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planning a score

Pacing the Score

[Excerpt from Alain Mayrand’s blog.]

I just completed a dialogue scene which had a difficult mix of moods to navigate; emotional discussion/sharing of wisdom interspersed with some slap-stick humour. It was tough, but I pulled it off.

Another thing I wanted to write about here was pacing. It something i am very conscious of and that makes a good score a great score, in my opinion, and something John Williams is a master of.

Right now I am still working on the the opening act of the film so I am writing in a specific way to support that:

  1. Avoiding being too big with the music. The big moments are at the end so the music needs to wait for that – to a certain degree.
  2. No magical textures in the orchestra. The magic is in the second act, so right now I am using more urban sounds: rock, Chinese traditional, city feel like Gershwin meets Shanghai… sort of.
  3. Being more melodic as I lay down the main themes. That’s what John Williams does in Harry Potter, he presents the themes often in the first act. This helps give an opening feel to the story-telling and also makes the theme stick in the memory more. After that, I will incorporate them in other cues, but more as leitmotives that are sprinkled over a different melodic structure.

I am avoiding the magical textures because I do not have an foreshadowing opportunities. It’s sort of like Back to the Future; the orchestra only rolls out along with the DeLorean, when the film changes tone completely. Before that plot point there is no orchestra at all.

In my film, the first act presents the protagonist and we do not expect that he will be taken on this journey into another world. (Well, I guess you do because I am providing spoilers here… ah well.)

Actually, I am lying here… I do foreshadow! The main theme that occurs over an areal shot of  19th Century London is something I designed to come back as a hero theme in the end.

I haven’t’ seen the end, though, so I hope it works out! I am sure it will be fine.


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