Film Music 101: The Temp Track

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Occasionally, while putting a film together, the director might wish for the composer to emulate a specific style of music. To that end, a temp track will be assembled to go with the rough cut of the film, to give the composer an idea of what the director wants.

A temp track is essentially a temporary soundtrack, someone in the technical department has found sound recordings that match the style the director wants and they’ve paired it up with the film. To give a few examples, part of the soundtrack from Ben-Hur (1959) was used as a temp track for Star Wars (1977), excerpts from a Howard Shore piece were used for Gangs of New York (2002) and, most (in)famously, 2001: A Space Odyssey used a temp track assembled from Strauss waltzes, Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss and Atmospheres by Ligeti.

2001: A Space Odyssey is so notable because director Stanley Kubrick actually REJECTED the score composer Alex North had created in favor of the temp track! Think about it, many of the scenes in that film are iconic because of the selections of classical music, but we (the audience) were never meant to hear it like that!

Interesting to consider what might have been…
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See also:

Film Music 101: Foley

Film Music 101: Montage

Film Music 101: Mickey Mousing

Film Music 101: Compilation Score

Film Music 101: Leitmotif

Film Music 101: Orchestration and cues

Film Music 101: “Stinger” Chords

Film Music 101: Dubbing

Film Music 101: Diegetic vs. Non-Diegetic Music

Film Music 101: Who owns the music?

Film Music 101: Underscore

Film Music 101: Sidelining

Film Music 101: “Test” Lyrics

Film Music 101: The First Film Score

Film Music 101: Borrowing

Film Music 101: Arranger

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2 thoughts on “Film Music 101: The Temp Track

  1. Pingback: Film Music 101: Music Editor | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: Film Music 101: “Test” Lyrics | Film Music Central

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