Film music – why a piano will always make the cut!

Music and movie buffs unite in their love of film scores.

With the power to make or break a moment, they can be poignant, add tension, and fuel passion. Helping to dictate the pace and mood, they play a crucial part in setting the scene and telling the story.

So whilst the most glittery movie awards may go to Best Director, Best Actor or Best Screenplay – we’d argue that the real star of the show is the music. And more often than not, a piano.

Want to understand more about the piano’s role in creating movie masterpieces? Then keep reading <cue dramatic intro score>.


What is a film score?

Not to be confused with a film soundtrack, a film score is original music specifically written for that film. Whereas a soundtrack is a collection of songs (usually with vocals and from a range of different bands or artists) chosen to be included as they suit the overall mood or theme.

Fundamental to the atmosphere of scenes, a score is designed to add depth and emotion. Typically instrumental, they are performed by an orchestra and can range from subtle background music to attention-grabbing compositions for climatic cliffhangers.


How is a film score created?

Creating movie magic starts with a simple piano.

It’s true! Composing an orchestral piece from a piano sketch is commonplace when it comes to creating film scores. Orchestrators are often issued with a piano part – that outlines the melody, harmony, and rhythm – and are tasked with building that into a full score.

Why the piano you may ask? Composers like to use the piano as their musical base as it’s the perfect starting point to explore the melodic and harmonic foundations of a piece whilst still allowing plenty of room for creative, orchestral expansion.


Famous film score composers

John Williams

With no less than 52 Oscar nominations and 5 wins, a true master of the musical score is John Williams.

Starting out as a pianist in an orchestra he quickly became one of America’s most successful composers, creating some of the most memorable and iconic movie music of all time – think Jurassic Park, Star Wars and Harry Potter!

Other famous names include:

  • John Barry – also the winner of five Oscars, he was involved in many of the early 007 movies and Dances With Wolves.
  • AR Rahman – one of the most acclaimed composers in Indian cinema, his movie scores for hits such as Slumdog Millionaire have bagged him two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, and even a BAFTA.
  • Rachel Portman – famed for her imaginative and illustrative scores, Rachel made history in 1997 winning an Oscar for Emma.
  • Max Steiner – a name that should feature in all conversations around musical scores, Max Steiner was fundamental in shaping the industry. His music for King Kong back in 1933, garnered the first real attention for the art of film music and was groundbreaking in highlighting to audiences the influence and power of using music within scenes.


Best pianos for composing

Whether you’re dusting off a dream or trying to encourage young talent, a musical score won’t write itself and sourcing the right piano is essential.

So what is the best piano for creating a film score?

Everyone’s different, but the ideal instrument for composing is often thought to be a digital piano.

The reason for this is largely down to practicalities. Connect to software and you can enter notes, add chords, edit, record, and experiment with different orchestral accompaniment – and that’s just for starters.

Choosing digital over a traditional acoustic piano is often likened to an author choosing pen and paper over a computer – both work, one just makes life easier!

Take the Yamaha YDP 145 Arius Digital Piano for example. At just £895 it’s a great starting point for any would-be composer. With authentic acoustic playability, pedal control and all the convenience of digital functions, it’s easy to let your creative juices flow.

Another great instrument is the Kawai DG30 Digital Piano. Not only does this piano look the part, with its compact grand-like form, it also has a highly responsive hammer action combined with the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity.

If you’re already more advanced in your musical career and are stuck between wanting an acoustic piano and realistically needing a digital one, then take a look at the Yamaha AvantGrand N3X Digital Hybrid Piano. At £18,995 it’s at the upper end of the pricing scale but with its unique combination of musical expression paired with cutting-edge digital sound, it’s got future blockbuster written all over it!


Lights, camera – action!

With the 96th Oscars being held in Hollywood on 10 March, things might be a little tight for this year, but start your musical journey now and who knows where it could lead.

And we’re here to help.

At Richard Lawson Pianos, finding the right piano for your musical pursuits is what we do best. With pianos in stock and ready to be delivered, check out our full range of digital pianos online now, or if they’re not quite right for you, explore the rest of our extensive collection.

Want to try before you buy? Don’t forget you can make an appointment to visit our impressive showroom – and we also offer a 30-day trial period.

To find out more, or for expert advice and guidance from the team, call us today on 01923 720974.

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