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HSC Film Composition

Thursday 17th December, 2015

Just finished school for the year, now I want to start working on my compositions for
next year. Im not really sure where to begin but I would like to focus on the 20 th-21st
century module. I will send an email to our teacher to clarify what is to be expected for
HSC compositions.
Here is the email that I have sent sir

Friday 18th December, 2015

Just received sirs reply today, it said:

Ive highlighted some of the key points. The style I want to choose is film music, Ive
always loved watching movies and the scores that accompany the scenes fits perfectly.
Im choosing this because the 20th-21st century music module fits perfectly to film
scores as I can only think of films being released between these periods and there are
so many films created during these times.
Since the time limit is 4 minutes, I want to show as much as I can and try to use up all
the time given. Ill try to think of a scene in films where I would like to reimagine what
type of music that I like that would fit in that specific scene.

Saturday 19th December, 2015

I went through my previous years composition diary to rehash what was expected in the
prelim courses for the composition. I found a page in the end where I made myself an
evaluation of the assignment we did and read over it myself again. Here is what was

Next time I must read the task carefully. E.g. I was meant to base the song on a
specific scene. But what I have done was the opposite, I am now trying to find a
scene that relates to my composition which makes the relationship pretty
different. I am still sceptical about the scene that I have chosen for my task.
I am going to write the melody first next time and try to accompany it with the
rhythm, this will save me heaps of time and give me a much wider variety on how
my melody should be like and how the rhythm can be sculptured even more. For
this task, I had done my rhythm first but this was because my mind was blank
and we did chords in class which gave me an idea and kick started my
I should listen to more music that involves an orchestra as I did not have enough
knowledge yet for this task which caused me to take away numerous
instruments. I also did not fully understand on how to notate some notes on the
specific instruments so I instead just reused some of the other parts causing a
lot of unison in the composition. For example, my cello part was really blank near
the end, I tried to think of harmonising it but it never really worked out so I
left it how it was.
I need to start using a much more variety of note lengths next time, my melody
line was pretty bland but I was lucky that it suited the whole rhythm of the
song. I should also feature more harmonising notes
Use more dynamics and accidentals in the task, this can help bring out a much
larger feeling and emotion to the listener.
Make sure to relate everything to the 5 concepts next time in the diary
Must start earlier on composition tasks as they would only get harder
throughout the HSC courses

I will try to follow my own advice as much as I can for this task.

Monday 21st December, 2015

Ive researched and listened to a couple of composers for film and what type of genres
they usually compose for, the instrumentation they use and as well as the films they
usually participate in.

John Williams- contemporary classical music, post-romanticism and jazz (Star

Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurrasic Park, Schindlers List[Adventure, Action,
Historical films]) Uses instruments from an orchestra with a lot of sections

featuring brass instruments. Main collaborations- George Lucas, Steven

Hans Zimmer- Soundtracks (The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar, The Lion
King, Pirate of the Caribbean[Adventure, Action films]) Uses instruments from
a much smaller orchestra combining electronic with acoustic instruments with a

lot of sections featuring string instruments. Main collaborations- Christopher

James Horner- Film Score, Romantic (Avatar, Titanic, Star Trek, Aliens
[Dramatic, Adventure, Horror]) Uses instruments from orchestra featuring a lot
more with vocals and use of the choir. Main collaborations- James Cameron

I found out that each composer has their own unique attribute when composing such as
the use of brass, strings or the vocals. The films they compose for also have similar
genres as they tend to collaborate with the same director multiple times as their style
of music would suit the directors style of films.
So after doing all this, I must figure out what type of genre I will choose for a specific
climax scene in a movie before I start creating the actual music.

Wednesday 23rd December, 2015

I have chosen a scene in Man of Steel (a film by Zack Snyder) where the two main
protagonists Superman & General Zod have their climactic battle near the end of the
film. The song will feature an intro that starts out thin with fewer instruments to build
up suspense that will gradually crescendo from the build-up of anger for the
protagonist. When he finally cannot hold in his anger and leaps to fight his opponent,
more instruments will enter creating a much thicker texture. During the fight, the song
will still remain thick until near the end when it starts calming down causing an exit of
the instruments coming back to a much thinner conclusion.
I havent decided how many bars or structure Im going to use but I will start that as
soon as I get the type of instruments needed for this composition.

Thursday 24th December, 2015

Im using Sibelius for the composition and I want to use an orchestra for this
composition. The time signature will remain 4/4 for now and I will decide the tempo
later on when I start getting some progress. I believe its best to leave it all in C major
as it would prevent so much confusion of getting the harmony of the instruments
Since I chose an orchestra, there are four different sections:

Strings- Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar, Harp

Woodwind- Flute, Piccolo, Oboe, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone
Brass- Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba

Percussion- Timpani, Percussion, Keyboards.

I doubt I will use all of this, there will be a couple changes made later on.

Wednesday 6th January, 2016

Going to remove the majority of the woodwind section, its not that I do not admire the
sound of them but it just doesnt seem necessary in the style that I am writing for.
The sounds Im looking for are ferocious, vibrant, aggressive, powerful and richness
that the brass and percussion provide as well as harmonic, peaceful, passive and
soothing that the strings will provide. On the other hand, the woodwinds seem to
whisper the notes in an airy, innocent and light tone.
The scene that I am attempting to bring out is a battle so it needs a much thicker
voice to amplify the scenes.
I am also switching out the keyboards to a piano because the keyboards seem to give it
more of a synth and electrical tone which Im not really familiar with. I suit better with
acoustic instruments which is why the piano is a better choice for me.
The section I am removing in the string section is the Guitar. Im still not quite sure if
I should remove the harp as it sort of leans towards the light side, but I will keep it
for now.
Now my orchestra consists of the instruments

Horn (a)
Horn (b)
Trumpet (a)
Trumpet (b)
Trombone (a)
Trombone (b)
Percussion I
Percussion II
Harp (a)


Harp (b)
Piano (a)
Piano (b)
Violin I
Violin II
Viola (a)
Viola (b)
Violoncello (a)
Violoncello (b)

The only problem with the instruments I have now is that I have no idea how to
read the alto clef that the viola uses. I will try to figure out if there are any
ways to temporarily switch it to a treble clef.

