Are there things you can write in a film score that you can’t write for the concert hall? Laura Karpman

Photo by Catherine Byrd

Composing for film is probably most closely related to composing an opera. Whereas in most 20th-21st century concert music, formal structure is an issue—whether one chooses to revert to 18-19th century forms, chooses serial techniques, or to invent one’s own structures—in film music the structure is dictated by the film’s narrative. Composing film music has improved my sense of dramatic timing and this has had a positive influence on my concert music. Composing chamber music maintains my ability to structure my own work without the aid of an external force.

The most striking difference between the two is that the performance of film music is most often in recording; therefore, recording techniques play a crucial role in how the music is executed.