Film Scoring

Develop a foundation of creative musical skills, including composition, counterpoint, orchestration, conducting, and computer/synthesis skills, and learn the technical basis and mechanics of preparing synchronous music for use with visual media. Students will also develop an interpretive sensitivity to the dramatic effectiveness of music as suggested or demanded by emotional and dramatic considerations. To demonstrate mastery of these skills and concepts, students will complete a portfolio that will include a finished score of a short film, fully produced and synchronized, a similarly produced and synchronized main title theme for a television series, a professional resumé and letter of application suitable for the purpose of career placement and advancement, and a recording including a variety of musical examples composed and produced by the students and selected to function as a demo to accompany an application portfolio.

Students will study acknowledged masterpieces of film scoring and through this exposure will develop an aesthetic vision and the ability to recognize and discuss quality work in film scoring. Interpersonal and other situational skills will be developed through the cooperation necessary to realize finished projects: working with performers, studio personnel, and technical assistants, and participating in other students' projects.

Film scoring majors will develop sufficient skills and knowledge to function as a composer, orchestrator, music supervisor, and music editor or technical production worker in the film and television industry, and will have sufficient knowledge of basic concepts to adapt with success to the changing conditions that are typical of the entertainment industry.

Entrance Requirements


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a major in film scoring, students will:

  1. Sketch and compose stylistically appropriate music in a variety of dramatic styles;
  2. Orchestrate dramatic music using appropriate instrumental tone colors and voicings;
  3. Conduct to picture and to electronic metronome, conducting multiple meter and tempo changes;
  4. Create and edit temporary and final sound track recordings to picture for a complete media work;
  5. Create orchestral mockups and electronic scores using current sequencers and sample libraries;
  6. Record and mix scores and music stems using current software and hardware;
  7. Analyze the dramatic arc of a musical score for a film or other extended media work;
  8. Apply legal knowledge, business acumen, and marketing techniques to the operation of a small business; and
  9. Develop a concept for a score and create an appropriate musical form for it.
Read more about this program

30 credits for the major:

  • ISKB-211: Basic Keyboard 1
  • ISKB-212: Basic Keyboard 2
  • FS-221: Introduction to Film Scoring
  • CM-221: Techniques of Tonal Writing
  • CM-231: Instrumentation & Score Preparation
  • CP-213: Advanced Counterpoint
  • FS-241: Analysis of Dramatic Scoring (must be taken with FS-361)
  • FS-361: Computer/Synthesis Applications for Film Scoring (must be taken with FS-241)
  • CM-311: Contemporary Techniques in Composition 1
  • FS-340: Dramatic Orchestration for Film (must be taken with FS-341)
  • FS-341: Scoring Techniques for Film & Video (must be taken with FS-340)
  • FS-375: Film Music Editing 1 (must be taken with FS-441)
  • FS-441: Advanced Scoring Techniques for Film & Video (must be taken with FS-375)
  • FS-487: Directed Study in Film Scoring
  • Advanced Film Scoring Elective
  • Approved Specified Elective (2 credits)
  • Senior Portfolio including web site, audio demo CD, resume, scores from final projects (short film and main title sequence). 
Assessment Evidence

1. Film scoring competitons. The department adjudicates a semesterly award competition of student work which enables us to measure a cross-section of student work quality. We also analyze course evaluations and conduct our own survey of graduating students, asking them to self-evaluate all of the learning outcomes.

2. Capstone portfolio. All students complete a portfolio during their FS-487 senior projects semester which includes a demo CD and scores. This capstone project assesses all of the learning outcomes. There are also one-on-one faculty-student screenings in certain courses, the main purpose of which is to provide direct feedback to the student on the dramatic effectiveness of the music they have scored for the assigned video scene. The entire class scores the same scene. Student approaches to the assignment vary widely. The teacher makes subjective comments not unlike responses that could come from a director or producer on a professional assignment. Technical considerations are factored to a project grade based on the goal of the assignment.

3. Weekly electronic evaluations. During each student scoring session either the faculty member is present or an electronic evaluation sheet is generated by a staff member, documenting the specific preparedness and leadership/rehearsal proficiency of each student during his scoring session. This document is sent to the teacher who reviews and comments on the session evaluation during a private screening session the following week(s).

4. Faculty critique. In the required FS-375 Film Music Editing class one-on-one screenings with the professor are required which allow for individual assessment of all related competencies.

5. Written exams. There are departmental exams in certain key courses, and set projects in each course. There is a departmental midterm in FS-361 Sequencing and Synthesis Applications for Film Scoring which tests specific sequencing and signal flow skills. All subsequent projects also require them to demonstrate these skills.

6. Essays and oral reports.

7. Internships. Feedback from internship supervisors and alumni employers assesses how well the program is succeeding in preparing students for the workplace. The senior portfolio also includes a resume and web site.

8. Temporary music score. All students are required to produce a temporary music score in their Music Editing class; student then score a complete short film under the direct guidance of a faculty member in their Senior Projects class. These are screened in class as well as the top scores being screened in a department-wide "Academy Rewards" night at the end of the semester.