5 Ways Music And Soundtracks Are Chosen For Movies

Sam Haskell

When music and soundtracks are chosen for movies and TV, several methods could be used. The soundtrack could be written based on what the producer wants, or the producer might get together with the director to choose music that fits the style of the movie. The five methods below are easy ways for producers, composers, and directors to work together.

1. Temp Music

Sam Haskell believes that temp music can be helpful when deciding how a movie or TV show will sound. The entire movie or TV show is shot before it goes to the composer or music department. Temp music can be used from other shows or movies.

This music is pulled from another movie that the producer and director like. The scene is cut together with that music, and it is shown to the composer or music department. The composer or music department can try to find something that is similar to the temp music that has been provided. There may or may not be temp music for every scene depending on what the producer and director think works best.

2. The Time Period Of The Program

Those choosing the music for a production should consider the time period of the program. It is easy to select music when the time period is strictly defined. For example, movies or TV shows that occur in the 1920s can feature big band music, salon piano solos, and other popular tunes of the day.

A show that is set in the 80s can feature Billboard Top 100 songs from the 80s, and a show that is set in the Wild West might feature rock music that sounds appropriate or music that was popular during that period. Movies that are set in the 19th Century could feature popular classical composers of the day, or music could be chosen from a specific symphony, opera, or musical because that music is being produced in the movie or show.

3. Commissioning New Music From Popular Bands Or Artists

Sam Haskell recommends working with popular artists who can create tracks for the TV show or movie. The name recognition that the artist gets will help market the movie, and these artists might be eager to be involved in certain TV shows or movies.

It might also be helpful to commission the entire score from one artist. For example, Pharrell wrote the whole score for a film. His fame helped to promote the movie, and the same thing has been done with indie artists like Aimee Mann. The songs commissioned for the movie should sound like singles, and they could live on past the movie or TV show. In fact, these songs could remind people of the production. This association might increase online streaming sales because the songs still play on the radio.

4. Hand The Production Over To A Composer

A common way to create the soundtrack for a movie is to hand the production over to a composer. There are many “name brand” composers that producers trust. A producer could choose the composer because their brand will make the movie or show more popular. A composer might be chosen for the sake of consistency, and that person will write almost all the music for a TV show that could be on the air for a decade or more.

The composer can write the score based on what they have seen, and they will play that music on a keyboard, use a sound lab, or hire a symphony orchestra to play the score. Composers can work with studio musicians in places like LA or New York to record their scores. The producer can pay to have a specific orchestra play the entire score, or particular musicians might be called in to play the score. For example, Wynton Marsalis might be asked to play the music for a movie that is set in New Orleans.

5. Use Minimalism To Create A Unique Viewing Experience

Certain movies feature only one musician to create a unique viewing experience. For example, the movie “Birdman” featured a drummer who played throughout the movie, and he is seen on camera at times as the main character walks the streets of New York.

A singular violinist could be chosen for a movie that features a violinist or needs to sound solemn. A saxophonist could be used for a movie set in the golden age of jazz, or a guitarist could be used for a movie about the rock scene in Los Angeles.

Choosing Music For Productions Is A Fun And Creative Process

Producers, directors, and composers need to work together to choose music for each movie or TV show that suits the production. At the same time, music could be commissioned from popular artists to help with marketing. A singular musician could be used, a popular artist could be asked to write the score, or a composer could write a soundtrack and record with a symphony orchestra paid for by the producer.

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