Video: How Different Film Scores Can Transform the Same Scene Into Any Genre

Sometimes a film score seems to perfectly fit a scene—or, perhaps, it's the scene that matches the score. Today, Reverb's Joe Shadid joins us from his personal studio to show just how important the music is to setting a movie's mood.


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In the video above, Joe looks at a single piece of soundless stock footage and walks us through his process for writing accompanying music based on the genre of the film or the emotional impact the director is trying to achieve. Through various compositional techniques and instrumentation, he brings dramatic, suspenseful, terrifying, and inspirational moods to the same scene.

For drama, you can never go wrong with strings on top of a minor-tinged piano progression. Joe employs the Chris Hein Cello and Chris Hein Violin plugins from the Best Service Chris Hein Solo Strings software collection.

This software allows you to easily change a given part's articulation. "You can even modify the amount of players very quickly from a solo instrument to four instruments, right away," Joe says. "So you can get the sense that there are a few players playing, and, depending on how you dial in your reverbs, you can make things pretty big."

Another trick he likes to use for strings is to double his part, recording it in full twice, to give the sense that there are even more players uniquely interpreting the piece. Through this type of piecemeal orchestration, you can make a realistic orchestral string section with your MIDI controller in your home studio.

To bring a more uplifting emotional vibe, Joe turns to his guitar and pedalboard, using an MXR Carbon Copy Delay and the Walrus Audio Fathom's plate reverb setting to craft a lilting, gently driving melody. "Electric guitar can be an effective instrument in a film. With a little bit delay and reverb, it can be a pace-setting instrument," Joe says.

He also brings in another Best Service plugin—the company's Galaxy German Baby Grand Piano. In addition to a wide range of sounds and controls, the plugin also allows you to add a pad to the piano sound. "This is a really great tool to use in film scoring, because you can have a nice, natural-sounding piano strike and have attached to it a nice atmosphere or pad," he says.

For more of Joe's scoring techniques—like how to personify an object or how to create discomfort with note clusters—be sure to check out the entire video.


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