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Composing for Moving Pictures

The Essential Guide

Jason M. Gaines

Available: May 2015

ISBN: 9780199846641

Online Resource


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 the like. 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, mixing, and integrating surround sound. Gaines illustrates each step of the process with screen shots and explanations in the form of program tutorials. Later chapters offer tips on budgeting out studio sessions, hiring music copyists, and presenting one's work to (and negotiating contracts with) clients. A section of appendices includes a glossary, a guide to keyboard shortcuts, and references to official software program documentation, as well as interviews with industry veterans. 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.

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