I am sure others have done this before, but it was the first time for me and it made me wonder why I had never thought of it.
It came out of necessity: I had three weeks to write about 45 minutes of score, with mockups, approved, orchestrated and parts ready for recording 10 musicians on the 25th. Since it is low budget and I’m on my own, that’s a lot of work and the writing had to go very fast with a high amount of clarity and control in order to get the best results possible.
One of the problems when writing is keeping track of the form. Even on a single piece of music (as opposed to multiple cues on a film) it’s easy to get so familiar with your material that you forget that your main tune has only been heard twice for example even though you have heard hundreds of times already. Soon you start diverging from it, complicating things until it becomes an randon-sounding, unmemorable mess.
On the other hand, because I was going so fast, I was cautious of over-using the melodic materials.
So in order to avoid either scenario, I kept track of my melodic ideas/sections on my working cue sheet using the typical letters of form: A, B, C, etc… which I combined with colour coding.
This was so SIMPLE and yet SO effective. It gave me this bird’s eye view of the score and an instant perspective that made sure I always knew where I was.
Here’s what it looked like…
CUE | THEMATIC
1M3 | A (suspense var.)
1M5 | A
1M7 | B – Andrea motive only, not whole tune
1M9 | C (epic tune mf)
1M11 | B – w/pno. ostinato
(these are just two columns of the spreadsheet cue list. I also colour coded the themes on the spreadsheet. Other columns included in, out, timecode position, notes, check-boxes for a variety of production stages.)
And so on…
Such a simple thing, but very effective and a big help.