As a sound designer I'm pretty precious about my work and in previous projects have also undertaken the score as well but with my latest project am working remotely with another part of the team responsible for the score. I usually make alot of tension drones as part of the design as well as additional FX, unusual foley etc etc.

I really want the best for the film but feel its going to be a waste of my time continuing writing atmospheres if the scorist is going to take that role upon himself... (most of the atmospheres are drones being inbetween where I feel the score will be and sit in the LFE nb/score hasnt been composed yet)

Where is the line between score and design? Its an interesting line and a very blurry one.

Has anyone else any thoughts on this?


Contact the person scoring it... perhaps you can work together. Worst case scenario, you can find out what key the scene is going to be in and tune your drones to that.

  • Yeah totally, i'm sure it will be fine in that respect and as i'm working mainly in the LFE with drones I can make things organically sit together to make a seamless soundscape (i'm also doing the final 5:1 surround mix as well)... But my problem i guess is that I started the project a month ago and he's only just started..... Maybe some bad organisation I think from a production point of view as surely its best to obtain some score first. – Marky ZnO Mar 18 '11 at 17:34

I worked on a play where I was doing sound effects and some parts of the score, and a composer was doing other parts of the score.

At one point he sent score pieces to me to integrate into sound effects cues, and he and I did try to communicate as best we could--sending bits back and forth for reference.

It was a carnival sideshow themed play, so forgiving to some disjointedness, but communication/coordination as much as possible is key.

  • so, was it kinda like being in a band and depending on your personalities depended on how well you got on in terms of the project i.e like a bass player and a drummer? How maluable was the composer to fit in with design? – Marky ZnO Mar 18 '11 at 18:40

I think that line is always different depending on what you are working on and who you are working with.

Is the picture cut locked? (Silly question I know.) Are there particular places you've marked as possible sound and music 'blurring' points?

I think constant communication is vital. Vital.

Perhaps sit down (or skype) with the director and the composer and spot through some sections of the film that you may have particular ideas about.

You can spot potential places for the music and sound to 'hold hands'.

How does the director feel about this collaboration between score and design? How does the composer(s) feel? Are they all open to the idea?

All the best for the film, Mark

  • re:lockoff no as the visual effects havent been finished yet so everything is subject to change (which is another annoyance).. I have marked out where I think the Design/Score blurs will take place and have sat with the director and earmarked these points, but again, everything is kinda subject to change. – Marky ZnO Mar 20 '11 at 13:14
  • I'm not sure if the Director really understands the difference between SD and Score, hence this post and I certainly feel from what I have heard that the composer is moving into SD territory.. As everyone has said, communication will be vital and I guess I'll just have to fight my SD corner if I feel the composer is doing everything other than spot FX and Foley (otherwise i might as well just call myself Foley Artist/Editor and Sound FX editor on the project!) – Marky ZnO Mar 20 '11 at 13:14

Deja vu.

Check out these answers:

Films which blur the distinction between score and sound design?

  • I read this, thanks :) But has anyone actually worked on a movie and had this dilemma like i am at the moment? – Marky ZnO Mar 18 '11 at 17:13

You should have a sit down/teleconference/video chat meeting with all of them, but most importantly, what does the director want?

You may find that the person doing the score may not want to do all the atmospheric stuff and only wants to do melodies, thus leaving you the opportunity to do the drones and atmospherics. Or maybe they want to do it all, leaving you only hard fx/conscious sounds (see it, hear it type sounds, no sweeteners or subconscious/subliminal sounds) to cut.

The only way to figure this out, have people not step on each others toes or duplicate each others efforts is to communicate. The directors vision being most important. But it can also be collaborative as well once you find out each others strengths and weaknesses. Communication is key to all of this.

The other option is that you both do what you want and over work and leave it up to the director and mixer to decide which they want to keep. You typically want to avoid this though as it may be additional work you might not be getting compensated for very well in the first place. No sense in over working if you don't have to or have limited time and budget.

Good Luck!


The sound supervisor on the project defines those roles and how the score and sound design will work together. In the absence of a sound supervisor your best, and only bet, is good communication with the other party.

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