Film Scoring/Theory of Film Scoring/Spy Story:Pop Quiz

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This course in music and filmmaking is:
Film scoring introduction for filmmakers
This lesson is:
Introduction - The basic theory of film scoring
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The pages in this lesson are:
Summary: Basic theory of film scoring for filmmakers
Page 1: What are the different kinds of music?
Page 2: Film score example "George Lucas in Love"


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Pop Quiz


This is a really fun movie which needs a narrative film score.

The short movie called The Spy Story

A wonderful student film
The Spy Story is a student film created at the Community College of Southern Nevada in North Las Vegas which is a wonderful opportunity for a narrative film score.
This script was written by the instructor, John Marsh. The script is used by students who prefer not to write their own script.
As you can see, this is simple yet a really fun story! But it needs a musical score.
Take this pop quiz
For this pop quiz, watch a fun movie called "The Spy Story" which is surprisingly similar to George Lucas In Love in terms of music. This movie needs the same kind of music as George Lucas In Love.
Then answer the questions to the right. Use your imagination.
Easy and fun!


Click HERE to download this movie from YouTube.

Pop Quiz - Defining the characters

Step 1 - "Who are those guys?"

Explain who these people are.
Your first step is to decide who are the characters in the movie. And what is the story all about?
Little of this is explained in the dialog. The actions do not clearly tell you who is good and who is evil.
You have to decide! Who are the "good guys" and who are the "bad guys"?
Note: Only the music can explain who these people are and what they are feeling. So before you begin writing a musical score for any movie, you must decide what the story is all about and who are these people.
CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
  • The lady spy
Who is this person? (i.e., Is she good or bad? Is she worried or calm?)
Tell Me Your Answer!. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png (2 point)
  • The man spy
Who is this person? (i.e., Is he good or bad? Is he worried or calm?)
Tell Me Your Answer!. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png (2 point)




CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
  • The woman with the newspaper
Who is this person? (i.e., Is she good or bad? Is she German or French? Is she serious or comical?)
Tell Me Your Answer!. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png (2 point)




CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
  • The woman with the umbrella
Who is this person? (i.e., Is she good or bad? Is she German or French?)
Tell Me Your Answer!. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png (2 point)


As the film's composer, you get to decide.
Your music defines the movie.


Pop Quiz


CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg

"Who are these guys?"

The problem
When you read the student's answers below, notice how different each one is.
Your audience will feel the same way. Each member of the audience will have very different ideas about who each person is.
The solution
There is only ONE way to make this clear to the audience. That is music.
You must use your music to make this clear. You must tell the audience who these people are. You must guide the audience so they all understand your vision (or the director's vision) for this scene.
Only your music can do this. There is absolutely nothing else which can explain this to the audience.
Therefore, your music is absolutelly vital to the success of this story. It all depends on you.


CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
1. The Lady Spy
The lady spy is anxious to pass on her message so that her colleague can prevent an attack on the city from taking place. Her organization wants to maintain the status quo with a minimum of violence. Most people would laud her goals, so she is good.
2. The Man Spy
The man spy is a colleague of the lady spy. Unlike her, he is calm and collected, but perhaps that's because he is more likely to dismiss the dangers of his profession. He is also working to save the city.
CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
3. The Woman With The Umbrella
The woman with the umbrella is a Frenchwoman whose goal is to assassinate the gentleman spy and prevent him from saving the city. She is also suspicious of the woman with the newspaper and does not hesitate to eliminate her as a potential witness and rival.
CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
4. The Woman With The Newspaper
The woman with the newspaper is a German who intends to intercept the gentleman spy and steal his message. She is another villain, albeit a comical one in her lack of subtlety.


CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
1. The Lady Spy
She was not actually bad. I think she's there just to pass a message. and I think that wasn't so bad.
2. The Man Spy
He is just getting the message to the first lady. I think that he's a good guy. just like the first lady, he is to calm.
CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
3. The Woman With The Umbrella
I think the woman with the umbrella is one of the bad persons in the story.
As I watch the film, on the first scenes, the woman with the umbrella is the partner of the woman with the newspaper. But on the last scene, the that woman finished the woman with the newspaper and worked on her own.
CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
4. The Woman With The Newspaper
She looks like a German to me. and I think she's a spy that was trained to steal. She was one of the Bad persons in the movie.




CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
1. The Lady Spy
The lady spy is a neutral character, she does what she is told to do, without worrying if what she does is good or bad.
2. The Man Spy
The man spy is a mysterious character. He rarely steps out of the darkness.
CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
3. The Woman With The Umbrella
The woman with the umbrella wants to kill the man spy to retrieve the information he received. She's cold hearted and not afraid to eliminate what lies in her way to get what she wants.
CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
4. The Woman With The Newspaper
The woman with the newspaper is a serious woman. She wants to warn the man spy from nearing danger, even though she doesn't get the chance to do so.


  • Joe Mac has completed this assignment - September 18, 2007 - 8 points
CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
1. The Lady Spy
She is worried, concerned......waiting for something/someone. Music is dark, so I think she may be in danger, can't tell if good or bad.
2. The Man Spy
Guy seems anxious, despite the light banter........ All are being watched by an unseen party.
CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
3. The Woman With The Umbrella
Umbrella woman watches and waits, no clue as to nationality, serious characters all.
CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
4. The Woman With The Newspaper
Also watching, trying to appear not to. No clue as to nationality.


CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
1. The Lady Spy
The lady spy is a bad guy. She's dressed in black and is frowning. And she is calm, and confident.


2. The Man Spy
The man spy is the same as her. Both of them are dressed in black and both of them are calm, so they "feel" like bad guys. They have the same attitude, and they are clearly arranging an exchange of some sort, so they both have something to gain, probably.


CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
3. The Woman With The Newspaper
The woman with the newspaper is serious, but overly so, almost to the point of comedy. Overly serious music might further illustrate this. She might be Russian?


CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
4. The Woman With The Umbrella
The woman with the umbrella is bad. She's bad because she knocks out the other spy without a clear motive. We can't tell whether she is working with the man or is also trying to get something from him. I feel like she maybe double-crossed the other female spy, double agent style.



CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
1. The Lady Spy
The lady spy is good and calm. She back with an important document of war should be protected from bad agents.
2. The Man Spy
The man spy is a good agent and calm too. He is an agent from FBI and he will guard and protect the document.
CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
3. The Woman With The Newspaper
The woman with the newspaper is an bad russian agent that need retrieve the documents to your country.
CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
4. The Woman With The Umbrella
The woman with the umbrella is a good french agent help the FBI on capture of the files. She ever help the FBI agent.


CCSN The Spy Story - two spies .jpg
1. The Lady Spy
The lady spy is waiting at an agreed time and place and has to pass a message on to the man spy.
She seems to be fairly calm, and neutral.
2. The Man Spy
The man spy... there is a sinister presence about him - he could be a hitman.
I think he might be a bad man!
Perhaps the message passed on contains the name of the next job...
CCSN The Spy Story - newpaper spy .jpg
3. The Woman With The Newspaper
The woman with the newspaper is a German, not a great spy. Slightly comical and inept. A litter bug.
She looks like she is attempting to track the hitman spy and get the information he has, or interfere in some way.
I think she is bad.
CCSN The Spy Story - umbrella spy .jpg
4. The Woman With The Umbrella
The woman with the umbrella is French. She is in love with the hitman spy, and trying to protect the hitman for some reason...maybe she has a liking for people with umbrellas?
I think she is the good character in this film.




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Your music is important

Now do you see why your music is important. Nothing else will tells the audience who these people are. Only your music can explain to the audience what the story is all about.





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You are the storyteller

Now do you see how narrative music can tell a story?
As the film's composer, it is you, not the director, who tells the story. You are in complete control.

Step 2 - "What music is needed?"

If you were to create a film score for The Spy Story, these are the different kinds of music which is needed.


Here is the music that is needed for The Spy Story
  • Traveling Music
Just like with George Lucas In Love, the traveling music sets the tone of the movie and tells the audience that this is a fun (or a scary, or a farcical) movie.
  • The Characters
You defined the characters in the pop quiz above. Once you know who these characters are, you must give each of them a theme just like Arron has a theme in George Lucas In Love.
  • Silence
Emphasize the Dialog with silence. When the dialog starts, you can turn off all music. In fact, the music can crescendo just before the dialog begins to draw the audiences attention to the dialog.
  • Passing the Note
What is in the note? Good news or bad news?
  • Fumbling with his pocket
Why does he fumble? Is this important?
  • The Exit
Should the audience be happy or worried?
  • The Chase
Is something bad going to happen?
  • The Attack
Did the attack save the day or begin a downward spiral of evil events?
You get to decide! What fun!!!





Do you see how your music defines everything?
The script and the images do not tell the whole story. Only your music can explain what is happening.


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The next page

Go to the next lesson and begin to create music.

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