In this course, students explore the conceptual and collaborative processes that result in the successful creation of music for visual media. Scoring for film, television, and video games is essentially musical storytelling, and the composer cannot hope to do this without the tools for narrative analysis. Through in-depth examination of script, style, finished scenes, and exemplary scores, students learn methodically the steps that successful composers take in preparation for scoring, as well as strategies for getting past the first blank page. The ability to conceive the shape of the score before a single note is written is critical, and this begins in: collaboration with the filmmaking team; analyzing dramatic intent; spotting the film for music; determining the function of music; developing a music concept that supports directorial intent; and determining the elements of the music itself, including style, instrumentation, and genre. Students will analyze entire projects and explore a diverse range of eras, genres, dramatic ideas, musical vocabularies, forms, styles, and orchestrations.
In this course, students become familiar with the musical requirements and expectations of a wide range of cinematic categories and forms, from classic genre film to episodic television comedy and drama to documentary and opinion/propaganda pieces. The conventions of genre are now an established part of every composer's vocabulary. They can be violated, subverted, or updated, but they must first be mastered. Areas of study include the following: comedy, both feature and episodic, including comedic montage and timing; classic drama, including death of principal character, abandonment, and triumph; action and suspense, including the chase, natural catastrophe, cloak and dagger, and sports; period drama, including devices to establish time and place; romance, including development of the romantic theme and technique for leading to the moment of the kiss; science fiction, fantasy, alien worlds, alternate realities, supernatural events; horror, stalking, assault and murder; reality TV, including the use of sound design and synthetic nonmelodic patterns; and classic TV and feature-length documentary, as well as persuasive or propagandistic. As a focused continuation of Advanced Scoring 1, students will further strengthen skills in scene analysis, character reading, psychological persuasion and enchantment (esp. with respect to lowering the threshold of belief in sci-fi and fantasy). Genre scoring also allows composers to explore more deeply their own emotional and psychological processes in order to produce scores that support content in all varieties of visual media, including interactive experiences. Taken in tandem with FS-531, Directed Study 2, as the second phase of a theory and practice sequence.
An advanced practicum that provides individual students with personal mentoring and introduces them to the one-to-one filmmaker-composer collaborative model. With active support and critical appraisal from senior faculty, the student is challenged to conceptualize and execute a plan for scoring a personal slate of short projects, narrative and non-narrative, linear and non-linear, that link to and address critical aspects of his or her overall thesis plan. Drawing on both previously acquired music skills and scoring techniques learned in the co-requisite Advanced Scoring 1: Narrative Analysis, students will demonstrate the ability to convey creative intentions, respond to critical direction, and work intensively to meet deadlines set in tandem with their faculty advisor. The end goal is clearer definition of the thesis objective. Scoring assignments may be drawn from linear and non-linear visual content either submitted by the student or selected by faculty in collaboration with the student, utilizing electronic scoring techniques and/or live-player scoring sessions with students functioning as composer/conductor, or composer/producer.
The second semester continuation of the advanced practicum course that provides students individual supervision in scoring a range of visual media with attention to aesthetic, dramatic, and technical considerations. Taken in tandem with FS-520 Advanced Scoring 2: Genre and Form, projects will focus on genre and type-specific applications of visual scoring craft. Drawing on a full range of previously acquired music skills and scoring techniques, students will convey their creative intentions, respond to critical direction, and work intensively to meet periodic deadlines. Scoring assignments will be drawn from a balanced representation of linear and nonlinear visual content, utilizing electronic scoring techniques and/or real-time, live-player studio sessions with the students functioning as either composer/conductor or composer/producer.
The third semester continuation of the advanced practicum course that provides students individual supervision in scoring a range of visual media with attention to aesthetic, dramatic, and technical considerations. Projects will expound upon genre and type-specific applications of visual scoring craft. Drawing on a full range of previously acquired music skills and scoring techniques, students will convey their creative intentions, respond to critical direction, and work intensively to meet periodic deadlines. Scoring assignments will be drawn from a balanced representation of linear and nonlinear visual content, utilizing electronic scoring techniques and/or real-time, live-player studio sessions with the students functioning as either composer/conductor or composer/producer.
This course offers a study of the art of conducting as a tool for composers in the recording studio and/or the scoring stage. Students analyze the differences between conducting for the concert stage and for the scoring stage, and focus primarily on the latter. Students learn basic conducting techniques, tools, skills, and abilities in order to develop their role as a composer-conductor at recording sessions either with their music or with others’ music. Students learn different techniques of synchronizing and conducting music to picture, such as click track, punches and streamers, stopwatch, and free timing. Students also learn ways and forms of communicating with people in various roles at the studio, such as musicians, recording engineers, score readers, and more, focusing on effectiveness and efficiency. Students also explore the importance of listening and the process of internalizing the music and gestural communication prior to the recording session. Students master strategies and techniques to be able to react quickly and effectively for indications, changes and problem fixes while working on the scoring stage. Based on practical examples, students also come to understand and experience the role of the music producer, and develop themselves through experience in this role in a variety of recording sessions at Berklee.
