphasis, silence, point of view, diegesis, conventions

3.

3 Understand practical considerations involved in composing for film and


television
Practicalities: working with music editors and directors eg budgets, communication,
spotting, temp tracks, scoring stages, recording stages, timings, sound effects,
dubbing, mixing, concepts, showreels, musical cues, demos, networking, agents
Film and television business: roles within the industries eg the director, the producer,
editors; budgets, schedules, costing, contracts, copying, the script, cuts and
assembly, copyright issues
Synchronisation: timing practicalities eg frames and frame-rates, click tracks, timing,
cues, hits, hit points, stings, ritardandos and accelerandos, score lengths, tempo
changes, timing mathematics

4 Be able to use studio technology in the production of music for film and television
Technology: sound technology eg synthesisers, sampling, drum machines, sound libraries,
MIDI, sequencers, synchronisation, standards; recording technology eg multi-track recording
systems, stereo recording and mastering systems, tape and digital formats, synchronisation
to video, digital synchronisation, multi-track and mastering standards, labelling systems,
processors and effects units, microphone techniques, mixing consoles
Computer technology: advances eg hardware, software, virtual instruments, plug-ins,
recording and editing systems, integrating audio and MIDI, compatibility, industry standards
Surround sound: advances eg psycho-acoustic sound localisation, Huygens principle, wave
field synthesis, Ambisonics, Penteo

UNIT 10: COMPOSING FOR FILM AND TELEVISION

UNIT 10: COMPOSING FOR FILM AND TELEVISION

Learning outcomes and assessment criteria


Learning outcomes

Assessment criteria for pass

On successful completion of this unit a


The learner can:
learner will:
1. 1.1 discuss important developments and
key figures in the history of music for film
and television
LO1Understand definitive examples of
2. 1.2 use analysis to integrate appropriate
composition and scoring techniques into
music composed for the moving image
a personal creative resource
3. 1.3 analyse the aesthetics of composing
for film and television
1. 2.1 compose music showing the
relationship between melody, harmony
and the moving image
2. 2.2 apply the effective use of rhythm and
LO2Be able to apply compositional
hit points in music for film and television
techniques involved in the composition of
3. 2.3 assess techniques for orchestration
music for film and television
appropriate to film scoring
4. 2.4 evaluate the relationship between
music and drama in the context of
scoring for film and television
1. 3.1 appreciate the practicalities of
functioning as a composer within the film
and television business
LO3 Understand practical considerations
2. 3.2 analyse the structure and operation
involved in composing for film and
of the film and television business
television
3. 3.3 discuss approaches to
synchronisation between music and the
moving image
1. 4.1 use appropriate MIDI technology in
the creation of music for film and
television
2. 4.2 use appropriate recording
technology in the creation of music for
film and television
LO4 Be able to use studio technology in the
4.3 integrate advances in computer technology
production of music for film and television.
into the creative production process
4. 4.4 analyse the application of surround
sound mixing
5. 4.5 present a showreel of music
composed for the moving image in an
appropriate format.

BH029654 Edexcel BTEC Levels 4 and 5 Higher Nationals specification in Music Issue 2 October 2011
Pearson Education Limited 2011