Schools Training

Tuning Into Film Soundtracks

18 MAR 2013
Career Path : Audio Engineering

Film sound tracks are chosen to set the mood in the movie. They may be especially composed orchestral pieces, experimental electronica or popular tunes. Sometimes the music is worked into what is happening in the movie, for example the music in the background of a dance scene, or part of the story that the characters interact with. Other times it is simply overlaid into a film as part of the narrative framing of the story.


For a professional musician, getting your music into a film or a television show means royalties every time it is made available. For this reason, television shows that use popular songs, that are then sold to the consumer as a boxed series set will often have the music swapped out from the original to save on licencing. This is unpopular with fans, but may be necessary to make the show affordable.  As far as original compositions, you will find a blend of DJ school polished experts, traditional song writers and one of the last hold outs for non-experimental, full orchestra “classical” style music. This is particularly popular in films that need an epic feeling, and are often combined with stirring epic choirs singing in fake Latin.


In the film industry, an entire sub-field of composers, music archivists and audio engineering school graduates. Generally film schools have access to a library of royalty free music and sound effects to help their students. Either that or a good film school can point their students towards free resources. For example, someone completing DJ school may offer up their online portfolio of work as a non-commercial option to students for their projects.


If you’re more interested in the sounds in movies than the pictures, or in how the sounds relate to the pictures, you may consider audio engineering school over film school. Putting in a sound track can be as crucial to the setting and mood as the right dialog, lighting and props. Especially in genres where the setting is as much or even more important than a story, the sound track may almost be an additional character. For example, fantasy and science fiction both often have very simple stories that serve as a vehicle for stunning pictures or moods.


Film has always been about art, not accurate reporting. For example in real life, the music when you go shopping or sit in an office can have nothing to do with your mood. In fiction, audiences use music cues to figure out what’s going on. Making a film setting seem like, for example, a futuristic dystopia, will use particular sorts of synthesizer music with just as much importance as looming shots of large buildings or having a character say, “the future is oppressive!”



Visit Trebas Institute for more information on audio courses.