9 Recording Sessions
Record your music with the European Recording Orchestra (ERO) from the comfort of your home via our remote recording session protocol that will make you feel like you're sitting in the recording booth.
Have you ever dreamed of hearing your music played live by a 52-piece Symphony Orchestra? Of hearing your compositions come to life in a professional recording studio? If so, then the 9 recording sessions included in our Online Graduate Diploma in Film and Game Scoring are going to change your life.
The European Recording Orchestra (ERO), composed of exceptional musicians from Sofia, Bulgaria, specializes in studio recordings for film, TV, and more. By partnering with them, we provide you with an invaluable opportunity to enrich your portfolio and showcase your musical prowess.
How do the recording sessions work?
The 9 recording sessions are where we’ll put your new knowledge and skills into practice. Every recording session featured on the program is closely linked to the curriculum via your assignments briefs. Whether it’s Scoring an Emotion, Depicting Character, Scoring Under Dialogue or Heroism & High Drama, you’ll be required to deploy the given orchestral ensemble as effectively as possible in order to satisfy that particular assignment brief.
Once your music is ready to go, you'll be fully immersed in the recording process from the comfort of your own home. While the European Recording Orchestra and our production crew operate live from the studio in Sofia, Bulgaria. You will connect virtually through Microsoft Teams and Audiomovers ListenTo - don’t worry, you will count on our technical team at all times. This enables real-time communication with the booth personnel and provides you with a high-fidelity audio livestream, hearing everything the crew hears in stunning detail.
Throughout your time slot in the recording session you’ll be in constant communication with our Production Manager, who will be relaying any feedback you have whilst also updating you on changes and tweaks our Creative Team are making in the studio booth. This way your feedback is incorporated in each successive take of your music, and you’re aware of the changes being made by our trusted Score Supervisors.
How much music can you record on a session?
Throughout the Online Graduate Diploma in Film and Game Scoring, you will be allocated 15-minute recording slots during each session. This timeframe allows you to record music up to 2 minutes in length, giving you the chance to bring your compositions to life in a professional setting.
Why put so much focus on recording sessions?
Our focus on recording sessions extends beyond the obvious portfolio-building benefits. We also equip you with invaluable skills in writing music for studio musicians and effective time management in the studio. Delivering outstanding results in the recording studio with live musicians is the gold standard in music for screen entertainment. By honing these skills, we ensure you're prepared to thrive in the industry and compete at the highest level.
What will you receive for your portfolio?
In addition to high-quality audio recordings, you will receive multicam HD videos of your sessions. These videos serve as a visual representation of your work, enabling you to create professional videos that synchronize your music with pictures or capture the essence of the session itself. It's the perfect tool to curate a portfolio that truly represents your unique talent.
What will you record in each session?
Session 1: Solo Piano (MIDI)
Scoring an Emotion
Learn that capturing and conveying emotions via your music is the first step to successfully scoring visual content. Composers will write a piece of music that successfully elicits a chosen emotion, so much that an audience of listeners would be able to successfully guess the emotion the composer has scored. Composers will also learn that writing for live studio musicians under strict time constraints is a skill in and of itself, and the first session, performed by a professional pianist into a fully-weighted 88-key MIDI keyboard, will help bridge them into this world.
Session 2: Solo Piano (Studio)
After an absence in the 1970s and 80s, the use of piano as a featured instrument in film scoring came strongly back in the 1990s, although the piano as employed by composers like Thomas Newman was a very different instrument from the one made iconic by the likes of Michel Legrand and Francis Lai. In the early 00s, the new piano sound continued to evolve in the hands of Mychael Nyman, Craig Armstrong and Carter Burwell, and later, Olafur Arnalds, Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Most recently, it drove the haunting score of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT by Carlos Rafael Rivera. Composers will compose a cue for solo piano and virtual instrument pads and atmospheres in the “neo-Romantic” minimalist style that is current today.
Session 3: 3-piece Strings
Some of the most indelible portraits of character and character psychology in film music have been painted with strings. From Bernard Herrmann’s PSYCHO to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s THE REVENANT and Mica Levi’s UNDER THE SKIN, the string section in all sizes and configurations is the most adept at following the curves and contours of character and emotional states like grief, longing, agitation, revery, and nostalgia. In this assignment, the solo violin and cello will become “characters” in the drama of the composer’s cue, with the piano as accompaniment and rhythmic motor.
