IndustryCentral - Clef Notes

Five Frequently Asked Questions

Answered by Film Score Monthly's Lukas Kendall

Film score Monthly
Film Score Monthly

This is a first attempt at a useful collection answers and explanations to the most frequently asked questions we receive at Film Score Monthly. I have identified the following five topics to start:

1. Q: Where can I find a CD of music to a particular film?
2. Q: Where can I find the written music to a soundtrack?
3. Q: How can I become a film composer?
4. Q: What was the music I heard in a trailer to an upcoming film?
5. Q: How can I contact my favorite film composer?
I hope the below responses are useful and invite readers to send in suggested topics for inclusion in a later incarnation of this FAQ. Thanks everyone!


1. Q: Where can I find a CD of music to a particular film?

A: There are a few places you should check. First off try looking it up in the Soundtracks Database accessible via the Film Score Monthly home page. This will tell you if it at least exists on an album. There is another great new site developed expressly for this purpose: www.soundtrackcollector.com.

You should also try looking in the catalogs of various mail order dealers such as www.intrada.com and www.screenarchives.com; more are listed here in our links section (http:/ /www.filmscoremonthly.com/links/detail.asp?categoryID=81).

Finally, you can post a query on our message board (www.filmscoremonthly.com /messageboard) or on the Internet newsgroup, rec.music.movies.

If you keep reaching a dead end, you could be out of luck -- it simply could not be available on a CD. This is sadly often the case. And if it's not available, there's nothing you can do to get it, sorry to say.


2. Q: Where can I find the written music to a soundtrack?

A: The sad reality is that virtually no film music is available like this. You can get piano reductions from places like www.halleonard.com (particularly of popular John Williams themes) but not the complete scores and not the actual film orchestrations. Another place to try is the Pepper Music Network (www.jwpepper.com) which has a huge inventory of music, including film pieces.

The reason for this is because publishing music in book form is very expensive; film music carries a lot of costs due to the composer and publisher rights involved; and companies are afraid they could not control public performances were their music to be made widely available.

The only way people have been able to obtain written scores (for thesis projects and study) has been to journey to the various libraries containing the composer or studio archives and viewing them by special appointment. We had an article on our website in 1997 by Hal Jackson detailing his quests to find written manuscripts -- Hal ended up doing just this. You can see it here: http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/articles/1997/18_Sep---Reading_Film_Music.asp.

There is one exception: If you represent a performing orchestra and want to rent film music for public performance, a great variety is available from Themes and Variations (www.tnv.net). Themes and Variations does NOT rent or sell music to collectors or fans -- only performing orchestras -- so please do not contact them unless you represent a legitimate performing group.


3. Q: How can I become a film composer?

A: This is very hard and we get asked it a lot. Here at FSM please understand we cannot help you place songs in movies or contact production companies. Even if we wanted to, we do not have the connections. What this question is asking is "Can you help me start a career?" and the answer is no, we are not set up to perform this service.

However, we do have an article on the site that might be of interest to aspiring film composers: So you want to be a film composer.

If you are wondering where to go to school to become a film composer, try the University of Southern California (in Los Angeles) and the Berklee College of Music (in Boston). UCLA (in Los Angeles) and NYU (in New York City) are talked about a lot as well.

If you want to send CDs or tapes of your music to try to get it placed in a movie... well good luck, but you want to contact Music Supervisors. We sell a $99 directory of music supervisors, agencies, studio music departments and more that you should seriously consider for the contacts you will need: http://www.filmscore monthly.com/books/guide2.asp.


4. Q: What was the music I heard in a trailer to an upcoming film?

A: Motion picture trailers today are almost always produced independent of the actual films they are advertising. Certain pieces of music have become very popular amongst these trailer production companies for their ability to "sell" a movie and convey a lot of emotion in a short period of time -- hence they are frequently used in trailers to unrelated pictures.

Film scores like Come See the Paradise, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Rudy and Hoffa -- and classical pieces like the ubiquitous "O Fortuna!" from Carmina Burana -- are several notable examples of pieces of music which have been taken out of their original context and used over and over for different marketing campaigns.

We often get requests from listeners captivated by the music they heard in a trailer and dying to identify it. Because it's very hard to describe music in an email, this is a challenge. It is made even more complex by the fact that TV commercials can be different from theatrical trailers and each can have several different pieces of music -- or new variations or "knock-offs" of same -- or original music altogether.

We recommend that listners consult an excellent index of trailer music at the website www.soundtrack.net: http://www.soundtrack.net/trailers . The site also has helpful lists of composers of studio logo music and isolated score tracks on DVDs.


5. Q: How can I contact my favorite film composer?

A: Writing him or her through an agent is the best way. There are numerous successful composer agencies in Hollywood and we will risk angering most of them by listing only the two biggest ones, who happen to represent most of the composers fans typically want to write:

John Williams, James Horner, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Alan Silvestri, Ed Shearmur, Don Davis, Ennio Morricone, Elliot Goldenthal, John Frizzell, John Corigliano, Dave Grusin, Mark Snow, W.G. Snuffy Walden, Gabriel Yared, Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, Michael Kamen, Mike Post, Tan Dun, Randy Edelman, Howard Shore and more:

c/o Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency
13245 Riverside Dr Suite 450
Sherman Oaks CA 91423
ph: 818-461-9600
fax: 818-461-9622

Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman, Stewart Copeland, Rachel Portman, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein, Maurice Jarre, Marc Shaiman, Graeme Revell, John Ottman, John Powell, John Debney, David Arnold, David Newman, Shirley Walker and more:

c/o Blue Focus Management
15233 Ventura Blvd Suite 200
Sherman Oaks CA 91403
ph: 818-380-1919
fax: 818-380-1915

We do not have email addresses for the agencies; sorry. You may want to try contacting certain composers through their official websites, if they have one; see http:/ /www.filmscoremonthly.com/links/detail.asp?categoryID=75.

Again, there are countless other successful composers working today and there are many other prominent agencies representing them. We just don't have the space in this forum to list everyone.

By the way, agency rosters frequently change so if you have a question about where to write someone, or want to confirm a composer's representation, write us at fsm@filmscoremonthly.com.

Finally, www.soundtrack.net offers its own registry of composers (http://www.soundtrack.net/compose rs), their representation, and also their performing rights group affiliation, whether it is ASCAP or BMI -- the two big ones in the U.S. -- or occasionally SACEM or another entity for overseas composers. Visit these organizations' official websites as they have great search engines of their membership rosters: www.ascap.com and www.bmi.com. These are good ways to write composers, especially retired musicians who may not have active management and representation.

We have no idea if your favorite composer will write you back or not -- but there's no harm in trying!



For answers to many more frequently asked soundtrack questions, and some alternate explanations on the above topics, see the FAQ at www.soundtrack.net: http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/features/FAQ1.asp. This includes a breakdown of questions for many specific films as well.

Republished from
Film Score Monthly
v. 1.2, Release date: January 25, 2001
All Rights Reserved

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