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Music for Film

Having watched the film I proceeded to set the film tempo accordingly with a click track so that I could synchronise the music and film together perfectly in accordance with my spotting sheet using sync points (Davis, 1999). Since the film requires an Original sound track, I have firstly produced a Spotting sheet (fig 1) to help with scoring cues (Davis), I also made a cue sheet to remind me of ideas for the orchestration of scenes and an exposure sheet for more precise movements of the characters (Davis).

I decided that the film requires five sections of composition which I have linked together with small musical motifs to provide a smooth flow to the film (Copeland).

I have used Mickey Mousing extensively throughout the film where appropriate.

The Mickey Mousing technique was first introduced in 1928 by Walt Disney in the cartoon “Steam Boat Willy” (Lord Stonemaker) as a technique for writing music to animation and later subsequently used to great effect on the Tom and Jerry cartoons by the composer Scott Bradley (Davis). Mickey Mousing is a film technique that synchronises the accompanying music with the actions on the screen. This technique of writing for film music is still widely used in modern films and examples of this technique can be found in the film “The Pirates of the Caribbean” music written by Hans Zimmer (Hans Zimmer) and also in the film “Spiderman” music written by Danny Elfman and directed by Sam Raimi (Spiderman, 2002).

The music score is an example of Non Diagetic sound (Chion, 1990), although the role of the score is to be unobtrusive there are sections of music that emphasise an action or movement in the film. There is also Dialogue in the film, an example of Diagetic Semantic listening (Chion).


Section 1


The opening scene (Fishows Proog pushing Emo out of the way of moving cables and then shows the cables attaching themselves to a wall of connection points. Setting a psychological mood (Davis/Copeland) of initial general confusion and to add suspense (Copeland) I firstly introduce a theme in A minor using IV V I triads which in turn, if interpreted as a dominant V chord in the key of A minor, should take us to A minor on the last part of the scene.

I also use a sound effect (Foley) of a heavily reverbed synthesiser sound (an example of a Diagetic ambient sound) to portray the cables and the general ambience and location (Chion, Copeland).

The E Major dominant V chord would be expected to resolve to the A minor Tonic key for the next scene, however I substitute this A minor expectation with an A Diminished chord which adds more suspense to the next scene. As the characters walk  the piano theme continues  with violins playing a diminished scale providing suspense to the section, this piano section then ends on an A minor chord with a major 7th on top to create an unfinished feel to the scene.

 Section 2

The next scene (section 2, timeline 0.42.091) features the characters entering a room. For this transition between scenes a jump shot is used (New Media Rights) to show the characters entering the room from outside of the room  – I have changed the mood of the music to portray possible danger and uncertainty, an example of Copeland’s 5 ways to support a scene.

To link scenes 1 and 2 together I have introduced a low ensemble string line of the note A to provide a smooth transition between scenes (Copeland).

 Section 3

The next scene at 1.00.983 shows the direction of the walkway onto which the characters begin walking.  The character’s footsteps can be heard at this point – an example of Diagetic causal listening (Chion, 1990).

I now introduce a new key of Bb minor and to give excitement I introduce a moving Violin part in semiquavers. An erratic piano part in a low register to also give a sense of panic and urgency to the scene. Examples of this type of piano scoring can be seen in movies from the 1970’s such as in the detective Columbo series of films (Etude in Black, dir. John Cassavetes).   

I have added a shaker playing semiquavers which gives a constant rhythm to the whole piece and knits in the various erratic parts of the Piano bass melody and gives the feeling of constant movement to the scene as well as that underlying sense of rushing to the end of the Walkway. During this scene the Walkway spins and Proog finds himself walking upside down.

To portray this I introduce a sliding Timpani, a Mickey Mousing technique used by Walt Disney’s Carl Stalling (Davis), and a chromatic rundown for two bars at this point on violin and cello, another example of the Mickey Mousing technique. The key then changes to B minor to add more urgency.

At timeline 1.38.382 into the film I introduce a melody from a Gregorian funeral chant. It is called the Dies Irae (The Day of Wrath), an historical melody written in the 13th century (Britannica).  Originally composed as a Funeral Mass it has been used by composers throughout history such as in Mozart’s Requiem Mass, Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Verdi’s Requiem Mass. Traditionally this melody is used in horror sequences where a sense of impending doom is needed and I have used the melody to portray danger from the oncoming bird machines.

