Film Scoring/Butchering MIDI Files

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search


These instructions are designed for GarageBand 3 plus the sounds of a symphony orchestra.
GarageBand is easy and fast yet powerful enough to do film scoring.
Please, tell me if you find anything as good!


Gartoon-Gnome-desktop-config.png
This course in music and filmmaking is:
Film scoring introduction for filmmakers
This lesson is:
Lesson #4 - Butchering MIDI files with GarageBand
The pages in this lesson are:
Page 1: Borrowing from classical MIDI files
Page 2: Importing Beethoven into GarageBand
Page 3a: Importing Starwars into GarageBand
Page 3b: Simplifying Starwars in GarageBand
Page 3c: Modifying Starwars in GarageBand
Page 4: Creating more sounds from Midi files - 6 points
Page 5: Create a musical cue for the motion picture "Graduation Day" - #2 - 20 points

Crystal Clear app kfm home.png Butchering Midi - How to use fragments from MIDI files

Nuvola mimetypes sound.png

Lesson Summary - Why steal from midi?

Previously, you learn three things.

In the last three lessons, you learned that you can create a film score with:

1. A single note (or two or three) that creates a mood. Using a single note or chord, we create the sound of fear.
2. A repeating rhythm that creates a mood. Using a delicate repeating rhythm, we created the "sound of joy".
3. A melody that creates a mood or can even tell a story.
The big question:
  • Where do we get great sounding notes, rhythms and melodies?
The most important answer:
  • We steal them from classical music midi files.
That is the purpose of this lesson. You want to learn to borrow from the greatest composers of all times.

Why use classicial music?

Two reasons

There are two reasons why you want to use classical music.

1. It is old.

Most music copyrighted before 1923 is public domain.

2. It sounds like a film score

Most classical music sounds like a film score. For most movies, the traditional musical instruments for a film score are the instruments of the symphony orchestra. Many classical midi files use the instruments of the symphony orchestra.

It is a perfect match... almost. The only difference is classical music is designed to stand alone. We need music which is much simpler.

Therefore, all the cords, the rhythms and melodies of classical music are ideal for your film scores. We can easily steal them. No problem.

But then we have to thin the music to sound like a real film score. And even that is easy as you shall see.


Crystal Clear app antivirus.png

Stealing chords and rhythms

Where to find great chords, delicate rhythms and melodies?
Classical music has great chords and rhythms. The composers spent decades learning how to create the perfect chords.
Rather than decades, you have about ten minutes to find a really good sounding chord.
Listen to classical music and find a chord or note or delicate rhythm which has the right mood for your movie. Then rip it out of the midi file.
Also look for delicate rhythms. Lots of classical music has these in the background. Great!
We all know great melodies from classical music. The pop quiz at the beginning of this course contains many tunes from classical music.
Crystal Clear app package utilities.png

Simplify, simplify, simplify!

When you are pulling apart a MIDI file to get a melody, you must simplify the melody.

  1. Locate great sounding midi files from classical music (before 1923).
  2. Isolate a single phrase, usually one to three seconds long.
  3. Isolate just one or two or three instruments from the entire score. You want the main melody without much else.
  4. Built the music sound effect from these few notes (or chords) by assigning the elements to different instruments of the symphony orchestra which create the emotion you are looking for. This will always be different from the original musical instruments.

The goal is to get a professional sound which is simple and pure.

Counter melodies

Here is the really great secret of borrowing from classical music. Classical music also contains counter melodies or background melodies that are not familiar. Stealing these is more fun since they sound great, seem familiar, but are not known to most people.


Crystal Clear app mp3.png

The next page

To work with Midi files, we need to get them into GarageBand.

Contact your instructor

Your instructor for this film scoring class is Robert Elliott.
You can email me by clicking here. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png




Shortcuts to the other music lessons for film scoring: The Introduction"Fear""Joy""Drama"The Workshop



Film Scoring Introduction Lessons for Filmmakers
Introduction: Basic theory of film scoring Crystal Clear action info.png
Lesson #1: Sound of Fear - Individual notes Crystal Clear app knotify.png
Lesson #2: Sound of Joy - Rhythm Crystal Clear app kcmdf.png
Lesson #3: Sound of Drama - Melody Nuvola apps kcmmidi.png
Lesson #4: Butchering MIDI files - MIDI Gartoon-Gnome-desktop-config.png
Lesson #5: Adjusting the film edit - dialog for music Gartoon-Gnome-desktop-config.png
Exercises: Film scoring exercises - real scenes Crystal128-tv.svg





This lesson is part of the
course on film scoring
for non-musicians