Tip #95 – Click When Scoring

When you are scoring a scene, you are writing music to enhance the story, the vision of the director, to move the audience, and give new life to the emotions of the characters portrayed on screen. It sounds like a demanding task, but it can be done!

To make the music seem natural to the scene, it is wise to consider a click-track.

A click-track is basically a metronome that can be used for compositional purposes when writing the score, or for conducting purposes when recording the score. Either or both ways, it is a necessary part to make sure that the music is in time with the events going on – and with each other, too! And it is easy to create, too, as most DAWs have a way to create and format one to your score.

But one has to question, “how do you know what to set the tempo of the click-track at?”

Some good rule of thumbs is to hear it in your head, with imagination, as you are watching the scene without music in it. Tap out the tempo in your head and mark down the BPM (beats per minute).

Another way is the synch your BPM to the movements of the characters. To how fast/slow they walk, talk, make subtle body gestures. Or, try matching it to how frequently the camera angles/point-of-views change.

That being said, sometimes not matching the pace of the characters can have an interesting effect. Take a scenario where the character is walking slowly… but the music is increasing in tempo, faster and faster. This opposite polarity and juxtaposition can create an effect as if something is about to happen, or that the mind of the slow-moving character might be ruminating on something.

Regardless, the tempo music be a purposeful consideration.

One last note – the tempo does not need to remain the same all the time. So, as you are making a click-track, do not forget to add gradual (or sudden changes) in the BPM to best fit what you are going after is your musical storytelling.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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