Media Music 101

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Course Number: MUCP101
Course Instructor: Daniel Wehr

Since 2009 Daniel resides in Los Angeles (US) and in Munich, Germany. He works as composer, orchestrator and instrumentalist. He was involved in several international Hollywood productions. Highlights include; 53rd Grammys, The Dark Night, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Killing Season, David Foster & Seal album 6.

Learn more about the instructor Daniel Wehr

Course Description

Film Music 101 is a comprehensive introduction to film music and film music dramaturgy. The movie composer is a true magician, the person who pulls the invisible strings and leaves everyone astonished. In this course his tricks and secret elixirs are revealed, how to manipulate and influence the audience’s subconscious.  They will think and feel what you want!

Film Music 101 (Part I) is especially valuable for composers who just started to explore the magical bond between music and image. The established film composer will also greatly benefit from reviewing the important picture-music relationship and its terminology.

Music in conjunction with pictures is a powerful tool! The students will be made aware of their possibilities to manipulate or even change the meaning of pictures with their music.

The skill to quickly define and isolate important parameters that influence the picture-music relationship is the key to conscious decision-making and will separate the professional from the average moviegoer or the film composer from the concert composer.

A lot of exclusive clips are the foundation for thrilling class experiments, all built around the in- terrelation of music and image.

The course opens with an introduction to music dramaturgy. What is music dramaturgy (shape and functionality, bad vs good dramaturgy, art of selection, other film layers)? Which music-dramaturgical decisions should we consider (emotional perspective, sound material, compositional style, quantity, spotting, form and layout principles, etc.)?

After going through various music types and their terminology we dedicate ourselves to the five main aspects of the picture-sound relationship: 1. Mix (emotional vs. documentary), 2. Categorizations (polarizing, contrapuntal, paraphrasing), 3. Functions (including sense of time, climate, space, cultural backgrounds, collectivizing, dimensioning, physic-psychical conditioning, etc), 4. Time and Rhythm (finding the right tempo, rhythm and how it works, psychological time), 5. Film Editing and Music (the basic cell, relationship of film editing and music, why to be careful and what to be aware of).

In the lesson about basic orchestration we cover briefly the history of instrumentation (melody – motive – sound, emancipation of sound), the orchestra set up and how it translates to a written score. We will go through each orchestra instruments and their cinematic expression as well as each orchestra section (an opportunity to listen to stems and follow the score is provided).

To get a feel for the bigger picture vs. isolated cues an entire lesson is dedicated to the Hero’s Journey, the universal arc of story telling (based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces). Different animation movies (Robots, Ice Age, etc.) will be the foundation to point out Hollywood’s plot structure. Then the concept will be applied to Romantic Comedy (14-step model).

The course ends with a fun as profound excursion to music theory and harmony. Intervals as well as chord structures will be explored based on their cinematic expression.

Course Goal

This course explores the music-picture relationship with film music dramaturgy at its center. With lots of clips, topics such as mix, time and rhythm, picture editing, the functions of film music, orchestration, The Hero’s Journey and music theory will be explored.

The student will develop a better dramatic sense and become more conscious about decision making. Given the main keys to the secrets of  the picture-film music relationship the student will be fully conscious of film music’s unconscious and manipulative power and most importantly – how to use this knowledge to his advantage.

He gains the ability to quickly decipher the music-picture relationship and see it as clearly as Neo the Matrix… it’s as the students are using their eyes and ears for the first time!

Understanding the subtext that orchestration and harmony/theory choices can provide, the students will listen for instrument colors, intervals and chord structures and their respective cinematic expression with a new level of awareness.

The insight of Hollywood’s story telling helps to identify symbols and clues as well as confronting the big arc of an entire movie.

Being introduced to the professional terminology will make communication with directors and producers easier.

This course leaves the student with a powerful tool kit to understand and influence the movie’s drama and meaning.

Course Requirements

No requirements or previous knowledge is needed to take this course. If you love the magic bond between music and image you are ready to go.


Attendance for class is mandatory. No late deliveries of class assignments accepted. Tardiness is not acceptable, with 2 instances of lateness counting as 1 absence. Attendance comprises 1/3 of your overall grade.


1/3 participation and effort. 1/3 quality of the exercises and/or quizzes.

Class Schedule – Summer 2018

THIS COURSE IS AVAILABLE DURING SESSION 1  – classes from June 4th – July 11th

There are two SECTIONS offered for this course. Select ONE of the following options;
SECTION 1 – Mondays from June 4th – July 9th from 1:00pm – 2:30pm or…
SECTION 2 – Wednesdays from June 6th – July 11th from 8:00pm – 9:30pm

For a complete class schedule for all ETHOS courses go to the calendar

Virtual Classroom

Daniel Wehr will present his course “live” from Los Angeles via the ETHOS virtual classroom. Details for access to the virtual classroom will be made available to you after you register for the course.