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Temp Score

A collection of already published and recorded music applied to a motion picture during early stages of editing. The music in the temp score generally reflects the style and psychological intent the director wants to be communicated by the final score. A temp score is often assembled by the film’s editor, if not by the director personally.

Temp scores can be problematic for film composers because they tend to “lock in” the musical parameters before the composer (who is generally only involved with the project in its final weeks of post production) writes the first note. Noted composer Elmer Bernstein refused to listen to temp scores. Others have relied heavily on them for musical guidance. John Williams’ Star Wars score contains many similarities to the Gustav Holst suite “The Planets” and other classical works

On certain occasions directors have become so attached to the temp score that they decided to use it and reject the score custom made by a composer. A famous example is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, for which Kubrick opted to keep the classical works from the temp score rather than use the music composed by Alex North.

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