What Does Everyone DO in Film Music

For Class #10

 Instructor: Norman Hollyn T.A.: Beth Moody
 Office: 310-821-2792 Phone: 323-472-1164

 E-Mail: nhollyn [at] cinema.usc.edu

E-Mail: elizabethmoody [at] gmail.com


On a typical feature film there are a wide variety of job categories involved in getting music into the movie. Here is a list of many of the superrvisory jobs -- many of which are necessary. On a smaller budget film you will find one person (often the composer) handling many of the jobs.

Arranger (Orchestrator)

An arranger, if used, takes the musical score that the composer has created and determines the parts that all of the musicians must play in order for the music to sound full and correct. This can be a very complex and creative task, which is why some composers prefer to do it themselves.


The person who determines the musical themes and placements. The creative force behind the musical score.


A contractor is in charge of hiring musicians for a recording session He or she will usually, with the composer, arrange for the scheduling of the recording studio and all rental instruments. They will, as a representative of the musician's union make sure that all union rules are followed during the session, and file the paperwork that triggers the musicians' payments and subsequent royalties.


A copyist is the person who takes the composer's score (either hand-written or computer printed) and cleans them up. He or she also extracts the individual player's parts from the overall score and creates the individual charts for each instrument that will be playing on the session.

Engineer (scoring mixer)

The engineer is the primary technical person at recording sessions, determining mic placements, recording levels and equalizations and usually operating the mixing board.

Music Coordinator

A music coordinator works with the composer to create a recording budget and to manage the entire processes to make sure the budget is maintained and followed. They help to determine the number of musicians, the studio for recording and mixing and work with the film studio to work the best deals for the music recording.

Music Editor

The music editor is responsible for making sure that all of the music necessary for a film is properly recorded or obtained, placed and mixed in the film to fulfill the filmmakers' desires. He or she also is instrumental in creating "temp music" track which is used for previews.

Music Supervisor

The music supervisor usually helps to find outside (licensed) music and then handles its negotiation and licensing

So -- who is the "boss" when it comes to music for film and television?

As you would expect, this is a complex question. The answer, generally, is that the music boss is usually the same person who is the "editing boss" -- whether that person be the director or a producer

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All material, except where noted, ©1999-2008 by Norman Hollyn. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an e-mail at my office
Last Modified - September 30, 2008