Online Courses

Music Composition for Film and TV 1

Authored by Ben Newhouse

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Course Code: OCOMP-490

Next Term Starts January 8

Level 4

Level 4

3-Credit Tuition

$1,479

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,229

The first course in a two-part series, Music Composition for Film and TV 1 teaches you to write music in the style of Hollywood films and TV programs. The course begins with an overview of important considerations for composing music for visual media, including how to balance music and dialogue, how to influence the audience’s emotional response, and how to create music that elicits a location or time period. The course also addresses issues specific to television, including main title theme songs, commercial bumpers, and working with music libraries. From there, each week focuses on a different genre of music for film and TV—themes such as romance, sadness, chase, horror, magic, and fantasy. This music composition course analyzes each genre in terms of melody, harmony, counterpoint, tempo, rhythm, and orchestration, forming a template for each genre that you can apply to your own writing. The course features music from the biggest composers in Hollywood, including John Williams, Alan Sylvestri, James Newton Howard, James Horner, Alexandre Desplat, Marco Beltrami, Bernard Herrmann, Aaron Zigman, and others. The goal of the course is to give you a thorough understanding of the compositional styles used in Hollywood projects, in addition to arming you with a portfolio of film and TV music that you can use as demos.

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The course features scores from the biggest composers in Hollywood scores that are typically not available publicly. The musical examples include composers such as John Williams (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Hook, Schindler's List), Aaron Zigman (Mr. Magorium’'s Wonder Emporium, Bridge to Terabithia, Flicka), Alan Sylvestri (Forrest Gump, Polar Express), Marco Beltrami (Hellboy, Live Free or Die Hard, iRobot), James Newton Howard (Atlantis), Pinar Toprak (Light of Olympia), James Horner (Braveheart, Troy), Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek), and Alf Clausen (The Simpsons) who composed a piece specifically for this course! The goal of this music composition course is to give you a thorough understanding of the compositional styles used in Hollywood projects, in addition to arming you with a 10-piece portfolio of film and TV music that you can use as demos.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand creative considerations for writing to picture, including balancing music with dialogue, hitting pictures cuts, and more
  • Identify and apply harmonic devices specific to themes such as romance, sadness/sorrow, chase, heroic action, action adventure, horror, suspense, magic, fantasy, and comedy
  • Identify and apply melodic considerations specific to themes such as romance, sadness/sorrow, chase, heroic action, action adventure, horror, suspense, magic, fantasy, and comedy
  • Identify and apply rhythmic considerations specific to themes such as romance, sadness/sorrow, chase, heroic action, action adventure, horror, suspense, magic, fantasy, and comedy
  • Understand and apply appropriate orchestration specific to themes such as romance, sadness/sorrow, chase, heroic action, action adventure, horror, suspense, magic, fantasy, and comedy
  • Understand the logistical path of a musical idea from initial conception to final recording, including composition, orchestration, and recording
  • Create a 10-piece portfolio of film and TV music in various genres for demos
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: Creative Considerations in Writing to Picture

  • The Role of Music in Film
  • The Complete Audio Landscape
  • Factoring in dialogue, sound effects
  • Highlight Visual Events
  • Other Roles of Music in Film
  • A Framework for Analyzing Scenes

Lesson 2: Considerations Specific to Television

  • The Television Main Title
  • Commercial Bumpers
  • The Role of Music Libraries
  • Strategies for Maximizing Licensing Usage
  • Similarities and Differences: Music in Film and Television

Lesson 3: Love Themes 1

  • Intimate Ballads
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Write a Chord Progression for an Intimate Ballad
  • Score Analysis
  • Summary of Observations: Intimate Ballads

Lesson 4: Love Themes 2

  • Intimate Ballad
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet
  • Orchestrate a Love Theme for a Small Setting
  • Orchestrate a Large Statement Love Theme
  • The Positive Ballad Template
  • Score a Positive Ballad Scene

Lesson 5: Sad Themes 1

  • Sad Ballad
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Write a Chord Progression for a Sad Ballad
  • Score Analysis
  • Write a Melody for a Sad Ballad

Lesson 6: Sad Themes 2

  • Sad Ballad
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Orchestrate a Sad Ballad—Small Instrumentation
  • Score Analysis
  • Orchestrate a Sad Ballad—Large Orchestration
  • The Sad Ballad Template

Lesson 7: Horror and Scary Themes 1

  • Strategies for Creating Dissonant Harmonies
  • Write a Chord Progression for a Horror Sequence
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Write and Sequence an Aleatoric Idea for Pizz Strings

Lesson 8: Horror and Scary Themes 2

  • Horror and Scary Themes
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Compose Music using Octatonic Counterpoint
  • Bernard Herrmann’s "The Knife"
  • Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
  • Template for Horror Music

