Activity – music

Music cue activity

Person with clapperboard in front of a camera

Follow these instructions to compose a musical cue for a scene.

  1. Select one scene or section from ‘Inclusion Makes the World More Vibrant’.
  2. Think carefully about how and when music could help to tell the story and express emotion.
  3. Time the scene or section you selected and draw a timeline the same length.
  4. On the timeline, mark the emotional climax. Also mark any dialogue or sound effects that will have to be balanced with the musical score.
  5. Annotate the timeline with dynamics, instruments, texture changes, tempo and time signature ideas.
  6. Improvise on live instrument/s or compose a score of original music to match the emotions and complement the chosen scene or section, referring to your annotated timeline.
  7. Get creative. Invent short musical ideas (motifs) that suit the atmosphere, mood and storyline. Replay one motif several times, making subtle or obvious changes with each recurrence. Use a new musical idea when a new character or location appears.
  8. Record or export your music and play it back while watching the scene again.
  9. Fine-tune the timing of the phrases in the musical cue to match scene changes or moments of on-screen action.
  10. Adjust the dynamics of the musical track so dialogue can be heard clearly.

Note: This activity equates to step 3 of this flow chart.

Composing music for short film

Two guitarists

Select and complete the activities below.

1. Read – discuss

Read script and discuss spotting with the director.

2. Samples

Supply samples of musical score and sound world.

3. Compose

Write music for each cue – create motifs, develop themes, and match to the film's emotion and atmosphere.

4. Feedback

Apply requested changes, polish the music and check exact timing.

5. The mix

Balance the audio of dialogue, music and sound effects.