In this course, students explore business and entrepreneurial skills for the media composer, with special focus on business aspects that composers will encounter when joining the professional industry. Students learn business development strategies including sales generation, networking, cold calling, reels, websites, upselling, and utilization of social networks. Students also learn many aspects of running a business, including accounting, taxation and finance, employee management, insurance, retirement, and benefit planning. Students learn the fundamentals of establishing a business. They discuss business models including corporations, sole proprietorship, and partnerships. Students will also learn about contracts and agreements, scheduling, and management of deadlines. In addition, students explore business and life management, professionalism, and building of social skills. Students will complete business simulations. They will bid against one another. They will deliver oral presentations and prepare business plans. Throughout the course, students will focus on self-evaluation, and learn about personal presentation, reliability, and ethical business practices.
This course offers an intensive study of applied approaches to scoring for video games. An awareness of the deep and rich history surrounding music in interactive arts will be gained through analysis and discussion of example scores and projects. Students work extensively with the application of technology across multiple genres to compose and apply fundamental video game compositional methods to various projects. Students will write simple to moderate-level interactive scores, employing the most commonly used methods in the industry. In addition, students will discuss and learn about specific business issues that include an overview of the video game and interactive industries including contracts, licensing, toolsets, and job opportunities. The course begins to prepare students for entry-level work at a game development company or as a freelance game music professional, including experience with typical game music workflow, and approaches to scoring video games. This course is a foundation for the Advanced Video Game Scoring course, which involves the creation of more advanced and complex interactive scores with direct application of middleware technologies.
This is a technology course based on learning the use of MIDI sequencing in scoring to picture, in conjunction to sample playback and composer tech set ups. In this course, students learn how to sequence, work with sample libraries, and use QuickTime, as well as tempo, meter, and synchronization on Digital Performer. Emphasis will also placed on orchestral mockups, sample libraries, and different technological tricks for an optimized use of the DAW when scoring (combined with the use of Vienna Ensemble Pro).
This course is an advanced tutorial in the use of new technologies for composing and producing music for visual media. It is recommended for graduate scoring students who are already thoroughly familiar with the use of at least one DAW and professional sound library. Over the last two decades a technological revolution has created powerful new tools—and a new musical and narrative language—for making and using music in media. This revolution in the methods of music making has not only led to an enormous new palette of sounds and compositional techniques, but it has also fundamentally transformed the ways that music is used in storytelling and has created a whole new set of expectations for music in media. This course will focus on the new techniques (musical and technological) and aesthetics of contemporary dramatic electronic composition. The use of synthesizers, advanced methods of sound design, modern production techniques, electronic compositional methods, the use of nontraditional music in the scoring process, and the aesthetics of modern dramatic media will all be investigated.
This is a technology course based on learning two of the most commonly used DAWs by many professionals of the film scoring industry: Logic and Cubase. In this course, students learn how to compose, produce, sequence,and mix in these platforms. Students will program full virtual productions, including virtual instruments, full music projects to picture, and orchestral/hybrid templates ready for scoring. This course will enable students to work with any platform they might face on their professional paths and enable them to achieve professional results and realistic mock-ups.
During the relatively short history of the cinema,a handful of inventive composers have had an outsized impact on the language of film scoring all students must master if they wish to practice the craft. Just as an art student might study Rembrandt to learn how to use light or Hopper to master photorealism, aspiring film composers can save themselves many painful steps by going to school on the greats. In each offering of this course, students will examine at close range the work and career of a selection of seminal figures in film scoring history. By studying their contributions to film music vocabulary, as well as the trajectory of their careers, students will gain valuable lessons in the art and profession of film scoring. The course will focus on three aspects of film scoring that are often overlooked in the study of film music. First, students will study complete scores and the collaborative processes from which they emerged, with particular emphasis on the filmmaker-composer relationship. Archival records of historical composers and interviews with living composers will shed light on these areas. Second, students will explore how a single composer develops his or her voice, technique, and unique sonic signature through the course of a career. This is an extremely valuable perspective for the budding composer, who also must find and develop his or her own voice. Third, students will focus on what a film scoring career looks like—its perils and pitfalls as well as its peaks. This is of great practical use to the student readying to enter the field.