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.

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Tip #92 – Common-Tone Pad Moods

When scoring a film scene or just writing a legato section in your piece that calls for sublime changes in mood, it might be a good idea to try and use a pad built on common-tone relations to achieve this. Not only does it make transitions between chords sound smoother, but it offers a new pallet of harmonic progression possibilities that best fit the feelings you are going after.

To do so, start off with any chord in mind:

Then, take a note from the preceding chord:

And make it the root of the following chord. (For this example, we are making it the root of the triad, but it can be any chord tone – even the seventh if you want to get experimental!)

Continue this process, and don’t be afraid to change up the chord qualities or adjust the inversions of the chords to best fit.

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.