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Composing for Moving Pictures

The Essential Guide

Jason M. Gaines

Publication Date - 29 April 2015

ISBN: 9780190240929

306 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

Offers practical tools with which to navigate the increasingly complex environment of movie music composition


Making quality moving pictures has never been easier or more affordable, and the proliferation and ease of access to digital recording devices has prompted scores of amateurs to record and post videos to YouTube and its ilk. Paradoxically, however, scoring and arranging music for motion pictures is, in many ways, more complicated now than ever before, requiring extensive knowledge of notation, arranging, recording, and mixing software and multi-component DAW workstations.

In Composing for Moving Pictures: The Essential Guide, author Jason Gaines offers practical tools with which to navigate the increasingly complex environment of movie music composition. He addresses both the principles of composition for moving pictures and the technologies which drive music composition, performance, and recording in an integrated and comprehensive fashion. The guide takes readers from square one - how technology can facilitate, rather than hinder, creativity in scoring - and then moves into the basics of working with MIDI files and on to more advanced concepts such as arranging and mixing. Gaines illustrates each step of the process with screen shots and explanations in the form of program tutorials.

Composing for Moving Pictures fills a hole in literature on film scoring in the digital age and will prove to be an invaluable resource for music educators at the university and secondary level. Amateur composers will also delight in this easy-to-use guidebook.


  • Designed for the first-time composer and software user
  • Discusses composing for the moving pictures and specific collaborative workflow techniques
  • Includes interviews from industry-leading composers Marc Shaiman, Terence Blanchard, Steve Horowitz, Nathan Barr and Trevor Morris
  • Takes a holistic look at the process of writing music for film and television from inception to client delivery

About the Author(s)

Jason Gaines is a New York City based trumpet player, composer, educator and author. His career spans studio recordings, Broadway productions and live performances with his own quintet, the Jason Gaines Group. In addition to his performance career, Jason has had a long career in education, teaching in various settings that span K-12, college, and adult education. He holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, New York University and Teachers College, Columbia University.


"Gaines provides a comprehensive, accessible guide to navigating technology that professional film composers utilize on a daily basis, while giving insight into the history and art of music in motion pictures. Composing for Moving Pictures is an excellent tool for amateur or professional film composers alike." -- Terence Blanchard, jazz musician and film composer

"[T]he perfect Swiss Army knife for learning the multidisciplinary art of film scoring. This one-of-a-kind text delivers just the sort of comprehensive and practical understanding professionals really need on the job." - Chris Mangum, Emmy Award-Winning Composer

"[O]ffers a wealth of material not offered in the same manner elsewhere. The sections on Delivery, Collaboration and Archiving, Best Practices and Troubleshooting are a must read for any professional user of Logic X, not just film composers. Gaines explains how to create and effective workflow in an easy to understand manner." - Gary Atkins, Technology Coordinator, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Canada

Table of Contents


    Part I
    1. A Brief History of Film
    2. The Digital Audio Workstation
    3. Recording and Editing Audio
    4. Recording and Editing MIDI
    5. To Loop or Not to Loop - An Exploration of Loops, Beds and Foley
    6. Working with Videos
    7. Music Creation on Mobile Devices and an Introduction to Basic Mixing
    8. Delivery, Collaboration and Archiving
    9. Best Practices and Troubleshooting

    Part II
    10. Terence Blanchard
    11. Marc Shaiman
    12. Steve Horowitz
    13. Nathan Barr
    14. Trevor Morris