Film Music Operation and Control

“I think music is one of the most effective ways of preparing an audience and reinforcing points that you wish to impose on it. The correct use of music, and this includes the non-use of music, is one of the greatest weapons that the filmmaker has at his disposal.”

-Stanley Kubrick

Atonement Article

Atonement: Melodies and Motifs

Multitrack Recording with the Zoom H4N

Emotion and Music Chords

Film Compositional Choices

Screen capture of Compositional Choices from FlimmakerIQ @YouTube
Screen capture of Compositional Choices from FlimmakerIQ @YouTube


Film Composition Resources

Ten Major – Minor Triad Combinations

Major Minor Chord Combinations for Movie Music

Major Triad Chord Structure

Major Chord 4-3

Minor Triad Chord Structure

Minor Chord 3-4

M5m Chord Triad Combination

M5m Chords


Composition Arrangment Elements

The following material is adapted from chpater 5 of The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski

The Foundation
The foundation is usually comprised of the bass and drums, but can also include a rhythm guitar and/or keyboard if they’re playing the same rhythmic figure as the rhythm section. Occasionally, as in the case of power trios, the foundation element will only consist of drums, since the bass usually needs to play a different rhythm figure to fill out the band’s sound, so it therefore becomes its own element.

The Pad
A pad is a long sustaining note or chord that adds a sort of “glue” to the arrangement and therefore the mix. In the days before synthesizers, a Hammond organ provided the best pad, and was later joined by the Fender Rhodes. Synthesizers now provide the majority of pads, but real strings or a guitar power chord can also serve in that role as well.

The Rhythm
The rhythm element can come from any instrument that plays against the foundation element. That can mean a double-time shaker or tambourine, a rhythm guitar strumming on the backbeat, or congas playing a Latin feel. The rhythm element is used to add motion and excitement to the track. Take it away, and the track loses a bit of life and energy.

The Lead
A lead vocal, lead instrument, or solo.

The Fills
Fills generally occur in the spaces between lead lines or can be a signature line. You can think of a fill element as an answer to the lead.

Technical Elements Projects

Music and Sound Research


  • (free and online)
  • GarageBand, only on Mac and iOS
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • All class microphones
  • Mackie mixer
  • Class instruments
  • SoundCloud
  • Virtual DJ 8 (freemium)

GarageBand and Other Resources

Feedback Form