Lesson 9: High Intensity Action 1

  • Action Cue
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Write a Rhythm Appropriate for an Action Cue
  • Score a High-Intensity Action Scene

Lesson 10: High Intensity Action 2

  • Action Cue
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Orchestrate Material for Rhythmic Strings
  • Score Analysis Activity
  • High-intensity Action Template
  • Score a High-Intensity Action Scene

Lesson 11: Magic and Fantasy

  • Magic and Fantasy Cue
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Magical Tone Colors
  • Magic and Fantasy Cue: Hedwig’s Theme
  • Score Magic and Fantasy Template

Lesson 12: Supernatural Grandeur

  • Supernatural Grandeur Cue
  • Analysis of Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Orchestration
  • Score Analysis
  • Orchestrate a Homophonic Chord Progression
  • Supernatural Grandeur Template
  • Film Scoring Demo
  • The Television Main Title
  • Commercial Bumpers
  • The Role of Music Libraries
  • Strategies for Maximizing Licensing Usage
  • Similarities and Differences: Music in Film and Television

Requirements

Prerequisities

Completion of Orchestration 1, Contemporary Techniques in Music Composition 2 and any DAW course such as Producing Music with Logic, Producing Music with Cubase etc.  Students should be able to read notated music, sequence mock-ups of your music in your home studio, and import a given QuickTime movie into your sequencing software for the purposes of writing music to the picture.


Required Textbook

Music Composition for Film and Television by Lalo Schifrin, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard


Software Requirements

  • Sequencing/DAW software
  • Students should be able to record MIDI in a sequencer, send that MIDI to a software program that triggers samplers, and record the resulting audio as MP3
  • Students should also be able to import a QuickTime movie into their sequencer for the purposes of writing music to picture. Viable programs include Digital Performer, Logic Pro, Cubase, SONAR, and Pro Tools
  • Sampling library, such as Kontakt, any Vienna Symphonic Library, East West Quantum Leap, or Garritan collection
  • Notation software such as Finale or Sibelius is recommended. Students who can produce scores in their sequencing (DAW) software or by hand can use their current technique

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • MIDI keyboard/interface (minimum 25 keys)
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 4 GB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Instructors

Author & Instructor

Ben Newhouse's commercial music has been used in more than 3,000 episodes of television, including projects for ABC, CBS, NBC, and most major cable networks. Newhouse's music is the soundtrack for the Disney DVD logo, several independent films, and Las Vegas stage shows. Newhouse was awarded the BMI Pete Carpenter Fellowship in 1999.

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The University Continuing Education Association awarded his Orchestration 1 course "Best New Online Course" in 2009, and Berklee awarded Newhouse a "Distinguished Faculty Award" in 2015. Newhouse has also guest lectured at Pescara Conservatory in Pescara, Italy and Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, Australia. He authored Producing Music with Digital Performer (Berklee Press), which has sold 15,000 copies. He has been quoted in multiple publications, including Electronic Music magazine and acousticmidiorchestration.com.

As a composer during his college years at Eastman School of Music where he received his bachelor of music degree, and graduated magna cum laude, his music was performed primarily by Eastman groups and groups along the East Coast. "Heat," a relentless overture for orchestra, received the Howard Hanson Award in the late 1990s and was premiered by the Eastman School Symphonic Orchestra. Newhouse is also a full-fellowship Masters degree alumnus of the University of Southern California, completing a Masters in Business Administration and a Business of Entertainment graduate certificate program with the School of Cinematic Arts.

Learn more about Ben Newhouse at www.bennewhousemusic.com Read Less


Instructor

Pianist and composer Vicente Avella has been writing and performing internationally since 1998. Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, he has scored numerous independent films, orchestrated and worked on music production for major network television shows including Family Guy (FOX) and American Dad (FOX), and written music for worldwide advertising including Intel (Saudi Arabia), Red Bull Air Race World Championship (Brazil), and official branding for FPC Sports Channel (Colombia). Avella also performs regularly as a piano soloist, accompanist and in chamber groups.

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In 2013, Avella released his debut album, All the Days of My Life, produced by Grammy Award winner Will Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records. The record received multiple awards including Best Solo Piano Album from One World Music Awards and an Award of Excellence for Instrumental Performance Solo from Global Music Awards. The single "Bridal March" charted at #1 on iTunes; it is also the #1 "Bridal March" on YouTube.

In addition to teaching at Berklee, Avella is an adjunct professor at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, California, where he teaches music theory, musicianship, and piano performance. He is the recipient of a fellowship from Eastman School of Music, where he completed his master's degree in music composition; he received his bachelor's degree in piano performance from Indiana University. Avella currently resides with his wife and children in Los Angeles. Read Less

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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