Temp Track – Film Music

Very often you heard of the term “Term Track” from the director, editor, or producer. They will always ask you to refer to the temp track that is placed on the video/film. But, what exactly is the temp track? 

What is Temp Track?


A Temp track is known as temp music or temp score. The word “Temp” means temporary. The editor uses an existing piece of music or audio and places it during the editing phase of production to serve as a reference track (tempo, mood, or atmosphere) for the composer.


The disadvantages of using Temp Track


As mentioned, the editor uses a temp track to help directors and composers get on the same page. Therefore, the director might be because of viewing the movie countless times with the temp score and fall in love with that. 


  1. Legal and Copyright Issue


By using existing music/audio needs to be aware of legal and copyright issues. There’s no problem with using public domain songs such as twinkle twinkle little star, classical music, etc. 


2. Composers do not have more freedom to compose.


If directors love the temp track too much, he will insist the composer try to do variation based on it, therefore the composer does not have the freedom to try a new approach.


The advantages of using Temp Track


  1. Director’s Intention


You can directly know what the director wants for his/her film, such as the tone, mood, atmosphere, etc. 


  1. Save time


Using a temp track can save you a lot of time by keeping try an error and yet you don’t know what the director wants.

Examples of Temp Track

Examples 1:

Star Wars Main Theme by John Williams

King Row Main Theme by Erich Wolfgang Korngold 

The Main Theme melody motif is almost the same, but the differences are the key and the melodic contour in the second half-section.

Examples 2:

Star Wars The Dune Sea of Tatooine by John Williams

The Rite of Spring (The Sacrifice – Introduction) by Igor Stravinsky

The same woodwind quavers/eights notes figure at the opening creates a mysterious effect.

Examples 3:

Home Alone – Making the Plane by John Williams

The Nutcracker – Trepak Dance by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky

The vibe, mood, and feelings are exactly the same. The A section is exactly the same, but the B section changes. 

Things to be aware of when dealing with Temp Track.

When dealing with the temp track, try to figure out your own musical voice as a composer. You may add a twist to sounds much more different. Ask yourself, what is the important element, things that you like/dislike, then take and start from there. Avoid using the same “sound, melody, harmony” in your new creative process.

Hope this clears up your mind about Temp Track. Have fun with it!

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2 years ago

請問一下,Temp Track和插曲是一樣的東西嗎? 有聽你提供的音樂感覺很像。

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