In this course, we will learn the essential techniques used in writing music for film. Through a series of analysis’ of well-known film scenes from your favorite movies we will learn what makes a great cue, and then apply those techniques by writing our own. I’ll be showing you some of my own projects for film and television throughout the class, and walk you through my process when composing music for a film project.
By the end of this course, students will understand the tools, lingo, and techniques used in the film composing world and will be ready to dive into their own projects. I’ll walk you through how to get started on your first project by using freely available movies that need a score.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked with major American orchestras, film studios, and video game designers. I’m also a PhD in music composition and a university professor (of music composition).
Recently I was named as a semi-finalist for the Grammy Foundation’s Music Educator of the Year award because of my in-person university classes. Now I’m taking those classes to Udemy in an online format in order to reach more students, and give them the joy of Music Theory.
What will I learn in this Course?
- Tools of the trade
- Creating atmosphere
- Using “Pad” sounds with orchestra
- Finding Atmopshere in film
- Harmonizing string melodies
- Polyrhythmic accompaniment
- Homorhythmic accompaniment
- Working with string orchestra
- The chase scene
- Working with drum loops in chase scenes
- Using the brass section
- Building tension
- Writing tension cues
- Writing comedy and animation cues
- “Mickey Mousing”
- Getting gigs as a film composer
- Techniques for building a portfolio
- Finding film makers
- Any much, much, more!
About the Instructor
J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater.
He currently is an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, and is the CEO and co-founder of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.
Praise for classes by J. Anthony Allen
“Without a doubt the best explanation and east of use that one can get. It leaves you enough room to go explore. The classes go by quick, so you can be on your way at being proficient. What are you wait for!”
“Amazing – Seriously Loved It! I took all his courses and have to say I’m so happy! Learnt loads! Jason is an awesome teacher!”
“I have never had any formal training in music at all. Trying to learn all the notes and how everything translated was a serious challenge. After going through this class, Dr. J has totally brought down the barriers. The content was very useful and was easy to grasp for me.”
“I like these courses because you can get up and running quickly without having to spend hours of time wading through TMI (too much information!). Jason hits the high points but shows you what you need to know. Thanks!”
“I’ve watched many other videos on scales and chords before, however, this one has been the best. I now understand minor scales and chords and even how to analyze songs. It really gave me the confidence to start producing music because I feel like I have some structure and guidelines to follow. AWESOME!”
“Clear and Informative – Jason has a clear uncluttered style (with the important dashes of humor) of presentation that is focused on the important key aspects of this course. Recommended for those starting out!”
“Dr. Allen does it again with his music theory series. This course really opened up everything I learned from the 1st section, and now I understand more about the composition side of things for music. I highly highly recommend this course to anyone!!! Really opened my eyes to many things I wasn’t aware of.”
“The Best Teacher Ever, who makes you understand the ins & outs of Music Theory by all means without giving what you don’t want to know.”
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Welcome & Overview
Tools We Will Use
Just like in the last class, I want to quickly talk about the tools we will use. Something a little different this time, though.
A Note About the Examples in this Class
A quick note about how I’ll be writing the score to our project in class.
The “Pad” Sound and the Orchestra
How do we get this sense of atmosphere? There are a few ways, so lets start diving in to some techniques.
Using Modes for Atmosphere
Another technique is to use some of our modal scales to create atmosphere.
Finding an Atmospheric Cue in our Film
Let’s look through this weird film we have, and see if we can find an appropriate place for an atmospheric cue.
Analysis of our Cue
In this video I’ll go through a quick analysis of actually what we wrote in the cue so far.
Working with String Harmonies
Polyrhythmic, Monorhythmic, and Accompanimental
Three different types of accompaniment that you can use in a cue. Let’s look at each.
Example: The Village
In this video we will look at the type of accompaniment pattern used in a cue from The Village.
In this video, let’s look at a few examples of purely polyrhythmic accompaniment.
A Piece Worth Noting: Barber’s Adagio
I would be doing a disservice to you if I didn’t point out this piece at this moment.
Finding a Good Cue for our Film
Let’s find a spot in our film that we can use one of these kinds of cues.
Composing with String Harmonies
Let’s look at using string harmonies in our cue, and some tips for getting them to sound great.
The Chase Scene
Rhythm in Chase Scenes
Before we dive in to writing our own, let’s look at rhythm in the chase scene.
Building Tension – Suspense and Horror Cues
Dissection of one of my Tension Cues
Here is a tension cue I recently wrote. Let’s take a look at it.
“Mickey Mousing” – Comedy and Animation Cues
What is Mickey Mousing?
Mickey Mousing is usually a bad thing, but like most things it has a time and place.
How to Get Your Career Started
Building a Portfolio
In order to get gigs, you need a portfolio. In this video I’ll talk about how to start building your portfolio.