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Jeff Rona’s Tips on Scoring Pictures with Liquid Cinema

Jeff Rona’s Tips on Scoring Pictures with Liquid Cinema
Tips & tricks from the creator of the volumes

Scoring movies is a wonderfully creative challenge. It’s music that tells a story. An effective score has strong thematic elements, such as melody, harmonies, rhythm and color. A typical score can have anywhere from a few to dozens of pieces, or “cues.” A score starts by creating a musical roadmap of how each piece begins, changes and ends. Watch the scene a few times and pick places where the feel and energy of the music might change.

Pick a starting tempo that feels right to the scene, but don’t be afraid to change sharply at significant transitions. Choose a palette of sounds for the basis of your score. You will want enough colors to keep things interesting, but you don’t want to throw every sound you have into each score. Begin your writing by selecting an ambience or rhythm as the “bed” of the piece. Most film cues start and end simply so as not to draw too much attention to themselves. Lay the sounds into your sequencer, loop them, and then use the result as a foundation for more. All the rhythmic elements in Liquid Cinema are REX2 files, and therefore can match the tempo of your sequence, even if you change tempo along the way.

As the scene unfolds, find places in the music that match the action or edits to add, subtract or change a variation of an element. Experiment with extreme shifts in color. Be careful not to put anything too distracting over dialogue. Use hits and whooshes or cuts to highlight important action sequences.

Add melodic and bass elements on top of ambiences or rhythms. Experiment with sounds that are in keys different from your themes. Unusual combinations of elements often yield “happy accidents” in the form of fresh textures and rhythms. Play with effects such as reverb, delays and filters to make sounds evolve along with the onscreen action. Build sampler kits of your favorite sounds and vary their pitch or rhythmic nature. Whole cues can be created just by pressing keys on a sampler kit made from layers of Liquid Cinema.

The Liquid Cinema library encompasses a wide range of styles and musical approaches—no two people will use it in the same manner. You can use the library in conjunction with live players, orchestra, other samples and sounds, or all by itself. It’s in your hands now.