Mad Max's - Assignments in Film Scoring

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Wikiversity School of Music:
Mad Max's Course in Film Scoring for Motion Pictures
Lesson #01: Creating the sound of "Fear"
Pages of this Lesson:
Lesson Summary: Creating moods with individual notes
Select One:

Notation's Protégé (free demo version)
Page 1c: Getting started with Protégé
Page 2b: Creating the sound of fear with Protégé - 6 points

More Musical Sounds
Page 3: Creating additional moods for motion pictures with individual notes - 6 points
The sound of fear!

Part 1: Create a musical sound effect for "Fear".

  • We are going to start very easy. Your first assignment is "Fear".

Fear is one of the most basic musical themes in horror movies. If you plan to write film score (or if you are budding film director or film producer) for your first motion picture (which often is a horror film), you need to learn how to create the emotion of fear. Also, fear is the easiest mood to create with music.

Your First Assignment

Your first assignment is to have fun. Create 3 to 10 seconds of a musical sound effect for fear. You can do whatever you wish… or you can follow the instructions below.

Step 1. Create a musical sound effect

How do you create the sound of "FEAR"?
Listen to the different violin trills in GarageBand with Jam Pack:Symphony Orchestra (or whatever software you use.) Just a single note (a single press of the key when you have selected a violin trill software instrument) gives you an entire violin trill which is ideal for the explaining to the audience that they should feel the emotion of "Fear".
Adjust the volume
When you create a sound with a single musical note (in this case, a violin trill), something seems wrong. The volume is either on or off. That is not right.
Fortunately, you can go back and adjust the volume of the note over time. This is makes the note expressive. It makes the note come alive.

Step 2. Export your music

Save your work
Export your music (your single note played expressively to create the mood of "Fear".)

Step 3. Upload your music

Send me your sound effect
If you know how, upload and store your musical sound file to Wikiversity. Put your name, the sound of fear, and "Mad Max's class" in the description. Email me with the files name so I can look at it.

Note: Wikiversity can only accept OGG files which is a new, free format for music sound similar to MP3 but free from royalties. If you do not have this capability, just send your audio file to me and I will convert it and upload it. To email me, you simply Click Here.

Part 2 - Create other moods

Once you have finished creating the sound of fear, you should also try creating the sound of:

The Sound Of Danger

  • Danger
Once you have created the sound of fear, the next sound you should create is the sound of danger.
You can create the sound of danger in two ways.
1. You can make a sound like fear but very low pitch.
2. You can use a very short melody with very dark sounding instruments. This is much more difficult so start with just the sound of fear made with very angry sounding musical instruments.

The Sound Of Joy

  • Joy (Happy, magic fairies)
Joy is very different from fear and danger. Joy cannot be created with a single note as with the sound of fear. For this, you want four or five notes that repeat over and over again very quickly, very lightly. Bells are great for this. To help you, there is a complete lesson for creating the the sound of joy.
  • sad
  • busy
  • disgust
  • humor
  • waiting / boredom
  • anger

More advanced Techniques

In the exercise above, you used on only one track. Now try creating the sound of fear with multiple tracks.

Option 1 · Rich and thick sound

One way to enhance music is to add a second voice which enhances your first voice. That is, you can try adding a second track and create a sound which enhances the sound on the first track. As an example, try adding a second trill note which follows the first trill note but pick a second note which sounds really awful. That is, pick to pitches which have conflicting harmonies.

Option 2 · Add a new sound

Another way to enhance music is add a second melody, on if the sound is short, add a totally different sound which conflicts and interacts with your original sound. That is you can add a second multiple tracks which have additional sounds. A good example is to listen to the sound effects of the Orchestra Kit and add one at the beginning or the end of your musical cue for "Fear".

Option 3 · Add a melodic rhythm

Another way to enhance music is to add rhythm created with musical notes (rather than with drums).

Option 4 · Add drums

Drums should never be used anywhere near dialog. Drums and dialog have the same frequencies and so can be very confusing to an audience. When possible, never use drums. However in some cases where no one is talking and only screaming in terror, drums will not distract the audience who is also screaming in terror.

Option 5 · Add a sound effect

Programs like GarageBand allow you to mix music with ordinary sound files. Pick a fearful sound effect and combine it with your violin trill. Perhaps the sound of fingernails on a chalk board will make your violin more disgusting.

Please submit your "Sound of Fear"

I am very curious what you can do to create the sound of fear. Show me what you have done!!! To email me, you simply Click Here.

Go to the next lesson.

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