- Saturday 9th January, 2016


I want to start off with a chord progression first, ive always like songs that
feature a piano in the intro so I want to put the chord on the piano first. I know
in my evaluation I made where I said I am going to write the melody first next
time and try to accompany it with the rhythm but now I feel like when getting
the rhythm, the melody line can stay more in tune and there is more of a
structure so I wont wonder off.

I like to start off with a descending tone because film music in battles always
seems to descend as it is like telling a story that a hero is beginning to lose all
of his good spirit and cannot control his anger. So he would slowly fall apart
from his good side in order to bring out the anger to fight his opponent.

Im using a website called Auto chords found in this link <

https://autochords.com/> our teacher showed us that this website can autogenerate a chord progression. This is giving me an idea of what the chords sound
like if Im to write my own. This is what I have so far:

It is similar to the first 4 chords of a canon. The canon chord uses the Cm, Gm,
A and E.

Ive also added in a bass line with crotchets so that it can temporarily provide a
pulse and it helps me hear the chords clearer than the semibreves.

Im not sure what scale it is yet so ill figure it out on the piano. For some reason
the harmonic minors sound a lot more familiar to me, so when I wrote it down, I
raised the seventh creating a c harmonic minor.

But without the raised seventh which I have created in my chords, it forms just
the c melodic minor. So now my scale is settled with the notes C, D, E, F, G, A,
and B.

Im going to change the key signature from the C major C minor so that
notating the score will not cause as many difficulties or errors since adding flats
or removing them causes so many mistakes.

Here are the changes:


- Tuesday 12th January, 2016


I have now officially chosen the scene of the film that I want to use for my
composition. Ill watch the scene a couple of times so that I can understand the
storyboard which can locate different section in my song. The whole scene is
3:58 so it is just under the 4 minute mark.

- Thursday 4th February, 2016


Finally revisiting my comp again, I had another holiday again and then school
came, now its time to get back in. I will read over my diary to catch up on what I
was thinking and where I left it before I went on holidays.

- Tuesday 12th April, 2016


Holidays again, I listened to what I have done so far and realised that it does
not match the scene that I am composing it for. Im deciding on changing the
intro that I had. Im extending the intro to 16 bars now, as I want the build-up
to be strong.

I want to make a more triumphant intro as in the scene, Zod(the bad guy) is
gaining the upper hand and is finally discovering his powers to the full extent. So

Im choosing to give the horns a more dominant role as it would fit the part
better. Similar to Man of Steels main theme

Ive noticed the perfect fifth gives the theme more of a flawless melody. But
since my triumphant theme is for the villain, I want to make it like a perfect 4 th
to give it a more edgy sort of feel. I also made a change in the key signature
from C minor to F major.

I felt like the staccato in the melody gives it a more menacing sound as it gives
it a more disjointed feeling compared to the other notes which are played in

To harmonise this melody, I chose to use a trumpet and choir to play semibreves
to give it a richer texture.

To add more thickness to the intro, I decided to use a cello playing quavers.

But when listening to it, the quavers cannot be heard and seem more like a
muffled crotchet due to the fast tempo of 160bpm (Might change it later). I
instead changed it to all quavers but with staccatos to allow it to stand out

Around the bar 9 scene, we see superman looking up ready to attack Zod, to
emphasise this scene and build-up, I added some ascending quavers played by
the harp so that it cannot be overheard by the dominant layer.

- Thursday 14th April, 2016


Intro is so far wrapped up now, to start the actual section, superman launches
himself at zod, so I want to add a bass drum giving a thrilling rhythm to
accompany it. I have an idea like:

|, ||||, |, ||||, | | |, |, ||||

I notated this and it looks like this, still deciding on the style of percussion to

- Tuesday 12th July, 2016


Coming back to this composition after an absence, I want to refresh my ideas

again on a fresh manuscript, this will clear up any confusions I had with this
composition and also I could implement some new ideas. I might leave the movie
scene behind and focus instead on what I have planned. So now I will put
whatever ideas I have on this composition without following the structure from
the film scene. This will allow me to have a larger variety instead of being
secluded to whatever fits the scene.

To set this out, I want to use a similar structure to some of my previous

compositions, I want to lay it out with 64 bars in total. The first 8 bars is the
intro is what I am focusing on today, I will decide the rest after this is

- Wednesday 13th July, 2016


Using the same intro I had before, I decided to make it a lot thicker by adding
this to other brass instruments as well, the string section also plays a part in
this to as well give it the thick texture. The choir gave the intro a more
atmospheric feeling and felt very emotional.

I added in the semibreve in the trumpet section as I used this technique before
in my previous compositions and it really added a triumphant finish to a section
due to its powerful and rich sound.

- Thursday 14th July, 2016


With the intro section sort of finished for now, the next section is to be a lot
thinner as the brass instruments are to drop out. For the string section, Im
reminded of a Kamino theme in the Star Wars films where there is a wavy
section played with triplet type notes.

- Monday 18th June, 2016


I added in a lot more layers to this section, but by adding all the layers, the
ascending tone is taking over the descending tone leaving it seem like it feels
half way there.