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Original Film Scores

All You Need to Know About Original Film Scores


What's the difference between an original film score and a movie soundtrack?

In general, an original film score is comprised of music that was composed solely for use in the movie, while a movie soundtrack consists of songs that were previously written by other artists and bands (think of a mix tape or customized playlist on your mp3 player). Don't be surprised to see the terms interchanged, as they often are.

Recommended Original Film Scores

  • Best Original Film Scores of 2010: Here are a handful of what I believe to be some of 2010's best original film scores. From Danny Elfman's Alice in Wonderland to Christopher Young's Creation, I have no doubt you will love these original film scores as much as I do.
  • Top 10 Original Film Scores Since 1998: Here's another top 10 list of my all-time favorite film scores since 1998, starting with Thomas Newman's Meet Joe Black.

Award Nominated Original Film Scores

Famous and Critically Acclaimed Original Film Score Composers

Here are just a few of the many outstanding original film score composers.
  • Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004): The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape, and To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Danny Elfman (1953): Edward Scissor Hands, Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride, and Alice in Wonderland
  • Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004): Planet of the Apes, Logan's Run, Poltergeist, and Star Trek Nemesis
  • Bernard Hermann (1911-75): Psycho, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo
  • James Horner (1953): Braveheart, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Avatar
  • James Newton Howard (1951): The Fugitive, Signs, The Village, and Salt
  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957): The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, and The Sea Wolf
  • Ennio Morricone (1928): Bugsy, The Legend of 1900, The Mission, and Days of Heaven
  • Alfred Newman (1900-70): The King and I, Camelot, Call Me Madam, and Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
  • Randy Newman (1943): Toy Story 1, 2, & 3, Avalon, The Natural, and Monsters, Inc.
  • Thomas Newman (1955): American Beauty, Meet Joe Black, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E
  • Miklós Rózsa (1907-95): Knight Without Armour, Sahara, Ivanhoe, and Madame Bovary
  • Howard Shore (1946): The Lord of the Rings, The Aviator, Doubt, and Twilight: Eclipse
  • John Williams (1932): Star Wars, Jaws, Jurassic Park, and Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Hans Zimmer (1957): Rain Man, The Dark Night, the Da Vinci Code, and Inception

The History of the Original Film Score

The use of original film scores dates back to the early 1900s, when silent movies first began. Due to the loud and noisy film projectors (as well as audience members, I'm sure), music was used to cover the distracting noises. Often, in-house instrumentalists like pianists, organists, and sometimes even orchestras, performed improvised music using cue sheets to help guide the musician through the movie. As movies evolved to include sound, Hollywood began hiring composers to create original film scores. However, it wasn't until the early 70s when consumers could purchase some of these original film scores. In 1972, Charles Gerhardt convinced record label, RCA to record and release a series called Classic Film Scores, which instantly became a hit. And the rest is, as you say, history.

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