Composing Film Music for Beginners

Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
Course Level

Film music is one of the most essential elements in audiovisual story telling. To become a film music composer, you will need a lot of exercise and experience in different areas. During this course we will cover various aspects of being a film music composer. How does music in film work? How to compose film music? How does film music relate to the other ingredients of the sound track: dialogue & sound? How to communicate with the director, editor and sound designer? Using both theory and practical exercises, you will learn about the complicated tasks of a film music composer.

Working hard on the assigments! In this course we take a close look at the creative process of a film composer. How does film music work? How to start? Which compositional strategies and techniques are there to use? How to deal with the other disciplines involved? And what about scoring horror movies, comedy, tv-commercials, documentary, animation, etc? In addition, we will investigate the relationship between the visual track and the sound track through hands-on assignments and the analysis of specific film excerpts.

To get a broader perspective, the course will address the ‘construction’ of the media industry (cinema, television, corporate identity and branding, online audiovisual content, games, etc.) in general and the role of music and the music composer in specific. Guest lectures from a renowned film composer and an experienced sound designer are also part of the course program.

Every afternoon you will be busy composing music for a particular film scene, short film, commercial or animation. In the morning there will be lectures and presentations which will address the various specific elements in film music (and the related disciplines and contexts) that will help you to get more insight and grip on ‘how to compose film music’. There will be many (individual) moments for feedback from your peers and from the course leader on your work-in-progress. The course will also offer the possibility to differentiate between the course members so everyone can participate on a suitable level. 


As the coronavirus is increasingly under control, the course will be 'live' at HKU Music and Technology in Utrecht , the Netherlands. The course will take place in a classroom with Mac desktops including Logic and ProTools software + midi keyboards. We ask you however to take along your own laptop (or desktop computer) with DAW-software that allows midi- and/or audio recording in combination with visuals. You can then connect one of the midi keyboards in the class room to your laptop. Make sure that you know how your software (Logic, Cubase, Ableton, ProTools, Fruity Loops, whatever) works (the course is not a class about technology). Working with your laptop also provides you with the possibility, if needed, to work on assignments during closing times of the classroom.  A high quality headphone is highly recommended. 


Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)
Course director
Rens Machielse


There will be guest lectures from:

- composer Han Otten (

- sound designer Arnoud Traa (

Target audience

This course is designed for anyone who is already capable of creating music and is considering becoming a film music composer or is interested in the process of composing film music. No previous experience with film music is required.

Study load

There are ca. 6 till 8 hours of contact per day. These include (guest) lectures, discussion meetings and (individual) feedback sessions on work-in-progress. In the remaining time the student is expected to work on the exercises and assignments.


Course fee:
Fee covers
Course + course materials
Housing fee:
Housing cost
Housing provider:
Utrecht Summer School


For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

Motivation Letter

More information

Rens Machielse | E:


Application deadline: 
Registration deadline
01 July 2021