Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2022
Units: 4
Hours: 3 lecture, 3 laboratory per week (72 total per quarter)
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: CSU
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable


Creative and technical aspects of composing music for film and television. Basic overview of modern composition and orchestration techniques for strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. Technical aspects of scoring using a digital audio workstation, virtual instruments, and MIDI. Generating a notated score for musicians to perform in a recording session. Analysis of historically significant film and television scores. Students will score several visual sequences featuring different types of dramatic content.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Recount the history of film music from the first talkies through the golden age of Hollywood up to the modern era.
  2. Understand the film-making process and the role of music composition, music editing, and music recording and mixing.
  3. Install and troubleshoot complex DAW systems including modern orchestral virtual instruments.
  4. Compose, orchestrate, mix, and master music for film and television.

Course Content

  1. History of music composition for film and TV
    1. Early films and live music accompaniment
    2. Talkies and the beginning of synchronized music
    3. The studio music department
    4. The Golden Age of Hollywood
    5. Mid-century film music styles
    6. The modern era of film and TV scoring
  2. Production workflow for film and TV music
    1. The film-making process
    2. The composer's time frame
    3. The spotting session
    4. The music editor
    5. The music team
  3. General concepts in film and TV scoring
    1. Creating the music
    2. Technical requirements of the score
    3. Syncing music to picture
    4. Television
    5. Ethnic and period music
    6. Animation
    7. Songs, soundtracks, and source music
  4. Composing with virtual instruments
    1. The history of the orchestra
    2. Composing and sequencing for strings
    3. Composing and sequencing for brass
    4. Composing and sequencing for woodwinds
    5. Composing and sequencing for percussion
    6. Combining the orchestra with modern instruments
  5. Mixing and mastering film and TV music
    1. Mixing and mastering finished compositions
    2. Creating stems from mixed compositions
    3. Preparing for the final mix

Lab Content

  1. Lab content includes topics such as orchestration techniques, sequencing techniques, printing music notation, working with tempo, mixing and mastering, printing audio to stems, and exporting file types.
  2. Other topics may include subjects such as digital audio workstation system configuration and optimization, virtual instrument selection, and plug-in processing considerations.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

1. When taught on campus:
a. Classroom with digital audio workstations and appropriate software
b. Apple Macintosh computers or equivalent running appropriate operating system
c. Projection system for video and multimedia content
d. Loudspeaker system to accurately reproduce audio examples
2. When taught via Foothill Global Access:
a. On-going access to computer with email software and capabilities
b. Email address
c. Digital audio workstation and appropriate software

Method(s) of Evaluation

Methods of Evaluation may include but are not limited to the following:

Written assignments that analyze music composition and orchestration techniques
Tests on composition, orchestration, sequencing, mixing, mastering as presented in the course materials
Multiple projects delivering completed music compositions demonstrating understanding of class material and assignments

Method(s) of Instruction

Methods of Instruction may include but are not limited to the following:

Lecture presentations and classroom discussion of the techniques for composing music for film and TV
In-class viewing of historically significant films followed by instructor-guided interpretation and analysis
Presentations of major composition projects followed by in-class discussion and evaluation

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Davis, Richard. Complete Guide to Film Scoring. 2010.

Adler, Samuel. The Study of Orchestration. 2016.

Although these texts are older than the suggested "5 years or newer" standard, they remain seminal texts in this area of study.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

  1. Written critiques and analysis of music composition projects, including classical music, film soundtracks, video games and interactive media.
  2. Written summaries documenting technical and artistic elements for corresponding submitted composition projects.
  3. Hands-on exercises and guided tutorials to practice music composition and orchestration concepts and techniques.


Commercial Music