I am a film score composer and compose the music for movies
The role of the score music in a film
Each film score composer has a different mind on the question. But they generally agree on some points. The score music is here to support the storytelling of the film as much as possible. The director has a specific vision of the narration, and the score is crucial to deliver the proper message. These elements are generally defined between the film score composer and the director early in the project. In a given scene, the score music can work in various ways. Many legendary composers said that the music was not here to tell what is obvious on screen, but to bring some complementary elements. For instance the music can express the inner emotions of a character. It can fool the audience by painting a sweet impression of a villain. It can play with the nerves of the audience, or help them to engage with some characters. It can make the audience accepting some actors performances as if they were authentic. It can set a location, give an ethnic flavor, magic, surrealism, ancient or futuristic feel. It can be strange or disturbing. It can change the perspective. Make an ominous situation feeling safe, or a raw event feeling ominous. It can express the unseen like in many horror films.
How do the film composer and the director exchange
If there is a key in a fruitful relationship between a score composer and a director, it is a good communication. I pay a lot of attention to that point, the director has to be as comfortable as possible in the exchange they have with the composer. Lots of director are not musically trained, and to me, there is no real point talking only with musical terms. I like to use filmmaking terms, talk about the emotion, about the moods, about the characters, how the audience shall feel. This way, the communication between both is focused on the filmmaker’s language, and is more instructive for the composer.
How the film score of the film is created by the composer
The score of a film, which is the music composed for it, is the result of a long process including many exchanges with the director and the composers. It starts generally by talks on the film, the vision of it, what kind of tone they are searching, what are the main threads of the story. Based on these directional instructions, the film score composer can generate a couple of demo tracks showing their ideas. These compositions are not definitive, the sounds can be synthetic, the structure of the piece might probably not fit any scene, themes will probably evolve later. But this raw material is a great medium to get an insight on the direction the film score will take. As a tool, it will helps further discussions, and the vision of the music. Later in the process, the film composer tends to pick a lot of ideas from the demos, basing also on the comments of the director. This inspirational collection might contain a great part of the spinal elements of the final version of the score. Scene after scene, the composer creates a new composition, more or less drawn from the demos, taking in account all the other requirements, as the directions, the needs of the scene, the place within the whole film, the role of the music, and probably the most important part, their instinct. A couple of players can record some parts during the compositional process, and once completed, the film score is generally recorded by an orchestra or some players.