Session 4: 6-piece Woodwinds
When a composer wishes to create a sense of place, as Delius did in In A Summer Garden or as in the orchestrations of Debussy’s Nocturnes, or as Elmer Bernstein did in To Kill A Mockingbird, they often cues the woodwinds, for no other instruments can speak quite as lightly, whether whispering in our ears like the sound of a rural stream or imitating birdsong or the voices of children at play. Woodwinds can place us in Medieval Britain, 19th century America, or contemporary North Africa. With the addition of two horns, with their power to elevate and inspire, we can make any setting feel immediate. In this assignment composers will put the wind ensemble front and center in an arrangement that can also feature virtual strings, as well as pads and effects.
Session 5: 17-piece Strings
Scoring Under Dialogue
In both the final lesson in Module I (1.10) and the fourth lesson in Module 2 (2.4), the unique challenge of weaving music through, under and around dialogue was discussed. It’s very rare these days to hear the sort of elaborately worked out underscoring of dialogue that was common in the era of the 1940s through the 1970s, complete with pauses, stings, tempo changes, and even modulations, but it’s just as rare to see an intense dialogue scene with no music. Mostly, composers try to lay low and maintain the mood. If it’s done well, however, as in a series like PENNY DREADFUL or any of the films of the HARRY POTTER series, underscore can lend meaning and great emotional impact to dialogue. Composers will learn to subtly interpolate fragments of a theme or leitmotif under the dialogue of a scene.
Session 6: 8-piece Low Brass
The brass section can, of course, take on many roles. It can be heroic, elegiac, deeply nostalgic or relentlessly aggressive. But in cinema, the brass is probably associated most strongly with the genres of film noir and thriller, and with the creation of nail-biting suspense and tension. Composers will employ horns and trombones as Jerry Goldsmith (e.g., L.A. CONFIDENTIAL) or Ennio Morricone (e.g., THE UNTOUCHABLES) did. The ability of the brass instruments to sound great in tightly packed clusters, extended harmonies, and in soft dynamics with or without mutes, is one of their greatest attributes. Because they are driven by breath, they can swell like no other section. Think of the wonderful fp < f brass effects in Don Davis’s score for THE MATRIX. You can’t do that with strings or woodwinds. Put us on the edge of our seats in this one.
Session 7: 10-piece Woodwinds
Describing a particular historical period, like depicting a setting, calls for instrumental color, and the woodwinds are perhaps the most colorful section. They are also, at least in ethnomusicological terms, the oldest. Flutes and double reeds of one sort or another have been around since the Stone Age. So when a composer wishes to put us in Renaissance France or Merry Old England or Jazz Age NYC, the woodwinds may well be their go-to section.
Session 8: 13-piece Full Brass
Heroism and High Drama
There are plenty of examples from John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and others of brass used to evoke heroism and high drama, including a classic of the genre, Patrick Doyle’s music for the St. Crispian’s Day speech in HENRY V. We’ve discussed that such music often makes use of forms like the march, the anthem, and the hymn, and frequently conveys feelings that are quasi-patriotic or quasi-religious in tone. It makes our chest swell. For this session, composers will create a theme with a strong horizontal line. Four bars is sufficient (think of John Williams’ SUPERMAN theme).
Session 9: 52-piece Symphony Orchestra
Scoring a Main Title
The very first thing that usually happens after a composer is engaged to score a picture is a private session with the filmmaker devoted to a careful viewing of the project and a discussion about what music can add to it, and how. This is typically the first time the composer receives the director’s perspective on the film they have made, and on how they hope the audience will respond to it. If the composer is smart and perceptive, they will at some point ask to stop the video and say something like, “Okay, help me understand how to read this scene. It is sending out a lot of messages. Tell me which message you want me to help you send.” This question—the question of how to read the dramatic intent of a scene accurately—can apply to any genre of film: romantic comedy (is she into that guy or not?), a mystery thriller (does he know that she’s the killer?), science-fiction/fantasy (are we on earth or another planet?), or even comedy (does he know that everyone is laughing at him?). Composers will combine the skills they’ve learned from the entire course into their final session with the European Recording Orchestra, where they will score a short scene from start to finish.