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The Film Scoring Series


"Writing a tune is like sculpting. You get four or five notes, you take one out and move one around, and you do a bit more and eventually, as the sculptor says, In that rock there is a statue, we have to go find it."

John Williams.

With the amazing quote above, I've decided to undertake this Blog about the fascinating world of Film Scoring, and I hope you to enjoy it as I do. This blog's purpose is to provide a friendly reference for the musicalizing process of a film or any media. I will write about its history, development, current state of the art. I will deepen in some subjects like composition, orchestration, arranging, and conducting. Both for beginners and experts, I hope this can contribute with your knowledge about this subject.

A brief of me: I'm passionate about music. Since I was a child my father printed in me the love for music and specially for the orchestral one. At present, I'm a composer and music producer, I have scored several works for the moving image. I play piano, guitar, bass, cello, and mandolin. I like classical, contemporary, jazz and pop music, almost like all genres and I enjoy arranging songs and making covers. Currently I'm based in UK studying a master degree in Music and Sound for Film, and majoring in scoring for film.

Ok, let's get straight to the point.

Film Music

As a first step towards knowing more about this subject, let’s examine film music as a term. It is possible to discern from the literature that something of its origins comes from the English language, as well as its relationship to several associated terms.

The Steven Wescott’s Comprehensive Bibliography of Music for Film and Television (1985) states that film music was already in the English language by 1940 and it does not appear in the titles of American publications much before that. It seems that term “film music” in English is related with the German “Filmmusik”. Even though the German term was in use before 1920, the corresponding term in American usage from the same period was “motion picture music” or its synonyms: picture music, movie music, cinema music or screen music.

The term “Film music” may have entered the English language by way of Britain. The monograph Film Music: A Summary of the Characteristic features of its History, Aesthetics, Technique; and Possible Developments by Kurt London may have been partly responsible for the “film music” term coming into English usage. It was published in 1936 and was the main text on the subject for many years.

In 1941 the first magazine dedicated to film music commenced publication in America under the title “Film Music Notes”. It served at the same time to settle the use of the term film music by scholarly writers. In the music world the term film music was intended to distinguish it from other music genres, such as chamber music, incidental music for the theater, ballet music, opera, operetta, and church music.

With the arrival of sound films, practically all the movie studios established music departments, hiring composers to work 7 days a week. But these departments were not called film music, they were called background music, or later, underscoring, both terms reflecting how music was initially regarded as being subordinate to dialog and sound effects. The resulting work was called a musical score in the film world, corresponding to the terms film score and movie score in the music world.


On my next post I will introduce the term film score, and I will make a brief of the very extensive history of film music.


THE JOURNAL OF FILM MUSIC Volume 1, Number 1, Pages 1-18 ISSN 1087-7142 Copyright © 2002 The International Film Music Society, Inc.

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