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Music Analysis: Film Score

Resources to support students for the Year 10 MUS Assessment Task on Music Analysis.

Banner Music Analysis


What is a Film Score?

A film score (also sometimes called background score, background music, movie soundtrack, film music or incidental music) is original music written specifically to accompany a film. [source]

Five Categories of Film Music Function

In 1949, Aaron Copland outlined five categories of film music function:

  1. Creating atmosphere.
  2. Highlighting the psychological states of the characters.
  3. Providing a neutral background filler.
  4. Building a sense of continuity.
  5. Sustaining tension and then rounding it off with a sense of closure.

Movie Score Composers

Lord of the Rings


Mickey Mousing

In animation and film, "Mickey Mousing" (synchronized, mirrored, or parallel scoring) is a film technique that syncs the accompanying music with the actions on screen. [source]


A leitmotif is a recurring musical idea (a melody, chord sequence, rhythm or a combination of these) which is associated with a particular idea, character or place. For example; whenever Darth Vader appears in Star Wars the same tune is played.