Know the Score

There’s a few different pieces that make up a film score. Here’s a basic rundown.

Film scoring can be broken down into three main categories: underscore, incidental music, and pre-existing songs. Each plays a vital role in providing a musical backdrop to anything and everything that happens on screen—from an action scene, to an ocean voyage, to time travel. Below are some samples of famous film scores, as well as a list of terms defined in the article.

underscore (n.):
cue (n.): a segment of music included in a film’s score
interstitial music (n.): music that occurs in between scenes
incidental music (n.): music that occurs within the onscreen world, which actors can hear and interact with
diegetic (adj.): within a film’s onscreen world, able to be noticed and interacted with by actors
non-diegetic (adj.): outside of a film’s onscreen world, unnoticed and intangible to actors
pre-existing song (n.): a song written and recorded independently and before the making of the film
music supervisor (n.): a member of the film crew, responsible for working with the director and composer to select appropriate pre-recorded music for the film where desired, and for securing a license to use the music in the film
principal shooting (n.): recorded video footage of the film, before music and sound is added
orchestrator (n.): someone who notates a written composition to be played by a full orchestra