I also use foley in the form of a mechanical bird noise, an example of Acousmatic (Pierre Schaeffer), Post or non Diagetic ambient sound. This changes to Diagetic sound when the birds appear on screen.

There is a jump cut at 2.02.524 minutes that brings our characters into another room which shows a character with a typewriter and a table with a telephone. The telephone is ringing – a form of Diagetic on the air sound. As the character with the typewriter appears to be playing a snare drum rather than typewriting I introduce a snare drum rhythm to portray his movements. An example of an ambient foley.

As the characters look at each other I emphasise the movement of their heads by the use of the Mickey mousing technique with a xylophone sound as was popular with Warner Bros. cartoon composer Carl Stalling (Davis).

Section 4

The next scene (timeline 2.20.603) shows Proog explaining about the sounds of the telephone. I begin with another piano part together with a Cello note of C. To add suspense I use a C Minor chord with a B natural, or a major 7th or leading note, on top of the chord. This clash between the C root and the leading note gives suspense to the scene (Copeland).

At 2.34.782 minutes into the film timeline I change key to G minor then to G minor flat five (Gmb5), a G minor with the fifth degree (D) of the scale flattened (Db).  I also use the melody in the bass to emphasise this harmony G to D to Db.

At 2.46.755 I introduce a Machine noise (Diagetic Ambient sound) and at 2.52.494 a breathing noise to enhance the dialogue. This Breath sound is internal non Diagetic sound or Meta Diagetic (Gorbman – cited by Millicevic) Oneiric Hypnagogic sound (Vladimir Petric – cited by Millicevic).

At 3.07.806 Emo wakes up from a daydream as he finishes hearing his breath – an oneiric hypnapompic state and sound (Vladimir Petric - cited by Millicevic).

The next scene shows the characters walking from the room to the next part of the machine.

Section 5

In this scene the two characters are walking on strange suspended plates.

For this section of music I have written a Russian melody to portray Proog performing a Cossack style dance at timeline 3.47.307. For this I have written in the key of D minor, however, the chords never resolve to the Tonic and I use chords IV, V, and VI as the harmony to the melody. At timeline 4.10.559 I modulate to A major.

Examples of this type of music can be found in the Hungarian Dances by Brahms, Czardas by Vittorio Monti, Hava Nagila (Traditional Israeli folk tune). 

The film ends at this point and in conclusion the film and sound track work together to produce an overall positive sound and visual experience for the viewer. Neither the film nor the music are in conflict with each other and the viewer is left with a sonically and visually positive experience




A.Copeland (1900), University of Exeter, Available at: [Accessed 10/10/2020].


Chion, Michel (1990), Audio-Vision Sound on Screen, 1st Edition, Colombia University Press New York USA, Nathan Paris.


Davis, Richard, (1999, 2010) Complete Guide to Film Scoring, 2nd edition, Boston USA, Berklee Press


Danny Elfman, (2002) Spiderman, IMDb, available at: [Accessed 15/10/2020].


Karling Fred, (2005), On The Track A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring, 2nd edition, Routledge.


Lord Stonemaker, (2017) The Art of Mickey-Mousing, available at:, [Accessed 15/10/2020].


Milicevic Dr Mladen, Film Sound Beyond Reality, Available online at: [Accessed12/10/2020].


Orange Open Movie Team (year unknown), The Elephant’s Dream, Available at: . [Accessed 5/10/2020].


New Media Rights (2008), New Media, Available at:, [Accessed 26/10/2020].


Petric Vladimir (1928) Film Studies Professor Harvard University. IMDb, Available at:, [Accessed 8/11/2020].


Dies Irae (2019) Dies Irae, Available at:, [Accessed 4/11/2020].


Stalling Carl (1891) IMDb, Available at: [Accessed 8/11/2020].


Schaeffer, Pierre (1910) Brittanica, Available at:, [Accessed 8/11/2020].


Zimmer Hans, (year unknown), Hans Zimmer Live, available at: [Accessed 15/10/2020].


This was a film that I was asked to compose an Original Music soundtrack for the animated fantasy film “The Elephant’s Dream”, by The Open Orange Movie Team. It has two central characters, a man named Proog and a boy called Emo.

I am sometimes asked to compose music for short videos and this is one example of my work. I have gone into great musical and technical details for those of you who may want to commision my skills as a film music composer.

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