The Film Score

A film score is music that has been composed for a specific film or arranged from existing music. It is therefore functional music that has certain tasks to fulfill for the images it accompanies and can avail itself of any composition technique, instrumentation, or style. It can bring about a certain effect (mood technique), or it can have an illustrative function (underscoring) ranging from the imitation of sounds to folkloristic and historicizing sounds that serve to specify a location or a time. Furthermore, the film score structures the filmic sequence, unites the alternating visual impressions, and structures the shots. Implemented dramaturgically, it elicits associations in the viewer, providing information about something that is about to occur or that has occurred previously. New technological achievements have refined the impact of the film score, particularly with respect to earlier problems in synchronizing sound with images. Nonetheless, in retrospect it becomes clear that the function of the film score had already largely been defined in the period of the silent film. The oldest techniques of composers—for instance, the use of existing music—continue to be explored and employed to this day.