The Art of Film Scoring – Lesson 1
Film Music History & Function

1h 07m beginner Beginner
Author: Chris Fitzgerald

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The Art of Film Scoring is a 6-week primer into the technical and psychological aspects of film composition. Through the course we will cover film music history, thematic analysis, music theory and composition, technical aspects of film scoring, and self promotion tips including resources for website creation and audio and film publishing. The course is taught by film composer Chris Fitzgerald, Berklee College of Music alumnus and former Manager of Training & Programs for Berklee. No prior film scoring experience is necessary. Students are required to own a computer with MIDI sequencing and audio recording software to complete course homework. Throughout the course, students will score a scene from a film, finishing with a complete demo score piece.

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Intelligently analyze the function of music in film
  • Spot the differences between score and diegetic music
  • Work with the technical and psychological aspects of film scoring to compose your own film music
  • Promote yourself as a film composer


Lesson 1 – Film Music History & Function

Functions of film music: setting time and place, commenting on character or mood, manipulating emotions of viewer
Analysis of film music through different eras
Discussion of technical advancements in medium
Types of film music: underscore, song, diegetic music
Lesson Challenge: watch film from list, comment in class forum

AFI list of top 25 film scores in American cinema
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI’s_100_Years_of_Film_Scores

  • Watch a movie from the list
  • Many of these films are available streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or for rent or purchase through iTunes
  • Many of the older films you can watch in full for free online
  • Challenge yourself and watch a film you haven’t seen before.

Pay attention to:

  • Historical context of film
  • Where music is and where it is not
  • How music functions to support a scene