All posts under Speak Up!

Off the Track

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No two words can send film music fans into apoplectic seizures faster than the phrase “TEMP TRACK.” What is a temp track and why is it the bane of film composers and film score fans alike? Definition A TEMP TRACK is the use of pre-existing music or audio during the editing phase of post-production to guide the mood or atmosphere in a scene, or on the entire film, prior to the addition of the commissioned original score. Directors use temp tracks to give the composer an idea of the direction…

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Golden Opportunity

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According to the online dictionary, die.net, the GOLDEN AGE is “the first and best age of the world, a time of ideal happiness, prosperity, and innocence; by extension, any flourishing and outstanding period.” When discussing Golden Age film music, we’re talking about a specific period of time in Hollywood, a time when the studio system flourished, cranking out a number of films each year. But with the advent of television in the 1950s, the studio system began to break down allowing the rise of independent filmmakers in the 1960s. Though excellent film music was…

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On the Right Track

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Depending on who you ask, the CLICK TRACK was invented in the 1930’s by the “Father of Film Music” Max Steiner, or Carl Stalling or Scott Bradley to accompany their memorable animation scores. However, it is usually credited to Steiner. As George Burt explains in his book, The Art of Film Music, in the early days of film, “a click track was prepared by punching holes along the edge of a film. These holes produced a clicking sound that the conductor could hear through his headphone. The clicks represented beats…

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Golden Age Film Music: Colorful, Ornate and Gaudy?

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Mark Swed’s Los Angeles Times review of the opening concert of the Pacific Symphony’s American Composers Festival made for some angry comments left by film score fans. However, I found his opening remarks particularly vivid: Hollywood’s “Golden Age” was, of course, black and white.  What gave the pre-World War II talkies their “color” was their ornate, even gaudy, music. My first exposure of Golden Age film music came from the RCA compilations recorded by Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1970s. Here was music with sweep and…

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Film Music: To Be or Not To Be

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Like children, should film music be “seen and not heard”? Many people denigrate film music, saying it takes them out of the experience of watching the film. And yet, these same folks will go on to praise the cinematography, art direction, costumes and sound, which they wouldn’t have noticed had they not been taken out of the film for any length of time. The fact that we’re watching a story being played out on a 30-foot-high screen means we are suspending belief to a certain extent and allowing ourselves to…

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