Monday, 05 Aug 2013

Entries for Tropscore and Tropscore Jr are now open! If you’ve never written music for film before, there’s been no better time to start than now. We sat down with three Tropscore experts to get some tips and tricks to make your entry for Tropscore or Tropscore Jr the best it can be!

Burkhard Dallwitz
2013 Tropscore judgeBurkhard-Dallwitz_Low.jpg


  • Watch the film several times before getting started to really understand what’s going on
  • Compose music that expresses the nuances of the story and underscores a character’s motivation and feeling
  • Think about what instruments might best communicate what you are trying to express
  • Check your final mix on small speakers to make sure that details don’t get lost
  • Keep it simple


  • Write music that just mirrors the action on screen
  • Always go for obvious musical choices – be creative!
  • Clutter your musical arrangements

Jared Underwood
Tropscore winner, February 2013Jared-Underwood.jpg


  • Put yourself in the shoes of the director – ask yourself if the music helps tell the story or detracts from it
  • Watch the film numerous times to find where the pivotal climax is as well as any subtleties or twists in the plot that music (or silence) might support
  • Come up with a plan first that includes your ideas about tempo, tonality, instrumentation, structure and how many themes are needed and for what scenes
  • Turn the sound design and dialogue on while you compose to avoid writing music over the top of those elements of the film


  • Settle with your first draft too quickly– often what you thought was a suitable music cue for a scene doesn’t work with the film overall when you listen with fresh ears another day
  • Rush your creative work – I like to ‘live with’ the film and score over a long period of time so I can come back to it with fresh ears
  • Be afraid of silence – a lot of the time, what you leave out as a composer is as important as what you put in

Ben Allen
Tropscore winner, 2012benallen_lo.jpg


  • Enter! Tropscore doesn’t have to be exclusive to those who are established or even aspiring film scorers. I was a songwriter who entered on a whim and found it a very rewarding experience both for the opportunities involved in the event itself and also the obvious plus of the prize money.


  • Leave any video rendering to the last minute! If you’ve only ever worked with audio as I had, you may find this an unexpectedly long and frustrating process. You don’t want to spend weeks composing your score only to have entry deadline roll past while you’re still swearing at your computer and fiddling with codecs.

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